White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Wednesday that President Trump was looking to “substantially bump up” funding for education in the next coronavirus relief bill, but added that “this money should go to the students.”
McEnany was questioned by reporters in the White House press briefing about the president’s Wednesday morning tweet in which he threatened to cut funding to schools that do not reopen for in-person learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS,” Trump tweeted 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. May cut off funding if not open!”
McEnany was asked under what authority Trump would cut funding to public schools given that they are funded primarily by property taxes.
“He wants to increase funding in CARES 4 for education, but he’s looking at potentially redirecting that to make sure it goes to the student and it is most likely tied to the student and not to a district where schools are closed,” McEnany stated, adding that Trump said this is something he “may consider” in the tweet.
“This president will always stand up to teachers unions who want to keep schools closed,” McEnany said.
Washington Post reporter Toluse Olorunnipa noted the White House often deferred to local authorities on coronavirus shutdowns, but not with regard to education.
“You have from behind the podium talked about the importance of federalism, local and state officials being able to decide what to do with their residents,” the reporter said.”How come when it comes to schools the president is threatening them, saying if they don’t follow his guidance in terms of what they should do with reopening, he’s threatening their funding.? Why is that not a federalism principle?”
McEnany reiterated that Trump believes school funding should “go to the child”.
“It should be there for the children who are going to school. Keeping schools closed down is an untenable prospect,” the press secretary said.
In its push to reopen schools, McEnany said the administration was standing against child abuse, which she said goes underreported during school closures and for education equality, citing a McKinsey study which said learning loss during school closures would be greatest among Black and Brown students.
The president has launched an all-out pressure campaign for schools to reopen in the fall, repeatedly noting the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) warnings on the mental and intellectual consequences of distance learning.
“All policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school,” the AAP has publicly said.
Trump, at an event Tuesday with experts to discuss schools reopening, said that he would “very much put pressure” on governors to allow in-person learning this fall.
“We don’t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons, they think it’s gonna be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed, no way,” Trump said. “So, we are very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools.”
“Our country has got to get back, and it’s got to get back as soon as possible, and I don’t consider our country coming back if the schools are closed,” the president added. “Everybody wants it, the moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it.”