July 24, 2020 News & Press Releases

ICYMI: Virginia educators slam Trump’s lack of leadership on school reopenings

by Democratic Party of Virginia

RICHMOND, VA — Following the release of Joe Biden’s plan to build a robust 21st century caregiving and education workforce, DPVA hosted a press call yesterday highlighting Donald Trump’s failure to stand up for students and educators.

The speakers all agreed that they wanted students and teachers to be back in school, but the abysmal pandemic response and lack of support from the Trump administration was making that impossible. They also discussed the frustration they were hearing from students, teachers, and families in their communities as well as what a proper response from the federal government would look like.

Dr. James Fedderman, President-Elect, Virginia Education Association; Choral music teacher, Accomack public schools: "Everyone's top priority should be the health and safety of our students, their families, communities, and the educators who serve them...It's beyond debate that our government should be working to stop the spread of this virus and do everything in its power to achieve that end. Instead, President Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy Devos delayed. They have given non-answers to basic questions. And they have tried to use this pandemic as an excuse to push millions of dollars to private schools...They are quite literally risking the lives of students, bus drivers, and teachers, not to mention the other members of their families."

Supervisor Dalia Palchik, Fairfax County; former School Board member: "We are devastated that rather than seeing leadership at the federal level, funding, and support for our schools, we're seeing a President and Secretary of Education that are gambling with our kids' lives...More than excuses we need a clear plan. I was happy to see that Joe Biden came out with a clear plan both for education and for the other big need we have which is for child care...There's a lot of decision-making being forced down to the local level and then being ridiculed by the federal government and by the President. We're looking for some leadership, this is a time for unity not division."

Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg, representing Virginia’s 72nd District, public school teacher: "Everybody wants their kids to go to school...I want to teach my students, I miss the classroom...but what ties all the responses [from] teachers or parents or students is frustration. And the frustration is around the federal government, quite frankly, not doing enough prioritize what would need to happen to make it so that schools can run in the fall."

"When you're talking about creating an effective set of measures where we can bring kids into schools and do it safely and responsibly, we also have to look at the context that for the last decade the Republican-led legislature didn't invest in education."