This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. On the roster this week: Child Tax Credit Becomes Law, and State Efforts to Secure ARP Education Funding.
Implementing Federal Child Tax Credit
This week, families will begin to receive checks through the Child Tax Credit (CTC), fulfilling a longstanding mission on the part of Connecticut's own Representative Rosa DeLauro. Through the end of the year, the newly expanded credit under the American Rescue Plan will direct up to $300 a month per child to eligible parents. As the Washington Post observed yesterday, household income is one of the greatest predictors of a child's academic success. But this new source of funding could potentially cut child poverty in half—according to Columbia University's Center on Poverty and Social Policy. This significant policy will not only alleviate some financial distress for families, but also ensure their children's futures. Championed for decades by Representative DeLauro, who herself grew up in poverty, the CTC essentially establishes a new minimum income for families. President Biden hopes to renew the program for a minimum of four years.
USDE Begins Approving Plans for Remaining ARP Funding
Last week, the US Department of Education approved the first seven state plans for use of remaining K-12 ARP ESSER dollars. US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said the approved plans lay the groundwork for using this infusion of federal resources to address student needs—covering areas like summer learning and enrichment, access to COVID-19 vaccination, unfinished instructional time, school counselors, and mental health services. A story in yesterday’s New York Times, however, cautions that some superintendents say the extra funds come with "complications and unintended consequences." The story covers the frustrations of several superintendents across the country who feel that they can't use the federal influx the way their specific districts need—due to spending limitations and timelines designed to ensure the funds are spent on students' COVID-related needs. (Think: one-time investments in decrepit buildings, long-term hires, or recovery programs that span more than 2-3 years.)
Connecticut’s plan is still under review, like most other states’. However, on Thursday, Middletown Superintendent Michael Conner, an early supporter of the recently passed Right to Read legislation, was named as one of the 30 superintendents on the national American Rescue Plan Committee. Established by the School Superintendents Association, AASA, this Committee is tasked with developing recommendations and insights for how schools can move forward with this next period of reopening. Congratulations, Dr. Conner!