Education will be an important factor for the 2022 midterm elections, as we saw in Virginia when voters elected Governor Glenn Youngkin. Parents came out in droves and voted for Youngkin because he focused on education and issues that mattered to Virginians. The GOP will need to also focus on education, as much as the economy, southern border, and climate policies under Biden are important to highlight.
During this heatwave, it was reported that students had to remain in “hot classrooms” while others went on to online learning, which is nowhere near as efficient as in-person learning.
As noted by Fox News:
“The first week of the school year saw an oppressive heat wave in many states, leading some schools to send students home early and revert to remote learning due to inefficient HVAC systems. Schools in Denver, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland and San Diego saw disruptions to in-person learning due to hot classrooms.”
With all the school funding, you would think that students would be in air-conditioned classrooms during a heat wave. But not under the current Education Secretary Miguel Cardona’s watch. He told Fox News that the funding from the American Rescue Plan is “being used adequately.”
“I do believe the money is being used adequately, and I would welcome questions from my colleagues on the Hill to show them in their districts — even though they didn’t vote for it in their districts — how the money is being used.”
Of course, the Education Department reverted to blaming climate change. A spokesperson said:
“No one is immune from the impacts of climate change, which is why the Biden administration has made it a top priority to invest in improving community resilience, making heating and cooling more efficient and affordable and reducing pollution.”
“We continue to urge schools to use all available resources, including funds we’ve provided through the American Rescue Plan, to support a safe and healthy in-person learning environment as far too communities face record heat.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools received over $190 billion from the relief packages. About 93 percent of that money has not been spent. In late July, House Republicans sent Cardona a letter asking why much of the funding to update to cleaner energy use, improve air quality in older buildings, and replace HVAC systems hadn’t been spent.
The Republicans on the Oversight Committee said:
“Despite the clear harms to America’s students, we are concerned that school districts, particularly those that remained closed for over a year, have not spent the vast majority of funds made available during the pandemic.”
“Instead of allowing these funds to languish, school districts should be using the money on evidenced-based interventions to get our students back on track or even school choice. Instead, many states and local school districts are failing to act or are using the funds on ‘new technology,’ positions that are not student-facing such as a Director of School Climate and Culture, or other pet projects that will not benefit students or put them back on the path to academic success.”
They are right, and if Cardona does not change course, parents will not forget when voting in November.
It is outrageous that students have to sit in classrooms with no air-conditioning during a heat wave. All their focus would go on that instead of learning. But apparently, the Education Department does not seem to care, as they will continue listening to the teachers’ union instead of the parents.
Cardona pushed back on the GOP questioning why the funding is not being spent:
“There were more students in summer school this summer than any time in our country’s history because of the American Rescue Plan,” he said. “I think, quite frankly, the headlines we’d be talking about now is which colleges are closing and which schools are not open yet because they don’t have funding.”
He claimed that overall, he is “optimistic” about education moving forward. According to the Education Department, Cardona is expected to join first lady Jill Biden on a back-to-school bus tour to show how schools are recovering from the pandemic.
They can try and cover their failures any way they want, but parents will have their voices heard in November.
Secretary Cardona, you are sitting in a room with a bunch of maskless older adults, as is your right!
Now will you please use your position to speak up against the Federal Toddler Mask Mandate in Head Start Programs?
Why should 4-year-olds be condemned to another year of masks? https://t.co/JnhJXCsZX4
— Justin Spiro, LCSW (@Jusrangers) September 4, 2022