House Republicans launch probe into ARP spending on ‘leftist ideology’

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Diving Brief:

  • Republicans on the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Oversight and Reform Committee have started an investigation in the reported use of federal pandemic relief funding for the Critical Race Theory Program, Equity, Inclusion, and other programs that conservatives call “leftist ideology.”
  • In September 14 letters to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, U.S. Department of Education Inspector General Sandra Bruce, and education officials in New York, Illinois, and from California, Republican lawmakers say federal relief money is being directed to initiatives for “LGBTQ+ cultural competency,” “environmental literacy,” and “racist curricula and programs based on critical gender theory.” race” rather than learning recovery efforts.
  • The survey highlights the divide across the country over teaching focused on racial inequality and LGBTQ issues and how recovery aid should be allocated as schools balance demands for recovery investments school, mental and socio-emotional health.

Overview of the dive:

In the letter to Cardona, 30 Republican lawmakers are asking the Secretary of Education for documents and communications for approval of U.S. bailout funds for California, New York, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey. These states are all run by Democratic governors.

The letter says New York used a portion of the $9 billion it received to provide staff development on “culturally appropriate support instruction” and “privilege” and to recognize “warriors of equity”.

Illinois, the letter says, received $5.1 billion, which it used in part “to emphasize ‘equity and diversity’ and make ‘equity-focused investments.’ “.

The letter to Cardona also requests documents and communications related to the use of Emergency aid for elementary and secondary schools funds for training or teaching on topics related to critical race theory, diversity, equity and inclusion, and other “race-based training” or programs.

And at least 10 other state plans included proposals for using Esser funds to implement a “racial biased curriculum” and curricula based on critical race theoryaccording to the letter.

All requested documents must be submitted by September 28, the letters say.

“The learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been a global catastrophe,” the letter to Cardona states. “The overwhelming majority of school closures have occurred in states and localities run by Democrats who have chosen to keep schools closed far longer than necessary, often at the behest of teachers’ unions.”

Nationally, schools have received $189.5 billion in relief funds, including $122 billion from the US bailout. The ARP law requires states to set aside 5% and local school districts to set aside 20% for learning recovery programs.

The ARP also requires states and districts to spend funds on evidence-based interventions and ensure that these interventions meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of students. Additionally, districts must address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented students, including “every major racial and ethnic group, children from low-income families, children with disabilities, learners from English, gender, migrant students, homeless students and foster children and young people.”

A published analysis this week by FutureEd, a think tank from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, shows that districts are prioritizing HRA spending on staffing, recuperation and facilities. The analysis is based on research from data services firm Burbio and covers 5,000 plans representing districts and chartered organizations serving 74% of public school students and spending totaling $83 billion.

The most common areas within the education-related expenses category were summer learning, instructional materials, and instructional software or software.

Another one analysis by FutureEd showed that despite political divisions around K-12 recovery priorities, actual spending in red and blue states was most often aligned. Almost the same percentage of districts in red and blue states, for example, said they planned to invest US bailout funds in social-emotional learning.