WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today introduced the Catching Up Our Children Act 2022, legislation that would address the loss of K-12 learning that American children have experienced due to school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly all K-12 schools moved to remote learning in spring 2020, not returning to in-person learning until fall 2020 at the earliest, and for many it has been more long. Because of this, students fell behind in math and reading, and low-income students were the hardest hit.
The Catch Up Our Kids Act would allow parents to take back control of their child’s education so children can recover from any learning loss resulting from ill-advised and politically motivated pandemic school closures. This proposal includes a mix of tax incentives and reallocation of some elementary elements and funding for the Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). As of June 2022, states have not spent the majority of their ESSER allocation.
Of the bills, Senator Cruz said:
“At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the country began to close and “go virtual” to protect the health and well-being of our children. But while science quickly showed that the impact of COVID-19 on schoolchildren was minimal, teachers‘ unions and liberal bureaucrats across the country were slow to return to normal. Because of this, millions of children across the country have fallen behind in school – a result far more detrimental than the pandemic. This is unacceptable, but the Biden administration has done little or nothing to help these kids catch up. As a father, I personally care about the education of the next generation. This issue is of fundamental importance, and the Catch Up Our Kids Act will begin to address the learning loss we have seen due to the pandemic and get our children back on track.
The Catching Up Our Kids Act includes the following:
· Learning loss tax credit: Creates a temporary 3-year learning loss tax credit of $1,200 per child to allow the parent or legal guardian of a K-12 student to recoup actual expenses incurred for related activities to education.
· Employer reimbursement: Temporarily extends the tax provision that allows employers to reimburse an employee for certain tuition and education expenses tax-free to include education expenses for the employee’s children.
· Expand 529 ESA: Expands Education Savings Accounts (ESA) to include home schooling expenses for a 3-year period.
· Double Coverdell Contribution Limit: Doubles the annual contribution limit for Coverdell ESAs from $2,000 to $4,000 per year for a period of 3 years.
· Favorable tax treatment excluding ESA donations: Exempts contributions to a 529 ESA and Coverdell ESA from the annual exclusion, ensuring that such donations do not incur gift tax consequences.
· Reprogram ESSER Money: Allows states to use unspent funds from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) to fund scholarship granting agencies (SGOs), using money from the ESSER as starting capital. SGOs could then award scholarships to parents/legal guardians.
Read the legislation here.
Support for Senator Cruz’s Catch Up Our Kids Act:
· American Federation for Children: “Senator Cruz’s bill confirms what we already knew: he is a strong supporter of academic freedom. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant problems in the functioning of our current education system, and the only real answer is to secure parental rights in education by expanding school choice.
· Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform: “Democrats have immorally shut down schools across the country using COVID as an excuse to do the bidding for teacher union bosses. Meanwhile, Republicans are dedicated to expanding school choice and protecting parental control in their children’s education. Senator Cruz’s bill cuts taxes for parents who did the right thing and ensured their children were educated when their schools failed. The bill also expands education savings accounts and empowers families to make the best education decisions for themselves. Americans for Tax Reform applauds the introduction of Senator Cruz’s proposal Act on catching up with our children.
- Association of Mature Americans: “Your bill, when it becomes law, will be a strong alleviation of the deleterious effects of the suboptimal education our students have suffered during the COVID-19-related school closures. This bill also takes advantage of funding already allocated to our schools, so the net increase in spending to support this effort is minimized.
· American Principles Project: “Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, public health officials, working hand in hand with teachers’ unions, have done terrible harm to families across our country, closing schools and putting students behind in their education. And thanks to our government’s monopoly on education, many parents were virtually powerless to help their children. It is time for that to change. Senator Cruz’s legislation would be a welcome step in putting the responsibility back on parents to ensure their children receive the best possible education. APP fully supports the Catch Up Our Kids Act, and we encourage all family-friendly lawmakers to sign on as well.
· Star Parker, President and Founder of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education: “The ‘Catching Up Our Children Act’ will allow parents – not the government – to make educational decisions on behalf of their children. Millions of students have suffered from misguided COVID lockdowns, especially children from low-income families, and this legislation will allow parents to guide the process of getting their children back to school. I am pleased to express my strong support for this timely initiative.
· Penny Nance, CEO and Chair of CWA, Concerned Women for America’s Legislative Action Committee: “It’s the year of the parent, and Sen. Ted Cruz’s ‘Catching Up Our Kids Act’ is giving parents the tools they need to help their children reclaim the learning lost during the coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus. The pandemic has revealed with greater clarity why choice in education really matters. We are grateful to Senator Cruz for this important bill that gives parents greater access and control over education. money needed to pay for the educational activities that best suit their children.
· Adam Brandon, President of FreedomWorks: “Authoritarian lockdown policies have destroyed the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans. Students suffering severe learning losses due to mass school closures are not the least affected. The Catch-Up Act Our Children by Senator Ted Cruz aims to help students whose education has been disrupted by government shutdowns and embraces the idea that parents should be able to choose the best path to success for their child.
· Voices of Independent Women: “School districts and unions hold all the power in education. The Catch Up Our Kids Act recognizes that the best way to effectively address the learning loss crisis we find ourselves in and get students back on track is to put the power back in the hands of parents. The bill empowers parents by directing education funding to students. We thank Senator Cruz for prioritizing parental rights and educational freedom, not bureaucratic systems and union control.
· Greg Sindelar, CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation: “We are grateful to Senator Cruz for recognizing that millions of children are falling behind due to school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic, and for his commitment to helping every child catch up. The “Catching Up Our Children Act” will help address student learning loss issues across our country by providing resources directly to parents looking to help their children. We fully support the “Law on catching up with our children” and hope that it will be adopted quickly. »