Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to Offer Homeschooling Microgrants from COVID-19 Relief Funds

Last week, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos banned DACA students from receiving coronavirus aid. Now, it is being reported that she will use money from the nation’s COVID-19 relief fund to allocate microgrants for homeschooling to states and families.

Chalkbeat recently outlined DeVos’ plans to use $180 million from the first relief package to fund grants that states will able to apply to for K-12 and higher education.

DeVos is known as an advocate for alternative education and for leaving public schools to fend for themselves. As a part of the microgrants, DeVos seeks to promote virtual learning. The funds that could be used to support public schools will be given to state agencies who opt-in to home school students.

In a statement released by DeVos on Monday regarding her decision, she said, “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.”

Here is an overview of how state agencies can apply for grants as outlined by Chalkbeat:

State education agencies can apply for federal money by proposing one of three things.

The first is “microgrants”—what some would call “vouchers”—meant to give families more options for remote learning. Those grants could be used to pay for tutoring, summer programs, tuition to a private or public school online program, counseling, test prep, or textbooks, among other things. The state must allow private organizations to provide those services. 

The second option is for states to create a statewide virtual school or another program allowing students to access classes that their regular school doesn’t offer. States can either expand an existing program or create one from scratch. 

The final option is nebulously defined: For a state to create “models for providing remote education not yet imagined, to ensure that every child is learning and preparing for successful careers and lives.”

Many are not in favor of DeVos’ plans.  Nevertheless, the Education Department expects to award $5 million to $20 million to winning states.