Andy Biggs and the rest of the Science Denying Freedom Caucus are at it again and this time they are willing to gamble on the health of school children.
Over the last week, the Arizona Congressional District Five Representative and Freedom Circ…Caucus Chair has tweeted (several times)his enthusiastic and uninformed agreement with equally ignorant Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos that schools should be reopened for in-person instruction in the fall.
The Caucus also issued a press release and held a news conference supporting the reopening of schools.
This despite the fact that
- The New York Times revealed an internal report from the CDC that stated that prematurely reopening the schools could exacerbate the surge in Coronavirus cases.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics demanded that Administration and other government officials stop mischaracterizing their position on the reopening of schools.
- Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman does not support prematurely reopening schools, responding to a request for comment from the Blog of Arizona following Governor Ducey’s July 9 press conference:
“Like all educators, I share a strong desire to get our students back in the classroom as soon as it is safe to do so. In-person instruction is critical to the social, emotional, and academic development of children. However, we cannot ignore the severity of COVID-19 in our state and how that impacts adults and children alike in our school communities. Reopening our schools will require statewide action and personal responsibility. I urge all Arizonans to stay home, maintain physical distancing, wash your hands, and wear a mask when you are in public. Together, we must ensure the conditions are met for our students and educators to return to the classroom safely.”
- The Maricopa County (where CD Five is located) Department of Public Health Medical Director of Health, Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine said, according to AZ Central columnist EJ Montini:
“With community-wide transmission at such high levels in Maricopa County right now, it would not be a good idea to put school back in session.”
- Eight in ten surveyed teachers have said schools should reopen only when “public health experts can confirm it is safe for students and staff.”
Joan Greene, the 2018 Democratic Nominee for Arizona Congressional District Five and 2020 Candidate for the same position, vehemently disagrees with Biggs science-denying position.
Responding to a request for comment from Blog for Arizona, Ms. Greene commented:
“It is typical of Andy Biggs to speak first without doing his due diligence by asking the teachers what they need to keep them, the students and families safe. Instead, he is demanding the students and teachers be used as political pawns.”
“I asked our educators what they would need to feel safe and these are just a few things they told me:
‘We all want to go back in person, but not until it’s safe.”
“When we do, we need funding in order to follow CDC guidelines.”
“For PPE, sanitizing, physical distancing on buses & in classes.”
“Change in attendance requirements, & forgo standardized testing due to the circumstances.”
“I believe if we return to online education, the students who do not have laptops and broadband must have them provided. It is imperative all our children are able to learn and not fall behind, no matter what zip code they live in.”
“These are all realistic solutions and the least we can do to keep our teachers, students, and community safe.”
Arizona’s three other Republican members of the House of Representatives (Debbie Lesko, Paul Gosar, and David Schweikert) are also members of the same Freedom Caucus that issued the press release and held a news conference advocating for the reopening of schools.
The Democratic candidates running against them echoed similar views to Ms. Greene on Mr. Trump’s monstrous school reopening position.
Arizona Congressional District Four Candidate Delina Di Santo
“Reopening public schools, all while Trump’s administration defunded public schools, is not preparing states to have the best practices to protect the teachers, students, and school administration. Why doesn’t the White House administration care about my voters, the children, and the community? Have policies and appropriations to protect our communities if schools need to be reopened. Having different ideas, suggestions, policies will create confusion and higher rates of COVID19. We need a national approach. Let’s get model policies for everyone to follow, so everyone is prepared. At the same time involve teachers, parents, and community leader’s input to help with these policies.”
Arizona Congressional District Six Candidate Anita Malik put out a statement on social media relaying in part:
“We cannot put our educators, support staff, parents, and children at risk, and we won’t be pressured to do it for a political agenda.”
“Many of our school districts are standing up to the noise and making proactive plans to stay online for far longer than Ducey’s August 17th date. But they need help, including greater resources for Arizona children without computers and access to the internet. They need our elected leaders to do the right thing.”
“If history tells us anything, Representative Schweikert won’t do the right thing. The only hope is voting him out.”
Arizona Congressional District Six Candidate Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, in response to Betsy DeVos’s interview on Fox News this morning where she reinforced the Trump-Freedom Caucus position posted on social media:
“Threatening schools w/loss of federal $$, if they don’t reopen, is vile. The lives of our children and staff are not bartering chips.
Parents, students, & teachers all want schools to reopen.
Let data & public health experts guide us in doing it safely.”
Arizona Congressional District Eight Candidate Michael Muscato commented:
“We all have jobs, businesses, kids, and lives. Right now nothing is ideal. Most Americans want this virus and way of life to be over… Ignoring the magnitude of what’s going on right now doesn’t change our reality. Donald Trump, Debbie Lesko, and Betsy Devos – all politicians who have spent their time in office driving money away from public education and into the hands of corporations and donors from religious institutions and schools under the guise of “school choice”.”
“Teachers, I’m speaking to you right here: You all need to come together. In no way should your lives and careers be relegated to signing a liability waiver during a pandemic as a means to help re-elect an administration who neither values your lives nor your careers. Our children, our teachers, and our schools are not test subjects. Period. Stand strong, stand together. When your work environment is safe and when our way of life reasonably allows for it, then we will all gladly return to school.”
“Professional athletes are turning down millions over concerns for their health and safety with no repercussions from their bosses. Yet here we have the POTUS and Devos demanding teachers go back to work for wages they cannot even live off of. Get real.”
“All these people complaining about the economic impacts…a sick America isn’t good for the economy. That’s why following common-sense guidelines like wearing a mask, social distancing, and doing only essential activities is important. Only teamwork will change our outcome. The lives of our children and teachers and parents are not poker chips to be gambled by a failed former casino owner.”
Arizona Congressional District Eight Candidate and Educator Bob Musselwhite stated:
“ I am a public school teacher and have been for 14 years. Building an effective educational system takes years and years of continual practice and improvement. The process of becoming a great teacher never ends at least it has not for me personally. The same holds true of staff that are critical to the success of every teacher. We should not be going back to bricks and mortar schools until professionals trained in medical science and supported by facts, education, and experience say it is safe to do so. To do otherwise risks disaster not only for our educational community but for our communities at large. This should not be a political decision made by the clue free.”
Arizona Congressional District Four Candidate and School Principal Stuart Starky wrote:
“This question is right in my domain. It is where I separate from my opponents. While I look forward to the day we reopen our school for students, we are far from that day. Our school environments need to be stabilized with adequate supplies to ensure a stable and clean environment. The President is doing nothing to make that happen with his lack of leadership. We need a positive test rate in the single digits, not the highest in the world. No matter how we prepare our campus we can not fight a 30% positive rate. No school can. We need to make certain that we can change the way we teach until we have a vaccine. We need our staff on campus, our students online, and an active social support network reaching out to our families to help where needed. The president is doing nothing in this area when leadership is needed.”
“I know the best place for our kids is at school, we know the value to a student to have extracurricular activities and interaction with peers. We know how crucial our meal program can be. The fact that the first thing the President does is threaten our funding shows he is simply a bully and knows nothing about the issues faced in our community. I ask him to lead by putting his son in a random public school with the same risks as other students. I am sure the First Lady would not allow it.”
“I have spent the last twenty years in a public-school environment. I was a school leader for the H1N1 virus as it swept through our school. This one is deadly. I am doing all I can to make my campus the safest possible. We are not ready for students. We will be someday. The President will probably say he was the greatest leader opening our schools. He will have had nothing to do with it. More importantly, he does not face the pressure of doing the best he can so those parents who trust us, know we did all we can.”
“The President is a failure on this issue and amazingly he does not care.”
The people of Arizona do not need Representatives that have no problem gambling with the health of their children and the people that shape their minds in schools.
Science denying People who want to reopen schools with no regard to the potential health risks for the community are not public servants serving the good of the community.
They need to be ignored and voted out on November 3, 2020.
After they (including Trump) are voted out, Betsy DeVos’s tenure as the worst Secretary of Education in history will end.
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