President Joe Biden has signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which will provide a fresh round of coronavirus relief for schools as an unprecedented infusion of federal aid for K-12 education continues.
The legislation includes approximately $129 billion to help students and educators deal with the various impacts of the pandemic; most of that money (about $123 billion) is part of a stabilization fund for elementary and secondary education that’s distributed through the federal Title I formula for disadvantaged students. Local school districts will receive at least 90 percent of that stabilization fund, but they must earmark one dollar out of every five for learning recovery programs.
The bill includes “maintenance of equity” provisions that in general are designed to prevent or minimize state and local cuts to schools serving relatively large shares of students from low-income households.
Through this and two previous COVID-19 relief bills enacted in March and December of last year, public schools have received approximately $195 billion in aid from the federal government. That’s nearly twice the $100 billion K-12 education received in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly known as the stimulus, to counteract the effects of the Great Recession.
In partnership with the Learning Policy Institute, Education Week has created an interactive database about the American Relief Plan’s main education provisions. Using Congressional Research Service data, it provides estimated per-pupil funding figures by state, funding for local learning-recovery efforts by state, and other details.
See the database below.
“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” Biden said when he signed the legislation Thursday.
In a speech Thursday evening marking one year since the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic, Biden lamented “the loss of learning” and other effects COVID-19 has had on children.
Biden said that thanks to the American Rescue Plan, as well as his efforts to accelerate the vaccination of teachers and other school staff, “We can accelerate the massive nationwide effort to reopen our schools safely and meet my goal … of opening a majority of K-8 schools in my first 100 days in office. This is going to be the number one priority of my new secretary of education, Miguel Cardona.”
At the most basic level, the American Rescue Plan reflects Biden’s COVID-19 recovery blueprint, in which he called for $130 billion for K-12 education.
As the legislation worked its way through Congress, lawmakers included the mandatory support for learning recovery efforts, created dedicated funding streams for summer enrichment, after-school programs, private schools, and special education.
The bill also includes $350 billion for state, local, territorial and tribal governments, and $7 billion for the federal E-Rate program to provide students with internet service and internet-connected devices.
Supporters of the American Rescue Plan say it will support urgent K-12 priorities. But critics have questioned whether schools truly need additional federal aid.
A version of this article appeared in the March 17, 2021 edition of Education Week as New COVID-19 Aid Headed for State, District Coffers