America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (7/26)

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

Last Wednesday, an initial procedural vote was held to advance the bipartisan infrastructure deal through the Senate, but failed along party lines, with all GOP Senators voting no. A final version of the bill has yet to be introduced, but leaders of the bipartisan coalition claim that the final version of negotiations will be agreed upon and introduced in the coming days. It is expected that the Senate will then begin debate on the proposal this week.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reiterated last Thursday that the House will not take up the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate passes a reconciliation bill for larger spending ($3.5 trillion) on President Biden’s budget priorities. Tensions in the House of Representatives also rose this week surrounding GOP appointments to the Select Committee on January 6th. Speaker Pelosi rejected two of the five Republican members, Representatives Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN), that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appointed to the Committee. Speaker Pelosi said in a press conference, “With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee.”

Senate Majority Leader Schumer plans on wrapping both the infrastructure and budget reconciliation processes up before the Congressional August Recess. With just weeks left before the deadline, lawmakers and congressional staff could expect to spend Fridays and even weekends working the next two weeks.

Statement from America Forward on the Recent Federal Court Decision re: DACA

Last week, America Forward issued the following statement in response to the recent federal court decision regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy:

Dreamers are everywhere – bringing diversity, joy, and innovation to schools, places of worship, workspaces, and communities across the country. Dreamers embody the story of America, and denying their ability to live, grow, and thrive here perpetuates historic cycles of exclusion and discrimination.

The recent ruling from a Texas federal court halting new applications to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy not only creates barriers to safety, support, and success for Dreamers, it also unnecessarily inhibits the potential of our nation by threatening the future of some of our most visionary thinkers, problem-solvers, innovators, and social entrepreneurs.

As an organization, America Forward is committed to breaking down barriers between people and opportunity and championing innovative and effective solutions to our country’s most pressing challenges in order to move all of America forward; the recent DACA ruling does the opposite. We are deeply disappointed in the decision and firmly stand with every DACA recipient. We see you. We value you. We stand with you.

We wholeheartedly support the recent statement from the Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights stating their commitment to protect all students’ access to education free from discrimination, and echo Secretary Cardona’s determination to safeguard every student’s continued right to public education.

Specifically for students, families, and educators grappling with the impact of this decision, below are key facts and resources from the U.S. Department of Education:

Key Facts

  • A State may not deny access to public education to any child residing in the State, including children who are not citizens and do not have immigration documentation. The Supreme Court made this clear nearly forty years ago in a case called Plyler v. Doe.
  • School districts may not bar students from enrolling in public elementary and secondary schools based on the citizenship or immigration status of the student or their parent or guardian.
  • School districts may not request information about the citizenship or immigration status of students or their families with the purpose or result of denying them access to educational opportunities.
  • Students who are English learners have a right to appropriate language assistance services, and parents and guardians have a right to receive communications from their children’s school in a language they can understand.


Expanding Pathways to Employment Act

By this Wednesday 7/28, please sign onto our support letter for the bipartisan Expanding Pathways to Employment Act. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) recently introduced a transformational new bill in the House that links government-funded programs to measurable results by providing grants for the expansion of job-training and post-secondary education programs, via a new $700 million mandatory appropriation.

Please sign onto our support letter for the bill here, by Wednesday 7/28. The support letter draft is here. We’d love a strong showing from across the America Forward Coalition and our broader network!

More on the bill:

  • The legislation sets aside dedicated funding for programs that (based on rigorous evaluations) have proven to work for their participants. Eligible programs will include those with statistically significant positive outcomes on earnings, student achievement, or degree completion.
  • A program’s eligibility will depend on its impact relative to its cost, the quality of the evidence supporting it, and how intensively it focuses on promoting equity for those in historically underserved communities.
  • A match, which can be satisfied with other federal formula funds, is a strategic incentive to steer dollars from long-standing federal programs toward these proven approaches. The match can be waived.
  • The bill also sets aside funding to prove the efficacy of a new cohort of innovative, promising approaches via funding for pilots combined with rigorous evaluations. (These do not have a match requirement).

American Rescue Plan (ARP) Updates

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 (ED) has now announced its approval of seventeen state plans for the use of ARP funds to support K-12 schools and students, including: Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. Additional information about the plans for each state can be found here, and a table tracking the status of the plans for each state that submitted them can be found here.

Update: U.S. Department of Education Announces $20 Million Available to Tribal Education Agencies (TEAs)

According to a release from the Department of Education, “The Department also announced some $20 million available to Tribal Education Agencies (TEAs) through ARP to meet the urgent needs of students impacted by the pandemic. The American Indian Resilience in Education (AIRE) grant program will fund culturally relevant projects designed to assist and encourage Indian children and youth to enter, remain in, or re-enter school at any grade level. The Department conducted a virtual tribal consultation session to inform policy decisions on the program’s priorities, requirements, and definitions, and the Office of Indian Education will host a pre-application webinar on July 28 to encourage and support high-quality applications (blog post).”

Update: Additional Information Released on ARP Funds by the Department

Resource: Applications for Selection as a Performance Partnership Pilot; Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently issued a notice inviting applications for selection as a performance partnership pilot for fiscal year 2021 (FY21) under the Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth authority, which “offer a unique opportunity to test innovative, cost-effective, and outcome-focused strategies for improving results for disconnected youth.” The deadline for applications is August 23, 2021 and additional information can be found here.

Resource: Research-Practice Partnerships in Education: The State of the Field

Education is at a challenging crossroads as the intersection of Covid-19 and institutional racism has left a disproportionate effect on Black, Indigenous, and other youth of color, their families, and their communities. Social science can play an important role in addressing the challenges that local communities face. Research-practice partnerships (RPPs) are a strategic way to pursue locally-driven, collaborative approaches to research in support of educational equity.

Drawn from interviews with dozens of RPP leaders and a literature review spanning hundreds of recent empirical studies, Research-Practice Partnerships in Education: The State of the Field, offers a snapshot of the RPP landscape at a pivotal moment. The current report, and three accompanying reflections, illuminate how RPPs have grown and matured to encompass many different types of partnerships that vary along several key dimensions in the service of educational equity. We hope these papers can help clarify what RPPs are—and what they are not—and offer first-hand insights into their potential.

Advancing Whole-Learner Education

The July edition of America Forward’s monthly Whole Learner Education Insights and Action Newsletter went out last week. Check it out here! If you missed it but want to see the next one in your inbox, visit and subscribe at the bottom of the page!

From the America Forward Coalition

Launching Away From Home

Think of Us is proud to publish Away From Home: Youth Experiences of Institutional Placements in Foster Care, their new report on the lived experience of foster youth living in long-term institutional placements within the foster care system. They aimed to hear how foster youth speak in their own voices about their time in group foster care.

Opinion: “A fresh start: Let’s heal America’s divisions before her 250th birthday”

Service Year’s John M. Bridgeland and Special Olympics’s Timothy P. Shriver write about the importance of connecting national service organizations in order to multiply their efforts and their impact, in this piece from The Hill: “Division haunts this nation. We have a lot of diffuse efforts to heal these divisions. We have no system to strengthen and unite them. If we can build that, then when America’s 250th birthday swings around, in just five years from now, we will be able to rest confident in the knowledge that America is not a nation in decline, it is a nation still rising and inspiring the world.” Read their full piece here.

Opinion: “At our school, DEI isn’t a buzzword or a one-off lesson. Doing the work means doing it every day.”

KIPP’s Juan Juárez writes about why the school he leads, “KIPP Austin College Prep, has declared itself an overtly anti-racist ‘campus of social justice” and how their approach can serve as a model for other educators and school systems, in this piece from Chalkbeat: “But what does that mean? It means our students don’t have to think twice about whether their identities are good enough. It means they know they are loved, and that we believe in them. It means within our walls, they won’t experience the trauma of white supremacy. It means educators, staff, students, and families learn to recognize and champion each other’s identities.” Read Juan’s full piece here.

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