“Build Back Better” is a phrase that we’ve heard President Joe Biden repeat ad nauseam over the past two years, but as we all can see and feel, things are not better. As millions of children head back to school the question for Democrats is: are things better for parents and kids starting a new school year?
The answer is no. Parents are struggling to make ends meet, with the majority of Americans — nearly 61% in June — living paycheck to paycheck. With inflation eating up any wage gains and gas prices remaining more expensive than last year, Americans, parents, grandparents, and caregivers are in a tough economic spot. Americans shouldn’t have to worry about getting kids what they need to have a successful year at school.
Meanwhile, in the most recent jobs report, the Black unemployment rate increased from 5.8% to 6.0%, the Black male unemployment rate increased from 5.3% to 5.7% and the Black youth unemployment rate increased from 16.1% to 20.3%.
Drew Davidson of North Carolina, said: “You definitely see an increase from the little things…it’s a private school, so just the tuition — you’ve got to stay ahead of the game, try to keep that money to the side, do little things here and there just to stay ahead.” The National Retail Federation reports that expected spending on back-to-school-related items has gone up by 41% since 2019. That amounts to families spending over $860 per household on the essentials for school-age children. At a time when gas, groceries, goods, and services are all more expensive, it is clear that parents have been left behind in this Biden economy. A recent survey indicated that families in North Carolina expect to spend 38% more on school supplies because of inflation.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend a special event at the Republican National Committee Black American Community Center in Jacksonville, FL where we held a back-to-school drive and education roundtable for local families. I was overwhelmed by the number of Black mothers there with their young children who wanted to hear about the GOP, have a nice dinner for their family, and receive a backpack and all the traditional back-to-school essentials donated by the community, several GOP organizations, and committees.
During the discussion, a local single mother who has turned into an advocate for parents and children in Florida touched on how hard things are right now, especially for Black Americans living in this economy and in Democrat-run cities.
There were so many head nods as we touched on important issues such as school choice, indoctrination of our children with progressive values, inflation, and public safety. The issue of COVID-19 and its disproportionately negative impact on Black families really hit close to home with them because it set back many families financially, emotionally, and academically.
COVID-related debt is a real issue that is now compounded by the recession that we are living in. Menyuan Jordan talked about this issue and how it impacted her family saying, “We are drowning in debt, my husband just had to take out money from his 401(k) just to pay the debt that we accumulated during COVID because I couldn’t work.” Many Black women were not able to work because their children were at home falling behind academically behind a computer screen because schools were on lockdown. That is why it is unfathomable why liberal Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the City Council would propose another discriminatory youth vaccine mandate for children to return to in-person school. That amounts to nearly 40% of Black D.C. school children being forced to stay home and fall further behind should their parents choose not to abide by the D.C. government mandate.
The idea that big government is the solution to helping our children just doesn’t work. Look at the lack of improvement and advancement for so many urban public schools that are being inundated with taxpayer money with no real results. We need to do better for students who get trapped in failing public schools without the hope of their parents having a choice in education. School choice is the answer.
It is great to see Republican leaders like U.S. Senator Tim Scott and U.S. Congressman Burgess Owens introduce legislation called the Raising Expectations with Child Opportunity Vouchers for Educational Recovery (RECOVER) Act, which is co-sponsored by your very own Senator Thom Tillis.
This legislation recognizes the fact that 93% of the $122 billion dollars appropriated for America’s schools during COVID has yet to be spent. This bill would take that unspent money and put it to good use for scholarship opportunities for low-income families to cover tutoring services, private school tuition, books, testing fees, and educational therapies for children with disabilities.
Parents need every opportunity to provide the best for their children academically. The policies of the Biden-Harris administration are a roadblock to that success and come November, parents will have a chance to let their voices be heard by putting Republicans in office.
Paris Dennard is the National Spokesperson and Director of Black Media Affairs for the Republican National Committee. Follow him on Twitter: @PARISDENNARD.