You report that public education advocates say Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is abusing her discretion in directing states to equitably share federal Covid-19 relief funds with nonpublic schools. I disagree.
My organization and our coalition partners worked with key senators in crafting the CARES Act to ensure that its billions of K-12 emergency relief funds include nonpublic schools, which are facing an economic crisis alongside that faced by the public schools. Charitable donations to Jewish, Catholic and other nonpublic schools have evaporated, and too many parents are now unable to pay their tuition obligations. If these schools are forced to close, that will put even more strain on the public schools.
Since 1965, federal education programs have included “equitable” support for students in nonpublic schools. This principle must be followed in responding to a crisis that does not discriminate in the children it affects.
To say we will support some schools and students and not others is not only bad health policy as we seek to stop a pandemic; it’s also immoral.
Nathan J. Diament
Washington The writer is executive director for public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. (‘Orthodox Union”)