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Civil Rights and Education Leaders on the Need to Protect the Highest Need Schools and Students in the Next Stimulus Bill

Washington (July 28, 2020) — In response to the relief package proposed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Lamar Alexander, and Senator Roy Blunt, we join together to issue the following statement:

“As states, districts, and schools develop and implement reopening plans for the 2020–2021 school year, they need substantial additional federal support to protect students and to address students’ unfinished learning. The legislation introduced yesterday uses federal funds to coerce districts into opening while providing private schools with funds that are desperately needed by public schools. Moreover, no funding is provided to address the connectivity needs of students and families, despite the fact that many districts intend to provide instruction online. This proposal is a step backward in the nation’s response to COVID-19.

“The recession induced by COVID-19 has, and will continue to, decimate state and district revenues. On top of that, states, districts, and schools will face additional costs to provide the academic, health, and emotional support that students will need when they return to school. The Council of Chief State School Officers indicated that school systems may need as much as $244.6 billion in additional funding to safely reopen school buildings and serve all students, while other estimates suggest this may require $305 billion. In recognition of both increases in cost and reductions in revenue, 70 education organizations have urged Congress to provide at least $500 billion total in additional state budget stabilization funds, the K-12 share of which should be at least $175 billion. The amount provided in the McConnell/Alexander/Blunt package is deeply insufficient to meet the challenges facing our schools and students.

“Federal COVID-19 relief legislation must pay particular attention to the unique needs of students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, English learners, students with disabilities, and students experiencing homelessness, foster care, or engaged in the juvenile justice system. These students have been historically underserved in education and disproportionately affected by the health, economic, and educational impacts of the virus. Dedicated funding through the programs with expertise in identifying and serving these students, including the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth program, must be included.

“To that end, critical provisions are needed to protect the rights of historically underserved students and ensure federal funding is appropriately targeted to those who need it most.

Download the joint statement from Civil Rights and Education Leaders on the Need to Protect the Highest Need Schools and Students in the Next Stimulus Bill.

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