A major policy debate regarding child development has emerged in response to the tumultuous conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic recession. Policymakers on both the left and right have advanced some form of relief for families with children. And the enactment of President Biden’s plan to expand the Child Tax Credit — making it fully refundable and deliverable in monthly installments — signals the national appetite for a new framing of family policy.
Of course, the Biden plan is a temporary relief measure offered to parents to ward off the effects of the economic recession. But although discussions around family stimulus have initially been raised in the context of emergency relief, the discussion has now shifted to a debate about permanent income boosts.
While the child allowance debate has been framed more in economic or social policy terms, prior research on what affects student achievement and the utility of family income assistance indicates that effects on education should be placed front-and-center in the debate. Educators have learned from research over the course of the reform movement’s history, that much of what was — and currently is — driving differences in student outcomes occurs outside the classroom. If approached properly and carefully, income boosts to disadvantaged families could become a valuable asset in the broader movement against the achievement gap.
Brandon McCoy is the project manager of education policy at the Manhattan Institute.
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