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Trump Issues School Choice Executive Order Allowing States to Repurpose Funds for ‘Emergency Learning Scholarships’

Linda Jacobson, The 74 Million |

After failed attempts in Congress to shift more funding to parents wanting their children to return to in-person learning, President Donald Trump on Monday issued an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to allow block grant funds to be used for pandemic-related private and homeschool expenses.

States would be able to use Community Services Block Grant funds to issue “emergency learning scholarships” to “disadvantaged” families. The funds could also be used for participating in microschools and pods, as well as therapy services for students with special needs.

The block grant, funded at $775 million for fiscal year 2021, is used for a wide swath of anti-poverty programs in low-income communities, ranging from employment, nutrition, housing, and health care. Education is an allowable use for the funds. Trump, however, actually recommended eliminating the block grant in his budget proposal earlier this year, as well as throughout his administration.

The order came on the same day that departing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos commented on the $2.3 trillion pandemic relief and funding bill Trump signed Sunday, saying that the legislation “took the same tired approach” by not including provisions in the School Choice Now bill, which would have set aside 10 percent of federal relief funds for scholarships for private and homeschooling expenses. In a tweet, she said, the order “demonstrates our continued commitment to empowering students with the resources they need to find the right fit for their education.”

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