As 2020 Ends and Schools Stay Closed, President Trump Orders Emergency Learning Scholarships to Offer Hope in the New Year
COVID-19 caused many public schools to stay closed for most of 2020, creating mounting hardships for American students and their ability to continue learning effectively, especially those in difficult circumstances. Building on his past actions to help support students, President Trump closed out the year by signing an Executive Order “to ensure the education, health, safety, and well-being of America’s children, our most essential resource upon which the future of our great Nation depends.”
Under the Executive Order on Expanding Educational Opportunity Through School Choice, President Trump is seeking to protect American students who need in-person learning options from prolonged school closures. Despite providing $13 billion in federal support for K-12 schools to safely resume in-person learning earlier this year, more than half of all public-school students began school remotely this fall. The lack of in-person learning is showing the greatest harm among low-income students and students with disabilities.
As noted in the President’s order, research and surveys conducted through the pandemic have revealed many sobering results:
- Students’ math progress in low-income neighborhoods decreased by nearly 50 percent, and those from middle-income neighborhoods fell by almost a third.
- Eighty percent of children with special needs are not receiving the services and supports to which they are entitled, and approximately 40 percent of children with special needs are receiving no services or supports.
- Educators found student absences, including from virtual learning, have nearly doubled during the pandemic.
Analysts are projecting now that if in-person learning does not resume fully in the new year, low-income students will lose over a year of learning.
To help mitigate this harm, President Trump wants to provide “emergency learning scholarships,” offering direct support to disadvantaged families with K-12 students. Under the order, the President instructs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to act consistently with law to allow funds available through the Community Services Block Grant program to be used for emergency learning scholarships for any eligible child lacking access to in-person schooling. As outlined, these scholarships may be used for: tuition and fees for a private or parochial school; homeschool, micro-school, or learning-pod costs; special education and related services, including therapies; or tutoring or remedial education.
The President declares, “I am committed to ensuring that all children of our great Nation have access to the educational resources they need to obtain a high-quality education and to improving students’ safety and well-being, including by empowering families with emergency learning scholarships.”
With teachers’ unions standing in the way of expanding parental choice and educational options for students, we hope the President’s closing act of 2020 will be the ticket to freedom many families have been hoping for in the new year.