Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten and AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech on Department of Education’s ‘Equitable Services’ Guidance for CARES Act Funding
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued the following statement in response to the Department of Education’s guidance on how school districts should utilize their funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act:
“While educators, school administrators and parents struggle to navigate how to meet kids’ needs during a global pandemic, this guidance denies public schools the recovery they desperately need. Low-income students have been disproportionately affected by the realities of schools being closed: They need Wi-Fi and broadband access; counselors, nurses and intervention specialists; and additional resources to help bridge the gap when it’s safe to return to school. Instead, the guidance funnels more money to private schools and undercuts the aid that goes to the students who need it most.
“Fortunately, school districts can—and should—ignore this guidance, which flouts what Congress intended to do with the CARES Act: support students who need it the most, especially as we reimagine learning; take steps toward a safe reopening; and address ways to provide communities what they need, through voluntary summer school, meal programs or other wraparound services. As our country navigates the continued effects of this crisis, it’s more important than ever that states and localities have the funding they need to support our public schools, public hospitals, public services and all of the people who carried us through this crisis.
“Our organizations and the educators we represent are deeply concerned that the equitable services guidance is inequitable, generates dollars for wealthy students in private schools at the direct expense of Title I-eligible students in public schools, is in conflict with the historical pillar of equitable services, and is inconsistent with the underlying language of both the CARES Act and ESSA Section 1117. We urge the secretary to revise her guidance to ensure that CARES Act dollars are allocated equitably and according to Title I.
“Prioritizing the needs of the wealthy few over the needs of everyday people is the wrong priority—and it ends here.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.