Florida Gov. DeSantis sets the record straight as White House attempts to spin blame for keeping schools locked down and kids’ learning losses.
This week, in an apparent attempt to rewrite history that occurred just two years ago, Democrats claimed it was Republicans who wanted schools closed as the virus spread.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that when asked about the release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly referred to as the nation’s “report card.”
The NAEP conducted a special review of 9-year-olds to measure the learning trend during the pandemic. The response, as reported by the NAEP: “Average scores for age 9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020. This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first-ever score decline in mathematics.”
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A few months ago, however, a Harvard study found that while learning losses were widespread, students in red states such as Florida and Texas fared better because those states went back to in-person instruction sooner.
Asked about this NAEP report on Thursday, just hours before President Joe Biden claimed “MAGA Republicans” want to destroy the country, Jean-Pierre, naturally, blamed Republicans.
“Let’s step back to where we were not too long ago when this president walked into this administration, how mismanaged the response to the pandemic was.”
She pointed out that only 46 percent of schools were open when Biden took office, while failing to note where the closed schools were.
That 54 percent certainly didn’t include Florida, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis became public enemy No. 1 among liberals and teachers’ unions for forcing schools to reopen in August 2020.
Jean-Pierre said within six months almost all schools were reopened – again while failing to mention the effect of the availability of COVID vaccines that were the work of President Donald Trump, also an advocate of reopening schools in 2020.
“That,” she argued, ‘was the work of this president and that was the work of Democrats in spite of Republicans not voting for the American Rescue Plan which $130 billion went to school to have the ventilation to be able to have the tutoring and the teachers and be able to hire more teachers and that was because of the work that this administration did.”
As Biden took office, she continued, “schools were not open, the economy was shut down, businesses were shut down. … It shows you how mismanaged the pandemic was and how the impact of that mismanagement had on the kids’ progress and academic well-being.”
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While Biden was offering “real solutions,” she added, “every Republican in Congress voted against that money. That is the reality. We had to do this on our own.”
Appearing on Fox News on Friday, Gov. DeSantis corrected the record and the White House spin.
“The pandemic didn’t cause those [learning] setbacks. Lockdown policies of Democrat governors, [Dr.] Anthony Fauci, national teachers’ unions who wanted schools closed – they’re the ones that caused that.”
“In Florida, we said you had a right to be in school, and you need to be in school, and we’ve done much better as a result.”
DeSantis added, “It wasn’t the pandemic because all it required was leadership to say we need to keep kids in school. And those Democrats, and those unions, and the left, and Fauci – they chose ideology over what was right for those kids and the damage is going to be lasting regardless of what Fauci wants to tell you.”
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Free Press.