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Donald Trump threatens to 'cut off funding' for schools if they do not open in fall

Donald Trump warned schools Wednesday that if they do not reopen in the fall due to continuing concerns over coronavirus, he may cut off government funding.

The president said Democrats are concerned that reopening schools would be a bad political move for presumed Democratic nominee Joe Biden ahead of the November presidential election, and asserted other countries that have begun reopening their schools are having ‘no problems.’

‘In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS,’ Trump asserted in a tweet Wednesday morning.

‘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,’ he wrote, adding: ‘May cut off funding if not open!’ 

Trump, more than likely, could not make an impact on the amount of federal funding allocated for different educational establishments. 

‘It’s absolutely essential that we get our kids back in the classroom for in-person learning,’ Vice President Mike Pence said during remarks at the Education Department on Wednesday afternoon. 

The president also asserted that he is against the guidelines for reopening schools laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

‘I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools,’ Trump tweeted Wednesday.

‘While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things,’ he continued. ‘I will be meeting with them!!!’

Donald Trump warned Wednesday morning that he would 'cut off funding' to schools if they did not return to in-person classes in the fall

Donald Trump warned Wednesday morning that he would ‘cut off funding’ to schools if they did not return to in-person classes in the fall 

'It's absolutely essential that we get our kids back in the classroom for in-person learning,' Vice President Mike Pence asserted during remarks at the Education Department on Wednesday

‘It’s absolutely essential that we get our kids back in the classroom for in-person learning,’ Vice President Mike Pence asserted during remarks at the Education Department on Wednesday

It is more than unlikely the president would have little decision over how federal funding is allocated to educational establishments. Sasha Pudelski, advocacy director for AASA, The School Superintendents Association, asserted: 'there is no mechanism by which they can decide to magically withhold funding without Congressional authorization'

It is more than unlikely the president would have little decision over how federal funding is allocated to educational establishments. Sasha Pudelski, advocacy director for AASA, The School Superintendents Association, asserted: ‘there is no mechanism by which they can decide to magically withhold funding without Congressional authorization’

The president also says he disagrees with the guidelines put forward by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reopening schools

The president also says he disagrees with the guidelines put forward by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reopening schools 

Trump hosted an event at the White House Tuesday night aimed at reopening schools and sending students kindergarten through college back to class

Trump hosted an event at the White House Tuesday night aimed at reopening schools and sending students kindergarten through college back to class

While citing other countries have gone back to school, the president left out that the U.S. by far has the most confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world, nearing 3 million

While citing other countries have gone back to school, the president left out that the U.S. by far has the most confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world, nearing 3 million

CDC Director Robert Redfield asserted during remarks at the Department of Education on Wednesday, after Trump sent his tweet, that the guidelines from the center should not be used as a rationale for schools to remain closed. 

‘First and foremost, I want to make it very, very clear that the guidance that CDC continues to put out for schools K-12 and higher learning is intentional for reopening and keeping our schools open. That’s its purpose,’ Redfield explained in a bald appeal to the president denouncing the guidelines.

‘I think it’s critical,’ he continued, ‘and it would be personally very disappointing to me and, I know, my agency if we saw that individuals were using these guidelines as a rationale for not reopening our schools.’

Redfield reiterated: ‘It’s guidance, it’s not requirements.’

‘Its purpose is to facilitate the reopening and the keeping open of the schools in this country,’ he continued in his remarks alongside Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and a few members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. ‘It is critical that we get these schools open.’

He also previewed that the CDC would be issuing five new documents on taking steps toward reopening schools and helping parents, teachers and students to adapt to getting back in the classroom. 

Federal funding for primary school mostly goes toward low-income schools and special education programs, causing education leaders to immediately question how Trump’s administration would be able to hold back funds for the majority of U.S. schools.

‘To be clear: there is no mechanism by which they can decide to magically withhold funding without Congressional authorization,’ Sasha Pudelski, advocacy director for AASA, The School Superintendents Association, tweeted Wednesday morning. 

Trump’s comments regarding schools’ funding come the day after he hosted White House talks on getting U.S. students back to class as schools, elementary through college, have gone mostly remote since March.

‘We want to reopen the schools. Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it. It’s time to do it,’ Trump said. ‘We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools,’ the president said during the event focused on reopening U.S. schools. 

Trump, as president, has little power to force schools to open, since that is a decision made at the state and local level. 

First lady Melania Trump joined the president at the event Tuesday, claiming: ‘Children’s mental health and social development must be as much of a priority as physical health,.’

‘The same is true for parents,’ she continued. ‘Many will be forced to make stressful choices between caring for their children and going back to work.’

During the event, Trump also lashed out at Harvard University, claiming they should be ‘ashamed’ for what he claims is a premature decision to remain remote for the whole year.

‘I see Harvard announced that they’re closing for the season, for the year,’ Trump said during his closing remarks at Tuesday’s event. ‘I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s an easy way out. And I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves.’

Several universities are facing lawsuits from students claiming they should not be required to pay the same level of tuition and fees as classes transitioned to fully online.

U.S. schools have been closed since March, transitioning to complete online and virtual learning – and some have already declared they will be closed through the rest of 2020

U.S. schools have been closed since March, transitioning to complete online and virtual learning – and some have already declared they will be closed through the rest of 2020

Coronavirus cases continue to surge in the U.S. over the past few weeks after the number of infections was steadily declining and states began reopening and ending lockdowns

Coronavirus cases continue to surge in the U.S. over the past few weeks after the number of infections was steadily declining and states began reopening and ending lockdowns

Specifically, the legal action argues that students should not have to pay for facilities and other maintenance fees – like those sums usually paid for use of the library and other technologies and facilities located on campus.

Even though other countries have moved toward reopening schools and going back to in-person classes, American schools and universities are much more cautious as the U.S. remains by far the most affected country by coronavirus with more than 130,000 deaths.

While the U.S. is nearing 3 million total confirmed infections of coronavirus as cases soared over the past few weeks, the second most-affected country, Brazil, is only at about half of that with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases.

Countries that have already started reopening their schools have set an example for ways the U.S. can consider when students and teachers return to the classroom.

Some have started with part-time class schedules, with some only hosting classes one day a week, others require masks to be worn at all times or are maintaining social distance by separate desks that are six feet from one another.

Some models have floated the idea of a schedule where while the school is open every day, students only attend half the week so only half of the school’s population is attending in-person classes from day to day.

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