Politico Florida | by Nicole Gaudiano | July 8, 2020
WASHINGTON — 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.
Trump on Wednesday morning 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!”
On Tuesday night, DeVos said she is “very seriously” looking at withholding federal funds from schools that don’t pen 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.
The interview followed events at the White House Tuesday on reopening schools as the Trump campaign also zeroes in on the issue, seizing on former Vice President Joe Biden’s support of teachers unions and asking him whether he’s committed to helping parents get their kids back to school.
During a White House roundtable discussion, President Donald Trump warned that he would “put pressure” on reluctant governors.
DeVos, speaking on Fox News, said there is “no excuse” for schools not to reopen and for kids not to learn again full time.
“This is more an issue of adults who are more interested in their own issues than they are about serving their students,” she said.
Carlson pressed DeVos on whether her department would withhold federal funding, and she noted that more than 90 percent of federal money for schools comes from the state and local governments.
Asked again about withholding funding, she said, “We are looking at this very seriously.”
DeVos repeated her praise for Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran for issuing a “very comprehensive” reopening plan in August for at least five days per week for all students. And she blasted a school district in suburban, D.C. — presumably, Fairfax County, Va. — for having “an absolute disaster” in the spring and offering a choice of only zero or two days of in-person instruction this fall.
“That’s not a choice,” she said. “That’s a pretense of a choice. So more and more families are at a point of demanding that their kids could be able to continue to learn and they want more options and choices for their kids, too.”