President Trump threatened last week to cut off funding to schools that don’t reopen in the fall and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told Fox News yesterday that public schools that don't reopen should not get federal money. But top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Monday that the president is willing to consider providing more money to help return students to classrooms.
“The president has said that he’s open to suggestions about additional funding if it appears that would be necessary in certain states and localities, so he will look at that,” Kudlow told reporters outside the White House, according to Reuters. Kudlow made similar comments to Fox Business.
Trump and his administration have been pushing to have students and teachers return to classrooms, even as the coronavirus surges across many states and new national case counts reach record highs. “We have to open the schools. We have to get ‘em open,” the president said Monday.
Pelosi, school officials push back: State and local officials along with teachers unions and school administrators have responded to the administration’s pressure by emphasizing that schools will need more money and resources if they are to reopen safely.
"Let's show that we put children first, and their education, by putting the resources there. Because without the resources, we shouldn't even be thinking about sending them back to school," Pelosi said Monday an interview with MSNBC's Craig Melvin.
How much would it cost? “[A]dministrators say they are already struggling to cover the head-spinning logistical and financial challenges of retrofitting buildings, adding staff members and protective gear, and providing students with the academic and emotional support that many will need after a traumatic disruption to their lives,” Dana Goldstein reported in The New York Times last week.
“The federal relief package passed in March dedicated $13.5 billion to K-12 education — less than 1 percent of the total stimulus. But education groups estimate that schools will need many times that, and with many local and state budgets already depleted by the economic impact of the coronavirus, it is unclear where it will come from.”
The cost of safely reopening schools has been the subject of some debate, but the Council of Chief State School Officers, a nonprofit representing public education officials, last month estimated it to be between $158.1 billion and $244.6 billion.
House Democrats passed a bill in May that would provide $58 billion in aid local school districts. Another Democratic proposal would provide $175 billion to state educational agencies and school districts. But those plans haven’t gotten Republican support.