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Legislative Update

Education Funding and the American Rescue Plan

By Jodi Peterson

Posted on 2021-02-19

Education Funding and the American Rescue Plan

Earlier this month, the Education and Labor Committee released and marked up the education portion of the FY21 budget reconciliation bill, which enacts the American Rescue Plan, President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

The bill includes $130 billion for K-12. The bill’s funding will be administered via the same language and programs as passed in the second COVID-19 relief bill (the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSERF) of the Education Stabilization Fund.) One notable exception on this proposed round of funding: it includes a 5% set aside at the state level and a 20% set aside at the local level to support learning loss.

The Senate is also working on their next relief package/reconciliation bill, and many hope a final bill will be agreed to by mid-March. Stay tuned.

Ed Resources on Safely Opening Schools

The U.S. Department of Education has released the ED COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools

This 26-page handbook is the first in a series intended to support the education community as schools reopen.  This series will provide tools to aid educators in implementing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation (Operational Strategy) by addressing common challenges and providing practical examples.  This series will be updated as additional scientific evidence becomes available, including evidence related to new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. 

More Education Bills to Address COVID Introduced in the House

A number of education bills to help schools re-open and deal with COVID-19 were introduced (and reintroduced from previous sessions of Congress) in the House of Representatives when they convened in late January.

NSTA joined with dozens of other education groups to endorse the SAVE EDUCATION JOBS ACT, introduced by Rep. Jahana Hayes (a former educator). The Education Jobs Fund would stabilize the education workforce by delivering up to $261 billion to states and school districts over 10 years. Ninety percent of the funding from this bill would go towards saving the jobs of teachers and other school employees as a result of school budget cuts because of the COVID-19 crisis. There is no similar legislation pending in the Senate. More here

In addition, two other education bills, Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act and the Learning Recovery Act of 2021, were also introduced. The first bill would provide $100 billion in grants and $30 billion in bond authority for high-poverty schools to fix safety issues with their buildings. The money could also be used to help schools upgrade their heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and expand access to high speed broadband. The second bill would provide $75 billion over two years channeled into Title I Part A for school programs to address learning recovery. Bill language also calls for research on the effects of lost classroom time.

Jodi Peterson is the Assistant Executive Director of Communications, Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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