The Corner


States Are Spending School-Reopening Money Slowly

(maroke/Getty Images)

Dan Lips of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity reviews the numbers:

In March, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided $30.75 billion to the U.S. Department of Education for an Education Stabilization Fund. The fund included $16.2 billion for K-12 education, including $13.2 billion for an “Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief” (ESSER) fund.

As of November 30th, state departments of education had only spent $3 billion out of the $12.8 billion in ESSER funds awarded last spring, according to Department of Education data. Only three states (Arkansas, Iowa, and Missouri) had spent more than half of their ESSER funding. Eight states had spent less than 10 percent. New York and Vermont had spent less than 1 percent of their funds. Overall, state education agencies had spent less than 25 percent of ESSER funds after the first three months of the current school year.

A month ago, as Lips points out, the Department of Education allocated an additional $54 billion among state school systems from the COVID-relief bill that passed in December. This is much more than should be needed to comply with CDC risk-mitigation measures. The Biden administration is nonetheless asking for more, and excusing teacher unions for dragging their feet until they get it.

Update: I forgot to note that Miguel Cardona, Biden’s nominee for Education Secretary, is the education commissioner for Connecticut, which had spent less than 19 percent of its CARES Act money by November 30. Tomorrow his nomination is before a Senate committee, which might want to ask about this matter.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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