AF Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (7/20)

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.

Letter: Support for Employment Social Enterprises and Transitional Jobs Programs

Last week, America Forward – along with Results for America, REDF, Per Scholas, Roca, Year Up and other partners – signed and helped co-author a new letter to Congressional leadership advocating for additional supports for employment social enterprises (ESEs) and transitional jobs programs in a new congressional economic recovery package.

The letter calls for more support and explicit recognition for employment social enterprises (ESEs) given the critical role these entities play in helping individuals with barriers to employment (such as the formerly incarcerated, recently homeless or opportunity youth) enter or reenter the workforce, especially in this challenging moment. The letter also advocates for a large subsidized employment program for unemployed individuals such as that proposed in the Jobs for Economic Recovery Act (legislation that includes input offered by America Forward and our partners). Finally, the letter pushes for new provisions allowing larger ESEs to access a reauthorized Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and both more funding and flexibility through SNAP and SNAP E&T for families in poverty and other vulnerable populations transitioning into the workforce. You can read the final letter here.

Statement: Child Care for Economic Recovery Act

Last week, America Forward was proud to sign the Bipartisan Policy Coalition’s statement urging Congress to continue conversations around and investments in child care infrastructure, as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis and rebuild our child care businesses and facilities to be safe and healthy spaces for children, staff, and families.

“Child care is a critical component of strengthening both national and local economies, especially as the country begins to rebuild in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Access to high-quality child care can help parents of young children return to the workforce and achieve economic stability. Yet with 60% of child care programs having closed during the height of the pandemic, greater investments are needed to support both the long-term sustainability of these programs and enhanced health and safety measures. As the nation rebuilds, Congress must continue conversations and take action that best supports the child care workforce and working parents of young children.”

Read the full statement here.

Update: COVID Relief and Response Legislation

This week, Congress returns to Washington and is expected to turn their attention to the next COVID-19 related legislation (“COVID-4”). As work continues on the next COVID-19 package, education funding could be the driving force in reaching a compromise. GOP lawmakers have resisted Democrats’ calls for the cash infusion for states, but members in both parties agree that schools will need extra funds for reopening costs, like personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chairman of the Senate Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS)-Education Appropriations Subcommittee recently stated, “If you give a lot of money to education, you have probably filled a lot of the gap that was created by their loss in revenue.” He also noted education is the top expense for states after Medicaid.

House Democrats would like to see the $1 trillion in state and local funding that was included in their HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), that passed the House of Representatives in May, be in the final conference agreement and target a large portion of those funds to school systems. That bill also included a $100 billion specifically for school reopening costs. Last Thursday, Senate Democrats unveiled their own proposal that would offer $350 billion in childcare, job training, health care and more for minority communities.

Update: House Committee Advances Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2021 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill by a vote of 30-22. The bill aligns with many of the funding priorities of the Coalition (you can review America Forward’s funding priority letter we sent to Capitol Hill in April here). For example, the bill includes increases for major education programs like Title I, teacher training and preparations programs, Pell Grants, and IDEA; along with more funding for job training, Head Start and other programs important to our Coalition. In addition, it includes $172 million for a new Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Initiative to support SEL and “whole child” approaches to education. We expect the House to take up a block of Appropriations bills next week but that package does not include the Labor, HHS, and Education bill. The week of July 27 will see House action on a second package of appropriations bills. To date, no word on what bills will be included in that package.

A summary of the bill is here. The text of the bill is here and the Committee’s bill report is here.

The bill also includes funding and authorization for Innovative new Public Sector Fellowship.

America Forward’s advocacy helped secure funding and authorization for an interagency federal feasibility study to examine the potential for a new, innovative mid-career public sector fellowship that would bring top talent into the public sector from the private, nonprofit, philanthropic and academic sectors, and other non-traditional sources; help break down barriers across federal, state and local government; increase diversity, equity, and inclusion at senior agency levels; achieve positive systems change; and make government more focused on outcomes.

A version of this proposal was included in our #AmericaForward2020 Policy Playbook. The key language from House appropriators can be found on page 288 of their report, available here.

From the America Forward Coalition

New Classrooms: Solving the Iceberg Problem

A new report from New Classrooms, Solving the Iceberg Problem, is an instructional blueprint with practical insights for how districts, schools, and educators can address learning loss in math education during a post-COVID-19 era. The report explores how tailored acceleration – combining high-quality, teacher-led instruction with other instructional approaches so that all students do not need to learn the same thing at the same time – can help address the challenges created by the pandemic. You can read the full report here:

CASEL: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Roadmap for Reopening School

America Forward Coalition member CASEL released Reunite, Renew, and Thrive:
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Roadmap for Reopening School. According to the authors, “CASEL, in collaboration with more than 40 organizations, developed this roadmap for … school leaders and leadership teams, to support planning for the transition back to schools, in whatever form that takes. We recognize that SEL is not a panacea to the complex, systemic issues we face. However, SEL offers a critical foundation for supporting students and adults in the midst of great uncertainty and stress, and a long-term path for sustaining thriving communities.”

Opinion: Why KIPP Has Retired ‘Work Hard. Be Nice’

Dave Levin, co-founder of KIPP Public Schools, writes about KIPP’s decision to retire their slogan, “Work Hard. Be Nice,” in The Wall Street Journal: “Hard work is essential. Character matters. But neither is enough. We should not be afraid to tell our children that it takes more. It takes community, access and systemic change. And it takes a belief that we must be a part of this change.” Read his full piece here.

Q&A: Community Conversations: The Rise of Youth Activism

Reyna Montoya, founder and CEO of Aliento, joined The Wall Street Journal’s live Q&A last week, along with other community leaders, to “discuss activism among young adults.” Watch it here.

Opinion: City Year Offers Schools a Research-Backed Guide to Plan for Next Year

Darryl Bundrige, Executive Director and Vice President of City Year Philadelphia, addresses the importance of emphasizing social emotional learning as schools look ahead to develop plans for reopening: “If we want to ensure strong student outcomes, recover learning loss caused by COVID, and close the inequities so many of our children face, we must integrate social-emotional support and skill building with academics. The good news is that we know more today about how to support holistic student success than ever before.” Read his full piece here.

Reality Check: What Will It Take to Reopen Schools Amid the Pandemic? 8 Experts Weigh In on Families, Schools & Students’ Diverse Needs

In this piece from The 74 Million, Jennifer Charlot, partner at Transcend, offers ways to better support families; and Lindsay E. Jones, president and CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, explores how to create educational approaches that best serve all students by designing for the most complex learners. Read the full article here.

Opinion: The Neurobiology of Service: How 1+1 Can Equal 3

Turnaround for Children’s Dr. Sheila Ohlsson Walker writes about the science behind collective efficacy, and how feeling connected to and supporting others leads to positive neurobiological and social outcomes: “Service to others, helping those around us, is a core element in human flourishing, as it is characterized by the systemwide neurobiological response that fortifies broad measures of health, wellness, and quality of life.” Read her full piece here.

Opinion: Will Congress provide relief to the ailing child care sector?

Mark Reilly, Vice President of Policy & Government Relations, and Brittany Walsh, Director of Policy & Government Relations of Jumpstart write about the need for robust federal funding for the child care sector and the current legislative opportunities to ensure support for both child care providers and a full economic recovery, in The Hill: “Constituents of every political stripe are confronting this question: how can they return to work if their children have no place to learn and be cared for? This time, their representatives are listening. With just weeks before the August recess, we ask once more: will the lifeline to child care providers finally be extended?” Read their full piece here.

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