AF Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (8/18)

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.

From America Forward: Combining Subsidized Employment and Strong Evidence to Drive an Equitable Economic Recovery

Roger Low, Policy Director at America Forward and Dr. Angela Jackson, Partner at New Profit, co-authored a Medium post about how robust support for subsidized employment programs – combined with an intentional focus on evidence and outcomes – can help drive an equitable, sustainable recovery from COVID-19.

According to the authors, “Congress could reemploy millions with an ambitious new subsidized employment program, creating pathways into the workforce for those most overlooked. … To maximize the effectiveness of new funding, Congress should tie “hire, train and retain outcome-payments” to worker earnings, build the public sector’s capacity for performance management, and ensure communities of color are fully included.”

You can read the full piece on America Forward’s Medium channel, here.

Update: COVID-19 Federal Legislation

As you may know, a couple weeks ago, the President announced several executive actions aimed at addressing critical COVID related issues like unemployment insurance, evictions and student loans. As a result, talks between the White House and congressional leaders stalled this week on a fourth COVID relief legislative package; and Congress recessed until after Labor Day. A major sticking point continues to be the overall amount of the relief package–Democrats want it to be close to the $3 trillion amount that was included in the COVID package the House of Representatives passed in May, while Republicans insist the funding be closer to $1 trillion. The debate also continues over provisions to address the extension of unemployment insurance, funding for states and local governments and other issues.

Last week, leaders from both the House and Senate sent their members back to their districts until early September, indicating that they would call members back to the Capitol if an agreement is reached before then. On August 16, Speaker Pelosi announced she would call the House back to the Capitol early, to address concerns related to the operation of the United States Postal Service. See Speaker Pelosi’s “Dear Colleague” letter on the matter, here.

Update: Federal Appropriations Update

As reported previously, late last month, the House of Representatives passed a six-bill appropriations “minibus” that included Fiscal Year 2021 funding for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The bill passed by the House includes critical funding increases for major education programs like Title I, teacher training and preparations programs, Pell Grants, and IDEA; as well as, more funding for job training, Head Start, and other programs important to our Coalition.

The Senate, however, has not passed any appropriations bills this year; as a result, we expect Congress to pass a continuing resolution (CR) in the coming weeks that would keep government agencies open and funded. The exact length of a CR is to be determined.

Throughout the appropriations process, America Forward has advocated for funding decisions that would help advance equity, support innovation, increase efficiency, and reward results; America Forward summarized several Coalition funding priorities in a letter to key appropriators in April, and reviewed key priorities included in the bill passed by the House in a recent blog post. So, as Congress deliberates funding for the next fiscal year, we will continue to strongly advocate for those programs and policies that best serve our Coalition members and the communities they represent.

From the America Forward Coalition

Opinion: As Cities Move to Pull Funds From Police, Foundations Can Help Ensure Those Dollars Are Spent Well

As calls to divest from police departments and invest in alternative public safety programs become more mainstream, Antony Bugg-Levine, CEO of Nonprofit Finance Fund and co-founder of the Global Impact Investing Network, and Rev. Rubén Austria, founding executive director of Community Connections for Youth, unpack the critical role philanthropy can play in effectively reallocating that funding to empower communities, in this piece in The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “We need to change not just where the money goes, but who determines where it goes and who controls how it’s spent. Real change comes from shifting the power to communities. Groups led by people of color, the ones that serve the people disproportionately killed and incarcerated by poorly run police departments, are the ones who should set the agenda and control the resources as we move forward.” Read their full piece here.

Opinion: Jones: Prioritize Active Learning. Age Matters. Teachers Hold the Key. Ways to Help Special Ed Kids, and All Students, Catch Up — and Move Ahead

Lindsay E. Jones, President and CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, advocates for the need to design accelerated learning programs that serve and support all students, as schools restructure approaches to learning and address exponential instructional loss caused by the COVID-19 crisis, in this piece from The 74 Million: “The acceleration conversation can no longer be about a few lucky students. Our schools now have an opportunity to identify and scale successful approaches that can help everyone make enough progress to catch up and truly thrive. Policymakers and schools can draw from research and pockets of success to mitigate instructional loss from COVID and reimagine general and special education for years to come.” Read Lindsay’s full piece here.

Opinion: Putting Equity at the Center of Our Recovery

Elisa Villanueva Beard, CEO of Teach for America, writes about the importance of centering new educational approaches on equity, as we continue to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 crisis, in order to meet the needs of every student and empower long-term solutions to equitable learning: “We must disrupt the path the studies suggest our children are on right now—one that risks leaving an entire generation behind. It begins with taking a student-centered approach. Our kids lost so much learning time in the spring and summer. As they return to school, we need to assess where they are and design a learning-recovery plan for each child. This crisis has also taken a heavy personal toll on students and their families. They will need social-emotional support and support to overcome trauma and will continue to have nutritional, health, and other unmet needs.” Read Elisa’s full piece here.

Student Editorial Board Opinion: College accessibility through concurrent classes

Generation Citizen Student Editorial Board member Lauren McDowell writes about the importance of concurrent class programs in high school for collegiate success in this piece from The Oklahoman: “At Butner, as well as many other places in rural Oklahoma, poverty makes continuing education virtually impossible — no matter how good a student’s performance. Concurrent classes can make the transition to college less stressful and give students the chance to understand the structure of college courses.” Read Lauren’s full piece here.

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