How the DNC Reflected America Forward Priorities

Last week, Democrats from around the country came together (virtually) for the 2020 Democratic National Convention – four nights of speeches and videos from leaders and elected officials, and an opportunity for delegates to approve the 2020 Democratic platform. Both in the remarks delivered throughout the week and in the platform itself, Democrats highlighted a number of policies and priorities that reflect those outlined in America Forward’s 2020 Presidential Policy Playbook.

Below, we summarize key areas of alignment between America Forward’s work and the 2020 Democratic platform, to identify potential areas of support and future collaboration.

Championing Evidence-Based, Whole-Learner Approaches to Education

  • America Forward has led on outcomes-focused policies that center measurable impacts. In the 2020 Presidential Policy Playbook, America Forward calls for launching “outcomes-based projects at the state and local levels” and enacting evidence-based approaches to education that “take into account the needs of the whole child, and integrate trauma-informed practices to support young learners’ cognitive, social, and emotional health and development.” In addition, in Whole-Learner Education: A Policy Roadmap to Student Success, America Forward advocated for whole-learner approaches that take “a holistic view of learning and development for every young person” and reflect the integrated, iterative way that learners develop cognitive, social, emotional, creative and physical skills.
  • The 2020 Democratic Platform supports this effort, also calling for “evidence-based programs and pedagogical approaches, including assessments that consider the well-being of the whole student and recognize the range of ways students can demonstrate learning.”

Effectively Engaging Families and Community in Education Systems

  • America Forward’s Policy Playbook calls for flexible approaches to policy that reflect the needs of individual families and communities: “By enabling those closest to the people served to assemble benefits and services in ways that are easy to understand and access, we can achieve better results. And by recruiting a new generation of diverse talent to elected, appointed, and civil service positions, we can bring new perspectives and approaches to solving critical challenges.” Whole-Learner Education: A Policy Roadmap to Student Success also advocates for the intentional, consistent inclusion of families as full partners in the development and implementation of whole-learner approaches, specifically.
  • The 2020 Democratic Platform also emphasizes the importance of engaging and supporting key stakeholders in the design and delivery of education systems: “We will reimagine our education system guided by the stakeholders and qualified, first-class, well-trained, passionate educators who know these issues best: young people, educators, parents, and community leaders.”

Creating the Conditions For All Students to Thrive

  • In her remarks during the convention, Dr. Jill Biden highlighted “the community college student who has faced homelessness and survived abuse but finds the grit to finish her degree and make a good life for her kids.” America Forward recognizes the deep need to support today’s college students, who are older and more diverse; financially independent and from low-income communities; raising families and working, all while pursuing an education. To improve the college completion rates of all students, America Forward’s Policy Playbook calls for incentivizing “institutions to develop plans to increase completion rates, drawing on the expertise of students who face barriers to completion, including low-income students, students with disabilities, and students who are first in their family to attend college.” These plans include addressing access to child care, grant funding, and work-study opportunities.
  • The 2020 Democratic Platform mirrors these goals, committing to “increase federal support for services like child care on college campuses, so more students are able to balance the demands of school and family and graduate with degrees” and to support “increased funding for wraparound services, including covering the cost of textbooks and fees for low-income students and establishing programs to address campus food insecurity, so students can focus on what matters most: their studies.”

Funding Universal Access to Early Child Care and Supporting Early Childhood Educators

  • In her remarks, Senator Elizabeth Warren said “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality child care affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every child care worker.” America Forward’s Policy Playbook calls for significant support for early childhood programs and educators, recommending support for “universal high-quality early childhood programming in persistently poor communities,” and funding for “a comprehensive strategy to expand, diversify, and raise the education levels of early childhood teachers, particularly those working in federally subsidized programs,” as well as enhancing program quality by tying public funding to measurable outcomes.
  • The Democratic platform also advocates that “all children across the United States should have access to high-quality early childhood education programs” and supports “raising early childhood standards and providing ongoing professional development for early childhood educators, to ensure that children’s academic, social development, behavioral, and cognitive needs are being met.”

Building A Diverse and Innovative Public Sector Talent Pipeline

  • America Forward’s Policy Playbook advocates for “a talent pipeline for the social sector to fill shortages, support quality and scale, and reflect the communities served,” including by scaling national service, developing mid-career talent, and opening the “public-sector talent pipeline to entrepreneurs, innovators, disrupters, and those with relevant lived experience and proximity to major social challenges.”
  • Reflecting this effort, the Democratic platform also commits to “support the recruitment of people with expertise in science, social science, technology, and innovation to jobs in public service to help solve our nation’s most pressing challenges.”

Supporting Technical Education and High-Quality Job Training Programs

  • The America Forward Policy Playbook calls for redesigning the workforce development system to best align education and workforce training with viable career pathways, such as by investing in “bridge-building work experience, including social enterprise and national service,” in order to “expand opportunities for individuals with barriers to employment to develop workplace skills through well-supported employment and service experiences.”
  • The Democratic platform supports these goals as well, committing to improve access to newly created and innovative jobs and “build a diverse pipeline of talent across the economy.” The Democrats also commit to investing “in career and technical education and high-quality job training programs with formal worker representation in program development, including pre-apprenticeship opportunities and registered apprenticeships.”

Ending the School to Prison Pipeline

  • During the first night of the Convention, Senator Bernie Sanders said, “to help reform our broken criminal justice system Joe will end private prisons and detention centers, cash bail, and the school to prison pipeline.” The Democratic Platform provides additional context: “we will break the school-to-prison pipeline that sees children of color disproportionately punished by the criminal justice system for disciplinary issues that should be handled by school administrators or counselors.”
  • The America Forward Policy Playbook echoes the call to end the school-to-prison pipeline, but using “innovation and evidence-based strategies to improve school safety and stop the practice of referring students, including a disproportionate number of African American, Hispanic, and Native students, and students with disabilities, to law enforcement for minor behavior infractions.”

As the Republican National Convention gets underway this week, America Forward will be tracking speakers and platform conversations, and will highlight similar areas of alignment with the 2020 Policy Playbook.

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