In spring 2021, President Joe Biden introduced two programs that will significantly increase education funding for students of all ages. Title I, an existing federal government effort to provide funding for low-income students and schools, will be doubled in expenditures, from $16.5 billion to $36.5 billion.
The second part of the proposal is an additional $20 billion earmarked for states to fund their own schools, with low-income and marginalized populations in mind.
Though the plan is exciting, it can be difficult to understand, partly because it maintains a certain amount of ambiguity.
“There are significant challenges ahead for this plan . . . By creating a new program, and eventually tying money to politically tricky, state-level changes, some experts worry that the Biden administration has bitten off more than it can chew. Adding to the uncertainty: the White House has not fully explained how its proposal would work,” states Chalkbeat.
Without question, school leaders are curious about the ins and outs of this funding. Here, we discuss the nuances of the Biden education policy news.
1. The purpose of the funding is to provide resources to low-income schools.
The goal of the plan is to advance equity. Schools with the largest percentage of low-income students will receive the largest percentage of the funding. Title I is already designed to fund low-income schools, but proponents of Biden’s plan hope that it will be “more simply tied to poverty rates.”
2. School infrastructure is an important component of the plan.
One of the key components of this funding for low-income schools is providing $100 billion over ten years to improve school infrastructure. $50 billion will come through grants, and the remaining funding will come through bonds.
One of the ways that school leaders may want to use this infrastructure funding is by updating their school safety codes. Older school buildings may not be equipped with modern door-locking technology. ScholarChip’s Secure Door Access prevents individuals without proper access from entering your campus or entering rooms that they shouldn’t. This technology works by giving students unique One Cards that only enable them to access rooms that they need to enter for classes or other activities.
Secure Door Access and One Cards enable you to secure your campus while tracking student whereabouts throughout the day. Ultimately, this technology and data can be used to improve student safety.
3. Funding can be used to supplement students’ non-academic needs.
One of the most exciting elements of the education policy news is that it can be used to support students’ other needs. For instance, the Biden plan will offer funding for school nurses, childcare and Head Start programs, and small community schools’ programs. The latter initiative involves schools that offer comprehensive services to students and their families.
4. Funds can be used for special education programs and mental health services.
Many advocates are excited to see the President adding $2.6 billion to the Disabilities Education Act grants, making the total for these grants $15.5 billion. The additional funding aims to equalize the funding spent on these students.
What’s more, $1 billion of the funding will be earmarked to hire counselors, mental health professionals, and nurses.
An offering that can bolster a special education or mental health program at your school is ScholarChip’s Behavior Management tool. This automated system keeps records for all students and provides them with activities that encourage them to modify their behavior. Staff, teachers, and parents can also be looped in to use the system.
5. Funding from the plan can be used to investigate school discrimination claims.
The Office of Civil Rights, which investigates discrimination and ensures that civil rights laws are followed, would also benefit from Biden’s plan. The office would have a 10% increase in its budget, to $144 million each year.
Questions about the education policy news
When will this education policy pass?
At the moment, the future of Biden’s education policy plan is still unclear. As of June 2021, it is a proposal, not a certainty. While many groups are in favor of the plan, some groups are concerned about the funding formula, which has not been explicitly described.
As Donna Harris-Aikens of the Department of Education said, “The formula itself is something we are working with Congress on, so it is not yet a final proposal.”
How will school leaders be able to apply for this funding?
This question is still somewhat in the air. States will apply for the funding before doling it out to high-poverty schools. In order to receive the money, they likely will need to create equity commissions that will create goals for making their funding systems fairer for low-income schools. As it stands, primarily white schools districts receive around $23 billion more a year than districts heavily proportioned with students of color.
Therefore, to receive the federal funding, the states and districts will need to show progress in creating fairer funding policies for all districts.
How should school leaders prepare for the future of Biden’s education plan?
At its core, Biden’s education plan is devised to catch up poorer districts with richer ones. Two budgets—one implemented through the federal government and one through the state—provide funding to districts interested in improving their school infrastructure, special education programs, and non-academic services.
Once school leaders understand the key takeaways of the education policy news, they can make plans for program development.
The ScholarChip team is dedicated to helping school leaders maximize the safety and well-being of students and the entire school community.
Want to talk more about creating an actionable plan for these funds to help close the learning loss and make reopening effective and safe? Feel free to chat with one of our specialists today!