It is week 60 of our new reality and as many students enter their last full month of school, the basic task of providing every family with the option of in-person schooling remains incomplete.
“Biden celebrates school reopening but we’re still in an acute crisis: a third of K-12 students attend schools that aren’t offering a 5-day, in-person option. Millions more are opted out of school because of fear it’s unsafe. Black, Latino, Asian kids most likely to be out of school,” NYT reporter Dana Goldstein pointed out in reaction to President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress last week, which largely sidestepped school closures.
This crisis in American education takes place against the backdrop of an enormous influx of federal education funding into the states with the promise of even more money in Biden’s new $4 trillion economic plan.
Last time in the New Reality Roundup, we looked at the importance of reimagining summer programming for kids and the need to stand up for measuring what matters.
This week, we take a closer look at several key victories in the Aloha State and explore the potential implications for education in Biden’s plan.
FROM THE FIELD
HawaiiKidsCAN isn’t the only state with a win this week. The governor of New Jersey signed the first bill of a larger package that JerseyCAN developed with Senator Teresa Ruiz to improve teacher quality, broaden teacher pipelines and increase the recruitment of teachers of color. This first bill creates a reciprocity program for teacher certification with other states, easing the ability for the state to recruit high caliber teachers currently teaching outside of the Garden State.
TennesseeCAN also saw major wins in the Volunteer State as the legislature passed a budget that improves and guarantees parents will have the ability to access the education that’s right for their children. The budget includes $24 million for charter school facility funding and $29 million for Education Savings Accounts. It also makes critical inroads into recovery programs to address learning loss, with over $141 million earmarked for the effort, and additional funding to transport students to summer camps across the state.
NewMexicoKidsCAN’s Amanda Aragon continues to be an unwavering voice for transparency and accountability. After the Department of Education approved a waiver for standardized testing requirements, Aragon fired back in the press. “For the second year in a row, we have no idea how New Mexico students are doing which means we can’t then come back and provide what they need. Without that data, we won’t know whether or not we’re wasting that money or whether or not we’re actually using it to give every kid what they need to get back on track after last year,” she told KOB4 News.
Transform Education Now in Colorado is hard at work on a bill for greater transparency and accountability for the federal education dollars being spent in the state. That bill has successfully passed out of the House and deliberations are ongoing in the Senate. Meanwhile, the team is working with a coalition to research and define a high bar of quality and equity in schools across the state.
Moment of Resilience
Hawaii State Representative Justin Woodson, lead sponsor of the House companion bills for HawaiiKidsCAN’s important wins this week, celebrates with a video message after the bills’ passage. “I wanted to say a special mahalo to David Miyashiro and HawaiiKidsCAN, because it is always an honor and privilege to work with you folks. We look forward to working with you next year.”