President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are threatening to cut federal funding if schools don’t fully physically reopen, increasing pressure on education leaders as the Trump administration intensifies its drive to get kids back in classrooms.
What We Know:
- On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted, “In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”
- Vice President Mike Pence conceded that most education spending does not come out of federal coffers during a briefing at Education Department headquarters on Wednesday. He said the Trump administration will instead work with Congress on the next coronavirus emergency relief bill on ways to push states to reopen schools.
- On Tuesday night, DeVos said she is “very seriously” looking at withholding federal funds from schools that don’t open their doors this fall.
- “Kids have got to continue learning,” she told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson during an interview late Tuesday. “Schools have got to open up, there has got to be concerted effort to address the needs of all kids and adults who are fear mongering and making excuses simply have got to stop doing it and turn their attention on what is right for students and for their families.”
- Federal funding for K-12 schools includes billions for low-income schools and special education. But education leaders immediately questioned how the administration would propose to hold back those funds or others.
- Evan Hollander, spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement that Trump doesn’t have the authority to withhold federal funding.
“President Trump is repeating the same mistakes that have made America’s coronavirus pandemic the worst in the world, attempting to override science in search of political advantage,” Hollander said. “When it comes to our schools, Congress funds federal education programs that serve some of the most vulnerable young people in our country.