New school choice? Trump wants education funds to go to parents if schools don't reopen

The president is calling for $105 billion dollars of education funding to be included in Congress's next coronavirus-related legislative package

Updated: July 27, 2020 - 10:18am

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President Trump has been advocating for schools to reopen after many students were stuck at home for months amid the coronavirus crisis. And now he's calling for $105 billion of education funding to be included in Congress's next coronavirus-related legislative package.

"To encourage schools to make in-person classes available this fall, the President is requesting $105 billion in education funding as part of the next coronavirus relief bill—$70 billion of which will directly support K-12 education," a White House release says, noting that about half of that "$70 billion will be reserved for schools that reopen."

An outspoken school choice advocate, the president during a Thursday press conference said that if schools do not reopen parents should be able to use the funding to have their child educated elsewhere through homeschooling, public schools, private schools or charter schools, including religious institutions.

"We're asking Congress to provide $105 billion dollars to schools as part of the next coronavirus relief bill. This funding will support mitigation measures such as smaller class sizes, more teachers and teacher aides, repurposing spaces to practice social distancing and crucially, mask wearing," the president said. 

"This money is in addition to the $30 billion dollars we secured for schools and universities earlier this year. That money we have, some is distributed and some is not distributed. If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious or homeschool of their choice—the key word being choice. If the school is closed the money should follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decision. So we'd like the money to go to the parents of the student, this way they can make the decision that's best for them," Trump said.

The president called for schools to reopen wherever feasible, with appropriate public health precautions, though he acknowledged that some hotspot areas may not be in a position to safely reopen schools at the beginning of the academic year.

"In cities or states that are current hotspots ... districts may need to delay reopening for a few weeks. That's possible. That'll be up to governors. The decision should be made based on the data and the facts on the grounds in each community. But every district should be actively making preparations to open," the president said.

During his remarks he said that only a minor fraction of COVID-19 deaths have occurred among children while 99.96 percent of the deaths have occurred among adults.

"In a typical year the flu results in more deaths of those under 18 in the United States than have been lost thus far to the coronavirus," Trump said.

The president also noted the importance of schools reopening so that parents can return to work. 


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