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, House and Senate negotiators continued to work on a final funding bill for Fiscal Year 2021 since the current continuing resolution (CR) ends this Friday, December 11th. Since negotiations remain unfinished, it’s now expected that Congress will pass another short term CR in order to work out the final differences.
Related to COVID-19 relief, last Tuesday, a bipartisan group of Senators announced a $908 billion package to address a number of priority funding issues to respond to and recover from the pandemic. The new proposal includes $82 billion targeted for education, $4 billion for student loans, $10 billion for child care, $300 billion in funding for small businesses and nonprofits through the Paycheck Protection Program, $240 billion for state and local governments, and about $50 billion to assist with vaccine distribution and coronavirus testing and tracing. The package is not expected to include a new round of stimulus checks, although it will provide $300 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits. More information on the proposal can be found here.
Congress is facing several key deadlines to act on a COVID bill before the end of the year including unemployment benefits for about 12 million Americans that will expire on December 26. Despite the bipartisan support for the proposal and pressure to get an agreement before the end of the year, House and Senate leaders have not fully endorsed this proposal and talks are continuing.
Looking Towards 2021: Biden-Harris Administration and 117th Congress
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris continue to announce senior members of the White House and Federal Agencies, including key leaders for their national security and economic teams. You can find information on the transition here: https://buildbackbetter.gov/.
In the House of Representatives last week, Speaker Pelosi announced that the House Democratic Caucus has approved the following committee chairs for the 117th Congress. The Chairs can be found here. At the same time, the House Republican Conference ratified the following recommendations from the House Republican Steering Committee for committee ranking members in the 117th Congress. The ranking members can be found here.
The final make-up of the Senate will not be determined until January 5th, when both Senate seats are subject to a run-off election. The current make-up of the Senate is 50 (Republican) to 48 (Democrat/Independents).
How to Address the Devastating COVID-19 Impacts on Latino Families
This fall, Abriendo Puertos/Opening Doors (AP/OD) released Latino Parent Voices: What Our Families Need Now, in partnership with Latino Decisions, a study understood to be “the most comprehensive study of Hispanic/Latino families regarding COVID-19.”
Based on this research, AP/OD recently released an accompanying policy report, How to Address the Devastating COVID-19 Impacts on Latino Families, outlining “the most promising policy solutions…to help families at a time when they are in dire need for additional support.” Read the full report here.
Raising the Flag on Quality: Measuring Important Early Childhood Outcomes
AppleTree Institute recently published a new report, Raising the Flag on Quality: Measuring Important Early Childhood Outcomes, that addresses some of the greatest challenges when it comes to “improving access to high-quality early childhood education,” including: “(1) Agreeing on what we mean by “quality” and how it can be defined, then operationalized (2) What valid, reliable and useful measures are available to inform quality improvement and (3) How to provide useful and important data for program accountability purposes that are aligned with and even integrated with measures used to improve program quality.”
The report is the result of discussions about these challenges with a steering committee of key early education stakeholders who have operated preschool and prekindergarten classrooms within the public charter school sector, with support from both the Trust for Learning and Bellwether Partners. The full report can be found here.
Advancing Whole-Learner Education
Educational Transformation: Panel Looks at How Learning Can Continue to Evolve After Pandemic
America Forward’s Whole-Learner Fireside Chat with Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan and a panel featuring Crystal Loose, Virgil Sheppard, and Miles Wilson was featured in an article from The Ephrata Review: “Last month, area educators and officials took a look at how education can be transformed following the pandemic. With Rep. Chrissy Houlahan as a special guest, the virtual forum examined how the pandemic has magnified educational inequities in schools and offered a way forward after the pandemic.” A PDF of the article can be found here.
From the America Forward Coalition
Opinion: An Educator’s View: We Have a Choice — Set a Bar of Mediocrity for Online Education or Take This Opportunity to Change How We Teach
Jim Manly, superintendent of KIPP NYC, a network of 15 public charter schools in New York City, writes about the responsibility of educators to raise the bar on remote learning as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, in this piece from The 74 Million: “As it becomes clear that remote and hybrid learning will continue for the foreseeable future, educators are presented with a choice: We can either set a bar of mediocrity because remote learning is new and difficult, or we can seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the way we deliver high-quality education. Ultimately, that’s not really a choice. Remote instruction is being delivered to millions of children today, so it’s our responsibility as educators to make online learning as engaging, effective, and accessible as possible for all students. Read Jim’s full piece here.
Opinion: Now is not the time to put college plans on hold
Craig Robinson, president of College Possible, writes about the importance of preventing students from leaving or declining to attend college in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, in this piece from The Hechinger Report: “Even as the country struggles under the strain of the pandemic, it is vital that students, in the safest way possible, commit to continuing their education. As Covid-19 continues to upend much of American life, students must do whatever they can to safely ensure the pandemic does not also upend their educational plans — and their futures.” Read Craig’s full piece here.
Opinion: Our next Education secretary must support all public schools — including charters
Lorén Cox, Ph.D., senior director of policy, advocacy and community engagement at the KIPP Foundation, writes about what is needed from the next secretary of Education, in this piece from The Hill: “Our next Education secretary must be inclusive, someone who embraces public education in all its forms, and who will partner with district and public charter schools alike. This isn’t a zero-sum game: All children deserve support, which means all public schools deserve support, including public charter schools. In a deeply divided time, American students and families need a united front more than ever.” Read Lorén’s full piece here.
Video: How the nonprofit City Year New York is helping kids thrive during the pandemic
On Giving Tuesday, City Year New York was featured in a video from The Today Show, highlighting “their efforts to help kids cope and thrive in a school year unlike any other through social-emotional learning.” Watch the full video here.
Interview: What is the secret to aging well?
Marc Freedman, founder and chief executive of Encore.org and the author of “How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations,” spoke with Kerry Hannon, a leading expert, and strategist on work and jobs, entrepreneurship, personal finance, and retirement, about “his new book and views of aging well” for this interview in MarketWatch.
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