AUSTIN, Texas — As the coronavirus pandemic persists, Texas schools are reopening with a mix of remote, in-person and hybrid learning options this fall. It’s a balancing act where the end result is unknown as school officials work to protect students, teachers and staff from the virus.
“There are no risk-free options. We know that for sure,” said Margaret Spellings, the former Education Secretary under George W. Bush who now heads Texas 2036, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for data-driven strategies that will advance the state. “Obviously we have to be mindful of the health concerns and the wide variety of local situations that are in our state and have our local officials make those ultimate decisions.”
But Spellings says not having kids in the classroom could lead to lifelong consequences for students.
“We’re running one big experiment right now and sadly the guinea pigs are our students,” she said in an interview on Capital Tonight. “And so we have got to get them every resource we can possibly bring to bear because we’re educating the next generation of our workforce. If we want to live in a thriving economy and democracy, we need to make sure our kids are prepared to do that and so we need to get about it.”
Spellings says more assistance is needed from the federal government. She also says the pandemic has shown just how much the state should be focusing its efforts on expanding broadband access in order to effectively provide e-learning, telemedicine and e-commerce.
“The key strategic asset for Texas will be how well we educate our people. If we do that…we can lead the world, but if we don't we will be in a world of hurt.”