For years now, Trump has blithely and cruelly separated immigrant children from their parents at our southern border. He has done so in a blatant attempt to cater to his xenophobic base. Now, he is again using children - this time our public schoolchildren - as a pawn for political advantage, desperately hoping to stimulate the sputtering economy, even at the cost of our children's health.
When President Trump threatens to withhold federal funds from schools that don’t reopen this fall, his threat is primarily directed at schools – and school children – most in need. Many schools could get by with the funding provided by state and local sources, but it is the Title 1 schools, and the children who attend them, that will be hit hardest.
Title 1 provides supplemental funds to school districts to assist schools with the highest student concentrations of poverty to meet school educational goals. Thus, schools with large concentrations of low-income students receive supplemental funds to assist in meeting student’s educational goals. The number of low-income students is determined by the number of students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program.
Among the students served by Title 1 funds are migrant students, students with limited English proficiency, homeless students, students with disabilities, neglected students, delinquent students, at-risk students or any student in need.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in fiscal 2017, the federal government provided $56,838,048,000 in funds to local education agencies for public elementary and secondary education. Those funds support many programs, including Title I, special education and nutrition.
Two states among the top five recipients of federal education funds are Texas, which received $6,246,798,000 in FY 2017 and Florida, which received $3,202,127,000 in FY 2017. Perhaps it is no small coincidence that Texas and Florida are also among the top five on another list, that of states experiencing the sharpest spikes in cases of Covid-19.
How like the president to threaten to withhold funds from the students most in need, many of whom live in communities hardest by the pandemic, many of whom are children of color. How like the president, in his cruelty, to threaten the most vulnerable among us. Suffer the children, indeed.