Monday the White House (if Donald Trump wrote this thing, then I'm the Queen of Rumania) issued an executive order "expanding educational opportunity school choice" to create "Emergency Learning Scholarships for Students."
It instructs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (that would be Alex Azar) to use funds from the Community Services Block Grant program top provide "emergency learning scholarships" (the EO doesn't use the V word). These vouchers may be used for
1) tuition and fees for private or parochial school (if you can find one that the voucher will actually cover tuition for, and the school is doing face-to-face, and they're willing to accept your child halfway through the year)
2) homeschool, microschool, or learning pod costs (curious to know how many disadvantaged students have managed to get into learning pods, like, say, this one at a country club)
3) special education and related services, including therapies
4) tutoring or remedial education
Note that the EO doesn't offer any instructions about oversight. So if you want to hire your out-of-work high school dropout brother-in-law as your child's tutor, that'll be fine.
The argument in favor of this is that January 20th is coming and the administration wants their damn vouchers now, dammit. Okay, not really. The argument for this is
1) We totally identified effective measures for resuming face-to-face and we gave you $13 billion whole dollars to do it (never mind the part where we tried to divert a bunch of that to private schools)
2) Continued distance learning is bad. Here are a few statistics we found.
3) Building closures are extra hard on students with special needs, because they cut off not only education but support services. They're not wrong on this one. Of course, another solution would be to give public schools the resources they need to fix this. In fact, that would be the solution that would make sense, since the public system already knows who and where the students are and what they need. Bringing in another batch of service providers means that they should be done with needs assessments right around June.
4) Low-income students are also disproportionately affected. And we have some of those baloneyfied "falling behind" statistics here to throw around. We will ignore the part where families of SOC tend to hang back even when given then chance to go sit in unventilated undermaintained but-hey-they're-opened buildings.
5) If we don't get school buildings open again soon, it will hurt the economy. For this one, we will throw in baloney from that Chetty claim that a bad kindergarten teacher will hurt your lifetime earnings, somehow twisted around to work for months without school. Seriously--I want to see the bogus research behind this one. Also, without someone to watch the kids, some parents can't get back to work.
6) We sprung some HHS money to help with childcare and supplement distance learning, but that's not enough.
7) This pandemic stuff is really hurting private schools out there, too. So we thought using this to shoot some tax dollars their way would help prop them up. Because we are sad when Catholic schools close.
So, basically, a variation on the old "We've already given public schools enough money and if that's not enough, screw 'em, because what we'd really like to do is start some damn vouchers, dammit, and why waste a good crisis.
Add this to the list of EO's that Biden needs to eliminate on Day One. What a waste of time and baloney.