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Press Release Published: Jan 14, 2021

Committee Leaders Comer, Foxx Demand Answers on D.C. School Reopenings

WASHINGTON — Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Republican Leader James Comer (R-KY) and House Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) requesting information about the failure on the part of DCPS and WTU to safely reopen schools in Washington, D.C. The letter follows a recent Washington Post article which outlined how DCPS and the WTU put the needs of adults in the system above those of students and families and failed to reopen schools.

In the letter, Reps. Comer and Foxx write: “It is unacceptable that the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) have failed to put students first by working together to safely reopen the schools in D.C. …It appears DCPS has failed to put forward a coherent plan informed by thorough community engagement, and the WTU has repeatedly blocked reopening efforts by negotiating in bad faith and advancing unreasonable demands that go well beyond even the American Federation of Teachers’ recommendations. As a result, parents are confused and frustrated.”

The Members continue: “Congress has provided significant funds to help the reopening of all schools across the country. …Rather than use these funds to reopen schools safely, unions and public school systems have focused more attention on lobbying against helping students attend private schools that have managed to open and educate students in a safe environment.”

BACKGROUND: In October 2020, Mayor Muriel Bowser noted a sharp drop in students meeting literacy benchmarks. Data released by DCPS that same month showed the achievement gap widening in D.C. between white students and students of color. A plan that was in its final stages to bring 7,000 at-risk elementary students back to classrooms on November 9, 2020 was rejected by the Washington Teachers’ Union.

To read the full letter, click here.