On Tuesday, participants in a panel on Fox News got into a heated debate over how the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns hurt children’s education.
The moment on “The Faulkner Focus” began when American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp and Fox News Democratic guest and former Ohio congressional candidate Desiree Tims were discussing new data from the Department of Education, which showed that math and reading scores dropped severely among young students over the past few years.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed on Monday that math scores had declined in every state during the pandemic with students in fourth and eighth grades representing the largest drops ever recorded.
“The results show the profound toll on student learning during the pandemic, as the size and scope of the declines are the largest ever in mathematics,” U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy G. Carr said in a press release. “The results also underscore the importance of instruction and the role of schools in both students’ academic growth and their overall wellbeing. It’s clear we all need to come together—policymakers and community leaders at every level—as partners in helping our educators, children, and families succeed.”
In spite of these findings, Tims insisted that the only option during the pandemic was to force students to stay home.
“We absolutely did not have a choice but to keep our children home. Better yet, the story is not how many children died during COVID because we shoved them into classrooms,” Tims said, arguing that while some private schools may have had smaller classes, larger districts weren’t able to practice social distancing. “We know that the COVID spread is very, very real, and so yeah, it’s something that we have to fix, but it was a pandemic, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I have faith in our children’s ability to climb back to the top.”
Schlapp responded, saying that his own experience with his daughters during the pandemic gave him a different perspective.
“As the father of five daughters who went through this intimately as parents did across the country, our schools were shut. And my kids go to Catholic schools, and the state told them they also had to shut. But then they started to push back when they realized kids were not dying from the virus, as was feared in the beginning,” Schlapp said.
Schlapp argued the fight to re-open schools and “take masks off our kids” ended up having to go to the courts, claiming that Democrats politicized the virus and “advocated for keeping these schools closed for too long.”
Faulkner tried to move on from the subject, but Tims continued, responding to Schlapp’s comments.
“I just want to come back to COVID-19 disinformation that he just said. Children can absolutely get COVID-19 and they can die just as well,” Tims argued.
Both Schlapp and Faulkner pushed back, saying that Schlapp hadn’t said that children couldn’t catch the virus, and Faulkner accusing Tims of pushing “talking points” without listening to Schlapp’s actual arguments.
Tims then chimed in, asking Americans to “vaccinate your children and have them wear masks.” The comment prompted Faulkner to ask, “Are you a doctor?”
Schlapp interjected and said his kids would not be vaccinated, shouting, “Hands off my kids! They’re my kids,” before the panel moved on.
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