Should Trump cut federal funds from schools that don't reopen this fall?
- Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, most schools closed around March 16.
- According to a USA Today poll, 1 in 5 teachers say they are unlikely to go back to school if their classrooms reopen in the fall.
- In addition, 83% of teachers are having a harder time doing their job, and the majority have had to work more than usual. Many haven't been able to do their job properly since the start of remote teaching, due to the lack of district preparation.
- Of the federal dollars that fund early education, the majority — $16 billion in 2019 — support Title I grants, which are given to schools in low-income districts. With the potential of losing those funds, 'it would have a severe effect on high-poverty places.'
- 'In Japan, South Korea, Finland, and France, each of those countries had about 1 or fewer coronavirus cases per 100,000 people when they reopened schools.” To compare, there are some U.S counties with 80 or more new daily cases per 100,000.
President Trump should absolutely cut federal funding from schools that do not reopen for the upcoming school year. What's most important to consider is the impact that an extended school shutdown may have on children, aside from falling behind academically. As First Lady Melania Trump explained at a briefing, by not being in school, students are 'missing the laughter of their friends, learning from their teachers, and the joy of recess and play.' She continued that those without a proper home life are even worse off.
A similar argument can be said about parents who are unable to send their children back to school in the fall. Many will undoubtedly be put in difficult situations as they struggle to make decisions regarding work and childcare, thus affecting their mental health as well.
According to the CDC, 'most Covid-19 cases in children are not severe,' and those who are affected 'are less likely to show symptoms or be hospitalized.' Of course, this does not mean that we should not worry about children becoming infected. However, this information should be contemplated in weighing the options, as even the American Academy of Pediatrics agreed that children belong back in school along with those interviewed on MSNBC.
Schools that are only open through some form of virtual learning do not need the full federal amount of funding, which could be further detrimental to the economy. In response to CDC guidelines when schools do return, President Trump noted that they appear to be a costly 'barrier.' Rather than allocating funding to all schools, Vice President Pence explained that a possible compromise could be to unveil 'a relief package for schools' that decide to reopen.
Demanding that schools reopen prematurely places students, teachers, and other workers in the education system at risk. Of course, that's unless the federal government is willing to fund the accommodations recommended by the CDC to safeguard student and worker safety.
While some data suggests that children are less susceptible to COVID19, researchers continue to reconcile conflicting information. There's also a justifiable concern that children may spread the virus yet have no discernable symptoms, rendering them 'invisible spreaders.' This opens the door to a health disaster of tremendous scale.
Not only does funding need to remain in place, it needs to be augmented to follow the CDC's guidelines, and that means an injection of cash.
A cost analysis from the Association of School Business Officials underlines the importance of this factor in reopening schools. To adhere to CDC guidelines, some schools will require an additional $490 for each student in the system. Schools would need to purchase PPE, increase sanitation by hiring extra custodial staff and buy additional cleaning supplies.
To fund the average school district compromising 3,700 students would cost $1.8 million. The threat of punitive budget cuts for schools not reopening ignores this crucial factor. It also ignores the experience of other nations in this question. Specifically, even with precautions, this measure will still put children and school staff at risk.
Ultimately, Trump's frustration over reluctance to reopen schools is considerable, as he could initiate cuts before it’s fought in the courts. Ultimately, as William Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center, points out, 'the purse is controlled by the Congress,' not the Office of the President.