America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (4/19)

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, negotiations continued on President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan, a $2 trillion infrastructure package that also includes a number of proposals for workforce development, broadband expansion, and construction for schools, community colleges, and child care centers.

Early last week, a group of ten Republican Senators met, and are widely reported to be preparing an infrastructure counterproposal in the range of $600 to $800 billion. Senator Coons (D-DE), who is reportedly in close touch with the Biden Administration on the proposed legislation, suggested that one way forward might be an $800 billion bipartisan package (with the support of at least ten Republican Senators, enough to avoid a Senate filibuster if every Senate Democrat supported a final bill), followed by a roughly $1.2 trillion package that might move via a Senate reconciliation procedure.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), as always a critical swing vote in the unfolding negotiations, suggested last week that any final package should not have an artificially low topline number. Said Manchin: “We’re going to do whatever it takes. If it takes $4 trillion, I’d do $4 trillion but we have to pay for it.” The question of how the proposal will be paid for (in particular through increases in the corporate tax rate and partial repeal of the 2017 tax cuts) has emerged as an important issue in the negotiations. We can expect extensive negotiations in Congress on both the American Jobs proposal and on the President’s FY 2022 budget proposal in the weeks and months to follow.

Update: Sens. Coons & Wicker, 15 bipartisan colleagues reintroduce bill to expand national service to bolster COVID-19 recovery

Last week, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), along with 15 bipartisan colleagues, reintroduced the Cultivating Opportunity and Recovery from the Pandemic through Service (CORPS) Act, legislation that would “increase the number of AmeriCorps positions available to support a variety of response and recovery efforts based on community needs, including expanding food bank capacity, mentoring and tutoring students recovering from learning loss, helping to improve housing, and more.”

AnnMaura Connolly, President of Voices for National Service, weighed in: “The CORPS Act demonstrates the strong bipartisan support in Congress for investing in the nimble and effective national service infrastructure that has been deploying citizens of every background in service to their communities for decades.”

Jesse Colvin, CEO of America Forward Coalition member organization Service Year Alliance, is also quoted in the release: “National service continues to play a critical role in our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and it has the power to help America recover and rebuild.”

America Forward is proud to support the CORPS Act and will continue to keep our Coalition abreast of its progress as it moves through Congress. The press release can be found here and a one-pager on the legislation can be found here.

Call For Lessons Learned and Best Practices for Operating Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Issued in January by President Biden, Executive Order (E.O.) 14000 directs the U.S. Department of Education to create the Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse, which will highlight lessons from the field to support education communities as schools and campuses reopen, and will include “a collection of lessons learned and best practices submitted by teachers, faculty, staff, schools, districts, institutions of higher education, early childhood education providers, other places of educational instruction, and States describing approaches to operating during the COVID-19 pandemic that the submitters believe to have worked well in their contexts.”

To gather this collection of lessons learned, the U.S. Department of Education is looking for feedback from those in the field, and we encourage our Coalition members who fit the description to submit their best practices to, in order to help schools and districts identify opportunities to best utilize American Rescue Plan funds to meet their unique needs.

Resource: Early Childhood Webinar from ED

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education hosted the latest in its “Lessons from the Field” webinar series, running bi-weekly through June and focusing on key topics across early childhood, K-12 education, and postsecondary education: safe and healthy environments; providing supports for students; and teacher, faculty, and staff well-being, professional development, and supports.

This second webinar, “Guidance for Early Childhood Education Programs and Providers,” offered a brief overview of CDC’s mitigation guidance in early childhood care and featured a panel of practitioners sharing lessons learned and challenges they have overcome to sustain safe operations.

Update: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Safe Opening and Operation Work Eligible for Public Assistance (Interim)

Under the COVID-19 nationwide emergency declaration, issued last March, as well as subsequent major disaster declarations, state, local, tribal, and territorial government entities and certain private nonprofit (PNP) organizations are eligible to apply for assistance under the FEMA Public Assistance (PA) Program.

This January, President Biden issued the “Memorandum to Extend Federal Support to Governors’ Use of the National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 and to Increase Reimbursement and Other Assistance Provided to States,” which authorized FEMA to “provide funding to PA Applicants for the safe opening and operation of eligible facilities.” Additional information about FEMA’s PA program can be found here.

Resource: An American Imperative: A New Vision Of Public Schools

The Learning 2025: National Commission on Student-Centered, Equity-Focused Education is “a collective of thought leaders in education, business, community, and philanthropy as convened by AASA, The School Superintendents Association” that calls for a “holistic redesign of the public school system by 2025.”

Their latest report, An American Imperative: A New Vision Of Public Schools, reads: “The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a forcing function. It has exposed the severity of systemic inequities and injustices that impact Americans and jeopardize the very core of our republic. It has also presented an opportunity to finally reshape schools to meet ALL Whole Learner needs for optimized achievement.”

The report offers a framework for specific change and identifies three core components of systemic school redesign: 1) culture, 2) social, emotional, and cognitive growth model; and 3) resources. The full report can be read here.

Advancing Whole-Learner Education

America Forward’s Whole-Learner Education Insights and Action Newsletter

The April edition of America Forward’s Whole-Learner Education Insights and Action Newsletter went out last week! If you missed it, but want to receive the next one, make sure to subscribe here:

In the meantime here’s what you can do right now to keep up the momentum around whole-learner approaches to education: share the op-ed that America Forward co-authored in The Hill with your networks! Feel free to:

1.  Retweet America Forward:

2. Use any of the sample tweets below:

3. Or write your own — and don’t forget to use #wholelearner!

From the America Forward Coalition

NCLD’s COVID-19 Impact Scholarship

To help support students with learning and attention issues whose college, professional, and life plans have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, NCLD is offering a new scholarship opportunity. The organization will award twelve $1,500 scholarships to students “who experienced significant disruptions in their college plans due to COVID-19,” and will be accepting applications until June 15th. Additional details and application information can be found here.

Blog: How can we design learning settings so that all students thrive?

In collaboration with 100+ leaders, including practitioners, scientists, community stakeholders, and parents, Pamela Cantor, M.D., Founder of Turnaround for Children; Linda Darling-Hammond, President and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute; Merita Irby, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President, The Forum for Youth Investment; and Karen Pittman, Co-Founder and Senior Fellow at The Forum for Youth Investment have articulated clear guiding principles for whole-child design and created two playbooks (one for K-12 and one for community-based settings) that provide detailed descriptions of and implementation support for the structures and practices that characterize whole-child design, including case studies and videos.

You can read more about their work, and find additional resources, here.

Q&A: ‘Keep Safe Miami’ Aims to Prepare Affordable Housing Sector Before Climate Disasters Strike

Enterprise Community Partners’ Sara Haas and City of Miami Chief Resilience Officer Alan Dodd discuss the ‘Keep Safe Miami’ effort, a program to help the affordable housing sector prepare for climate disasters, in this video from Cheddar.

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