President says he’s prepared to pressure state governors to reopen schools and calls Harvard ‘ridiculous’ for teaching online
Trump launched an all-out effort to press state and local officials to reopen schools this autumn, arguing that some are keeping classrooms closed for political reasons and hiding behind the pandemic.
“They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed,” Trump said on Tuesday during his White House discussion on the subject. “No way. We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools.”
The White House’s round-table gathered health and education leaders from across the nation who said schools and colleges are ready to open this fall and can do so safely. They argued that the risks of keeping students at home outweigh any risks tied to the coronavirus, saying students need access to meal programmes and mental and behavioural health services.
“We want to reopen the schools,” Trump said. “Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it. It’s time to do it.”
But that bright outlook was met with scepticism by some beyond the White House. The president of the nation’s largest education union said Trump is more interested in scoring points for the November election than in keeping students safe.
“Trump has proven to be incapable of grasping that people are dying – that more than 130,000 Americans have already died,” said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association. “Educators want nothing more than to be back in classrooms and on college campuses with our students, but we must do it in a way that keeps students, educators and communities safe.”
Trump offered no evidence for his allegation about schools having political motives, which has been criticised by health experts who say politicising the issue will make it harder to work toward reopening schools. Jennifer Nuzzo, of Johns Hopkins University’s Covid-19 Testing Insights Initiative, said she was “deeply troubled” by the claim.
“When you make it about politics and just people trying to score points and get elected, I mean, I really think it’s a disservice to how incredibly important this issue is,” Nuzzo said in an interview. “And it really distracts from what I think we need, which is real solutions and a plan in order to make this happen.”
Undaunted Trump attacked Harvard University for its decision to hold instruction online for the autumn term (in between fawning overtures from his acolytes).
“I think it’s ridiculous, I think it’s an easy way out and I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said on Tuesday.
Here’s John T Bennett on that one.