Chairman Scott Asks Secretary DeVos to Stop Misusing Emergency Education Funding, Again

August 24, 2020
Press Release

As originally released by the Committee on Education & Labor

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, in a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) expressed strong opposition to the Department’s newest plan to misuse CARES Act emergency education funding in way that violates the intent of the law. Specifically, Chairman Scott criticized the Department’s plan to divert funds meant for local educational agencies and institutions of higher education to support the Trump administration’s political agenda, including funding the ill-conceived industry-recognized apprenticeship program (IRAP), at a time when schools across the country are desperately seeking funding to cope with COVID-19.  

In the CARES Act, Congress established a $30 billion Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) to support local educational agencies and institutions of higher education experiencing financial devastation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the letter, Chairman Scott notes that, instead of following congressional intent and sending grants to states with the highest coronavirus burdens, the Department established two new unauthorized grant programs – “Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant,” a private school voucher scheme, and the “Reimagine Workforce Preparation (RWP) Grants.” 

RWP grants can be used to support state workforce agencies or an agency (public or private) of the state workforce board’s choosing, allow non-educational programs to access CARES emergency education aid, including IRAPs, which is an Ivanka Trump-led effort to create a new workforce training program with fewer protections and benefits for workers than the successful Registered Apprenticeship system.

“As it cannot point to any law authorizing its use of Education Stabilization Funds to create a program that is unrelated to education stabilization, the Department is exceeding its authority to issue these grants under the CARES Act and other relevant authorizing statutes,” Chairman Scott wrote. “Accordingly, I request the Department abandon this unauthorized grant competition and instead award funds, as Congress directed, to States with the highest coronavirus burden to support the stabilization of education within those States.”

Chairman Scott also notes that, to justify the creation of these grant programs, the Department misinterprets the CARES Act and uses only select language from the Perkins CTE Act

On Friday evening, a federal court blocked an effort by the Department of Education to redirect COVID-19 relief funding from high-poverty public schools toward services for students in private schools, regardless of their wealth.

To read the full letter, click here

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