Schools need upwards of $200 billion in new aid to help them deal with the coronavirus, several education groups, including the two national teachers’ unions, have told congressional leaders—well above their previous request for emergency help.
The Monday letter to Capitol Hill says that in addition to at least $175 billion in state stabilization funding for K-12 budgets, Title I programs for disadvantaged students should get a $12 billion boost, and special education should get a fresh $13 billion in funding. And the 12 organizations reiterated previous demands that Congress should provide $2 billion to promote remote learning for students through the E-Rate program, as well as ensure “explicit” support for schools in any package to shore up the nation’s infrastructure.
The letter also says that at least 90 percent of any education stabilization funding from the federal government should be earmarked for local school districts.
This request for a large new round of federal aid follows the passage of the CARES Act late last month that provided roughly $13.5 billion in emergency funding for school districts, with an additional $3 billion allocated to governors to direct to K-12 as well as higher education at their discretion.
But that assistance fell far short of a similar push from education groups in March, when they lobbied for at least $75 billion in state education aid under the CARES Act.
“Given the likelihood that things continue to get worse before they turn around,” the letter states, “it is realistic for Congress to acknowledge the need for an unprecedented level of investment, something that cannot—and should not—be done in one fell swoop but in a series of informed, detailed and targeted investments to bolster and support state and local economies as they navigate the wake of COVID-19.”
Discussions are underway about whether there will be a fourth major bill from Congress addressing the coronavirus pandemic and if so, what would be in it.
The push for dedicated dollars to provide more students internet access and connected devices has been front and center for schools and others. But there are no guarantees that public schools will get a piece of the funding pie from a fourth bill, and attempting to increase K-12 aid by more than a factor of 10, as the new letter does, could face very long odds.
In addition to the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, the letter was backed by:
- AASA, The School Superintendents Association
- American School Counselor Association
- Council of Administrators of Special Education
- Council of Great City Schools
- National Association of Elementary School Principals
- National Association of Secondary School Principals
- National Association of School Psychologists
- National Association of State Directors of Special Education
- National PTA
- National School Boards Association
Read the full letter to House and Senate leaders below:
Image: Maddie Judge, a 2nd grader in Baltimore, Md., has built her own schedule and is now working on a remote learning platform. Courtesy of Katie Judge.