Summer school, extended learning a priority in $ 129 billion COVID-19 relief bill
Updated February 10
Latest COVID-19 relief proposal to Congress would require districts to use at least 20% of their aid to tackle “learning loss” through programs like summer school, while states should reserve 5% of the money for similar purposes.
Schools could also use the funding to improve HVAC systems, reduce class sizes, implement social distancing, hire support staff, and meet a wide variety of other needs and expenses to help schools reopen in completely safe.
The bill includes requirements designed to protect state and local spending for economically disadvantaged students.
The $ 129 billion Kindergarten to Grade 12 assistance program was posted Monday by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va. Democrats plan to include aid to schools as part of a larger coronavirus aid deal through a process known as budget reconciliation. In total dollar amounts, it essentially corresponds to the $ 130 billion in relief for schools. proposed by President Joe Biden shortly before his inauguration.
However, the bill omits two proposals from Biden’s US bailout. Unlike Biden’s plan, the House bill does not include $ 5 billion in funds for governors to help schools “hardest hit” by the pandemic. The “equity challenge grants” that the Biden administration proposed “to advance equity and evidence-based policies to address educational challenges related to COVID are also missing.”
The proposal is not final and may change as it advances in Congress.
The House education committee advanced the legislation early Wednesday by a vote of 27-21. Republicans proposed several amendments to the legislation, but none were passed. The legislation is now heading to the House Budget Committee, which is tasked with combining COVID-19 relief bills from different committees into a comprehensive House Assistance package.
Among the amendments the committee voted on was a proposal by Representative Burgess Owens, R-Utah, that would have banned the use of aid funding for standardized tests required by the Every Student Succeeds Act, the main federal K-12 law. ; an amendment from Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., which would have barred districts from getting help unless they opened for in-person instruction, and instead directed aid to accounts of education savings so that students can directly access various K-12 expenses; and an amendment from Representative Michelle Steel, R-Calif., that would have barred districts from getting help unless their teachers had first been given the opportunity to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
In many ways, the legislation resembles previous funding for coronavirus relief; Scott’s reconciliation proposal says that in general, the money can be used in the same way as previous coronavirus relief funding passed by Congress last year. Schools have been able to use such relief for things ranging from cleaning schools to paying for educational technology.
Congress provided approximately $ 67 billion to public schools K-12 in two previous COVID-19 relief bills.
Separately, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will soon be reviewing COVID-19 relief legislation that would provide $ 7.6 billion to help provide students with internet access and internet-connected devices. Education groups have called for such funding throughout the pandemic to help students learn from a distance and fill the “homework void.”
Capitol Hill’s growing attention to academics
However, the bill’s requirement that a minimum amount (about 25%) go to state and local academic recovery efforts is important, and departs from past relief bills. The legislation states that at least this amount must pay for “the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer, extended day or extended school year learning programs, and ensure that these interventions meet the academic, social and emotional needs of students ”.
Additionally, students who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic would get top priority for this funding, according to the legislation.
Scott has reported for some time, as in a December interview with Education Week, that its priority in future COVID-19 relief for schools would involve the academic needs of students. In this interview, he specifically highlighted his desire for children to receive enhanced academic services over the summer. However, using the summer school overcoming the academic needs of the pandemic is not a carefree proposition; concerns about union membership and the ability of states to enforce summer apprenticeship are two potential issues.
Biden administration listed $ 29 billion needed for learning recovery in rationale for new K-12 relief proposal. However, this plan did not call on Congress to allocate a minimum amount for university services like the House Democrats’ bill does. A bill from Scott and other Democrats released last month would set aside $ 75 billion over two years for university services linked to the pandemic as a prolonged learning time.
States receiving aid through the bill released on Monday are expected to agree not to reduce their per-pupil spending for very poor districts more than any per-pupil reduction they make for all districts, during fiscal years 2022 and 2023. (In this case, “high poverty” district refers to a district that serves a greater proportion of economically disadvantaged students than the median district of the state.) FY2019 funding levels This requirement would also cover fiscal years 2022 and 2023.
There would be similar conditions for district limits on how much they could reduce aid to very poor schools.
States should also agree to maintain certain spending levels for K-12 schools in general in proportion to spending levels in recent years, although they may request a waiver of this requirement.
The portion of district funding earmarked for extended learning programs is subject to an equitable service requirement. This means that some students who attend private schools and who have been found to be academically at risk are eligible for services such as one-to-one tutoring paid for by relief funds set aside to ensure return to school.
In addition to Kindergarten to Grade 12, the bill would provide additional funding for child care, including $ 39 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program. It would also allocate $ 1 billion to Head Start, the federal early childhood education program.
Democrats who control both the House and the Senate have indicated that they hope to approve a $ 1.9 trillion relief bill and send it to Biden by March 14., when a federal unemployment insurance supplement expires. The reconciliation process allows lawmakers, among others, to pass relief legislation by a simple majority in the Senate, rather than negotiating the filibuster whereby 41 senators can block a bill.
Some Republican senators have expressed support for a much smaller $ 600 billion COVID-19 relief deal, but the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats have moved forward without them.