U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer exposed the “dirty truth” about school closures at a Friday event hosted by the Center of the American Experiment.
Emmer represents Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District and chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee. He believes education will remain a hot topic in the 2022 midterms.
“Schools are going to matter,” Emmer told Center of the American Experiment President John Hinderaker. “You have not just lost a spring in school. You have not just lost a fall in school. You might be able to make a different argument to me for college-age students or graduate students, but for our elementary, middle-school students, for our high-school students, the damage that you are causing is a generational issue that we are going to be dealing with for years to come.”
Emmer called out the hypocrisy of “follow the science” Democrats who refuse to listen to the science on reopening schools for in-person learning.
“The dirty truth is they’re siding with the teachers unions that funneled $40 million to the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. So they’re not going to help. Your governor and your state legislators have the same special-interest problem and it’s going to come back to haunt them,” he said.
Campaign finance records show that Education Minnesota’s political action committee donated $297,964 to the Minnesota DFL in 2020 and $1.6 million in 2018, the year Gov. Tim Walz ran for the executive office.
On Wednesday, Walz announced some modifications to Minnesota’s “Safe Learning Plan” that allows more students to return to in-person learning. The governor said he expects all schools to offer some form of in-person learning, but won’t mandate compliance.
“We don’t push them, we partner with them,” said Walz, who has mandated the closure of bars, restaurants, and other places of “public accommodation.”
Emmer had a different idea. He said coronavirus relief money for schools should be “tied to the fact that you have to do certain things, you have to open your schools.”
“The dirty little secret for everyone on this call is that the CARES Act had money in it last April that our governor could have directed towards equipment to retrofit schools so that teachers could teach safely and students could attend school. And he chose to use it for other things,” said Emmer.
“You don’t turn the switch off on a child’s formative education and then flip it back on. This is going to have lasting consequences,” he continued.
The Republican congressman said he views the situation as “both tragic” and as “an opportunity.”
“This is a great opportunity for people to start talking with their legs. You know, parochial schools, private schools. They all have increasing enrollment because they’re in school,” he added. “This might be one of those come to Jesus times for our public school system. We’ve got great teachers, we’ve got great administrators, but they can’t allow their hands to be tied by these incredibly powerful union bosses that just don’t want us to go back to school.”