America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (11/17)

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.

This Week in Washington

The House of Representatives and Senate were in recess last week; however, negotiations and conversations on the Build Back Better Act continued. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), made a goal of passing the bill in the House this week and sending it over to the Senate. In the Senate, the bill is expected to be changed before its final passage, which Senate Majority Leader, Charles Schumer (D-NY), has set a goal to do before Thanksgiving.

Moderate Democrats in both chambers continue to wait for a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score of the bill. The CBO said last Tuesday that certain cost estimates may take longer than anticipated, potentially throwing off the timeline that Congressional Leaders have set for passing the bill.

On November 15, President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment Act into law, in a ceremony with both Democrats and Republicans. The bill was passed by the Senate with strong bipartisan support in August, and was passed by the House on Friday, November 5th, with 13 Republicans joining most of the Democratic Caucus. The $1.2 trillion bill ($550 billion in new spending) includes massive investments in transportation, broadband, water and wastewater, electric grids, and other physical infrastructure priorities.

Video Series Launches

November 15, 2021: Launch of the America Forward Video Series

America Forward has produced a series of short videos highlighting the vital work being done by the America Forward Coalition, including timely priorities like whole-learner approaches to education, distance learning, and a focus on evidence, and outcomes. We launched our series on Monday, November 15. Please follow us on Twitter to access our series next week and learn more about the work of America Forward and the America Forward Coalition.

Last Week at America Forward

America Forward and Braven Host College Retention and Completion Roundtable

Last week, America Forward and Coalition organization, Braven, hosted a roundtable with members of the Higher Education Working Group and Pay for Success Task Force to discuss the $500 million College Retention and Completion Fund in the Build Back Better Act. If the provision in the bill passes, our Coalition stands ready to advocate to the U.S. Department of Education for effective implementation that allows for nonprofit and community organizations to access this funding through grants and programming that targets evidence-based outcomes in retention, transfer, completion, and labor market outcomes.

Resource: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) Issues Q&A Documents on Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issued Q&As on Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) concerning Child Find, Referral, and Eligibility and Provision of Early Intervention Services for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities and their Families. These documents complete OSERS’s Return to School Roadmap Q&A series and demonstrate the agency’s continued commitment to support states in ensuring full implementation of IDEA requirements.

Update: AmeriCorps Recognized for Using Evidence and Data to Invest Federal Resources in Programs that Work

AmeriCorps has been recognized for outstanding performance in the Results for America’s 2021 Invest in What Works Federal Standard of Excellence. The Federal Standard of Excellence recognizes agencies which use data-driven methods to get results for young people, their families, and communities and improve the impact of federal investments. AmeriCorps was highlighted for the agency’s use of data and evidence to increase the impact of national service grants in more than 40,000 communities to make our government as effective and efficient as possible.

Update: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commits $421 Million in Additional Emergency Connectivity Funding

Last week, the FCC committed over $421 million in additional funding through the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, bringing total program commitments to over $3.05 billion. The funding is supporting schools and libraries in all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. The funding can be used to support off-campus learning, such as nightly homework and virtual learning, as schools and libraries continue to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the program has connected 10 million students, according to the FCC.

Update: U.S. Department of Education Approves State Plans for Use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds to Support K-12 Schools and Students

The U.S. Department of Education has now announced its approval of forty-seven state plans, including Washington, D.C., for the use of ARP funds to support K-12 schools and students, except in Florida, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Additionally, the Department announced the approval of the Northern Mariana Islands Public School System’s implementation plan. A table tracking the status of the plans for each state that submitted them can be found here, and plans submitted under the Outlying Areas State Educational Agencies Fund can be found here.

Opinion: “A solution to the US worker shortage and inequity is hiding in plain sight”

In response to the recent Jobs for All report, Carla Javits, CEO of REDF, and Leslie Crutchfield, executive director for Business for Impact of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, wrote an op-ed titled: “A solution to the US worker shortage and inequity is hiding in plain sight” that was recently published in The Hill. It addresses the role employment social enterprises can play in employing the “more than 30 million people in the United States are potential workers but are overlooked”.

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