America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (2/1)

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

Lawmakers in Congress were in recess last week and will return to Washington this week. However, negotiations continue on a number of bills including a compromise on the Build Back Better Act with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Senate Democrat leaders, and the White House continue to try to hammer out a deal. Additionally while Congress continues to struggle to pass broad election reform measures, a bipartisan group of fourteen Senators are drafting legislation that would reform the Electoral Count Act – the law which lays out the process of how Congress counts and certifies presidential election results.

The biggest news last week in Washington was Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announcing his retirement from the bench, giving President Joe Biden his first opportunity at nominating a Justice to the Supreme Court. In his campaign for president, Biden promised that given the opportunity, he would nominate the Court’s first Black woman; and last week, he reaffirmed that promise. The President is expected to announce his nomination by the end of February; and Senate Leadership has already signaled their intention to move a confirmation through in time for the fall term of the Court.

America Forward Congressional Letter: Build Back Better Act Priorities

On Friday, America Forward sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders outlining our priorities for a final Build Back Better Act (BBB). As Congress continues to work on reducing the overall cost of the bill and thus deciding what provisions remain, America Forward calls on the leadership to ensure that the bold investments in education, workforce, national service and child care are included in any final BBB legislation.

Update: U.S. Secretary of Education Lays Out Vision for Continued COVID-19 Recovery

In a speech on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona laid out his vision for continued recovery through the pandemic and his priorities for broader investments in America’s education system to ensure all students can succeed and thrive. During the address, Secretary Cardona discussed key strategies the Department, schools, and colleges and universities must take to help students, educators, and school communities – from preschool through postsecondary education – continue to recover from the pandemic and address inequities that have long existed in our education system.

Update: U.S. Department of Education Solicits Public Comments on the Project Prevent Grant Program

In an effort to prevent and reduce gun crime and other forms of community violence, the U.S. Department of Education released the Notice of Proposed Priorities, definition, and requirements for its Project Prevent discretionary grant program and launched the 30-day public comment period. The proposed priorities emphasize the importance and efficacy of a coordinated effort between schools and community-based organizations (e.g., local civic or community-service organizations, local faith-based organizations, or local foundations or nonprofit organizations) to help prevent and reduce gun crime and other forms of community violence and mitigate the short- and long-term effects this violence has on students.

The notice is intended to encourage effective implementation of community- and school-based strategies through proposed priorities that:

  • Support local educational agencies (LEAs) in offering mental health services to students impacted by community violence;
  • Support LEAs in the implementation of conflict management programs; and
  • Support LEAs in implementing other community- and school-based strategies to help their students break cycles of generational violence and to mitigate the impacts of exposure to community violence.

Resource: Ed Recovery Hub Launched to Track Uses of Pandemic Funding to States

The EduRecoveryHub, a project launched through a partnership between the Collaborative for Student Success, the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) and the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, provides information on how states and local education agencies are utilizing COVID-19 recovery funds. For Coalition members engaging with states and LEAs on federal education relief funds, the EduRecoveryHub may be of use since it tracks and showcases innovative, high-potential actions and uses of funds by that states, districts and schools.

Latinos for Education Receives Major Award from MacKenzie Scott

Last week, Latinos for Education announced a $5 million award from philanthropist, MacKenzie Scott. This investment and act of support will be instrumental to advancing their critical work of elevating the voice and influence of Latinos within the education sector; pushing bold policy at the local, state and national level in support of Latino students; and building a network of Latino educators and leaders nationwide.

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