Schools only spent 15% of Biden’s student relief money last year: analysis

Schools have spent only a small fraction of the money earmarked to tackle learning loss from the pandemic despite mounting evidence that students are struggling to catch up, according to a new analysis.

President Biden has released $120 billion through his 2021 virus program to reopen classrooms and help students who have fallen behind academically. Two-thirds of the money was released within two weeks of the president signing the law.

Yet only 15% of the funding known as ESSER III was spent in the 2021-2022 school year, according to analysis by the Washington Post, Georgetown University and Edunomics, a group of education funding.

Spending varied widely from state to state and district to district within states, the group said, and about half of the 211 districts analyzed that lag the most in English and math spent 5% or less of their money.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona visited a school in Maryland on Monday to promote the smart use of education dollars, hours after the “national report card” revealed that reading scores and in fourth- and eighth-grade students’ math had plummeted after the pandemic.

The schools cited a number of reasons to The Post for withholding spending, including a nationwide teacher shortage that made it difficult to fill positions or an attempt to make the money last.

The ESSER III installment expires in September 2024 and educators want to extend it over this period.
In other cases, schools are still using dollars that were allocated during the previous administration at the start of the pandemic.


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