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DeVos’ “COVID Emergency” Competition Funding to be Awarded… in July(?)

April 28, 2020

US ed sec Betsy DeVos is having a COVID competition to *rethink education* for “states with the highest coronavirus burden.”

From the US Department of Education (USDOE) “new grant competition” press release, dated April 27, 2020:

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today more than $300 million in discretionary grant funds will be available for states to use to create adaptable, innovative learning opportunities for K-12 and postsecondary learners in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. The grants will be funded through the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF), authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.

“If our ability to educate is limited to what takes place in any given physical building, we are never going to meet the unique needs of every student,” said Secretary DeVos. “The current disruption to the normal model is reaffirming something I have said for years: we must rethink education to better match the realities of the 21st century. This is the time for local education leaders to unleash their creativity and ingenuity, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do to provide education freedom and economic opportunity for America’s students.”

The CARES Act provides $307.5 million for these discretionary grants, which the Department will divide between two competitions: $180 million for the Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant and $127.5 million for the Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grant.

Note the following statement regarding the purpose of the K12 portion of DeVos’ competition:

The Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant is aimed at opening new, innovative ways for students to access K-12 education with an emphasis on meeting students’ needs during the coronavirus national emergency.

“An emphasis on meeting student needs during the coronavirus emergency.”

So, here’s the problem:

Money will not be awarded until mid-July, at best, because (dare I write it?) bureacratic process is *antiquated* (a favorite DeVosian term for poo-pooing the American classroom) and comes caged in yet another USDOE *competition*:

The competition is open to state educational agencies which can apply for funds in one of the three categories:

  1. Microgrants for families, so that states can ensure they have access to the technology and educational services they need to advance their learning
  2. Statewide virtual learning and course access programs, so that students will always be able to access a full range of subjects, even those not taught in the traditional or assigned setting
  3. New, field-initiated models for providing remote education not yet imagined, to ensure that every child is learning and preparing for successful careers and lives

The full Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) will be available online today. …

Application packages for these competitions will be available within two weeks. Applicants will then have 60 days to apply. As with most of the Department of Education’s discretionary grant competitions, applications will be evaluated by a panel of independent peer reviewers, and the highest-scoring applications will be funded.

What? Is yours a state with “highest coronavirus burden” now? In March-April 2020? Need emergency funds because of social distancing requirements related to coronavirus, schools?

Tell you what: We’ll have a contest and get back with you months down the road. Just in time for Not Now.

Oh, and we’re only funding the winners– those who go all-in the best according to DeVosian desire for this latest federally-funded, money-dangle hinged on the pleasure of yet another traditional-public-school-bashing, US secretary of education. The rest of you might be needy, but we can’t all be winners, now can we?

Even if your state is A Winner, it just might not be. If your school/district cannot maintain payment for major adjustments and ongoing costs related to the promises made to get a federal competition slice, well, bureaucracy.

Antiquated, not-so-hidden-agenda-driven, slowly-delivered, federally-driven, likely-fiscally-insufficient, bureacracy.

Here we go again.


Betsy DeVos


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  1. Jack Hassard permalink

    You are so right on this. This no different than the Race to the Top debacle in which states competed for a lot of money. I have a lot of evidence showing how the money was used in Georgia. Distance learning is not a solution for schools. Asking schools to compete for technology grants is unfortunate.

  2. Yes, Race to the Top 2.0. Regardless of the content of the programs, it is sleazy coercion.

  3. LisaM permalink

    Lather, rinse, repeat… nauseam

  4. FU. permalink

    Thank you for this article!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Betsy DeVos promises to give states money for education if they don’t spend it on public schools. | Mr. G for District 3

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