Letter to Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, and Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader - Rep Speier and 49 Bipartisan Colleagues Urge Inclusion of at least $175 Billion for Elementary and Secondary Education in Coronavirus Relief Package
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer:
Thank you for your leadership in developing our national response to the ongoing COVID-19
outbreak. As you work to finalize the next relief package, we urge you to increase emergency
funding for elementary and secondary education. Without a direct injection of federal funds into
our K-12 system, schools could be forced to lay off educators and increase class size to the
detriment of academic outcomes for students.
As K-12 schools across the country transition to distance learning, they grapple with
unprecedented challenges and costs. Schools are working to meet the technological needs of their
students by acquiring new tools and scaling up online learning programs. They also face
increased costs associated with educator training, student meal distribution, cleaning services,
and the dissemination of learning materials to students and educators at home. This struggle is
even more acute for institutions that experienced financial distress before the COVID-19
outbreak, including schools that have long been underfunded and schools that support large
special education programs with insufficient federal dollars.
We are deeply concerned that these costs will be exacerbated by shrinking school budgets, which
could lead to educator layoffs and a reduction in the quality of student services. In recent
decades, many school districts have become increasingly reliant on state funding. K-12 education
is particularly vulnerable to state funding shortfalls that could pit elementary and secondary
education against competing funding priorities such as public health and emergency services.
This has unique implications for schools in high-poverty areas which may have less revenue
from local property taxes to soften the blow of economic downturn and support distance
During this pandemic, it is imperative that we protect teachers and ensure that America's
students receive an education that prepares them for success. As elementary and secondary
schools struggle to balance education and safety amid fiscal uncertainty, they require dedicated
federal funds. In the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress
recognized this need and established the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief
(ESSER) Fund. While we are pleased that $13.5 billion was allocated for this program, we are
concerned that this level of funding does not go far enough to provide meaningful assistance to
schools that have been plunged into fiscal crisis by COVID-19.
We strongly urge you to include at least $175 billion for the ESSER Fund in the upcoming
COVID-19 relief package. Coupled with increased funding for Title I of the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), this direct
injection of federal funding into the K-12 system would provide schools with the lifeline they
need to retain their workforce and serve their students during this pandemic.
Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to working with you to ensure
that our COVID-19 strategy prioritizes young Americans and the educators who work tirelessly
to prepare them for a bright future.