Can Trump cut funding to public schools to punish them for not going along with his Covid-19 super-spreading?
Short Answer: No.
Long(er) Answer: Neither the president nor the U.S. Department of Education can rescind funding to public schools. There are a few reasons for this. First, the USDOE does not directly fund local schools. The department is prohibited by federal law from doing that. (Nor can they directly dictate what is or isn’t taught in the classroom.) What the USDOE does control is grant funding, but it takes an act of Congress to both send the money out for grant opportunities for such things as magnet schools, Title I education for poor children, and IDEA – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a part of the civil rights acts passed in 1964 — and other funding above and beyond what school districts get from their state and local tax revenues. Those federal programs are managed by the states, and the budgets for those programs were passed in the last Congress. It would require another act to take the money back, and in most cases, it’s already been included in the 2020-2021 fiscal year budgets at the state and local level.
In short, it’s all about the money. That seems to be the only language both Trump and Ms. DeVos understand, and they think by threatening the flow of dollars they can somehow convince the 17,000+ local school districts into following their guidelines about dealing with Covid-19. Except they don’t have any guidelines.
So it’s all bullshit. It would be easy to ignore, except children are going to die.