America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (11/8)

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.

Last Week in Washington

Final negotiations on a framework of the reconciliation bill continued last week between the White House, Congressional Leadership, and Democrats. On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a procedural hurdle on the framework that set up a vote later this month on the overall Build Back Better package once the Congressional Budget Office releases its analysis of the bill’s impacts on the federal deficit and revenue. The White House Fact Sheet on the Build Back Better Framework can be found here, the bill text can be found here, and a section-by-section summary from the House Rules committee can be found here. Additionally, in case you missed it, America Forward sent a letter to Democratic Congressional Leaders on October 20, 2021, outlining our support for key provisions in the bill.

After the bill passes the House, it will return to the Senate, where it is possible that it will receive more changes and have to return again to the House for another vote. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) set a goal of passing the bill before Thanksgiving.

A vote on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment Act passed the House on Friday evening and was sent to President Joe Biden, delivering one of two major priorities for the Administration and Democratic leaders in Congress.

Congressional Appropriations Leaders met last week to discuss a topline spending number for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY’22) appropriations. No agreement was reached and Senate Appropriations Ranking Member, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) signaled that it is likely that Congress will complete work on the final appropriations bills before the December 3rd deadline of the current Continuing Resolution (CR); and that another CR will likely be needed to fund the government.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed the use of the Pfizer COVID vaccine for children ages 5-11 last week. The Biden Administration has been planning for CDC approval of the vaccine on young children and has an operational plan for making vaccination of children convenient, easily accessible, and free. That plan is available here.

America Forward Co-signs Letter in Support of the Reintroduction of the Jumpstart on College Act

Last week, America Forward signed on to a letter of support for the reintroduction of the Jumpstart on College Act. The bill would authorize $250 million per year in federal grants for states and eligible dual enrollment partnerships to expand equity of access and success to college in high school programs like dual enrollment and early college. To learn more about the Jumpstart on College Act, click here.

Turnaround For Children: Supporting Equitable Outcomes with a Tiered System of Supports

A tiered system of supports is one of many structures in schools that supports equitable outcomes for students. The purpose of a tiered system of supports is to provide a framework for an adaptive, responsive continuum of integrated supports for all students.

Turnaround’s approach to tiered systems of supports is grounded in the science of learning and development and centers on four key principles:

  • Recognize and support the needs of all children
  • Provide supports in an integrated way
  • Require strong collaboration among all adults in a student’s context
  • Operate with an understanding of the impact of trauma and adversity on learning and development

CASEL: How Can You Speak Up for SEL?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is driven by what the research says, what families want, and what is best for children – not by politics on any side. But when political agendas are prioritized over children’s healthy development, students risk losing out on an education that will help them succeed in school and in life. CASEL presents valuable resources to being a better advocate for SEL here.

Resource: Department of Education’s COVID Data Dashboard

Last Friday, the Department of Education, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), launched a new COVID-19 data dashboard to help the public keep track of the impact of COVID-19 on K-12 schools. The dashboard aggregates in one location data on pediatric COVID-19 cases, youth vaccination rates, and numbers on schools that are operating in-person, hybrid or remote. Data will be updated each week; and where possible, the information is presented geographically so that educators and families can understand the impact of COVID in their communities. This is the first time such data will be presented in a single location to the public.

Resource: College in High School Programs & Data: Reporting and Using Dual Enrollment Data to Improve Equity

The College in High School Alliance (CHSA) and the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) released a new report last week entitled College in High School Programs & Data: Reporting and Using Dual Enrollment Data to Improve Equity. The paper is designed to help states – as well as colleges and school districts – understand what data on dual enrollment access and success they should collect and report, and how that data can be used to close equity gaps and improve student outcomes. The report provides examples of existing state dual enrollment reporting mechanisms and how they are being used to close equity gaps.

Resource: Biden Administration Issues First Ever National Gender Equity Strategy

This month, the Biden Administration issued the first ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. The strategy is ten-fold: (1) improving economic security and accelerating economic growth; (2) eliminating gender-based violence; (3) protecting, improving, and expanding access to health care, including sexual and reproductive health care; (4) ensuring equal opportunity and equity in education; (5) advancing gender equity and fairness in the justice and immigration systems; (6) advancing human rights and gender equality under the law; (7) elevating gender equality in security and humanitarian relief; (8) promoting gender equity in mitigating and responding to climate change; (9) closing gender gaps in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields; and (10) advancing full participation in democracy, representation, and leadership.

To read the National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, click here.

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: Florida, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Additionally, the Department announced the approval of 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.

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