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Tipsheet

House Republicans Investigate If COVID-19 Relief Funds Were Used for CRT in Schools

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

House Republicans are launching an investigation into the Department of Education for allegedly using COVID-19 relief funds to pay for “racially biased” curriculum in schools, Fox News reported Wednesday.

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According to Fox, Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Education and Labor Committee led a series of letters sent to Education Department Secretary Miguel Cardona, and other officials, about the misuse of COVID-19 funds. 

In the letter, the lawmakers reportedly claim that the $13.2 billion in the CARES Act and the $54.3 billion in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds were allotted by Congress to help schools reopen safely and make up for learning loss due to the pandemic. 

However, the lawmakers claim that the ESSER funds were used in some states to “push progressive left causes.” 

"Republicans are investigating the use of COVID-19 relief dollars appropriated for virus mitigation and the safe reopening of schools," the lawmakers wrote in one of the letters. "Based on recent reports, the Department of Education is allowing Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and related COVID relief funds to pay for racially biased and other progressive leftist programs."

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Allegedly, California used ESSER funds for “LGBTQ+ cultural competency” curriculum. New York allegedly used $9 billion to fund “equity warriors” training. Illinois allegedly spent over $5 billion to make “equity-driven investments.” In the letters, the lawmakers reportedly pointed out at least ten other states had plans that included a “proposal to use the ESSER funds to implement racially biased curriculum and programs based on Critical Race Theory.”

One unnamed Republican committee aide told Fox that the use of the COVID-19 relief funds for equity and diversity programs falls outside of its intended purpose. The letters were reportedly sent to Cardona, Education Department Inspector General Sandra Bruce, New York State Department of Education Commissioner Betty Rosa, Illinois State Board of Education Superintendent Carmen Ayala,and California Department of Education Superintendent of Public Instruction and Director of Education Tony Thurmond.

A spokesperson for the Education Department called the investigation an “absurd partisan political attack” and claimed that the relief funds were used to reopen schools and “are currently being used to provide necessary academic and mental health supports and address equity issues to help students and families most impacted by the pandemic.”

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The Illinois Department of Education told Fox that it used COVID-19 funds for “equity” initiatives and that it is a “strange and troubling thing to see anyone criticize.”

Maria Clayton, director of the communications division for the California Department of Education called the House Republicans’ investigation "factually inaccurate" and said “no federal ESSER dollars were spent in that way.”

Townhall reported this month how teachers across the country have refused to return to work despite receiving millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief. Teachers unions have voted to authorize strikes over wages, class sizes, and building conditions, among other things that the government allocated funds for during the pandemic.

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