Donald Trump threatens funding cuts if schools reopening unlikely

by Maruf Adedeji
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United States President Donald Trump has announced that he was ordering the Treasury Department to re-examine the tax-exempt status of schools.

On Friday July 10, 2020, Trump disclosed the proposed review of educational finances on Twitter in his push to get schools and colleges to re-open this fall.

“Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education,” he tweeted.

“Therefore, I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues. Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!” he added.

The Republican president did not however explain what prompted the remark of the funding review for schools, that he says provide “radical indoctrination” instead of education.

But the threat is just one more that Trump has issued against schools as he ratchets up pressure to get them to open this fall.

This is the second time within a week that Trump has threatened to cut federal finding for schools that do not re-open after an earlier tweet on Friday.

The White House and Treasury Department have yet to immediately comment on the president’s message.

Previous guidance from the Internal Revenue Service lays out six types of activities that can jeopardize a non-profit organization’s tax-exempt status, including political activity, lobbying and straying from the organization’s stated purpose.

Reacting to the President’s tweet, senior vice-president of the American Council on Education Terry Hartle said, “It’s always deeply troubling to have the president single out schools, colleges or universities in a tweet.”

Hartle also added that he did not think anything would come of the remark quickly.

Previously, Trump had mostly focused his efforts on re-opening elementary and secondary schools as millions of parents wait to find out if their children will be in school this fall.

However, Friday’s statement acknowledged that it may be best for some schools to stay online, considering the spread of COVID-19 in their communities and capacities of school districts to adapt safety protocols to make in-person learning safe and feasible.

One of the districts that have already announced plan for only partial re-nopening was New York City’s public school district, the US largest, saying students will be in classrooms two or three times a week and learn remotely between.

But education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the plan for only a partial re-opening fails students and taxpayers and as such has opposed that kind of approach in defence of Trump’s approach.

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