Clinton proposes spending $500 million to fight school bullying

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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton unveiled a $500 million proposal Thursday to combat an alleged bullying surge caused by Republican nominee Donald Trump.

On the campaign trail and in her debates with Trump, Clinton has repeatedly asserted that a so-called “Trump Effect” exists, which is causing students to feel emboldened about bullying immigrants and racial minorities at school. The Trump Effect was first postulated in detail by the Southern Poverty Law Center last spring based on a survey of teachers, though direct evidence of its existence is otherwise lacking.

Now, Clinton is offering a policy response to this alleged bullying surge with her proposal, titled “Better Than Bullying.” The proposal would spend $500 million in the form of block grants to state governments. States could get grants by submitting proposals to spend the money on anti-bullying efforts, such as teacher training, hiring more guidance counselors, or launching suicide prevention programs. Grant-winning states would receive $4 of federal money for each dollar they spent themselves.

To qualify for the money, though, states must also implement certain bullying-related policies Clinton wants. For instance, any state receiving money must enact a “comprehensive anti-bullying law” that would ban cyber-bullying and verbal abuse, as well as “bullying on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion.” Clinton also wants states to implement measures against cyber-bullying to protect children from “demeaning and damaging content” on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

If implemented, Better Than Bullying would be run by the Department of Education, notably giving the department more power just one year after the Every Student Succeeds Act substantially pared back its authority.

The new proposal is one of the few times either candidate has pushed a detailed policy proposal concerning K-12 education. Trump’s forays into the area have mostly consisted of promises to abolish Common Core, although it may be impossible for him to do.

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