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Training Secretary Cardona opens up on colleges’ spending of COVID-19 reduction cash, heat-related closures

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Training Secretary Miguel Cardona advised Fox Information Wednesday he is assured funding from the American Rescue Plan is being spent appropriately in response to Home Republican inquiries on why a lot of the cash stays unspent.

“I do consider the cash is getting used adequately, and I might welcome questions from my colleagues on the Hill to point out them of their districts — though they did not vote for it of their districts — how the cash is getting used,” Cardona mentioned at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington. 

The primary week of the college 12 months noticed an oppressive warmth wave in lots of states, main some colleges to ship college students dwelling early and revert to distant studying resulting from inefficient HVAC techniques. Faculties in Denver, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland and San Diego noticed disruptions to in-person studying resulting from sizzling school rooms.

The Training Division advised Fox Information in a press release that local weather change was guilty. 

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“Nobody is immune from the impacts of local weather change, which is why the Biden administration has made it a high precedence to put money into bettering group resilience, making heating and cooling extra environment friendly and reasonably priced and lowering air pollution,” a division spokesperson mentioned. 

“We proceed to induce colleges to make use of all out there sources, together with funds we’ve offered by means of the American Rescue Plan, to help a protected and wholesome in-person studying setting as far too communities face report warmth.”

In the course of the pandemic, colleges obtained over $190 billion from three COVID-19 reduction packages handed between 2020 and 2021. In accordance with the Wall Avenue Journal, about 93% of that cash has remained unspent. 

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A lot of that cash was allotted to enhance air high quality in older buildings, change HVAC techniques and replace to cleaner vitality use. 

Home Republicans despatched Cardona a letter late final month asking why a lot of that funding hadn’t been spent. 

“Regardless of the clear harms to America’s college students, we’re involved that faculty districts, significantly those who remained closed for over a 12 months, haven’t spent the overwhelming majority of funds made out there throughout the pandemic,” Republicans on the Oversight Committee wrote. 

Training Secretary Cardona opens up on colleges’ spending of COVID-19 reduction cash, heat-related closures

President Biden and Training Secretary Miguel Cardona at an occasion for the 2022 nationwide and state lecturers of the 12 months within the East Room of the White Home April 27, 2022.
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Photographs, File)

“As a substitute of permitting these funds to languish, college districts must be utilizing the cash on evidenced-based interventions to get our college students again on observe and even college selection. As a substitute, many states and native college districts are failing to behave or are utilizing the funds on ‘new expertise,’ positions that aren’t student-facing reminiscent of a Director of Faculty Local weather and Tradition, or different pet initiatives that won’t profit college students or put them again on the trail to educational success.”

The secretary pushed again on this, claiming that with out the federal {dollars}, colleges would nonetheless be closed.

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“There have been extra college students in summer time college this summer time than any time in our nation’s historical past due to the American Rescue Plan,” he mentioned. “I believe, fairly frankly, the headlines we would be speaking about now’s which schools are closing and which colleges are usually not open but as a result of they do not have funding.”

Cardona additionally talked in regards to the large trainer scarcity difficulty within the U.S., saying the American Rescue Plan must be used to deal with trainer pay and usher in retired educators, fairly than hiring unlicensed lecturers or these with out training levels.

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“There are answers on the market. Decreasing requirements is just not one in all them,” he mentioned.

Districts throughout the nation have struggled to fill instructing positions forward of the college 12 months. In accordance with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, training and well being providers had the biggest share of job openings at simply over 19%.

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General, the secretary mentioned he is “optimistic” about training shifting ahead regardless of the present points. 

Cardona will be a part of first woman Jill Biden on a back-to-school bus tour subsequent week to showcase how colleges are recovering from the pandemic, the Training Division introduced.

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