Teachers unions are failing American students by forcing them into remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday.
"Those are the ones who we profess to want to be able to help and ensure that they have equal opportunities and yet they are the ones that are suffering most because their families don’t have alternatives," DeVos said. "It's a crime and it has to change. We have got to empower parents to make those decisions for their children because the schools and the systems that they are a part of simply aren't cutting it."
According to DeVos, at least three million students are not attending online classes.
"There's been early data demonstrating that the overall loss of lifetime earnings is substantial and it's growing," She said. "For every day that a child is not in school or not learning, their long-term prospects look dimmer and dimmer."
DeVos's comments come as teachers unions across the country continue to reject school reopening plans. In one of the most recent controversies, the Chicago Teachers' Union (CTU) said in a Twitter post that "the push to reopen schools is rooted in sexism, racism and misogyny." Following intense criticism, the CTU deleted the post and said that reopening schools was a "complex issue" that "requires nuance" and "much more discussion."
Instead of putting taxpayer dollars into schools that refuse to reopen, DeVos said, the money should be used to help parents who wish to make better school choices for their children.
"This is an issue that the pandemic has laid bare," she said. "Our K-12 education system has been dysfunctional and broken for many students, for many years. Now is the time to change and empower those families to make the decisions for their children."