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Phyllis W. Jordan of Future-Ed, a D.C. think tank, explains here what the latest Congressional agreement on COVID aid means for education and compares it to last spring’s CARES Act as well as to the HEROES Act passed in May by the House of Representatives. The agreement does not include any aid for cities or states. President-Elect Joe Biden has pledged another relief package after he takes office.
The $900 billion package builds on a $908 billion stimulus bill introduced Dec. 14 and would include stimulus checks, small business relief, unemployment benefits, and support for vaccine distribution, among other things. The measure includes $82 billion for education, with $2.7 billion specifically for private and parochial schools. A detailed proposal has not been publicly released yet, but the Dec. 14 bill included the $82 billion figure and broke it down like this:
- $54 billion of that for K-12 schools, largely delivered through Title I funding. That’s about four times what schools received in the CARES Act approved in March.
- $20 billion for higher education with dollars set aside for minority-serving institutions
- $7.5 billion for governors to spend at their discretion, including on private schools.
School meal programs and child care. and expand the Pell Grant program to support 500,000 new low-income college students. Separately, lawmakers have agreed to lift a ban on Pell Grants for prison education programs, an agreement that will be part of a broader bill to fund the government through the fiscal year.
The Covid relief deal that House and Senate leaders stuck is far below the $2.2 trillion Democratic leaders had been seeking for much of the Fall but higher than the $500 billion that Senate Republicans favored.
The Washington Post summary said:
• Colleges and schools will have $82 billion to help cover HVAC repair and replacement to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections and reopen classrooms. The Republican summary specified $2.75 billion in designated funds for private K-12 education.
• Lawmakers also struck a deal on $10 billion for child-care assistance.