WASHINGTON — Public Funds Public Schools (PFPS) commends the Attorneys General of several states for filing a lawsuit yesterday to block the Trump Administration’s attempt to divert critically needed emergency federal funds from the nation’s public schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit, Michigan, et al. v. DeVos, challenges a July 1 regulation imposed by the U.S. Department of Education to inflate the amounts of funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act directed to private schools.
The rule forces local school districts across the country to calculate the funding they must allocate for private school students and teachers in ways that violate the clear language and intent of the CARES Act. The impact is that public school districts could either lose significant amounts of CARES Act funding to private schools, even those that serve wealthy families – or they could face harmful limitations on how this money can be spent in their districts. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has forged ahead with the illegal rule in the face of widespread criticism that it will leave public school districts without resources essential to address the impacts of COVID-19 on their schools and students.
Yesterday’s lawsuit sends a clear message to Washington that Michigan, California, Maine, New Mexico and Wisconsin, as well as Washington, D.C., will not stand silent while the Trump Administration illegally funnels federal emergency funds from their public schools to private schools. PFPS is calling for other states to support their sister states and D.C. in this critically important lawsuit.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened the nation’s focus on the essential role of public schools for our families and communities, as our public schools have worked to not only keep all students learning, but also to provide them meals, access to technology, health supports, and social and emotional services. To respond to this crisis, public schools need more – not fewer – resources to ensure students can return to their classrooms safely and with sufficient staff, services and supports. It is unconscionable for Secretary DeVos to use the pandemic as an opportunity to promote her personal agenda to defund public education and to privatize our nation’s schools. PFPS applauds the states for mounting a robust defense of public education in their lawsuit to strike down Secretary DeVos’ illegal regulations.
Public Funds Public Schools (PFPS) is a national campaign that works to ensure public funds for education are used exclusively to maintain, support and strengthen our nation’s public schools. www.pfps.org