Friday, April 27th U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced her plans for a new program that consists of $307.5 million in discretionary grant funds that will be available for states. The grants will be funded through the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF), authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. According to the press release, the program will “provide education freedom and economic opportunity for America’s students.” The funds will be divided into two competitions. The Rethink K-12 School Models Grant will receive $180 million and the Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grant will receive $127.5 million.
The Rethink K-12 School Models Grant will have the most impact on K12 public schools. It is open to state educational agencies and offers three categories under which they can apply:
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
MSBA and NSBA is evaluating this program but has some concerns over the implications of the program on public education. We are particularly concerned over quality of the services and oversight of the program and what authority local school boards will have to provide oversight. We will continue to explore those issues. You can find additional details at the link provided.
It is expected that application packages for these two competitions will be available within two weeks. Applicants will then have 60 days to apply. We will continue to explore information related to the program and provide additional details as we receive them.