President Donald Trump has made his decision clear: teachers’ unions can’t have their cake and eat it too.
At a press conference Thursday, President Trump threatened to divert funding from public schools that refuse to reopen this fall to school choice programs, Breitbart reported.
President Trump has said that Democrats want to keep the country shut down over the coronavirus to cost him the November election, and he has aggressively pushed for schools to open, over the objections of Democrats and teachers’ unions.
At his press conference, Trump reiterated recent sticking points of his, asserting that the coronavirus poses little risk to children and that denying students in-class instruction will needlessly harm their development and burden working parents.
Citing the virus, teacher unions have insisted that teachers are afraid for their and their students’ safety, and they have opposed going back to work, at least not without billions more in federal funding, among other demands.
Trump made clear Thursday that he supports setting aside over $100 billion for schools in the next coronavirus bill, but there’s a catch: schools would have to actually open classrooms, otherwise, funding should go to supporting private options for parents.
“If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious, or home school of their choice,” Trump said, according to Breitbart. “The keyword being choice. If the school is closed, the money should follow the student.”
Teachers’ unions react
Democrats and teachers’ unions are bitterly opposed to school choice, which Trump has called the civil rights issue of our time, as Fox News notes, and amid COVID-19, they’ve had no qualms about making that position known.
Reacting to Trump’s proposal, the president of the American Federation of Teachers accused him of “sowing seeds of chaos and confusion so he can fulfill his and [Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos’ dream of privatizing and voucherizing public education,” the Associated Press reported.
“He’s provided no plan and no funding and has ignored the health experts,” Randi Weingarten added, according to the AP. “Teachers won’t let him get away with it.”
The National Education Association, the largest union in the country, meanwhile accused Trump of trying to “steal scarce money from public schools when they need it the most.”
But if politicians are going to play games with education, then it’s time to give parents the freedom to look elsewhere. Trump is right on this one yet again.