The recently passed $2.2 trillion CARES Act allocates over $30 billion for education. $13.5 billion will go towards the Education Stabilization Fund which is meant to help K-12 schools continue to pay staff and provide equipment for distance learning. $14 billion will go to colleges to help offset the cost of refunded tuition fees and room and board costs. $300 million will fund two grant program competitions that focus on education alternatives (https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/29/847783190/devos-to-use-coronavirus-relief-funds-for-home-schooling-microgrants?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=nprblogscoronavirusliveupdates).
$180 million will fund the "Rethinking K-12 Education Models Grant" which will support homeschooling families. $127.5 million will fund the "Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grant" which will support programs focused on workforce preparation. While small compared to the billions given to K-12 schools and higher education, this continues Secretary Devos's commitment to alternative education.
Since being appointed Secretary of Education by President Trump, Devos has been outspoken about her support for school choice and school voucher programs. In the 2018 PISA international rankings, US students ranked 13th in reading and 36th in math. There are various factors contributing to these rankings including socioeconomic disparities between regions and a distinct shift in educational philosophy over the past century. While many have called for increased funding for public education to better address these shortcomings, others like Devos have turned to different options such as charter schools and homeschooling.
The same can be said for higher education. Student loan debt has skyrocketed as the demand and cost of higher education has increased. More employers require some form of degree while trade jobs have been brushed aside. Prioritizing apprenticeships and workforce preparation could help alleviate this as many American have left college with a "worthless" degree amounting to four years of debt without much to show for it. Hopefully these grants will serve as catalysts towards reorienting how Americans view education.
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