One Wisconsin school district built a new football field. In Iowa, a high school weight room is getting a renovation. Another in Kentucky is replacing two outdoor tracks — all of this funded by the billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief Congress sent to schools this year.
The money is part of a $123 billion infusion intended to help schools reopen and recover from the pandemic. But with few limits on how the funding can be spent, The Associated Press found that some districts have used large portions to cover athletics projects they couldn’t previously afford.
Critics say it violates the intent of the legislation, which was meant to help students catch up on learning after months of remote schooling. But many schools argue the projects support students’ physical and mental health, one of the objectives allowed by the federal government.
Rep. Bobby Scott, the top Democrat on the U.S. House education committee, said the money shouldn’t be used to fund athletics at the expense of academics. It was meant to help students, he said, not sports programs.
“I suspect you can make a case for anything, but the purpose is clear: It’s to open safely, stay open safely and deal with learning loss,” Scott said. “These are targeted resources needed to address the fact that a lot of children just didn’t achieve much for about a year.”
Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, said every dollar of pandemic relief spent on sports could be used to expand tutoring, reduce class sizes and take other steps to help students who are struggling academically.
“Can these districts show that all their kids are ready to graduate at the end of this year — college- and career-ready?” she said. “If not, then stop the construction. Stop it right now.”
In some parts of the country, exercise equipment companies have tried to capitalize, contacting school coaches and superintendents to suggest upgrades.
It’s impossible to know exactly how many schools are using pandemic relief on athletics. Districts are required to tell states how they’re spending the money, but some schools are using local funding for sports projects and then replacing it with the federal relief — a maneuver that skirts reporting requirements.
The funding is part of the American Rescue Plan signed in March by President Joe Biden that sent money to schools, giving larger shares to those with higher poverty. It’s the latest of several rounds of funding Congress funneled to the states to address education needs. The AP has tracked more than $157 billion distributed so far to school districts nationwide.
Schools have wide flexibility in how they use the money but only three years to spend it, a deadline that has led some to look for quick purchases that won’t need ongoing funding after the federal money is gone.
Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, Has Been Diagnosed with Terminal Cancer
This follows his transfer to a medical facility in December
The new comes from a letter he wrote:
Foreign-born population soars to new record under Biden; highest rate of immigrants since 1910
The U.S. has had a massive surge in immigration this year, with as many as 1.5 million newcomers and a record 46.2 million foreign-born people, according to a report for the Center for Immigration Studies.
After a deep trough last year, likely because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the travel and migration restrictions imposed to control the spread, the flow of people rebounded around the time President Biden was elected.
In numbers never seen before, they are coming legally through airports and land border crossings and illegally across the Rio Grande and remote regions of Arizona and California.
“There was pent-up demand for legal immigration, and illegal immigration has exploded in one of the greatest surges, if not the greatest, we’ve ever seen,” said Steven A. Camarota, the demographer who was the chief author of the report. “It’s driving the numbers up and up and up.”
As it stands, 14.2% of the U.S. population is foreign-born, or 1 out of every 7 people. That is the highest rate of immigrants in the population since 1910, when the number was 14.7%. At current trends, the government says, the U.S. will break that record well before the end of this decade.
Those numbers are even starker given the reversal of trends.
The data showed a drop of 1.2 million immigrants from February to September 2020, likely the result of coronavirus restrictions blocking new entrants, even as outmigration continued. That left the population of the foreign-born — the Census Bureau’s term — at 43.8 million.
It was up to 45 million by January and marched steadily to the current 46.2 million total shown for last month.
In the year after President Trump’s election, the immigrant population flattened.
Biden Vaccine Mandate for Contractors Blocked Nationwide
- Mandate one of a set of Biden vaccine initiatives
- States say contractor requirement violates Constitution
The Biden administration’s mandate for federal contractors’ employees to be vaccinated will be halted nationwide, amid a slew of challenges from states that say the president overstepped his authority in requiring the Covid-19 shots.
Led by Georgia, the seven states that challenged the mandate set to take effect on Jan. 4 are likely to succeed in their lawsuits against the administration’s order, U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker of the Southern District of Georgia said in an order issued Tuesday.
The Biden administration mandate applies to roughly a quarter of the U.S. workforce and affects companies that do business with the federal government, including Lockheed Martin Corp., Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.‘s Google, and General Motors Co.
Baker’s order follows a Kentucky federal judge’s grant last week of a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit involving Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio. Baker echoed what his Kentucky counterpart said, that blocking the mandate didn’t indicate that the vaccine wouldn’t be effective to stopping the spread of Covid-19, but rather that Biden didn’t have the power to issue such an executive order.
Representatives from Georgia universities testified during an injunction hearing earlier this month, arguing that implementation of the mandate would be expensive, onerous, and cost them valuable employees who haven’t yet presented proof of vaccination. Those schools receive millions from the federal government.
The court found that the states could likely prove that Congress didn’t clearly authorize the president to issue the mandate, and that it “goes far beyond addressing administrative and management issues in order to promote efficiency and economy in procurement and contracting.” The 2017 nominee of President Donald Trump said, instead, the executive order works as a “regulation of public health.”
Neither the lawyers representing the state coalition nor the U.S. government immediately responded to emailed requests for comment.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little cheered Tuesday’s ruling in a statement. The state is part of the Georgia-led contractor mandate challenge, as well as lawsuits against the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration’s shot-or-test emergency regulation for large U.S. businesses, and another inoculation rule for healthcare workers.
“Yet another one of President Biden’s vaccine mandates have been temporarily shut down because the states—including Idaho—took a stand against his unprecedented government overreach into Americans’ lives and businesses,” Little said in the statement. “All three mandates are now completely stalled. We will continue to press forward in our fight against the federal government’s bad policies.”