Schools that don’t meet in-person this school year should send the money budgeted for each student to the parents so they can use it for private schools or homeschooling, President Trump says.
Trump made the comments Thursday during a press conference and noted that many parents will have to stay home from work if schools are not in normal session.
The president – who already was a supporter of school choice – said not reopening schools will negatively impact students.
“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,” Trump said, emphasizing the need to give parents choice. “... If the school is closed, the money should follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions. 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.
“We cannot indefinitely stop 50 million American children from going to school – harming their mental, physical and emotional development.”
Reopening schools, Trump said, is also “critical to ensuring that parents can go to work and provide for their families.” An estimated 5.6 million parents would be unable to return to work if schools don’t reopen, he said.
Trump quoted the American Academy of Pediatrics, which said in a June document: “Lengthy-time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.”
“This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said. “Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there has been [a] substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and families.”
Said Trump, “Schools have to open safely, but they have to open.”
Meanwhile, Trump said he’s asked Congress to provide $105 billion to schools to support smaller class sizes, more teachers and teacher aids, mask-wearing, and “repurposing spaces to practice social distancing.”
“More than a dozen European countries, as well as South Korea, Taiwan and many others, have already reopened schools, and cases have not risen,” Trump said. “We can achieve the same goal if we unite together, follow the best medical practices, and apply common sense.”
Photo courtesy: Public Domain, The White House Flickr
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.