Earlier this month, America Forward joined our Coalition member, Wyman, for their annual National Network Learning Exchange, a conversation that brought together over 60 partners and stakeholders to discuss best practices and updates from the education field. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge conventional approaches to learning – highlighting and exacerbating deeply rooted inequities and impacting the ways in which all our students are able to learn and develop – we are grateful for the opportunity to work in partnership with our Coalition members, like Wyman, in order to learn from one another and explore innovative solutions to meet this moment.
America Forward shared information around two key pieces of our education advocacy work:
At the federal level, there are currently multiple legislative vehicles available to advance the key educational priorities that America Forward and our Coalition members have been advocating for, as outlined in our Policy Platforms and Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 appropriations request letter, including the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), appropriations bills, infrastructure bills, and budget reconciliation measures.
We were pleased to see the inclusion of the Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education appropriations bill in the appropriations package that was passed by the House at the end of July. The legislation includes provisions to support job creation and job training programs; expand access to institutions of higher education; and ensure strong, equitable investments in school systems, child care, families, under-resourced and BIPOC students, students with disabilities, and more.
Additionally, ARPA’s funding for Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) presents a critical opportunity for catalytic partnerships between state and local education agencies (SEAs and LEAs) and evidence-based, innovative non-profit organizations that are proximate to the challenges facing school systems, educators, students, and families. Through partnerships that leverage both evidence-based programming and innovative approaches to meet this unique moment, there is a real opportunity to identify community needs and implement best practices to most effectively utilize this unprecedented influx of federal funding.
America Forward will continue to advocate for the priorities of our Coalition to ensure all of our members and the communities they serve have the tools and resources they need to thrive, during COVID-19 and beyond.
Advancing Whole-Learner Education
We know that whole-learner approaches to education — those that develop the broad set of physical, social, cognitive, creative, and emotional skills that all learners need to thrive — are more important than ever. Such approaches, in order to advance equity and excellence that all learners deserve, require creating educational experiences that foster positive developmental relationships, offer rich instructional experiences, ensure students’ safety and sense of belonging, and are meaningful, playful, engaging, and joyful.
Through America Forward’s Advancing Whole-Learner Education initiative, we are working to advance whole-learner approaches to education at local, state, and federal levels, in deep partnership with our Coalition members, by:
- Increasing policy makers’ and education stakeholders’ understanding about the vital importance of whole-learner approaches to education;
- Advocating for federal policy changes that advance the adoption of high-quality, evidence-based whole-learner approaches to education;
- Amplifying the expertise of our Coalition members by developing their advocacy capacity and offering high level engagement opportunities; and
- Increasing and deepening public understanding of whole-learner approaches to education
This work includes five general policy recommendations:
- Reimagining and supporting the remodeling of our education system.
- Attracting, supporting, and retaining transformative educators.
- Effectively engaging families.
- Fostering successful systems through effective partnerships.
- Leveraging science and evidence.
We are grateful to our partners at Wyman for giving us the opportunity to share this information with a robust network of leading education partners as we all work together to determine best practices in the recovery from the pandemic, and reimagine an education system that allows all learners to thrive.
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