America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (1/22)

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, policymakers continued to grapple with the aftermath of last week’s violent and deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol. Last Wednesday, lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted 232 to 197 to impeach President Donald Trump on charges of “incitement of insurrection” related to the January 6th assault on the Capitol. Ten House Republicans voted with Democrats to pass the historic second impeachment. The next step is for an impeachment trial to be held in the Senate, the exact timing of which is to be determined. While the trial and subsequent votes were not completed prior to former President Trump leaving office this week, in the event that he is convicted (which would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, including at least 17 Republicans), the Senate could then elect to bar him from holding future federal office.

President Joe Biden was sworn-in to office on Wednesday, January 20, and last week unveiled the “American Rescue Plan,” a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief and recovery package that includes $170 billion in new funding for education, along with more funding for child care, state and local governments, housing, and nutrition programs, support for small businesses, and many other provisions. New Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said the increased direct payments to most Americans included in the plan will be a top priority when the Senate reconvenes.

During his first days in office, President Biden has signed a number of Executive Orders, many related to rolling back policies implemented by the previous Administration. A full list of the executive actions can be found here.

Update: America Forward’s Statement in Response to Violence at the U.S. Capitol

Like so many people in Washington, D.C. and around the country, we at America Forward have struggled to come to terms with the unprecedented and deadly insurrection that unfolded at the Capitol earlier this month. The attack was deeply personal, but, collectively, we have the power to root out this systemic hatred and violence, and we will.

Read our full statement here.

Resource: The Learning Accelerator: Problems of Practice

The Learning Accelerator spent the last few months of 2020 collecting specific examples of how teachers have successfully kept students engaged in learning across a variety of physical and virtual spaces. They have now released these real-world engagement strategies in their latest Problem of Practice guide so that other educators can easily adopt them.

This latest hybrid learning resource joins TLA’s earlier, research-informed guidance on quality remote instruction. Additional resources include research findings on the factors that drive quality of remote learning, an educator-facing series on how best to implement remote learning, a guide and diagnostic tool for leaders on how to support remote learning, and three “grab-and-go” sessions to train your team on remote instruction.

Advancing Whole-Learner Education

Whole-Learner Approaches are Key to Student Success

America Forward Executive Director Deborah Smolover writes about the critical importance of whole-learner approaches to addressing the impact of COVID-19 and creating a more equitable, dynamic education system in the long run, in this Medium piece: “COVID-19 has laid bare the deep inequities in our education system — and across our communities. It has created challenges unprecedented in their scope, complexity, and urgency. But in responding to this crisis, we also have the opportunity to embrace a more holistic, whole-learner approach to education that not only helps students weather the academic, social, and emotional impacts of the crisis, but creates a more equitable, dynamic education system that prepares every learner to thrive — in school and in life.” Read her full piece here.

Transcend: Cultivating Joy at Bruce Elementary School

Bruce Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee – a member of Transcend’s Recovery to Reinvention cohort – is centered on “joy, belonging, and personalization during (and beyond) COVID,” and Bruce Principal Dr. Archie Moss is working to reimagine learning “from one-size-fits-all rituals, expectations, and discipline practices that support compliance to customization, where adults deeply understand who children are and tailor learning experiences to each child’s identity, motivations, and life circumstances.”

Transcend’s blog post, Cultivating Joy at Bruce Elementary School, offers more information about Bruce Elementary and their incorporation of whole-learner approaches to education into school culture. Read it here.

From the America Forward Coalition

Opinion: An Educator’s View: 6 Simple Steps for Parents and Teachers to Maximize Learning During COVID’s Second Wave

Springboard Collaborative Founder and CEO, Alejandro Gibes de Gac, offers tips for parents and teachers to maximize education, as COVID-19 continues to surge and interrupt learning around the country, in this piece from The 74 Million: “The bad news? Most teachers and parents are ill-prepared to collaborate. This became painfully apparent last spring. The good news? There is a simple process through which educators and families can team up to help kids reach learning goals. Family-Educator Learning Accelerators — FELAs — are five- to 10-week cycles during which teachers and families share a game plan to help kids reach learning goals. They have six essential steps.” Read Alejandro’s full piece here.

Opinion: We Need a Dedicated COVID Vaccine Corps. Why Not an Intergenerational One?

Encore’s Phyllis Segal and Gerald Bourne, M.D., make the case for bringing together retired health workers and young adults to build a service corps centered on fast and efficient COVID-19 vaccine distribution to meet the needs of this moment, in this piece from Newsweek: “Research suggests that combining the skills and experience of different generations can boost innovation and productivity. And meaningful connection across generations provides opportunities for cross-mentoring and mutual learning, a chance to break down stereotypes about age and race as people get to know one another, and a new way to build bridges and rebuild community.” Read their full piece here.

Podcast: Teach For America (TFA) CEO On The Value Of Teachers In 2021 | How I Built This with Guy Raz | NPR

Teach for America’s CEO, Elisa Villanueva Beard, joined Guy Raz for a live recording of How I Built This from NPR, focused on the challenges TFA is currently facing and how they’re planning for the future of education. Listen to their full conversation here.

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