Mike Magee, CEO of Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of state and district education leaders, today released the following statement.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act would deliver additional emergency funding and provide other critical assistance for our nation’s students and schools. It includes $54.3 billion for K-12 education with an additional $4.1 billion for education to be allocated by governors. This funding is urgently needed as education leaders cope with the effects of the virus and work to safely return students and staff to the classroom. Children across the country are falling behind academically and are experiencing trauma and stress during the pandemic. The vast majority of students learn best with face-to-face instruction—and all students benefit from the in-person social-emotional connections, mental health supports, and other essential services that schools provide.
In addition to emergency COVID relief funding, we are pleased that the measure would reduce the number of questions on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from 108 to 36. Through our FAFSA Fast Break initiative and our report, Change the FAFSA to Change the Future, our chiefs have advocated for simplifying the FAFSA. The bill contains important provisions that would make it easier for students to complete the form so they can access the financial aid they need for college.
We urge the federal government to immediately approve the Consolidated Appropriations Act and keep working with our chiefs to ensure schools have the resources they need as they respond to the immense challenges created and exacerbated by COVID-19. Among the areas where more federal help is needed is providing technology and internet connectivity so students can do their schoolwork, whether classes take place in person or online. The bill contains $3.2 billion for the Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund. These resources are crucial—but lawmakers must continue to work with service providers and others to #SendTheSignal to every home in America and end the digital divide once and for all.