by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
She doesn’t mince words in this column published by Roll Call. North Carolina’s 5th District Congresswoman, Virginia Foxx, calls out the Biden administration for failing to oppose the teacher unions and ensure that school-aged kids quickly get back into the classroom. She notes that only 46% of kids are back at school full time.
First, it claimed it was going to reopen most schools within 100 days. Then, it said schools that are open one day a week are considered ‘open.’ Then, Biden’s own CDC director stated that vaccinating teachers is not a ‘prerequisite’ for schools to reopen, a statement the White House quickly walked back. The administration also claimed that reopening schools hasn’t led to increased community spread, then reversed course saying most schools probably shouldn’t reopen due to concerns about community spread.
Locke’s Terry Stoops points out another concern about President Biden: his support of the radical critical race theory in social studies education. Biden’s allies, the teachers unions and education establishment, appear all in on critical race theory. Just days ago, Terry pointed us to a national conference taking place this week, which features Ibram X. Kendi. Check out the conference announcement below:
No matter the dithering of the Biden administration, or its endorsement of radical ideas, we’ve got to move to get children back on track. Getting them back into the classroom is job #1. But how do they catch up from what many believe is a year of lost learning? Our state Superintendent believes that roughly one in four kids is at risk of failing and isn’t ready to move to the next grade. Locke’s Bob Luebke urges us to act. Here’s one way:
A consensus is emerging that tutoring is the most promising strategy to help students with learning loss. Significant research (see here and here) shows that tutoring supports improved math and reading outcomes and can also aid social and motivational outcomes.
Moving forward, let’s give parents the tools and authority to help their kids. Let’s listen to them, and let’s advocate for them. We can start by adopting Bob’s suggestion of a Learning Loss Education Savings Account (LLESA).
Who would be eligible to receive a learning loss ESA? Public school students who do not achieve proficiency in math, reading, or science would be eligible to receive funding for additional assistance. Early estimates place the total cost of providing students with a $500 ESA at $225 million. Parents could use that money to access tutoring, learning camps, technology, or other supplemental services that best fit their child’s needs.
There is reason to be hopeful. At Locke, we’ve championed parents and choice for decades, and we’ve seen incredible progress. Now, in 2021, a new and powerful voice has joined the education policy and political arena: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. His recent decision not to run for the U.S. Senate is welcome news to Locke’s Terry Stoops, who explains why in this conversation with Mitch Kokai.
While Biden administration education policy is important, we can make significant advances for kids and parents by enacting sound state policies. We’re already leading the way on school choice, thanks to Republicans who lead the General Assembly and who have fought year after year on the side of parents. Now there’s a new voice for parents among the Council of State. We welcome him to the fight.