Chris Wallace grilled education secretary Betsy DeVos on “Fox News Sunday,” questioning her authority to pull funding from schools that refuse to reopen next month in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, telling her, “You can’t do that.”
“American investment is a promise to students and their families,” DeVos said. “If schools aren’t going to reopen and fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds. Then give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise.”
“Well, you can’t do that,” Wallace responded. “I know you support vouchers, and that’s a reasonable argument, but you can’t do that unilaterally. You have to do that through Congress.”
Wallace asked if pulling funding was the right move to begin with, saying that most of federal funding for public schools “goes to disadvantaged students or students with disabilities.”
“Don’t you want to spend more money to make schools safer, whether it’s with plastic shields or health checks, various other systems?” he asked. “Doesn’t it make more sense to increase funding for schools where it’s unsafe rather than cut off funding?”
“Well, we’re looking at all the options because it’s a promise to the American people and their families,” DeVos remarked. “And we want to make sure that promise if followed through on.”
DeVos also appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” where she was pressed by host Dana Bash on what the Department of Education is planning to advise schools to do if there is an outbreak and why she doesn’t have guidance from medical experts even though school reopenings are weeks away. DeVos did not provide details.
“You know, there’s really good examples that have been utilized in the private sector and elsewhere, also with front line workers and hospitals, and all of that data and all of those examples can be referenced by school leaders,” DeVos said. “Schools should do what’s right on the ground at that time for their students and for their situation.”
DeVos’ comments come as COVID-19 infections have escalated in the U.S. with a record-high 68,241 new infections recorded on Friday and hospitalizations rising in over 40 states. At least 134,815 people have died due to COVID-19 since the pandemic hit the U.S. in mid-March.