Missouri schools closed last April in an effort to slow the spread of the virus and keep teachers, students and their families safe in the early days of the pandemic and the unknowns it posed. While …
Missouri schools closed last April in an effort to slow the spread of the virus and keep teachers, students and their families safe in the early days of the pandemic and the unknowns it posed. While learning from home was an acceptable alternative while we figured out how to navigate Covid-19, it created major hurdles for everyone involved. Our teachers went above and beyond to help students through a trying time and stay engaged from afar. They spent hours on video calls teaching lessons, offered one-on-one help for as many students as possible, and even drove by their students’ homes to check in and boost morale at a potentially lonely time at home without the socialization school provides. Parents were put in a position to help teach their children subjects they haven’t studied since being in school themselves while simultaneously working from home, or still going to work and attempting to find childcare. And students missed several months of in-person learning, causing many of them to fall behind in their education and miss out on the social, physical and academic necessities that come from attending school in person. We were told the shutdowns were temporary and strictly for the health and safety of our communities. While most schools here in Missouri have reopened, the federal government’s distribution of education-related funding proves to have nothing to do with health and safety.
The CDC estimates the average cost to return safely to school is approximately $442 per student nationwide. But instead of distributing funds based on that estimate, the Covid-19 relief funding formula used by the federal government prioritizes some school districts while overlooking others. For example, Blair Oaks only gets $77.47 per child, while Kansas City receives nearly $2,000. Wentzville only receives $163.17 per child while St. Louis City gets almost $2,200. This disparity taking place throughout the nation completely ignores the science and falls far short of fair.
To fix this problem, I introduced an amendment to the last Covid-19 relief package that would equally distribute funds based on the number of students in a school district and ensure all schools have the necessary funds to safely return to in-person learning. Unfortunately, like every amendment offered by Republicans, House Democrats blocked my amendment from receiving a vote on the House floor.
While the bill passed with the errant formula still intact, there is still time to correct the problem. The funds will be distributed through 2023, so there is ample time to make it equitable. This week, I introduced the Protecting Every Student Act which, like my amendment, would allocate funding in a much fairer way by using a per pupil basis. This objective approach ensures every school district receives the appropriate funding and more importantly, that every student has the same opportunity to attend school safety.
Our children’s health, social and developmental skills, and education are reliant on in-person learning and every student has the right to a quality education. This isn’t about urban versus rural or middle class versus the poor. And it certainly shouldn’t be about politics. There are plenty of schools in Missouri’s Third Congressional District that are getting larger amounts of money per student than most of their peers. But at what cost? No child’s safety, regardless of location, race, religion, or parents’ income level should be valued less than another’s. Every child in Missouri and America deserves equal treatment under our laws. Especially when it comes to health and safety.
CONTACT US: As always, for those of you with Internet access, I encourage you to visit my official website. For those without access to the Internet, I encourage you to call my offices in Jefferson City (573-635-7232) Washington, Mo. (636-239-2276), or Wentzville (636-327-7055) with your questions and concerns. If you want even greater access to what I am working on, please visit my YouTube site, Facebook page, and keep up-to-date with Twitter and Instagram.