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Alexander: The Single Best Thing We Could Do to Help Minority Children is to Help Them Go Back to School Safely This Fall

Says in the words of Tennessee’s education commissioner, “we want children to be safe, and we also want them to thrive”

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2020 — Senate health and education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said “the single best thing that we could do to help minority children and minority families is to help them go back to school safely in August and September.”


Alexander said on the Senate floor this morning that our country’s 56 million K-12 students returning as safely as possible in the fall to our 100,000 public schools and 34,000 private schools, and 20 million college students returning to 6,000 colleges and universities would represent “our country’s surest step back toward normalcy.”


Alexander also said he agrees with Tennessee’s commissioner of education when she says, “we want children to do two things: we want them to be safe, and we want them to thrive.”


“For the benefit of the children, the benefit of the parents, especially the benefit of low-income children, many of whom get one or two meals a day at school, we need to go back to school as a country,” Alexander continued.


“I think it's in our interest to make sure that principals and school boards know that they'll have sufficient funds to open 100,000 public schools safely, because school administrators, with all respect, sometimes are a little bit conservative, reluctant to take risks, and if there's the excuse that we don't have enough money to open safely, they may just say let's keep up with remote learning.”


“There are limits to what you can learn remotely,” Alexander noted earlier in his remarks. “Teachers aren't trained to teach remotely. In many parts of our country, broadband isn't sufficient to allow students to learn remotely. Teachers haven't made lesson plans to teach remotely. Home schooling is a good thing for parents who are able to do that, but home schooling is hard and takes a lot of time. And if you are in a family, as two-thirds of married families are, where both parents are working outside of the home, how are you going to do home schooling appropriately, and so that your child doesn't get far behind?”


Alexander concluded his remarks: “I think it's important to get the country going and it's good for the children and it's good for the parents to make sure that schools have sufficient funds to reopen safely.”


Read a transcript Alexander’s remarks on the Senate floor here. Video here.