Is Biden admin right to offer cash to FL schools defying no-mask mandate?


Fact Box

  • Ron DeSantis is Florida’s 46th governor. Before his election in 2018, he served in the US House representing Florida’s 6th Congressional District.
  • As of Monday, August 16, 2021, there have been 2.9 million coronavirus cases in Florida, with 40,584 reported deaths. The Florida Department of Health reported 23,531 cases at the start of July and 151,415 by the beginning of August. 
  • Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 21-175 on July 30 2021, allowing parents to “choose whether their children wear masks” in schools. 
  • Schools districts in Arizona, Florida, and Texas have been defying their governors’ bans on mask mandates. Floridian superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, said, “At no point shall I allow my decision to be influenced by a threat to my paycheck; a small price to pay considering the gravity of the issue and the potential impact to the health and well-being of our students and dedicated employees.”
  • On Friday, August 13, 2021, President Biden’s administration showed support for schools in Texas and Florida that deny the no-mask orders in schools. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote a letter to DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran offering to pay the salaries of threatened educators under The American Rescue Plan through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER).

Andrew (Yes)

The headlines saying 'Biden Administration offers cash to Florida school districts defying Governor DeSantis' mask ban' are slightly misleading, making it sound like the Biden Administration is bribing districts to defy a political opponent. The reality is, the DeSantis Administration has made a sweeping, one-size-fits-all mandate that will put students and teachers in harm's way by denying districts the ability to enforce mask-wearing under threat of withholding funds for salaries. The Biden Administration is simply stepping in to say that it will allow federal funds to be used to fill any gaps left by the DeSantis blackmail strategy. 

Republicans like DeSantis claim to be all about the local rule and making sure the Federal government doesn't overreach. What could be more local than a school district deciding for itself, based on its community's ongoing infection rates and vaccination status, whether or not masks should be worn to protect students and faculty? Ironically, the DeSantis government is overreaching, and the Biden Administration is right to step in and offer solutions to return local decision-making to the communities. 

Finally, with over three million estimated cases in the month leading up to schools reopening, Florida needs all the help it can get to control the virus. Masks can be an effective strategy for reducing spread. However, Governor DeSantis has clearly rejected science and evidence-based policies, preferring to play politics with masks and social distancing policies. With this total lack of leadership at the state level, the Biden Administration is right to open the Federal coffers to help keep Floridians safe.


Bill (No)

The Biden administration could not be more wrong in offering Florida schools cash to defy Governor DeSantis' ban on mask mandates. Aside from being divisive (which he promised his administration would avoid), Biden's offer to bribe Florida school districts is a flagrant violation of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which declares that states have all powers not granted to the federal government. This includes determining local school policy. Moreover, Federal taxpayer money should never go to fund schools since state income taxes and local property taxes are already levied for this purpose. An additional insidious and perverse feature of Biden's proposal is that it positions Democrats as benevolent saviors while grossly misusing taxpayer dollars.

Lockdowns and the wearing of masks were sold to the US people as temporary measures (as little as '15 days') to 'flatten the curve.' If these knee-jerk, arbitrary, un-scientific measures worked, we wouldn't be 18 months into this dystopian nightmare. Doctors in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded 'insufficient evidence' around the efficacy of masks in doing what they're promoted to do (mainly, to protect those wearing them from COVID). Fauci's own emails dismiss the efficacy of masks to combat COVID, deeming them 'not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.' 

Moreover, children's immune systems have a 99.97% to 100% chance of keeping them safe from COVID. Masks can only do harm to children—physical, psychological, and immunological, to name a select few. Biden should focus on the myriad problems his disastrous policies have created, rather than being a super-spreader for more unwanted Washington 'help.'

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