Underwood, Foster decry federal rule diverting funds from public schools

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U.S. Reps. Lauren Underwood and Bill Foster were among the Illinois members of Congress who urged Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to rescind a rule which they said would improperly divert federal funds away from public schools.

Members of the Illinois delegation wrote a letter to DeVos last week to express their concerns over the rule, according to a news release. They asked the secretary to rescind the rule and all associated guidance to allow states to comply with the law Congress passed to help schools.

The Democratic legislators wrote that the rule interprets a provision of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act and "distorts" the language of the law to divert federal money intended for public schools to private schools.

“The interim final rule violates both the letter and intent of the CARES Act and runs counter to decades of federal education law, denying critical relief to public schools at a time of unprecedented crisis in our education system," the member wrote.

The legislators said the department's rule will deny about $75 million to Illinois public school students, according to the Learning Policy Institute. They argued the process by which the department issued the rule is "deeply flawed."

U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and Reps. Danny Davis, Bobby Rush, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, Jan Schakowsky, Mike Quigley, Bradley Schneider, Sean Casten, Cheri Bustos, Robin Kelly and Raja Krishnamoorthi all signed the letter to DeVos.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.