President Trump implements a school choice policy

President Donald Trump this week signed an executive order that will permit states to give federal money to “disadvantaged families” to pay for various educational expenses, including private school tuition, during the coronavirus pandemic, Politico reports. 

The president and his administration had been looking to include such school choice provisions in the coronavirus stimulus bill that was recently passed. But, these provisions were excluded by Congress, which is why President Trump decided to pursue the matter through executive order.

Democrats, in particular, oppose school choice because it would open government-funded public schools to competition.

The problem

Many public schools have switched to remote learning in response to the coronavirus, even though children are neither susceptible to nor spreaders of COVID-19. President Trump, through this executive order, is trying to help out those students who no longer have access to in-person learning.

“Unfortunately, more than 50 percent of all public-school students in the United States began school remotely this fall,” the executive order reads. “These children, including those with special needs, are being underserved due to the public education system’s failure to provide in-person learning options.”

The president pointed to some of the negative effects of remote learning.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that school attendance is negatively correlated with a child’s risk of depression and various types of abuse,” Trump noted in the order. “States have seen substantial declines in reports of child maltreatment while school buildings have been closed, indicating that allegations are going unreported.”

The president added that “a recent analysis projected that, if in-person classes do not fully resume until January 2021, Hispanic, Black, and low-income students will lose 9.2, 10.3, and 12.4 months of learning, respectively.”

The executive order . . .

. . . looks to alleviate some of these problems.

It does so by allowing states to give federal money to parents, as the Washington Times reports, “to cover tuition and fees for private or parochial schools; homeschooling and “microschools;” learning-pod costs; special education and related services, including therapies; or tutoring or remedial education.”

As HHS Secretary Alex Azar explained, the executive order will “help children and families without access to in-person schooling to secure it with scholarships and other funding mechanisms for private options where public options are not available.”

This ought to be welcome news for parents across the country.

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