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
Friday’s announcement by the White House that the President and First Lady tested positive for the coronavirus adds pressure on Washington leaders to negotiate on a fourth COVID-19 relief package. The House of Representatives passed an updated version of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 8406) on a party line vote of 214 to 207; however, Republicans say the overall cost of the $2.2 trillion package is still too high. Unresolved issues include funding for state and local aid; expansion of the earned income and child tax credits; curtailing tax cuts for business owners; liability protections and health care funding.
In addition, last week, Congress passed and the President signed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the federal government through December 11, thus averting a government shutdown. Congress will need to return post-election in a lame duck session to either extend the CR or pass legislation to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year.
Letter: Supporting Congressional Funding for National Service
Last week, Deborah Smolover, Executive Director of America Forward, signed onto a letter from Voices for National Service, urging Congressional leaders to “expand and strengthen AmeriCorps and Senior Corps in the next coronavirus relief package.”
The letter reads: “As you continue to negotiate another coronavirus stimulus package, we urge you to include S. 3964. According to a recent study from ICF, every $1 in federal taxes invested in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps returns over $17 to society, program members, and the government. Any additional money invested in the federal national service programs would provide a significant benefit to taxpayers while providing critical aid and relief during the pandemic. The CORPS Act is a bipartisan approach to an urgent problem and its funding and legislative provisions should be included in any coronavirus relief and economic stimulus legislation that is considered by Congress.”
Read the full letter here.
Resource: U.S. Department of Education Rethink Adult Ed Challenge
As part of National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, the Secretary issued the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge to expand career opportunities for adult learners through pre-apprenticeship programs. Community colleges, correctional facilities, libraries, community organizations, and other adult education providers interested in entering the challenge — with prizes totaling $750,000 — should complete a Stage 1 submission no later than November 25. The online submission seeks a preliminary design for a pre-apprenticeship program, including a description of the target learners, the activities the program may provide, and local industry needs. Curated resources are available to support entrants as they prepare submissions, and adult education providers may register to join a virtual information session on October 15.
A review panel will select up to 100 finalists to join Stage 2, which will run from February to July 2021. Finalists will have access to a wide range of digital resources — such as case studies, activities, and webinars with subject matter experts — to help them refine their designs and develop more detailed proposals. A judging panel will select one grand prize winner (awarded $250,000) and up to five runners-up (awarded $100,000 each).
Report: Moneyball for Workforce Development
As leaders and organizations across the country work to strengthen and support the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, the demand for skilled workers and effective job search and training assistance remains critical, in order to rebuild and support our public workforce. Recently, Results for America released Moneyball for Workforce Development, a report that “highlights a series of policy recommendations to help federal policymakers ensure that federal workforce funds promote innovation, continuous improvement, and the scaling of proven workforce solutions.”
The report includes several key recommendations:
- “Defining and prioritizing evidence of effectiveness in Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grant programs;
- Setting aside 1% of WIOA funds for program evaluations;
- Creating a new Workforce Innovation Fund; and
- Highlighting how state and local government workforce agencies are already building and using evidence to improve workforce outcomes.”
Read the full report here.
From the America Forward Coalition
Using Technology to Tailor Lessons to Each Student
Last week, New Classrooms was featured in this piece from The New York Times exploring the role of technology in learning and delivering whole-learner approaches to education, before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The article reads, “The move toward a tech-driven, personalized learning system, like Teach to One 360 from a nonprofit called New Classrooms, is long overdue, experts say.”
“New Classrooms gives every student access to multigrade curriculums and skills, which better addresses learning gaps in students who are several grade levels behind.” Read the full article here.
Opinion: Sharma: Online Testing Is Great. But Traditional Pencil-and-Paper Work Gives Insights That Digital Can’t, Especially in Math
Zearn CEO Shalinee Sharma wrote about the importance of incorporating non-digital approaches into distance learning, in this piece from The 74 Million: “It may seem counterintuitive for a nonprofit software company that creates digital math lessons to be touting the benefits of paper assessments and modeling math with objects. But we’ve seen firsthand how bringing together hands-on teaching and immersive digital learning creates multiple pathways into math concepts and more opportunities for support for each child. We’ve learned from students and teachers that it’s crucial for digital tools to mimic the equivalent of “showing your work” or writing out the answer to a question in a classroom.” Read Shalinee’s full piece here.
Opinion: How to Make Sure City Budgets Prioritize Racial Equity
K.A. Dilday, a contributing writer for FUSE Corps, offers ways to center equity in budget plans in order to address racial injustice, not only in organizations but also across all levels of government, in this piece from Bloomberg CityLab: “To many civic leaders, the necessity of centering questions of race and equity in all aspects of budgeting has become apparent. But what does this mean for governments struggling to serve the same size population with smaller budgets and significantly smaller staffs? If it’s true that budgets reflect the values of an organization, what can government agencies do to make meaningful steps toward racial equity?” Read K.A.’s full piece here.
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