Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Education

Private and Charter Schools Got $6 Billion in Paycheck Protection Program Aid, Study Says

By Andrew Ujifusa — September 01, 2020 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Private schools as well as charter schools have received $6 billion in federal coronavirus aid in the form of forgivable loans, according to a study by a nonprofit group.

The estimate published Tuesday by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which focuses on federal fiscal issues, notes that this Paycheck Protection Program funding is a little less than half of the roughly $13 billion in separate aid provided to states and K-12 school districts for K-12 under the CARES Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law in late March.

The Paycheck Protection Program, which provided loans to businesses and nonprofit entitities that can be converted to grants, was funded by the CARES Act and a subsequent virus relief package enacted in April. Traditional public schools are not eligible to apply for PPP money.

In a piece describing its findings, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget notes that its analysis “includes forgivable loans to charter schools, which were eligible to participate in the program owing to their quasi-public-private structure, but it excludes many forgivable loans paid to churches and other institutions that may have schools as part of their organization. (Some portion of the $7 billon of PPP loans that went to religious institutions may have effectively gone to private schools.)”

Separate from the group’s analysis about Paycheck Protection Program loans, it’s important to note that the CARES Act says charter schools that function as local education agencies (LEAs) are also eligible to receive subgrants under the $13 billion in the law for K-12 schools, just like traditional school districts. The commitee’s analysis does not say how much charters that function as LEAs received under that $13 billion pot of CARES money. (Charter schools that aren’t LEAs can receive CARES money through their districts, according to the U.S. Department of Education.)

The extent to which different types of K-12 schools have benefited from federal coronavirus relief has been the subject of much scrutiny and debate among public school officials, lobbyists, and others in the education sector.

Charter advocates have encouraged their schools to apply for the loans, which can be converted into grants if certain conditions are met, during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. “The last recession hit charter schools pretty significantly,” said Nina Rees, the chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, told us earlier this year for a story about charter schools and PPP loans.

Many private schools, meanwhile, are under significant financial strain due the pandemic, and some have closed; supporters say they deserve relief as well. Education Week recently profiled pandemic-driven Catholic school closures.

However, the PPP loans have also created public-relations challenges in a few instances. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, for example, criticized wealthy private schools for seeking and receiving PPP aid several months ago, and called on them to return it to the federal government.

And charter skeptics say the PPP loans underscore how the schools straddle the line between being public and private entities in ways that traditional public schools cannot. They say charters are taking advantage of money that should instead be going to small businesses and other entities as the economy struggles.

Approximately 85 percent of students attend traditional K-12 public schools, according to recent federal data, while 9.5 percent attend private schools and 5.2 percent attend charter schools.

CARES also included $3 billion in education aid for governors to allocate to K-12 and higher education. At least a few governors have directed some of that money to private K-12 schools.

There’s a high-profile dispute over just how much of the $13 billion in CARES relief must be set aside for private school students. That fight has been taken to multiple federal courts in the last several weeks.

Overall, the group says COVID-19 relief legislation has provided $42 billion to the education sector, including K-12 and higher education. Just over half—55 percent—of that aid has gone to public schools in both K-12 and higher education.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says its mission is to be an “authoritative voice for fiscal responsibility” and a “trusted budget watchdog.” Its board members include former federal lawmakers and officials.


Follow us on Twitter @PoliticsK12. And follow the Politics K-12 reporters @EvieBlad @Daarel and @AndrewUjifusa.

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP