Unused school Covid funding

Unused school Covid funding

The “nation’s report card,” published Monday, showed the massive learning loss sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, new data from Edunomics, an education finance group at Georgetown University, show that schools have only spent a fraction – 15% of $122 billion – of American Rescue Plan Act dollars that were meant to, among other things, help students who had fallen behind academically. The Washington Post’s Lauren Lumpkin and Sahana Jayaraman report on the reasons for the slow rollout: 

The money was not spent for a variety of reasons — including delayed access to funds, a nationwide educator shortage that has made it hard to fill new positions, and a desire to make the money last, according to interviews with school officials and education experts in six states. ESSER III expires in September 2024, well after two earlier rounds of relief funding dry up, and school leaders say they want to stretch it as long as possible. But while the money sits — much of which is slated to go toward tutoring and other measures to catch students up academically — millions of children continue to struggle in core subjects, the consequences of which might not be known for years.

Why the price of gas has so much power over us 
The price of gas affects consumers’ spending habits, and it also holds enormous power on how Americans feel about their own financial well-being, confidence in the broader economy and the overall direction of the country. The New York Times’ Emily Badger and Eve Washington explain why gasoline, more than other things we buy, has so much power over how we feel. 

“When prices go up, we have this feeling of oppression that we can’t do everything we want,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, which tracks real-time gas prices across the country. And when prices are low: “You feel like you can go anywhere, you can see anything, you can do anything.” The reasons for this are embedded in both our dependence on gas and the specific ways it differs from just about everything else we buy. “There is no other consumer good or service with price tags that are visible from the street, all the time,” said Joanne Hsu, director of the Surveys of Consumers at the University of Michigan.

Debt-ceiling fight has enormous risks
Congressional Republicans haven’t been shy about their plans to use the federal debt-ceiling fight to force spending cuts to popular programs such as Medicaid and Social Security if they regain control of Congress in the midterm elections. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Paul N. Van de Water explains why using America’s borrowing limit as a bargaining chip is irresponsible, especially with the prospect of a looming recession, and the global and domestic consequences of such a move. 

If the government couldn’t borrow, it would need to impose sharp, massive reductions in spending, which would have devastating economy-wide consequences. Some households, businesses, and nonprofits would be unable to pay their bills while they waited for payments the government legally owed them. Cuts in grants-in-aid would strain the budgets of state and local governments. Such a large drop in spending would plunge the nation into recession and drive up unemployment. The Treasury’s inability to borrow would make it impossible for the federal government to use countercyclical fiscal policy to stimulate the economy or mitigate the hardship faced by those losing their jobs or benefits because of the sharp curtailing of government spending.

Transportation challenges for community college students  
Logistical challenges are preventing many low-income students, especially those attending community colleges in rural areas, from obtaining college degrees. That’s because less than 60% of community college main campuses have transit stops that are within walking distance of the school, while many rural campuses have no public transportation at all. Pew’s Elaine S. Povich explains how a lack of transportation is creating roadblocks for community college students.

The cost of transportation also can be a challenge for community college students from families with low incomes. The College Board estimates that during the 2021-22 school year, students attending public two-year schools spent an average of $1,840 on transportation, nearly half of the $3,800 they spent on tuition and fees. … The situation also has come to the attention of federal lawmakers. Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, both Democrats, have proposed issuing federal grants to mass transit agencies to add transit stops closer to campuses. Their bills are still awaiting consideration.

Programming note
Join us today for the next installment of Racism: Dismantling the System speaker series, hosted by LBP, the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication and other partners. Experts will investigate the popularity of Black horror films and discuss the danger of plots and scripts that perpetuate harmful stereotypes of BIPOC people as disadvantaged or oppressed. 

Details: Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 3:30 pm. Click here to reserve your space for the online event. You can also view this episode on the Reilly’s Center Facebook page.

Number of the Day
62% – Percentage of Americans that feel the federal government isn’t doing enough to reduce climate change. While the Inflation Reduction Act represents the country’s largest investment ever to fight climate change, 61% of American adults said they knew little to nothing about it. (Source: Associated Press)