Sep 2, 2020
Nancy Pelosi Remarks About Children & COVID-19 Transcript September 2
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke during a press event about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on children and the HEROES Act. Read the transcript of her remarks here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Thank you very much Superintendent Matthews for your kind words of welcome, but more importantly, for your great leadership for our children, our children, our children. In San Francisco I’m particularly grateful being the grandmother of a student in public school system in San Francisco, for your leadership, and I want to salute Mark Sanchez, the President of the School Board, who is with us as well, and Susan Solomon, the President of the United Educators of San Francisco who’s with us. Every time we have an education event, Susan is with us, and I’m proud to be with her today.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:35)
I say that because I’m not only with her here today, but across the country, across the country, there are about 200 events of this kind that are being held. Scores of our members are involved, but it’s broader than that, parents, teachers, et cetera, having events to have a day of action for our schools, demanding that our children be able to go back to school safely, to receive their education safely.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:05)
Again, Carla, I’m you Carla, Madam Principal Vasquez, thank you for your hospitality here in this great school, the Mission Education Center Elementary School. It is just about doing the lords work. When you’re talking about children, and Latinx community, many of them English as a second language, immigrant families, the faces of the future of our country. Giving, as you said, giving them the confidence to reach their fulfillment. It’s an honor to be here. Thank you for your leadership and your hospitality.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:43)
I’m glad that we’re here too, with a teacher from said Cesar Chavez Elementary School, Geri Almanza, who’s here with her daughter, Itzel, who we may be hearing from, and then Commissioner Jenny Lamb from the San Francisco Board of Education, and a San Francisco Unified School District parent, who is here with her daughter, [Simone 00:00:02:02], and her son Jackson. So we have parents, teachers, superintendents, a board education principal, every aspect of education.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:15)
So when the superintendent said, “I always answer the question the same way, when they asked me the three most important issues facing our country and the Congress, our children, our children, our children,” I go on to say, “Their health, their education, the economic security of their family, a clean, safe life place, gun free for them to thrive, in a world at peace in which they can reach their fulfillment.”
Nancy Pelosi: (02:41)
The first four of those are directly addressed in the Heroes Act. In the Heroes Act. That’s why across the country today, we are having the focus on education. I’m awfully glad, as it turns out, that Vice President Biden will be addressing the education issue as well.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:00)
It’s important to note the following, of the 100 largest school districts in the country, nearly two thirds of them have said that they will be opening virtually. Virtually. Another 15 or so, hybrid, virtual and actual, and then another number of dozen or so actual. Then some hadn’t figure it out yet. Just see how the rate of infection is in their districts.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:34)
Having said that, you understand why the American Association of School Superintendents has said that in order for us to open virtual, actual, hybrid, we need at least $200 billion, specifically for school stabilization. Now that’s more than we even had in the Heroes Act because the Heroes Act passed in May. It passed in May, and at that time we were more optimistic about how schools would open. But now we know that we need more based on the scientific, institutional, academic appraisal of the school superintendents and other entities that study what we need for our children. For our children.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:23)
So when the administration says, “Well, with the money we’re going to spend, we’re just spending most of it if you actually open up,” that is ignoring the fact that the rate of infection in certain communities do not enable schools to open up. So it’s exactly bullying. It’s bullying the schools to do what he thinks they should do. Actually he’s saying to parents, “Choose me over your child. Go this route.” I don’t know why, except that they are not big believers in public education. At least the Secretary of Education is not.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:01)
Now another part of this fight is support for state and local government because state and local government supplies the money, over 90% of funding, for our schools. Over 90%. So the money we’re talking about is coronavirus centric additionally that is needed. But in addition to that, if we do not fund state and local governments adequately, then they are not able to have our heroes. Hence the name.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:34)
Health care workers, teachers, first responders, transportation, sanitation, food, all of the things that meet the needs of people. But again, the biggest participant in funding education in our communities. At the same time … and that’s one of the big stumbling blocks to our reaching an agreement, they just won’t go there in a robust enough way.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:01)
Also, and I’m sure that everybody here who cares about children and their education understands that children need to have food. Millions, maybe as many as 14, 12 to 14 million children in our country are food insecure. In our bill, we had tens of billions of dollars to address that. In their bill, they had $250,000. That’s why we have an impasse. In their new bill, they have nothing for food.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:32)
Millions of children and families that are on the verge of eviction. Their health, their education, the economic security of their family, the food and housing for children to feel secure. So this is about the children and about their future. As they begin school, we want to focus on the fact that again, it’s about their education. It’s also about their nutrition and their housing and the rest.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:02)
The superintendent very, very wisely focused, also, on childcare. Teachers have been declared essential workers. Essential work. It means you have to go to work no matter what. Teachers are parents, and unless … and if kids can’t go to school, actually, in certain communities, what is a parent to do? We need a robust childcare proponent, and we have that in our bill.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:32)
In fact, we do much more than that because it is in this year that we celebrate the hundredth anniversary of women having the right to vote. It is true unleashing of the power of women in our society. We have over $200 billion in a separate package. But in this package over $50 billion for childcare. It’s connected to the wellbeing of our children.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:55)
So I just wanted to share some of those thoughts for you as to why we are still at this impasse, why it is so important for us to have this day of action, how members of Congress, especially in the United States Senate are hearing from their constituents about the safety of our children. What could possibly be more important than our sending our children back to school safely.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:27)
In order to do that, as has been mentioned by the principal, and by the superintendent, by Principal Vasquez and Superintendent Matthews, you have to have money. It takes money to … If people are coming actually to school, they need more space so that they’ll be spatially distancing. They need better ventilation. Some schools, many schools, don’t have the proper ventilation. And if it’s virtual, you need the technology that the superintendent mentioned and that’s in our bill, and not only the technology, the physical piece, but the power that goes with it. So you’re not in an urban desert or a rural place where the kids cannot hook up to the internet.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:15)
So this is a place where we have a debate springing from the coronavirus, but central to who we are as a country. Unless we defeat the coronavirus, we’re never going to be able to open our economy or our schools safely, and that’s why we have a disagreement in the bill about the amount of money that is needed for, as the superintendent said, “Testing, tracing, treatment, distancing, mask wearing, sanitation.”
Nancy Pelosi: (09:51)
Other countries have done this, and they have curved the growth of this virus. We have to do the same thing. Unless we make that decision, if we instead say, “It’s a hoax and blah, blah, blah,” then we’re not going to get on top of it. It’s a vicious virus. We are hoping and praying that soon we will have a vaccine and therapies to help alleviate the diagnosis, but also a vaccine to prevent it. We hope and pray for that, but we shouldn’t have it one day sooner than it is safe or one day later than it is safe.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:29)
So again, we’re having our debates on the health aspects of this. So our Heroes Act is about the lives, the livelihood, and the life of our democracy. Again, putting children first as we do so. Now it’s my honor, to be able to introduce Geri Almanza, who is a teacher, as I mentioned earlier, at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, who’s here with her daughter, Itzel. Geri? Thank you. There we go.