Maryland K-12 education will receive $1.9 billion—about $2,200 per student— from the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The funds will help safeguard students and educators now, as school buildings reopen, and support interventions and resources to help students recover. “Just reopening school buildings won’t erase the hardships of the past year,” said MSEA President Cheryl Bost. “This investment will help our students process and overcome the challenges of this past year and better position them for success in the future.”
The funds are targeted for many programs that Maryland educators have advocated for year after year and some are specifically included in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future:
• Expanding afterschool and summer school programs
• Providing social-emotional supports
• Reducing class sizes and modifying spaces to comply with social distancing
• Modernizing HVAC systems
• Supplying technology and internet/ broadband access to underserved students
• Hiring more custodians, nurses, and counselors
• Implementing student transportation modifications to allow social distancing and provide more buses
At least 20% of Maryland’s ARP education funding must be used for programs to address critical pandemic-associated learning gaps by offering an extended school year, after-school activities, tutoring, summer instruction, and social-emotional recovery support.
The American Rescue Plan is said to be the most expansive anti-poverty program since President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty launched in 1964. The ARP will cut the child poverty rate in half, provide food and housing security for families, and put money in the wallets of those working families who need it most, including those who have lost their jobs.
The plan provides $350 billion in direct funding to states, territories, tribes, and local governments to be used to offset revenue losses, bolster economic recovery, and help protect front-line workers, including educators, from further lay-offs. Direct relief payments of $1,400 have been sent to millions of Americans, supplemental unemployment benefits have been extended into the fall, and the child tax credit has increased from $2,000 to $3,000. According to researchers at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy, this initiative will have far-reaching impacts and reduce child poverty from 13.5% to 5.9%.
“President Biden’s American Rescue Plan—along with the Maryland General Assembly’s action to override Gov. Hogan’s veto of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future—provide us with a roadmap and with the resources to provide a better, more equitable, and safer education system for all of our students,” said Bost.