A reporter questioned White House press secretary Jen Psaki Thursday on the disproportionate impact closing down Chicago’s public school district will have on black and Hispanic students.
The Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) voted Tuesday for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to switch to remote learning until Jan. 18 amid a steady rise of COVID-19 cases citywide. The CTU’s resolution cited high daily positivity and low vaccination rates among minors as reasons to temporarily close down in-person learning.
“As we speak right now, 350,000 school kids in Chicago remain out of school. Most are black, Hispanic and are poor,” the reporter said. “This administration has called for equity in education, so who does the [President Joe] Biden administration blame for failing these young kids?”
“Well, first of all, the president has been very clear. He wants these schools to be open, including in Chicago and including across the country,” Psaki responded. “That we took steps early on in the pandemic, even against skeptics who didn’t think we needed this funding in the American Rescue Plan to pass $130 billion that has already been distributed to states and gone to many schools across the country to put in place mitigation measures.”
“He [Biden] would like to see schools open. He believes not having them open, as you’ve touched on, impacts the mental health of children, we’ve seen that. We know that learning gaps is something that we are seriously at risk of at this point at this point in time and that’s why we’ll continue to call for schools to be open,” she continued. (RELATED: Chicago Teachers Union Slammed For Prompting School Cancellations)
Psaki said the president “remains in touch” with teachers and administrators across the nation on a daily basis to advocate for schools to remain open. She added that schools across the country have used the American Rescue Plan’s mitigation measures “very effectively”
The CTU “overwhelmingly” voted to endorse Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in October, 2020. The endorsement called to “stop the fascist takeover” of the country.
Former press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, Angela Morabito, targeted the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers’ (AFT) claims of being on the side of “equity” and “anti-racism” over the closing of the school district.
“Chicago Public Schools are closing today. The CPS student body is more than 80% black or Hispanic. So, NEA and AFT, don’t you dare claim to be on the side of equity and anti-racism. You’re robbing these kids,” Morabito said via Twitter Wednesday.
Last January, the CTU urged that schools close due to COVID-19 safety protocols and a “lack of equity for students of color.” Despite the union’s wishes, Chicago schools opened and upgraded sanitation and ventilation systems.