(April 28, 2021) Today, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced it will distribute more than $11 billion in COVID-19 relief funds to Texas public schools. These funds, allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), can be used to address many different costs and must be used to address learning loss. The TEA announcement emphasized that the federal money will not be used to replace state funding for public schools.
The release of these critical funds is long overdue. Texas leaders were slow to access the billions of dollars that will allow school districts across the state to take advantage of a unique opportunity to rethink how they identify and address systemic inequities in our education system. These inequities have been worsened by the pandemic and limit opportunities for students of color, those from families with limited incomes and others.
In addition to requiring the state to maintain certain levels of funding in public schools, including postsecondary schools, ARPA requires that impacted communities, civil rights organizations, and other advocates be included in creating a state plan for the use of funds. We urge TEA to take this mandate seriously and look to the many organizations who have been steadfast advocates of educational equity in Texas. We also urge TEA to immediately access the Round 2 federal funds to which the state is entitled, including $5.5 billion in ESSER II funds.
For more information about federal relief funds, see IDRA’s resources at A Comprehensive Equity Approach to Addressing COVID-19’s Impact on Schools and stay tuned for more opportunities to engage in community-led planning for federal funds.
See IDRA’s statement: Texas Schools Need Federal Relief Funds Now! Students pay the price as Texas leaders sit on federal funds, IDRA Statement (English) • (Español), April 19, 2021
See letter by the Texas Legislative Education Equity Coalition to Governor Abbott, Texas Commissioner of Education Morath and Commissioner of Higher Education Keller urging them to ensure that federal COVID-19 relief monies are used to advance those goals and address the inequities in our educational systems that have been worsened by the pandemic.