Lansing, MI, July 7, 2020 – Dr. Tina Kerr, executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators, today released the following statement:
“MASA fully supports Michigan’s actions to lead the charge on multi-state court action against U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s recent rule that unfairly reroutes federal relief dollars provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to private schools and limits our public schools’ ability to use these much-needed federal funds. The Association remains committed to ensuring that any funding for Michigan’s public schools – whether state dollars or as part of the federal CARES Act – is appropriately allocated for our 1.5 million children across the state.
The CARES Act clearly states that districts must provide private school students with equitable services in the same manner as required under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, in which funding is allocated based on the number of low-income students. DeVos’s rule, however, says coronavirus relief dollars should be distributed based on the total number of students in any private school that wishes to participate, and that equitable services must be provided to all students enrolled, even affluent students. That could mean that in districts with large private school populations, public schools serving low-income students would receive less relief money, while their private school peers would see more.
At a time when public schools need additional resources, Secretary DeVos is once again using illegal tactics to advance her personal privatization agenda. These funds should do what Congress intended – support the students who need it most. Without additional aid from the federal government, school districts will face many tough choices, including staff layoffs and programming cuts. While countless public schools struggle to pay teachers a living salary, many of these private schools had access to the Paycheck Protection Program.
To divert $1.3 billion from public schools is unacceptable, and inherently inequitable, especially given the significant cuts to education funding that we have seen in the last decade, and the state revenue declines we will soon see due to the Coronavirus pandemic.”