As another Covid Relief bill moves through Congress, Agudath Israel of America is urging committee leadership to ensure that nonpublic schools are treated equitably in the full allocation and use of funds directed to the nation’s elementary and secondary schools.
The current House proposal allocates $129 billion for K-12 schools to help them safely reopen and address lost time in the classroom. However, the provisions of the bill limit the nonpublic school share to twenty percent of the total, and that amount to be used only for “learning loss.”
But as Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudah’s Vice President for Government Affairs and Washington Director, welcomed the allocation, he also pointed out in a letter to Chairperson Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, that limiting “equitable participation” to this single purpose – learning loss – leaves nonpublic schools bereft of vital aid. “Like their public school counterparts, the needs of nonpublic schools go far beyond learning loss and extend to a broad range of health and safety issues.”
Opening a larger amount of aid to broader use is particularly compelling for many nonpublic schools, particularly in the Jewish community, the letter further noted, in light of their demonstrated commitment this past year to reopen their schools at significant cost for in-person learning in a safe environment for students and teachers.
“At a time of crisis, Congress should expand flexibility and options for all schools so the funding will most optimally serve its purpose of providing true relief” concluded Rabbi Cohen.