WASHINGTON, D.C. – The SPLC Action Fund issued the following statement by Regional Policy Analyst Katherine Dunn about the education provisions of the federal government’s $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus proposal:
“With over 50 million children facing school closures across the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress must ensure supports for students, educators and families who are navigating this crisis.
“The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance on important flexibility already available to districts and states through targeted waivers of assessments. However, as part of the legislative stimulus plan, Senate leaders are proposing to create a pathway for U.S Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to have broad waiver authority under the federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The plan would also require DeVos to propose additional waiver authority to Congress that would eliminate protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other important laws.
“IDEA is an important safeguard for millions of students with disabilities across the nation. Families rely on the law’s protections to ensure that their students have equal access to an appropriate education. In no way should Congress consider an avenue for states to bypass any provision under this crucial law.
“Students with disabilities and low-income students will likely face some of the biggest hurdles as a result of schools being closed, including access to distance learning, school meals, and health and mental health services. In this time of crisis, they no doubt will need more resources to support their learning, not a scaling back of their rights. We urge congressional leaders to remove the dangerous language that would scale back student protections from the proposed stimulus bill and extend the protection of federal law and the resources schools will need to meet their obligations under the law.”