Education has traditionally been a responsibility of the state and local governments. In the first CARES Act, $3 billion of the $30 billion allocated for education were set aside for flexible funding to be used at the discretion of the governors themselves. It makes sense, state and local leadership are closer to families who are in the best position to deliver a quality education to every child, especially during a time when millions of children are learning at home instead of the classroom.
With those flexible funds, governors were able to be creative in providing relief to families. States like Idaho and Oklahoma used the funds to provide direct assistance to families to pay for educational services and resources.
As stated in a recently published op-ed in The Hill, referring to the flexible funding provided to the states, “State-Based education groups praised the funding, recognizing that many of the most innovative programs were spawned from the flexibility.”
In the first stimulus bill, 10% of the education funds were reserved for flexible funding. Even though the total amount of education funds increased by more than $50 billion in the second relief act (to more than $81 billion), only 2% of the education funds were allocated to be used flexibly.
To help families provide their kids with the quality education they deserve, Congress must reserve more funds for governors to flexibly spend and provide direct assistance to families themselves. It’s time to modernize our approach to education funding and provide parents with the direct assistance they need.