President Donald Trump is pressuring public schools to fully reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He tweeted that he may withhold federal funding from schools that do not resume in-person classes this fall.
This was the latest step in an effort to convince schools that the risk of not reopening for in-person classes outweigh those posed by the pandemic.
School funding in America comes from states and municipalities, and not from the federal government. The White House, however is exploring ways to use the next coronavirus relief bill to slice school funding that does come from Washington.
Vice President Mike Pence confirmed the administration is looking to the Phase 4 coronavirus relief bill as a potential way to exert leverage over schools. “As we work with Congress on the next round of state support, we’re going to be looking for ways to give states a strong incentive and encouragement to get kids back in school,” said Pence.
The president’s threat to cut off school funding prompted a swift rebuke from governors and educators. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo dismissed the idea that Trump has the legal authority to require schools, which are controlled at the state and not federal, to reopen.
“This has been there, done that. School reopenings are state decisions. Period,” Cuomo said. “That is the law. That is the way we’re going to proceed. It’s not up to the president of the United States.”
Trump lacks the authority to force schools to reopen, and when it comes to providing additional money for schools, that authority rests with Congress.
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