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
Congress Passes Budget Resolution
On Friday morning, the Senate voted 51-50, after Vice President Kamala Harris broke her first tie, to adopt a budget resolution for the federal budget.
The House had already adopted its own budget resolution earlier this week but voted again on Friday to agree on the Senate’s language. Democrat leaders included in the Budget Resolution specific provisions called reconciliation instructions, which will lay the groundwork to allow for Congress to move President Biden’s COVID-19 relief package through Congress in a more expedited process.
Because the Democrats hold very narrow majorities in the House and the Senate, the reconciliation process will mean that, in the Senate, the bill can be approved with a simple majority and not be subject to a Senate filibuster. While there are still opportunities to move forward on a bipartisan basis, the President and Democrat leaders have indicated that the need for additional COVID relief is critical and, therefore, the expedited process is necessary.
House and Senate committees have until February 16th to write the COVID-19 stimulus legislation that will then be included in a larger, consolidated package. Democratic leaders are hoping to pass the relief package by March 14th, when the current round of enhanced unemployment benefits expires.
Senate Leaders Agree on Senate Organization Resolution for 117th Congress
Last Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reached an agreement on an organizing resolution for governing the 50-50 split Senate. The resolution was approved by unanimous consent. After weeks of negotiation, the resolution allowed Democrats to take control of the committees in the Senate; and Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell announced new committee assignments.
Presidential Nominations Move Forward
Last week, the Senate held hearings on a number of President Biden’s nominees for White House and Agency leadership positions. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held hearings for Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona (on Wednesday) and Labor Secretary nominee Marty Walsh (on Thursday). HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray has scheduled a Committee vote on the nominees this Wednesday.
RESET for America’s Future Act Tweetstorm
Last week, America Forward led a “Tweetstorm” to show support for the RESET for America’s Future Act, a bill introduced on January 25th by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Fred Upton (R-MI). View some of the tweets with the #RESETact hashtag here!
The RESET for America’s Future Act would increase federal reimbursement for job training programs through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training program (SNAP E&T), and deeply embed a focus on evidence and outcomes to ensure that “taxpayer dollars are leveraged more effectively and that families receiving services get the help they need.”
America Forward also led a letter, signed by more than 50 organizations, to House lawmakers in support of the legislation and, last week, supporters sent more than 150 tweets, which reached more than 60,000 people with key messages about the legislation.
Advancing Whole-Learner Approaches through the U.S. Department of Education
Last week, Dr. Miguel Cardona, President Biden’s nominee for the next U.S. Secretary of Education, appeared in front of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for his confirmation hearing.
Prior to Dr. Cardona’s hearing, America Forward encouraged Chair Patty Murray, Ranking Member Burr, and the members of the HELP Committee to consider questions that speak to the importance of whole-learner approaches. Those questions can be read here.
America Forward was also pleased to send a letter to the Committee endorsing Dr. Cardona’s confirmation, and urging Congress to move quickly on his nomination.
Update: New Profit Meeting the Moment
At the end of the first month of 2021, New Profit took one last look back at 2020. Last year, the intertwining and inequitable systems in this country, from health and education to criminal justice and democracy, were laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and the renewed and growing call for Black liberation and justice.
As part of their 2020 Annual Report, New Profit asked nine leaders in our community what the year looked like for their work and what is needed to “Meet the Moment.”
Read their responses on the New Profit 2020 Annual Report microsite.
Update: Announcement from America Forward Partner, the Sorenson Impact Center
As many of our Coalition members know, unlocking catalytic capital means new opportunities for investment in underserved and marginalized communities. In a new series of white papers, the Sorenson Impact Center, an America Forward partner, explores three innovative federal policy options aimed at catalyzing robust economic recovery. The first paper in particular focuses on leveraging federal funding for outcomes-based payment and funding models, which we believe is especially relevant to some of our PFS and Evidence taskforce members. The policy papers can be read here.
From the America Forward Coalition
Opinion: Addressing Significant Learning Loss in Mathematics During Covid-19 and Beyond
New Classrooms co-founder and chief executive officer, Joel Rose, writes about the need to change the way we think about math in order to address significant learning loss, and offers key lessons he’s learned in order to do so from his work at New Classrooms, in this piece from Education Next: “Now is the right time to shift how we think about teaching math. The confluence of several other forces—a widespread recognition of learning loss and its inequitable impact, the infusion of educational technology brought upon by school closures, the necessity of tending to students’ social and emotional development, and parents’ fears that their children won’t get back on track—all suggest we have the opportunity to try new ways to meet each and every student where they are and help them achieve proficiency.” Read Joel’s full piece here.
The Big Leap: Risk and Rewards in New Times
As “educators feel increasing pressure to ignite the minds of students of all ages and backgrounds against absurd odds,” New Teacher Center (NTC) is launching The Big Leap, a new series focused on “[elevating] critical topics and [providing] community, conversations, and resources for action.”
“Teachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate and recruitment efforts can’t match the demand. All are happening while students face months of learning loss. Trauma is affecting and following us all. The experience of inequity in schools is visceral. We can’t afford the risks and consequences of inaction; it tips the balance even further to conditions that will become unbeatable if ignored.” Drawing on lessons from the past year, The Big Leap is “New Teacher Center’s spotlight on those pushing forward to meet challenges head-on with grace and care.”
Read more about the new series from NTC CEO, Desmond K. Blackburn, Ph.D, here.
Alejandro Gibes de Gac: Britannica’s 20 Under 40 Young Shapers of the Future (Education)
Springboard Collaborative Founder and CEO, Alejandro Gibes de Gac, was recognized as one of Britannica’s 20 under 40 Young Shapers of the Future in Education. “Gibes de Gac says that he learned two lessons from his family: that “a child’s education involves much more than just their schooling” and that “parents’ love for their children is the single greatest, and most underutilized, natural resource in education.” He credits these as the founding tenets of his Springboard Collaborative, which offers five-week summer reading programs for inner-city youth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Oakland, California, to counter the “summer slide” of loss of reading skills during school breaks.” Read Alejandro’s full feature here.
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