Trump changes course on immigrants & schools, but damage is done

Stephon Johnson | 7/16/2020, midnight
President Donald Trump’s administration handed out an order affecting immigrants who are getting an education. Then the administration reversed it. ...
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President Donald Trump’s administration handed out an order affecting immigrants who are getting an education. Then the administration reversed it. But the point was made.

This week, the Trump administration changed its decision to force immigrant students to leave the country or transfer to a different school if their classes were only online during the COVID-19 pandemic. The order got pushback from all areas of learning including universities like Harvard, MIT and NYU.

However, according to American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, the administration met its goal via fear tactics. She said the order would “damage our educational institutions, which are critical economic drivers for many regions of this country.

“And as these institutions, and our members who work at them, face catastrophic budget cuts and uncertain enrollment—needing federal and state support now more than ever—the administration’s single-minded focus on prosecuting a policy of nativism does nothing but sow misery for individuals and threaten higher education’s contribution to the common good,” continued Weingarten. “Telling students and universities to decide between safety and deportation is callous, cruel and economically counterproductive.”

With COVID-19 infections rising in some states, elected officials and educators are hesitant to open back up without a plan. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced a plan to stagger days that students can attend. New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo is working on a similar plan.

But according to Trump, who falsely claimed that COVID-19 infections were going down, schools are ready to get back to the status quo.

“So what we want to do is we want to get our schools open,” Trump said during a meeting with reporters. “We want to get them open quickly, beautifully, in the fall. And the—as you know, this is a disease that’s a horrible disease, but young people do extraordinarily well. I was with the governor of New Jersey. We were talking, and he said, out of—and he mentioned a number which is a very high number, but it’s a, it’s a number nevertheless—thousands of people, there was only one person that died that was under 18 years old in the state of New Jersey, and that was somebody, I guess, had a problem with perhaps diabetes or something else.”

The president would prefer everyone follow Florida’s lead. Recently, Florida’s State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran declared that all schools in the state will reopen, in full operation, this fall.

“….School districts and charter school governing boards must provide the full array of services that are required by law so that families who wish to educate their children in a brick and mortar school full time have the opportunity to do so; these services include in-person instruction,” states the executive order.

Some believe that this simplifies how reopening schools should go and that a plan that only considers full operation and nothing else is dangerous. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew believes that while the city needs to have a back-up plan, all parties will have their input and there won’t be an order from up high.

“Reopening our schools will be a complex and difficult process, but we are not going to be careless with our students, their families, and our educators,” stated Mulgrew.