America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (2/22)

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.

What’s New in Washington

Last week in Washington, the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate were not in session. The House Budget Committee is moving forward this week on the House Reconciliation bill, which will include the Committee on Education and Labor’s proposal to provide funding to safely reopen schools, support postsecondary students and higher education institutions, fund child care and Head Start programs, increase funding for national service and other measures. America Forward has announced its support for this proposal. Once the Budget Committee completes its work on the Reconciliation bill, the full House of Representatives is expected to vote on it by the end of this week.

The Senate will also return for votes this week when we expect news on Dr. Miguel Cardona’s nomination for Secretary of Education

Resource: AppleTree Audience Publication: “I Am From” Poem Collection with AppleTree Honorees

Last week, AppleTree released their most recent edition of AppleTree Audience, featuring “I AM FROM,” a collection of poems celebrating Black heroes who are making vital contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion in education and around the world. Read the full publication here and feel free to share it with your social networks!

Resource: Department of Education Releases COVID-19 Handbook Volume I, Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools

Last week, the Department of Education released the first volume of their COVID-19 handbook, with “implementation guidance, strategies, and considerations for the education community.” This first volume “supplements CDC’s operational strategy with practical examples and roadmaps for educators and staff to implement CDC’s recommended safe practices for in-person learning,” including masking practices, physical distancing practices, and effective stakeholder engagement.

The handbook can be read here, and the second volume is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Resource: 2021 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) School Survey: COVID-19 Planning and Resources

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has announced the launch of the NAEP 2021 School Survey, “which will survey approximately 3,500 schools each month at grades 4 and 8 each. With the participation of educators and school leaders across the country, the survey will provide data on instructional modes and attendance rates starting in March through the end of the 2020-21 school year.”

“The survey is being conducted in accordance with the Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers, which mandates that the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) collect the data necessary to fully understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schools, including the status of in-person learning at schools across the country.” Additional information can be found here.

From the America Forward Coalition

Think of Us Solicits Feedback for Engagement with Biden-Harris Administration

Think of Us has been actively engaging with the Biden-Harris Administration to advise and share current trends and recommendations, and they’re offering a way for their community to engage as well. With the goal of connecting the executive branch and state leaders with the lived experiences of people – as well as highlighting pressing issues across the country and organizations and systems that are working through solutions – they’ve put together this form for their community to submit ideas of topics and issues that should be shared with the Biden-Harris Administration.

Think of Us Awarded Contract by California Department of Social Services for Virtual Support Services

Last week, Think of Us was awarded a contract by the CA Department of Social Services to launch the first-ever virtual support services for families and youth impacted by foster care. According to their press release, “Part of Think of Us’ Flagship Initiative is to reimagine how youth and caregivers are empowered and centered in a 21st-century experience in accessing the resources they need. With that objective in mind, we are partnering with the State of California to test Virtual Support Services (VSS), a free virtual assistance service for kinship caregivers and transition-age foster youth that offers practical support like 3-way conference calling 211, reviewing and vetting the resources on their behalf, filling out the application for them, and following up with the organization providing the resource to ensure that our families and youth are getting what they need.” Read more here.

Opinion: CARES Act Funding Isn’t Equitable For Schools. Let’s Fix That Next Time

KIPP Foundation CEO, Richard Barth, offers solutions for ensuring more equitable COVID-19 relief, in this piece from Forbes: “When the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was first passed in March 2020, it included nearly $31 billion in funds to quickly stabilize public schools—both district and charter—that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, nearly a year later, it’s clear that some schools have benefited more than others. Public schools in similar neighborhoods, just blocks away from each other, are receiving wildly disparate amounts of money, shortchanging many of the students and families who need this support the most.” Read Richard’s full piece here.

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