Relief Legislation Focuses on Education Access and Equity
July 13, 2021 | Article
Brian Lash, Managing Partner and CEO
How does the American Rescue Plan Act address access and equity in education?
A study completed in 2018 by the Education Trust suggests that students of color, especially those from Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native American families, are more likely to attend schools in districts that receive less in state and local funding per student.1 Compounding the inequity is a growing digital divide that further separates many low income and minority students from an increasingly digital classroom.
Renaissance Learning conducted a study at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in America to examine Math and Reading performance levels. The results suggested that Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska Native students experienced relatively greater negative impacts from the pandemic than average. The same holds for those attending rural schools, regardless of race.2
HOW IS ARPA ADVANCING EDUCATIONAL EQUITY AND ACCESS?
The American Rescue Plan Act will deploy an estimated $170 billion to the education sector to support school reopening, to improve equity and access and to minimize or eliminate the digital divide in our classrooms.3
While the education relief fund is targeted toward various grants and learning programs, a significant portion — approximately $109 billion — is apportioned to state and local authorities to enhance education opportunities for all. Not only does this include learning recovery, but it also covers services for homeless students.4 Meanwhile, nearly $35 billion is associated with higher schooling funds in an effort to increase accessibility and affordability for college education. Finally, the ‘hardest hit fund’ opens funding for governors to help bridge the equity gap and meet the learning needs of those most impacted by COVID-19.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Education access, availability and equity are long-standing challenges that were exacerbated by the pandemic. Innovation on the part of educators, coupled with important relief activity to drive change in these areas, promises to improve the situation for millions of American students.
1Morgan, I (February 2018) An Analysis of School Funding Equity Across the U.S. and Within Each State. Retrieved from
2Renaissance Learning (November 2020) How Kids Are Performing: Tracking the Impact of COVID-19 on Reading and Mathematics Achievement. Retrieved from https://renaissance.widen.net/s/wmjtlxkhbm
3The White House (January 20, 2021) President Biden Announces American Rescue Plan. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/legislation/2021/01/20/president-biden-announces-american-rescue-plan/
4Griffith, M (March 11, 2021) An Unparalleled Investment in U.S. Public Education: Analysis of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Retrieved from https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/blog/covid-analysis-american-rescue-plan-act-2021