Former Secretary of Education Dr. Bill Bennet said Monday “it is a scandal” for many major public schools in the U.S. to continue to be shut down under President Joe Biden’s administration.
“It’s true now that a lot of kids may not see classrooms until September,” Bennett said during an appearance on “America’s Newsroom.” “This is a catastrophe for these kids, and there’s no beating around the bush on this.”
Bennett asserted that the U.S. could have a “lost generation” of children who will suffer academically, socially, and morally if a plan to return them to the classroom is not created soon.
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He added that a loss of a year or more of schooling for American schoolchildren will continue to lead to a multitude of mental health conditions, including anxiety, alienation, and destructive behaviors, such as increased drug use.
He also cautioned that teachers’ unions hold significant power over democratic policy and the Biden administration.
“If Joe Biden calls up the head of the teachers’ union and says, ‘I want you to do this,’ you know what they’ll say, ‘we’ll think about it,'” Bennett said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday said the adverse effects on children conducting virtual learning outstrip the threat of transmitting the virus during in-school learning, but the agency is not demanding that schools reopen.
“There is more spread that is happening in the community when schools are not open than when schools are open,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters, adding that if schools are closed there are lots of other risks such as lack of education, food insecurity, and missed milestones.
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The White House has said more funding is required to reopen schools safely and pushed for Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package to be passed in Congress.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.