Education Reform Now Chief Policy Officer Charles Barone and Director of Strategic Initiatives for Policy Michael Dannenberg released the following statement in response to the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act:
“As states struggle with plummeting revenues and students experience what are certain to be significant learning losses, we commend Speaker Pelosi and other leading Democrats on the introduction of the HEROES Act. We are particularly pleased to see funds invested in shoring up state and local budgets, providing internet connectivity to K-12 families who currently lack access, extending and expanding SNAP benefits and other nutritional supports, and establishing minimum quality standards for on-line higher education.
While it is promising that HEROES proposes more than $100 billion in dedicated funding for K-16 education costs and exponentially more for student loan debt relief, the reality is the former will almost certainly be woefully insufficient to cover the cuts that will inevitably come due to state and local budget shortfalls. We ask Congressional leaders to consider at least doubling education funding in the next round of negotiations so that states and local governments can maintain current personnel and services and respond to the unique needs of students and families during this crisis. Additionally, just as expanded support for internet connectivity is merited at the K-12 level, the same is true for postsecondary education students. Assurances of equity and quality in on-line education should be touchstones of any further COVID-19 legislative action.
Any significant investment of funding like that proposed in the HEROES Act should come with some basic requirements for the U.S. Department of Education, states, school districts, and colleges to direct funds to those with the greatest economic need and be transparent about where they have chosen to spend and what outcomes accrue from those policy decisions. For example, hundreds of millions of dollars in education aid should not go to super-wealthy universities or already highly advantaged individuals in any future COVID-19 response legislation. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act included less than optimal targeting as well as transparency and reporting assurances. These shortcomings should be remedied and not repeated in the final Phase IV bill.”