President Donald Trump took aim Friday at the liberal “indoctrination” that he believes is running rampant at schools across the nation.
“Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education,” Trump tweeted.
“Therefore, I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues,” he said.
“Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!”
Trump’s tweet did not explain how this review would take place, and whether it would target public or private schools, or both.
The president has taken a stand for free and open thought on college campuses in the past, and last year issued an executive order to promote free speech on campuses.
In announcing the order, Trump praised conservative students for their efforts to express themselves.
“These courageous Americans have stood up [to] the forces of political indoctrinations — and they really stood up to it, too, like very few people have been able to; censorship; and coercion,” Trump said in March 2019, according to a White House transcript of his remarks.
“You refused to be silenced by powerful institutions and closed-minded critics, of which there are many. You faced down intimidation, pressure and abuse. You did it because you love your country and you believe in truth, justice, and freedom,” he told the students who were with him for the signing of the order.
Trump said censoring conservative opinions violates the purpose of education.
“In America, the very heart of the university’s mission is preparing students for life as citizens in a free society,” Trump said. “But even as universities have received billions and billions of dollars from taxpayers, many have become increasingly hostile to free speech and to the First Amendment. You see it all the time.”
“Under the guise of ‘speech codes’ and ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings,’ these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity, and shut down the voices of great young Americans.”
The executive order called upon federal agencies to ensure that colleges and universities receiving federal grants supported free speech.
Trump’s latest salvo earned enthusiastic support from Charlie Kirk, president of Turning Point USA, which promotes free speech on college campuses.
In its definition of a qualified tax-exempt educational institution, the IRS notes: “Advocacy of a particular position or viewpoint may be educational if there is a sufficiently full and fair exposition of pertinent facts to permit an individual or the public to form an independent opinion or conclusion. The mere presentation of unsupported opinion isn’t educational.”
However, the IRS does not stop there.
A method used by a tax-exempt institution might not be educational if “[t]he presentation of viewpoints unsupported by facts is a significant part of the organization’s communications” or if “[t]he facts that purport to support the viewpoint are distorted.”
The IRS also says it would not consider an approach educational if “[t]he organization’s presentations make substantial use of inflammatory and disparaging terms and express conclusions more on the basis of emotion than of objective evaluations.”