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Don’t Scrap Military School Projects to Build Border Wall, Advocacy Groups Say

By Evie Blad — September 10, 2019 2 min read
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President Donald Trump’s plan to divert $3.6 billion in military funding toward construction of a wall or fence at the country’s southern border could sideline building projects for schools and day-care centers that serve military families in the United States and overseas.

Education advocacy groups pushed back on that plan this week as congressional Democrats searched for ways to stop it.

The Network for Public Education, an advocacy group that opposes the Trump administration on many education issues, encouraged followers to write to Congress to attempt to halt the plan. And the Schott Foundation for Public Education, which pushes for school funding and equity, said the funding shift could hurt the military’s school system, which showcases “the promise of wraparound supports, socioeconomic, and racial integration.”

“This diversion, a result of President Trump using ‘national emergency’ powers, means that the federal government is cutting funding to a school system that educates the children of men and women serving in the military and is one of the highest-performing, most equitable school systems in the United States,” the foundation said in a blog post.

Shifting Federal Funds

Trump declared a national emergency at the border with Mexico in February in order to access funds intended for military construction projects to build portions of a wall, a signature promise of his 2016 campaign. Senators later voted to end that declaration and, after Trump vetoed that vote, they failed to win enough votes to override his veto. Senators plan to vote again to end the emergency in the next few weeks, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The Pentagon last weekr eleased a list of 27 building projects that will be delayed by the funds transfer. They include a middle school in Fort Campbell, Ky., Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state; a day care at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland; a new military school in Puerto Rico; and five other school projects in Japan and Germany.

In a Sept. 4 briefing, a Department of Defense official told reporters the funding would be pulled in two $1.8 billion installments, the first affecting projects outside of the United States. None of the funds will be pulled from planned housing or dormitory projects, he said.

That official told reporters it would be up to Congress to backfill the funds diverted for wall construction to put the original projects, including the schools, back on track. But Democrats, in the midst of a contentious appropriations process Tuesday, were resistant.

Photo: President Donald Trump salutes as a U.S. customs and Border Protection helicopter passes as he tours the U.S. border with Mexico at the Rio Grande on the southern border on Jan. 10, 2019, in McAllen, Texas. --AP Photo/ Evan Vucci/AP