Schools should mandate vaccines, former education sec says


(NewsNation Now) — “This is not a political issue. This is a medical issue.”

So says Arne Duncan, former education secretary during the Obama administration and onetime Chicago school superintendent. Duncan visited “The Donlon Report” to discuss his support of a vaccine mandate for schoolchildren.

“I think going forward, we’re going to have to move in that direction,” Duncan told host Joe Donlon.

Duncan acknowledged that his is likely a controversial point of view in some quarters. But, he insisted, COVID-19 and education transcend politics.

“I think, unfortunately, as we’ve gotten smarter scientifically, the politics have become more poisonous, more divisive,” Duncan said. “And this has to be education, has to be the ultimate bipartisan issue. Keeping our kids safe, keeping them healthy, keep them learning has to be the ultimate, not bipartisan, but nonpartisan issue. This is absolutely the right thing to do. For children across the country.”

Asked whether such a mandate would represent government overstepping into the province of parenting, Duncan said, “We absolutely want parents involved in every part of a child’s education. … But this is safe. This is effective. This stops people from getting sick. And I just think about how many days have kids missed school already? Do we want any kid to miss another day of school?”

And, Duncan added, vaccine mandates are nothing new in the classroom.

“We’ve had mandates on vaccines, as you know,” Duncan told Donlon. “Tens of millions of kids for decades. Polio, mumps, measles, MMR.”

“If we know the vaccine is safe, which we do … if we can keep kids in school learning, if we can keep them and the teachers and the bus drivers and the parents safe, we have every educational, every moral, every medical obligation to do exactly that, do we mandate it?”

It’s not simply a question of protecting oneself, Duncan stressed, but of looking out for others as well.

“People use the analogy of a seatbelt,” Duncan said. “(But) it’s actually much more significant than with a seatbelt. If I don’t wear my seatbelt, I’m just a danger in my own life. I’m not endangering yours. If you don’t get vaccinated, if you’re passing the COVID virus on to someone else, they might get sick, they might die. They might infect someone else, we have a moral obligation not to put our kids in that situation.”

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