Dear Secretary Cardona:
Since March of 2020, our children and families have suffered from the disastrous effects of the pandemic as a result of a gross dereliction of leadership at the local, state and national levels in the American school system.
In a letter addressed to the nation’s educators and education stakeholders, you gave parents a reason to believe change was inevitable by your clarion call to work together to safely reopen all schools for in-person learning. The research was conclusive: when students can do so safely, students are better off learning in school, in person, rather than remotely.
As an authentic and compassionate leader, parents from underserved communities rallied behind your common-sense guidance for what you were able to accomplish in Connecticut—by offering clear, expert-driven guidance; communicating with teachers and staff, administrators, parents, and students; connecting medical experts with schools; and supporting flexibility for districts to revise and revisit plans based on local health data.
Now 10 months later, with more than $120 billion in relief funding given to schools for ventilation and social distancing in classrooms and coronavirus testing, parents are forced to make impossible decisions as school districts across the country delay a return to in-person learning.
Instead of making smart choices and developing contingency plans for both predictable and unforeseen challenges that will continue to face us in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, our American education system continues to cling to a reactive rather than proactive mindset that is once again putting additional strain on American families.
It is our goal at the National Parents Union to ensure that every child has an equitable, high-quality education. We believe that your success is our success and urge you to recommend that districts and schools immediately commit to the following:
Without a doubt, the educational system needs to partner with families to meet the needs of students. We ask you as a leader to not only seriously consider our recommendations, but also reinstate the Biden Child Tax Credit payment program to provide parents and families needed support when they are being asked to take time off of work due to the ongoing pandemic.
In addition, we request that the Department of Education hold hearings to provide transparency and a plan for oversight around the $200 billion dollars in federal resources already allocated to America’s schools for Covid-19 mitigation strategies, PPE, HVAC updates, testing, social distancing and getting kids back into classrooms safely.
President, National Parents Union