Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey are among a group of lawmakers urging Senate leadership to ensure that long-term investments for schools recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic are included in the next major funding package.
In a letter jointly addressed to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday, the Massachusetts Democrats wrote that additional funding is needed for elementary and secondary schools to “accelerate students’ academic progress, address students’ social-emotional needs, and target the significant inequities in public education” — all issues that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Ron Wyden of Oregon co-signed the letter with the Massachusetts lawmakers.
“Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, elementary and secondary public schools lacked sufficient funding and resources to provide all students with a high-quality public education,” the senators wrote. “This challenge has been exacerbated by the pandemic and is likely to significantly worsen achievement gaps for students in low-income communities and communities of color.”
The Democrats emphasized to Senate leadership that while the nearly $122 billion in relief funding administered through the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund has been “crucial” for helping schools safely reopen amid the pandemic, more aid is needed to address the long-term impacts of the pandemic on the academic and social development of students. The next infrastructure package taken up by the Senate should include investments in evidence-based programs to accelerate learning and address the “social-emotional, mental, and physical health needs” of students over at least the next 10 years, the senators urged.
“It is critical that Congress provides sufficient, long-term funding to address the existing and worsened inequities facing our students,” the politicians wrote. “Providing funding for evidence-based interventions, including high quality tutoring, summer and out-of-school-time programming, and social-emotional supports, would have a significant effect on students’ long term success and meaningfully address the challenges the pandemic has created for students and their families.”
In March, Warren and Markey were among a group of senators who introduced legislation — the Educational Equity Challenge Grant Act of 2021 — that would create an application-based grant program to administer $100 billion in funding over the next 10 years to address impacts on students from the pandemic.
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