America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (1/11)

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 Next in Washington

Last week in Washington, we saw unprecedented, destructive and disturbing violence within the Capitol complex and inside the Capitol itself, resulting in five fatalities and a number of other injuries. This disrupted Congress’ typically ceremonial certification of the November election results. Following the violence, Congress ultimately certified the results by a wide margin, although several senators and dozens of House Representatives voted to reject the certification of Arizona or Pennsylvania’s electoral votes over the course of several hours of contentious floor debates.

House Democrats today introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” according to reports. This marks the first step towards a potential House vote on impeachment later this week. Prior to the outbreak of violence last week, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both won runoff elections for U.S. Senate seats in Georgia, handing Democrats a razor thin majority in the U.S. Senate. Following the inauguration of President-elect Biden, 50 Senators will caucus for the Democrats and 50 will caucus for Republicans, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will take over from Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Majority Leader. This development has a number of potential implications for President-elect Biden’s agenda moving forward; in particular, it makes the enactment of another COVID relief package early in 2021, including funding for state and local governments, considerably more likely. Even with control of Congress and the White House, slim majorities in the House and Senate, and the continued existence of a legislative filibuster in the Senate, are likely to impact the scope of legislation passed over the next two years.

Update: Trump Issues School Choice Executive Order Allowing States to Repurpose Funds for ‘Emergency Learning Scholarships’; Critics See Biden Swiftly Revoking Pandemic Measure

At the end of December, President Trump “issued an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to allow block grant funds to be used for pandemic-related private and homeschool expenses.”

According to The 74, this means that “states would be able to use Community Services Block Grant funds to issue ‘emergency learning scholarships’ to ‘disadvantaged’ families. The funds could also be used for participating in microschools and pods, as well as therapy services for students with special needs.”

More information about the order can be found here.

Resource: Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors Hosts Policy Webinar This Wednesday, January 13, at 1pm ET

America Forward’s Advocacy Director, Nithya Joseph, will join Coalition member Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors (AP/OD)’s Adrián A. Pedroza, along with Mayra Alvarez of The Children’s Partnership, Gabe Sanchez of the UNM Center for Social Policy, and Nadia Inzunza of the Partnership for Community Action, for a webinar to discuss AP/OD’s recently released policy report, Parent Voices: How to Address the Devastating COVID-19 Impacts on Latino Families.

“The future of our country is inextricably linked to the wellbeing of Latino families. If we don’t act now, America will face a deeper economic depression, workforce instability, and soaring school drop-out rates.

This webinar will highlight policy solutions based on the latest national data to help families at a time when they are in dire need for additional support.”

More information and registration details can be found here.

From the America Forward Coalition

Opinion: Three Lessons We Learned Through This Pandemic in 2020

KIPP Foundation Chief Academic and Talent Systems Officer, Freddy Gonzalez, writes about lessons learned through the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020, in this piece in Education Post: “It’s easy to view remote learning through the lens of its deficits. After all, there’s really no substitute for the face-to-face rapport with an excellent teacher. As an educator supporting public charter schools across the country through the transition to virtual instruction this year, I’ve seen a lot of promise too. This may not be a perfect situation for learning, but we’ve adapted, and the lessons we’re learning on family engagement, adapting technology and virtual instruction will transform our schools for decades to come.” Read Freddy’s full piece here.

Opinion: 3 Tips for Onboarding Managers of Diverse, Thriving Teams

The Opportunity Network President and CEO, AiLun Ku, offers advice for “onboarding new managers responsible for diverse teams,” in this piece in Training Industry: “One of the timeless mistakes that companies across sectors and industries make is conflating individual performance with management skills. This mistake is why high-performers are often promoted into management roles and then struggle to lead their teams. Just like any other functional expertise, managers have to be trained and developed to support their teams.” Read AiLun’s full piece here.

Letter to the Editor: How post-pandemic America can help college students launch careers

Braven Founder and CEO, Aimée Eubanks Davis, writes about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the college-to-career transition, and what can be done to better support students entering the workforce, in this letter in the Chicago Sun-Times: “Even before COVID-19, college graduates from low-income households earned 66 cents on the dollar compared to wealthier peers. Now, an already inequitable system is ready to fall like dominoes unless we offer these students more career preparation, paid internships and opportunities to grow their professional networks.” Read Aimée’s full piece here.

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