School districts around the country are receiving a big fiscal shot in the arm from the American Rescue Plan, which provided about $122 billion to help schools address the impact of the pandemic.
Of that, Oklahoma received $1.5 billion, with 90% flowing directly to districts (we posted a table containing the amounts awarded to each district; the “third installment” refers to the American Rescue Plan.) The funding is fairly flexible but is intended to help schools stay open for in-person learning as well as aid students in recovering missed learning opportunities.
Districts were required to get input from stakeholders on how the funds should be spent as they crafted their spending plan. Some have really struggled to collect feedback for a multitude of reasons.
For one, much of this work was done over the summer. After the chaos and disruptions and trauma that persisted throughout the 2020-21 school year, it’s no wonder many people didn’t respond to emails from school asking them to fill out a survey. Also, much public discourse around education right now is focused on hot-button issues like critical race theory and mask mandates instead of this huge opportunity to positively impact student learning for years to come.
Also, many parents weren’t aware they could weigh in. A poll by the National Parents Union found only 46% of parents had even heard of the American Rescue Plan funding and just 21% say they were asked for input.
I want to hear from you! Have you tried to provide feedback but couldn’t get through to your school? Or were you able to participate in the process in some way, such as an online survey? I can be reached by email and on Twitter and may include your comments in an upcoming story (only with permission, of course). Have a great week.
What I’m Reading
- State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s announcement that she’s changing parties to run for governor as a Democrat raises questions about how she would govern if elected. [The Frontier]
- The pandemic has taken a toll on the state’s teachers, and many are suffering from burnout. [The Oklahoman]
- The U.S. Department of Education has done only limited tracking on the $190 billion in pandemic relief aid given to schools since the spring of 2020. [ProPublica]
- More than 90% of families with low incomes are spending their monthly Child Tax Credit payments on food, clothing, shelter and education, an analysis of Census Bureau data shows. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
- A group of Oklahoma educators and civil rights groups is suing the state over a controversial law that restricts certain teachings on race in schools. The lawsuit challenges House Bill 1775 on the grounds that it violates students’ and teachers’ First Amendment right to free speech. [The 74]
The Latest From Oklahoma Watch
Oklahoma’s top public health officer resigned Friday, a day after Gov. Kevin Stitt criticized “rogue activists” at the state Department of Health for settling a federal lawsuit to allow a non-binary gender designation on state-issued birth certificates. [Read More…]
On Episode 8 of Oklahoma Watch’s podcast, journalists share insight on the congressional redistricting plans, simplifying the criminal code and advocating on behalf of Black victims of police brutality [Read More…]
Oklahoma’s only competitive congressional district could return to firm Republican control — or give Democrats the best chance they’ve seen in years. [Read More…]
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