Millions of dollars in COVID relief funds are being turned into four-figure “thank you” bonuses for public school teachers and staff members in a number of states, stoking parental rage over misuse of pandemic funds.
States engaging in the trend include California, Colorado, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas. More states are set to follow suit. The move is ironic especially in California where teachers balked at restoring in-person learning for months.
Georgia became the first state in the nation to give the green light to bonuses for teachers and staff. Leaders in that state decided to give $1,000 payments to over 230,000 employees. The price tag for that move amounted to $230.5 million, or roughly 35 percent of the state’s stimulus money, reported The WallStreet Journal. Many parents are enraged over the teacher bonuses.
The bonuses are reportedly a desperate attempt to keep educators from resigning due to low morale. Teachers are allegedly depressed after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to shift to a year of remote learning and then back to in-person classroom teaching.
Bus drivers and cafeteria staff are also reportedly going to receive the extra stimulus cash which many are calling pandemic hazard pay.
Over $190 billion in COVID relief funds were issued to schools with very few restrictions on how they were to use the money.
The Wall St. Journal reported:
Dozens of school districts and states are spending big chunks of their historic federal stimulus cash on one-time bonuses to teachers and staff, over the objections of some parents and others who claim such payments violate the intent of the federal funding.
Schools have until 2024 to spend stimulus dollars, which totaled about $190 billion, the largest-ever, one-year federal infusion of cash for public schools. While districts and states have started spending some of the $81 billion already dispersed to states from the most recent round of $122 billion in funding, many are deciding how to allocate the rest and under federal guidelines won’t receive those funds until their plans have been approved. Twelve state spending plans have been approved thus far.
Georgia’s state board of education approved the bonuses in March, around the time teachers typically sign contracts for the following year, to aid with recruitment and retention following a difficult time.
“We needed some sort of morale boost, and our answer was to provide that bonus,” proclaimed Matt Jones, who is the chief of staff at Georgia’s state department of education.
According to The Sun, in Berkeley, California, approximately $2.8 million is being used to give teachers a 3.5 percent bonus prior to the upcoming school year.
More than 170,000 teachers in Florida are expected to receive a $1,000 check in the coming weeks as well. The payments are part of a $101.5 billion state budget that was signed into law by Gov. DeSantis in July. That didn’t stop the teacher’s union in Florida from attacking him, however.
DeSantis stated, “We know that the pandemic put an awful lot of strain on our first responders, EMTs, sworn law enforcement, firefighters and so we believe that we should recognize their sacrifice over the last year.”
Andrew Spar, who is the president of the Florida Education Association, remarked that teachers will “appreciate the help.” He also told News4Jax: “The devil’s in the details.”
Spar unappreciatively noted while taking an unprovoked smack at DeSantis, “If this was truly genuine, first of all, the money would have been given to all who work in our schools.” He claimed that the other 120,000-130,000 staff members should have also received checks.
Many on social media are less-than-enthused over the use of COVID relief funds to pay teachers:
You want to be treated like a professional?
If a professional swings an ultimatum like this at their employer outside of Education – threatening to not work as hard (as you’ve done) – the professional would be terminated on the spot.
— Honest Abe (@LincolnAbe54321) July 13, 2021
A public entity using/wasting money for an unintended purpose?? Nah couldn’t be.
— The Drain Man #Bitcoin (@TheDrainMan2) July 18, 2021
Hahah for what? Most teachers showed their true colors and dropped the ball worse than any other profession during this. They showed they’re m nothing but political mouth pieces who push their brainwashed ideology on innocent kids
— PaulesRevenge (@PaulesRevenge) July 18, 2021
No wonder education in the US is so bad and expensive. Entitled educators. There are other jobs that pay more money but without the summers off. It’s like waiters. They don’t want a 9-5 job but want others to foot their bills.
— LDY (@Lodigoyo2014) July 18, 2021
Maybe the cops and firefighters who continued to work, in person, answering calls, during the whole fucking event, could use a bonus.
— Mageaux (@MagooActual) July 18, 2021
Bonuses for what? They actively campaigned to keep kids out of school and haven’t been working for a year. Lifetime achievement due to lack of Education has suffered monstrously. And they get a raise Christ almighty why? Literally the most entitled underserving group
— ParticularIncome (@particular_inc) July 18, 2021
Nobody wants their most precious children being taught by these communist groups. Teachers have shit in their own sandbox. Get your kids away from these “teachers”.
— Wheres the beef (@StandUpFightBa4) July 18, 2021
Lift morale? Huh?
A year of not working while getting paid. Please Lord, help these poor souls. 🙄🙄🙄
— Chuck “The Gov’t-FB Censorship Liaison” Steele (@ChuckSteeleSr) July 19, 2021
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