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December 31, 2020

Classroom resource: What the relief bill could mean for K-12 education

The view of the Nations Capitol as the Democrats and Republicans continue moving forward on the agreement of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) aid package in Washington, D.C., U.S. December 21, 2020. REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

Directions: Read the summary below and answer the discussion questions. If time allows, read this article.

Summary: Congress passed the $900 billion relief package last week, a bill that came in at over 5,000 pages. The bill will affect K-12 education in a number of ways. The months of debate over this package could also foreshadow challenges the Biden administration will face in their goals of increasing funding for states and low-income school districts. The new relief package does not include any state or local government funding now due to opposition from House Republicans. Other details include:

  • Around $82 billion of the package is designated for schools, mostly for K-12 ($54 billion) and higher education ($23 billion), but money will also go to private schools and the Bureau of Indian Education schools. Funds for public schools will largely be delivered through Title I funding, so high poverty school districts will generally get more.  [Chalkbeat]
  • School districts main need for relief funding is not only in protecting students and teachers from COVID with necessary safety measures such as building upgrades to reduce COVID transmission and cleaning supplies, but also to offer services to students who have experienced a learning loss or lack of access to remote learning tools and for low-income students, minorities and children with disabilities, among others.  [Chalkbeat]
  • The only other aid K-12 schools have received so far in this pandemic was in the CARES Act in March, which was a small fraction of the size of this package. [FutureEd]


Warm up questions: 

  1. How much of the relief bill is being allocated to education?
  2. Why did some people think it was not enough money for education?
  3. Who will benefit from this aid?
  4. Where did the relief package get passed?
  5. What are some things that the money will go towards?

Focus questions:

  1. What are some of the biggest problems you’ve seen that could be addressed by this relief package?
  2. Do you think the amount of money being allocated to education is enough? Why or why not?

Media literacy:Have you read or heard about education aid in the relief bill in the news? If not, why do you think so? If you have, were you content with the coverage you saw?

Additional resources: 

  1. Watch this fun video for some background information on how a bill is passed.
  2. Watch this video or read the summary to learn more about partisanship in Congress and how that affects productivity levels.

This resource was written by Rebecca Shaid, NewsHour EXTRA’s intern and freshman at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, and Luke Gerwe, EXTRA’s editor. 

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