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America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (4/5)

Below is the latest America Forward “Tip Sheet,” a weekly update on Federal activity related to education, workforce development, and other priorities of the America Forward Coalition.

What’s New in Washington

America Forward’s thoughts are with the family of the United States Capitol Police Officer who was killed and his fellow officer who was injured on Friday outside the U.S. Capitol. As people who have worked in and around the Capitol complex for years – and with the memory of the unprecedented violence earlier this year still fresh – we honor the service of these officers and their willingness to put their lives on the line to defend our democracy.

In Washington last week, members of Congress were in their states and districts for the Spring Work Period. President Joe Biden announced his American Jobs Plan — a $2 trillion infrastructure package that also includes a number of proposals for workforce development; broadband expansion; and construction for schools, community colleges, and child care centers. More information on the Plan is below.

Additionally, last Tuesday, President Biden signed the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Extension Act of 2021 into law, extending the deadline to apply for a PPP loan to May 31st, and the authorization of loans to June 30th.

New Profit Statement on Anti-AAPI Bigotry and Violence

America Forward joins its parent organization, New Profit, in condemning hatred directed at the AAPI community, and committing itself to work actively to dismantle systemic racism. New Profit released the following statement:

“We are saddened and angered by the continued violence and hate that have for too long been directed at people from the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. There is no place for this bigotry and brutality in America, and we stand with our colleagues, community members, family members, and friends from the AAPI community in calling for an end to it. As an organization, we commit ourselves to examining our own internal and external practices that contribute to the erasure of AAPI identity and the invisibility of issues affecting the AAPI community. And we urge leaders across the spectrum in America to take concrete steps to protect the AAPI community from further violence.”

Update: Senate HELP Chair Murray, Ranking Member Burr Seek Input from Stakeholders on Workforce Policies

In preparation for a likely reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) this Congress, as well as improvements to the National Apprenticeship Act, Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) announced they are accepting comments from stakeholders on WIOA and other related legislation. The announcement is here. The committee leadership encourages stakeholders to submit comments by April 9, 2021. All proposals may be submitted to HELPWorkforceComments@help.senate.gov.

Specifically, Senators Murray and Burr would like to hear from stakeholders with proposals regarding:

  • How to enhance or improve workforce training in direct relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery, including ways to address workforce needs of the health care and public health sectors;
  • Reforms to programs authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act;
  • Ways to develop, modernize, and diversify the national apprenticeship system, including innovative approaches such as youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship; and
  • Strategies to encourage innovation to address worker and industry needs.

America Forward plans to submit a comment lifting up our top priorities from our updated Workforce and Pay for Success platforms, and our recently released policy paper focused on recommendations for the Department of Labor.

In the coming weeks, the Senate HELP Committee will consider these proposals as part of its efforts to bring forth a bipartisan workforce package. Senators Murray and Burr intend to markup this package in early summer.

Update: Biden Administration Releases American Jobs Plan Proposal

Last week, the Biden Administration announced an “American Jobs Plan” proposal that focuses not only on traditional physical infrastructure needs – such as highways and bridges – but also on broadband access, childcare facilities, community college infrastructure, job training resources, and worker protection and union expansion provisions. The overall package is expected to spend $2 trillion on these items. In addition, the plan also includes several changes to the tax code (dubbed The Made in America Tax Plan) including increasing the corporate tax rate and the global minimum tax rate, among other provisions.

Additional information about the American Jobs Plan proposal can be found here.

Update: Department of Education Announces Expansion of COVID-19 Emergency Flexibilities to Additional Federal Student Loans in Default

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced “that it will expand the 0% interest rate and pause of collections activity to 1.14 million borrowers who defaulted on a privately-held Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loan. This action will protect more than 800,000 borrowers who were at risk of having their federal tax refunds seized to repay a defaulted loan. This relief will be made retroactive to March 13, 2020, the start of the COVID-19 national emergency.”

Additional information about the announcement can be found here.

Resource: Results for America’s “Moneyball for Education Policy Recommendations” Report

Last week, Results for America released a new report, “Moneyball for Education Policy Recommendations,” which “outlines ways to help PK-12 leaders use data, evidence, and evaluation to address some of our most pressing education challenges.” The report’s top 5 recommendations can be found below, and the full report can be read here.

  1. Revise and align the definition of “evidence-based”;
  2. Shift additional competitive and formula funds toward evidence-based approaches;
  3. Invest 1% of federal education program funds in evaluations;
  4. Build a larger and more effective evaluation, research, and development infrastructure; and
  5. Produce more relevant, meaningful, and accessible data to support states, districts, and schools.

Advancing Whole-Learner Education

The Hill Op-Ed: Expanding Social Emotional Learning is Key

Friday, March 26, 2021, was the second annual international Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Day. In case you missed it, America Forward – along with a group of exceptional partners who put together the March 26th Virtual Briefing: Social-Emotional Learning Policy to Foster Connection after Trauma – co-authored an op-ed in The Hill, focused on the critical importance of SEL to supporting students and educators in the recovery from COVID-19, and the responsibility that policymakers have to support SEL approaches.

“Although the last year has been challenging, the future offers educators, district and state leaders and policymakers an opportunity to reimagine our education system. Each stakeholder — at every level — has a responsibility to create the policy and instructional frameworks and devote the resources necessary to scale effective approaches that can deeply embed social and emotional learning in education systems across the country. If they do, it will play an outsize role in helping students and educators recover from this pandemic and will demonstrate a commitment to seizing this moment to meaningfully address historic gaps in opportunities, access and outcomes. If they don’t, we risk reverting to a “normal” that has become even more inequitable, neglects key elements of healthy learning and development, and leaves millions of students behind.”

Read their full piece here, and please feel free to share it on social media and with your networks!

From the America Forward Coalition

Blog: How any school can personalize learning, Parts I & II

The Learning Accelerator CEO Beth Rabbit shares how schools can successfully implement personalized learning and create the conditions to effectively scale high-quality solutions, in part I and part II, respectively, of her blog series for the Fordham Institute.

Q&A: City Year CEO on Supporting Students Through the Pandemic

City Year’s Jim Balfanz spoke with Rick Hess at Education Week about his experience and work supporting students, pre- and during the COVID-19 pandemic: “The fundamentals of our work—building relationships with students, engaging them in learning, offering tutoring and skill-building support—have remained the same. They just look different, as our dedicated AmeriCorps members find creative ways to connect with students, whether they are serving virtually or in person.” Read the full Q&A here.

Opinion: With billions in COVID relief, invest in Black and brown students

Education Leaders of Color’s (EdLoC) Sharhonda Bossier urges decisionmakers to center equity in COVID-19 relief efforts, in this piece from the Atlanta Constitution-Journal: “Unprecedented billions of dollars are on the way to states by way of the American Rescue Plan to support the safe reopening of the nation’s schools. Now, policymakers and school leaders in Georgia and other states should be prepared to distribute these new investments in ways that finally advance equitable learning for Black and brown children.” Read Sharhonda’s full piece here.

Opinion: How Our White Networks Exclude Young People Of Color From Career Access And Opportunity

The Opportunity Network’s Jessica Pliska writes about the need to break down barriers to access and expand opportunity, especially for BIPOC, in this piece from Forbes: “We are asking our young people of color to work twice as hard to access the spaces to which their white peers are often handed the keys. It’s our responsibility, not theirs, to break down barriers.” Read Jessica’s full piece here.

Opinion: Students need more than a citizenship test to prepare for civic engagement

Generation Citizen’s Amy Curran advocates for experiential, evidence-based civics education, in this piece from NonDoc: “Mandating a citizenship test addresses the right issue with the wrong solution. Students need, and deserve, more than civic knowledge without applied learning opportunities. They need knowledge paired with tools for action, and we need legislation that reflects this.” Read Amy’s full piece here.

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