WASHINGTON D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, introduced H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act), an essential step towards meeting the needs of America’s K-12 schools hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, released the following statement:
“We are grateful for Congress’s continued commitment to provide K-12 schools and their leaders with funding to meet the extraordinary needs of students impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The HEROES Act takes another important step toward the provision of desperately needed funding to thousands of schools across the nation that have already experienced and are anticipating tremendous resource needs.
We are pleased that the HEROES Act proposes funding to help provide Wi-Fi hotspots and other connected devices to many students who are unable to access the digital resources critical for distance learning. While this funding is significant it still falls short of the needs of students. In addition, we are pleased that the proposed funding for mental health services, as well as for state and local aid dollars, exceeds our recommendation.
However, simply put, the money allotted for K-12 schools in the HEROES Act is disappointingly low. And one of the groups of Americans that will bear that burden most is students—particularly students of color and students from low-income families. Furthermore, there are no safeguards for charter schools in this package. Many of these public schools are at risk of not receiving their fair share of federal, state, or local funding. Charter school students are among our nation’s most vulnerable, with nearly 60 percent nationwide eligible for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program. In many schools, that number is much higher. Many of these children are black and brown and come from the very communities which have borne the brunt of the coronavirus.
Supporting these students through distance learning, safely and successfully reopening their school buildings, helping them catch up and preparing for potential shut-downs in the fall and winter is complex and costly. This is especially true for schools serving underserved populations. The $56.5 billion in additional stimulus funding for K-12 education outlined in the HEROES Act will be far from sufficient.
In a letter addressed to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy we detailed the critical needs of K-12 students in the midst of this pandemic. The HEROES Act is an important step toward providing resources schools desperately need. But we cannot let this be another time when charter school students get short-changed. Every public school in America deserves its fair share.”