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 Funding

Congress Could Go Big on COVID-19 Aid for Schools After Democrats Take Control

By Andrew Ujifusa — January 07, 2021 2 min read
The U.S. Capitol Dome
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

With Democrats set to take control of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate following the results of Georgia’s runoff elections, one major consequence for schools could be a big new relief package to help them deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

In the COVID-19 aid package signed by President Donald Trump last month, public schools received $54.3 billion in dedicated aid. Yet even as they were negotiating that legislation, Democrats made it clear that they wanted to get another relief deal in motion after Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden will take office. And top Democrats for education policy said schools still need a lot more emergency funding from Congress to handle the pandemic.

Getting a big relief deal through Congress won’t be straightforward, since Democrats will only control the Senate due to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ ability to break any tie in a 50-50 Senate. Unless the filibuster is abolished, Republicans senators will be able to block major legislation. But there’s at least one avenue open to enact more COVID-19 relief, including aid to schools.

The direct aid for K-12 public schools in the latest relief law is significantly less than previous proposals from lawmakers; one proposal passed by the House last year included $175 billion, while a separate package floated by House Democrats focused just on K-12 education included more than $300 billion.

In addition, Democrats and education officials will push hard for state and local government aid in any new COVID-19 deal. Without that relief, they’ve said, money Congress sends to K-12 schools will be negated by cuts states and local officials make to school budgets amid the economic struggles caused by the pandemic.

Democrats could get around the Senate filibuster through a process called budget reconciliation, a possibility we raised last year when analyzing COVID education relief. We won’t go into all the mechanics of what budget reconciliation means, but suffice to say that they can use it to pass significant relief legislation; lawmakers can use it for federal spending once every budget year.

The two major COVID relief packages for schools passed by Congress have given schools a lot of leeway when it comes to what the emergency aid can be spent on. But when negotiations get under way for a new COVID relief deal, pay attention to whether there’s a shift in how lawmakers talk about the education piece of it, and whether there’s more discussion of earmarking money to help students recover academically from the pandemic’s effects.

For example, in an interview earlier this month, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., the chairman of the House education committee, stressed that the federal government would have to help pay cash-strapped state and local governments for things like summer school. It will be interesting to see if that or similar proposals get more attention from lawmakers from both parties on Capitol Hill in the months ahead.

Related Tags:

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
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for
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
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Practices & the Construction of the Deep Reading Brain
Join Ryan Lee-James, Ph.D. CCC-SLP, director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, with Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD., Vital Village Community Engagement Network; Neena McConnico, Ph.D, LMHC, Child Witness to Violence Project; and Sondra
Content provided by Rollins Center

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 Funding Reported Essay Are We Asking Schools to Do Too Much?
Schools are increasingly being saddled with new responsibilities. At what point do we decide they are being overwhelmed?
5 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Education Funding Interactive Look Up How Much COVID Relief Aid Your School District is Getting
The federal government gave schools more than $190 billion to help them recover from the pandemic. But the money was not distributed evenly.
2 min read
Education Funding Explainer Everything You Need to Know About Schools and COVID Relief Funds
How much did your district get in pandemic emergency aid? When must the money be spent? Is there more on the way? EdWeek has the answers.
11 min read
090221 Stimulus Masks AP BS
Dezirae Espinoza wears a face mask while holding a tube of cleaning wipes as she waits to enter Garden Place Elementary School in Denver for the first day of in-class learning since the start of the pandemic.
David Zalubowski/AP
Education Funding Why Dems' $82 Billion Proposal for School Buildings Still Isn't Enough
Two new reports highlight the severe disrepair the nation's school infrastructure is in and the crushing district debt the lack of federal and state investment has caused.
4 min read
Founded 55 years ago, Foust Elementary received its latest update 12-25 years ago for their HVAC units. If the school receives funds from the Guilford County Schools bond allocation, they will expand classrooms from the back of the building.
Community members in Guilford, N.C. last week protested the lack of new funding to improve the district's crumbling school facilities.
Abby Gibbs/News & Record via AP