Coronavirus

Trump Threatens to Defund Schools For His Own Failures

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Universities and school districts across the country are debating how, when, and if they should reopen for in-person classes and now they're facing a new threat in addition to the coronavirus.

Backing up a threat from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to defund public schools if they don't open, Trump himself threatened to cut funding from schools if they don't reopen.

The debate over reopening has been politicized by Democrats, Trump says, while openly threatening schools for political reasons.

“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!” Trump said on Twitter, pointing to schools reopening in some European countries with no problems.

It was not clear what specific federal aid the Republican president had in mind. States are responsible for primary and secondary education under the U.S. Constitution, but the federal government provides some supplementary funding.

Whether or not schools should hold in-person classes in the fall probably wouldn't be as contentious of a debate as it is if the coronavirus were not surging out of control.

Speaking of which, Trump is also attacking the CDC's guidelines for safely reopening schools because the guidelines are 'too expensive.'

President Donald Trump intensified his pressure campaign to reopen schools, attacking the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over guidelines he said were too onerous, costly and impractical.

Trump, in tweets Wednesday, said he’d be meeting with the CDC about the guidance, and threatened to withhold federal funding to schools that didn’t fully reopen, as he urged schools to begin again this fall with in-person classes despite a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

Safely reopening schools will be expensive which is why the next stimulus aid bill is expected to include over $100 billion or more for schools.

Of course, in typical Republican fashion, they're refusing to pass another stimulus bill until the last possible minute later this month which will leave schools only 2 or 3 weeks at most to prepare for the new school year.

Trump also criticized the CDC's guidelines for reopening commercial businesses in May and, as you know, that's one significant reason why we just set another record with over 60,000 new coronavirus infections reported in the last 24 hours.

Schools have reopened in parts of Europe with some success because those countries actually controlled and flattened their outbreaks. The United States, on the other hand, added 1 million additional infections in the past 28 days alone. Who even knows what things will look like by the middle of August? We could add another million infections or more by then.

Trump is largely responsible for the mess we're in and at the same time he wants the consequences for it to fall on everyone else including school children and their teachers would could be sacrificed for Trump's political image.

Sometimes I think I've reached the apex of hating Trump but, I'll tell you what, this makes my blood boil. Trump's actual ability to defund schools is limited, but the threat itself and his motivation for making it is despicable. I don't know if there's a worse person in the entire world. Charles Manson passed away.

  • Draxiar

    “Sometimes I think I’ve reached the apex of hating Trump but, I’ll tell you what, this makes my blood boil.”

    Right there with you Ashby. I expect the responsible states to ignore both trump and DeVos and do as they see fit. Besides, trump already said he doesn’t take responsiblity for the virus and told states to fend for themselves so he should sit the fuck down and overeat on Mickey-D’s.

  • muselet

    The key reason European countries can reopen schools with some degree of safety is that they bothered to implement test-and-trace programs. The US didn’t, so reopening schools here isn’t as obviously a good idea.

    Kevin Drum had two posts on the subject (here and here) on June 30, and argued that reopening school would be relatively low-risk, since school closures don’t seem to have had much of an effect on levels of transmission. I remain somewhat skeptical, mostly because no one has posited a mechanism for why opening schools isn’t a public health catastrophe, but I will admit that Drum cites real research that seems sound.

    Donald Trump is trying his best to pretend Covid-19 is a hoax perpetrated by the Ds (and probably Antifa) and that 130,000+ Americans haven’t died from the disease. Trying to force schools and universities to reopen regardless is Trump gambling other people’s lives and health against his political fortunes. In other words, Trump is a sociopath.

    But we knew that already.

    –alopecia