It’s hard for American schools to resume classes: lack of money and people

On August 12 local time, U.S. President trump reiterated his position of allowing students to return to school in the autumn, saying it might cut off funding for “disobedient” schools. Trump’s insistence on pushing the campus to restart has attracted strong opposition from health experts and educators, and has exposed the plight of “lack of money” and “lack of people” under the epidemic situation in American schools. Many school district directors will not be able to ensure the health and safety of many students if they are not determined to restart the school.

on August 12, trump reiterated his position of allowing students to return to school in the autumn, saying that if any school “disobeyed”, it would pressure Congress to cut off school funding. If some state or local officials decide not to open schools temporarily, school funding should be redistributed to parents or other school districts, he said. He also stressed that “99.95% of the dead are adults” and “children often have mild symptoms”.

Trump’s consistent attitude is that if schools continue to teach online, the funds allocated to them should be transferred to parents for consideration of other education options. He also said he hoped that the funding from Congress would “follow the students.”.

trump once wrote on social media Twitter: “people think that opening American schools before the November election will be politically unfavorable for them, but opening schools is important for children and families. If not, I may cut off the funds! ” He sees going back to school as one of the priorities for the U.S. economy to restart, arguing that only when students return to class can parents return to work.

“online teaching is better than classroom teaching.” Trump said on the 12th that online teaching and offline teaching are not the same thing. He also scoffed that it was “a bit ridiculous” that some districts planned to let students go back to school on some days and distance classes on other days just to make sure there was enough space to maintain social distance.

Trump’s attitude of pushing campus restart has attracted extensive criticism from public health experts and educators. Dr. van Gupta, a lung specialist and global health policy expert, said: “the wrong message from the top of the government, from the president, says that our children are immune. But the latest data, as well as previous data, suggest that this is not the case. So every parent, every school district, every part of the country, should be very clear: children are not immune. Teachers who return to school are at risk, and so are children. ”

Kelly Williams is the director of Pontiac school district in Michigan, where the federal government contributes about 30% of its budget. She scoffed at Trump’s demands, even if a full restart of the campus ensured federal funding. “We closed the school in March, when there were only a few cases, and now we have thousands.” She said, “now you want us all back to school? It doesn’t make sense at all. It’s setting a disaster for us. ”

trump has repeatedly threatened to “run out of food”, and has exposed a major obstacle to the restart of American campuses, namely, the lack of money in schools. In order to meet the restart conditions, schools need more money, leading to the backwardness of those schools.

under the impact of the epidemic, large and small enterprises in the United States have been closed down one after another, and the unemployment rate has risen sharply, resulting in the sharp reduction of tax revenue of state governments and the huge fiscal deficit. In such a difficult situation, the US multi state governments can only cut their fiscal expenditure substantially, and the education system is not immune.

school district administrators across the United States are struggling because they have to make budgets with uncertain sources of income and to be prepared for budget cuts that may come at any time, according to a report by Bloomberg. According to some estimates, the epidemic will make the states face a fiscal gap of about $555 billion before 2022.

Kenneth Hamilton, the school district director of Mount Vernon, N.Y., says his goal is to start mixed teaching in September – online and offline at the same time. But he said it would cost about $1 million to buy protective equipment for faculty and students alone. And he was told that government aid could be reduced by as much as $15 million, or as much as 20%, in the coming year.

“if you need to cut hundreds of thousands of dollars, you cut pencils and crayons.” “When you cut millions of dollars, you cut projects, people and services,” Hamilton said So far, Hamilton has laid off about 20 jobs and sent out potential layoffs to 1700 employees in the school district.

just like the new epidemic itself and the economic recession it has triggered, the education funding crisis in the United States will also cause the most serious blow to low-income people, which is related to the financing mode of the whole system.

public schools in the United States are subordinate to school districts, which rely on a mixture of local, state and federal funding sources. At the local level, funds are mainly raised through real estate taxes, a relatively stable source of income unaffected by the recession. In richer communities, this source of income is abundant. Low income school districts tend to rely more on state funding.

with the rising tide, good school districts not only have high house prices, but also high real estate taxes, and they also have plenty of funds. On the other hand, the low-income school districts are short of school resources, and the quality of teaching will be greatly reduced. Therefore, it is not difficult to understand that many new immigrants are worried that if the good school district is merged into the poor school district one day, not only will the quality of teaching of children become worse, but the housing prices will surely fall, and the high real estate tax before will seem to be paid in vain. In this case, the education differentiation and the stratum differentiation occur simultaneously. The poorer the place, the worse the teaching quality, and the rich people all run away.

take Oak Park school district near Detroit as an example. 97% of the students here are African American, and there are almost no white students. White parents move their children out of public schools. Here, state funding is a big part of the budget – about three-quarters. Once there is any change in funding from the state government, the already stretched education resources will be more strained.

Jamie Hitchcock, the director of Oak Park School District, said she had to make a budget for this year without knowing how much or when the funds would be cut. “It’s like buying a house without knowing what the salary is.” She said, “it’s almost impossible.”

if there is less funding from the state government, “we will have to consider cutting staff.” Hitchcock said that fewer teachers meant more classes, and now “there are 31 first graders in a classroom.” if staff were cut, a community already hit by the epidemic would be more vulnerable.

because of its inability to restart, the oak garden school district plans to offer only online courses after the start of the school year. Even so, it is in a state of distress due to the lack of infrastructure and Internet resources. This will worsen the educational environment for local African students and further aggravate ethnic inequality under the epidemic situation.

during the outbreak, schools need extra manpower and money to get students back to the classroom safely, such as reducing class size, increasing school bus lines, and providing basic equipment such as computers for low-income families. But in addition to the shortage of funds, the school is also faced with the plight of manpower shortage, which leads to the failure to meet the restart conditions.

many economists’ calculations show that the employment level of school workers in the United States has not recovered from the last recession. Now, with hundreds of thousands of jobs gone and the prospect of long-term unemployment looming, many schools are facing a common dilemma.

reuvier brown, the school district director of Ithaca, New York, said the restart needed to ensure social distance, which meant schools needed to reduce the capacity of individual classrooms and develop other outdoor teaching spaces. As a matter of fact, the manpower conditions of schools generally can not guarantee that all students will return to school at the same time. The challenges of campus public transportation are also very arduous. In order to ensure the social distance, the school bus, which used to accommodate 50 students, can only accommodate 12 to 15 people, leading to a tense situation of school buses and drivers.

in addition, according to Chad gasterson, the school district director of Phoenix united high school, the discussion about the risks and hidden dangers of campus restart has had a great impact on the staff. “The epidemic has made almost all teachers experts in infectious diseases As a result, we have no time to take care of teaching work. ” He pointed out that online teaching can not only better ensure students’ health, but also make teachers more focused on teaching itself.

in the current public opinion environment, the latest “morning consultation” poll shows that more and more voters are against the trump administration’s demand for campus restart. Kyle Depp, co-founder and chief research officer of morning consulting, a pollster, said more than half of voters opposed the reopening of offline teaching in the new school year, contrary to President Trump’s wish. And more voters believe that for schools that choose to teach online, federal funding should remain at least the same.