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Trump’s School Choice Executive Order: A Big Nothing

December 29, 2020

On December 28, 2020, President Donald Trump issued this executive order to purportedly allow federal Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds to be used to finance “emergency learning scholarships” (school vouchers) “to disadvantaged families for use by any child without access to in-person learning” 

This executive order will go nowhere. 

First, there is no time for the Department of Health and Human Services create an application process specific to this school voucher purpose and to process new grant applications for states or entities and for those states or entities to establish processes to identify and distribute funds to qualified individuals and for those individuals to locate private schools or other qualifying services, either before the school year ends (we’re a semester in) or before the Trump presidency ends.

Second, even if states and other entities are allowed to redirect current CSBG funding toward Trump’s eleventh-hour voucher flash-in-the-pan, doing so would mean just that– taking money designated for other purposes– which is bureaucratically easier said than done in justifying the reallocation, actually redirecting the money, and establishing a process for its disbursement for a new purpose– and, again, the clock is running out on both the 2020-21 school year and the Trump presidency.

This school choice executive order appeared on December 28, 2020, the day after Trump signed the latest COVID relief bill, which did not include the school voucher funding exiting US ed sec Betsy DeVos wanted. Also on December 28, 2020, DeVos publicly lamented the absence of voucher funding in the COVID relief bill. According to USA Today, DeVos was in on drafting this go-nowhere executive order:

Officials confirmed DeVos worked on the plan with the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services, which would provide families with the money through block grants, according to Trump’s order. Details are scarce, including how much money would be available, when families could access it and whether the plan could even launch before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office – at which point, he could presumably undo the executive order.

Interestingly, DeVos has yet to celebrate via US Dept of Ed press release her ghost-written Trump school choice executive order.

Perhaps she knows that like her presence in DC, it will be gone very soon.

Betsy DeVos

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3 Comments
  1. Laura H.Chapman permalink

    Your reasoning is meticulous, as usual. There are no magic wands to fulfill the Betsy’s desire.

  2. In the last COVID relief Bill, about $6 billion went to religious, charter, and private schools while small businesses died. Watch what happens to new PPP.

    Diane

    On Tue, Dec 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider’s Blog wrote:

    > deutsch29 posted: “On December 28, 2020, President Donald Trump issued > this executive order to purportedly allow federal Community Services Block > Grant (CSBG) funds to be used to finance “emergency learning scholarships” > (school vouchers) “to disadvantaged families for use ” >

    • Yes, the non- and quasi-public schools are taking money meant for businesses. But this is different than financing a national school voucher program; accepting students is not attached to PPP money.

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