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
In Washington last week, congressional leaders began to lay out the schedule for Congress to address both a COVID-19 relief package and finalize funding for the 2021 federal fiscal year (note: the current continuing resolution to fund the government expires on December 11).
In the House of Representatives, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer issued a letter laying out the House of Representatives schedule for December. He stated that the top priority will be enacting COVID-19 legislation, Fiscal Year 2021 (FY’21) omnibus appropriations bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, and the conference report on the Water Resources Development Act.
Specifically regarding a COVID-19 relief package, it is being reported that the White House is stepping back from negotiations and instead is deferring to Senate Republicans to continue talks with House Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still supports his $500 billion package, and the Democrats are holding firm on a top line number of $2 trillion. At the same time, President-elect Joe BIden is urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer to pass a bill before the end of the year. For now, the chances of a deal by the end of December appears to be slim.
Also last week, incoming House and Senate freshman members were in town to begin their orientation for the upcoming Congress. The 117th Congress will be sworn in on January 3, 2021. During orientation sessions, the newly elected legislators will attend sessions to learn about logistics and rules of the Congress including: office budgets, personnel regulations, travel limitations and ethics guidelines.
We expect additional activity in Washington as Congress wraps up this legislative session and prepares for the next session including votes on the bills listed above, leadership elections, and committee assignments.
Letter: Support for Emergency Grant Aid for College Students Act (S. 4465)
Last week, America Forward was proud to sign onto a letter from the Today’s Students Coalition in support of Emergency Grant Aid for College Students Act (S. 4465), a bill that would “create a competitive grant program at ED to fund Emergency Financial Grant programs at institutions of higher education.”
The letter reads: “Today’s students are facing unexpected financial hardships, like sudden loss of wages, medical expenses, and other emergencies, which are being exacerbated by the pandemic. More than half of students will need additional funding in order to afford their tuition. Emergency grants can be a vital lifeline to students struggling to afford their food, housing, child care, or broadband needs.”
“This bill, which mirrors one of our policy principles on creating robust student supports both inside and outside the classroom, will significantly empower students and ensure they are able to complete their education throughout and beyond the current pandemic and other unforeseen emergencies.”
Read the full letter here.
Resource: The 74 Million 2020 Election Day Recap – School and Education Policy
Election Day brought about changes up and down the ballot at all levels of government. To help their readers understand how these changes impact the education sector, The 74 Million put together an EDlection Cheat Sheet, “Recapping the 48 Key Races, Winners and Campaign Issues That Could Reshape America’s Schools and Education Policy.”
“We’ve curated 48 contests from the federal, state and local level with key implications for students, teachers and families, and why we’re reporting both the outcomes and those that remain too close to call.” Read the full article here.
From the America Forward Coalition
Opinion: The CEO’s Role In Pipeline Equity
The Opportunity Network President and CEO, AiLun Ku, shares tips for how CEO’s can use their positions of power to increase organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion, in this piece from Chief Executive: “You are a CEO. You were trained and selected to lead your company to greatness. Approach your diversity, equity, and inclusion goals with the same fervor and foresight. Don’t stay where it is easy, achievable, and reductively measurable–go where it is boldest, most imaginative, and most audacious.” Read AiLun’s full piece here.
Opinion: A better democracy starts in our schools
Scott Warren, CEO of Generation Citizen, writes about the importance of prioritizing civic education in schools, in this piece from The Hechinger Report: “The opportunity to strengthen our democracy and bring our country together starts with re-imagining the entire role of schools as a way to cultivate the next stewards of our republic…Prioritizing civics is not purely about understanding government, but rather, understanding how to participate as reflective, engaged citizens. The entire purpose of our school system should be to foster this engaged citizenry.” Read his full piece here.
Opinion: Why Can’t We Educate Black Students for Democracy, Instead of Prison?
Generation Citizen Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy, Andrew Wilkes, writes about the deep need to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and center approaches to education on civic engagement, especially for students of color in this piece from The Crime Report: “We have the opportunity and obligation—as does the next administration, whatever it looks like—to ensure that all students, particularly students of color and those with disabilities, can access a democratic classroom experience that values multiple learning styles, respects their lived experience, and prepares them for informed civic participation over the long haul.” Read Andrew’s full piece here.
Opinion: Fires, storms and Covid: How some school districts focused on equity during decision time
The Learning Accelerator partner Nate Kellog co-authored this piece in The Hechinger Report with Lauren Schwartze, exploring the Monterey Peninsula district’s focus on centering homeless students in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic; highlighting the other districts joining Monterey in a national cohort “planning more equitable and resilient approaches to teaching and learning”; and offering takeaways for other school districts also looking to advance equity and resilience: “The back-to-school experiences these districts have designed, in the face of extreme challenges, offer glimmers of what more equitable and resilient teaching and learning can look like for all of us.” Read their full piece here.
Q&A: How Personalized Learning Is Weathering Tough Times: ‘Iterate and Learn’
LEAP Innovations CEO, Phyllis Lockett, shares her thoughts on the importance and effectiveness of personalized learning – before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic – in this Q&A with Education Week’s Kevin Bushweller and Stacy Stewart, Principal of Belmont-Cragin Elementary School in Chicago: “There are many struggles. First and foremost is technology access. We still have not cracked the nut on how we ensure broadband and device access for all students. I think one of the silver linings that will come out of the COVID crisis is a movement to make technology access a student right for all learners across America. It is as basic as water and air if we are serious about preparing our students to be competitive in a digital economy.” Read the full Q&A here.
TedTalk: How your unique story can get you hired
Braven Founder & CEO, Aimée Eubanks Davis, shares how to turn doubts and struggles into strengths during this TedTalk.
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