Council Releases Education Recommendations to the Incoming Biden Administration
While working hard to ensure the safety and health of students and staff due to the Covid-19 pandemic, urban public schools face substantial financial shortfalls from the nation’s weakening economy. In addition, big-city schools are grappling with racial and ethnic equity and justice.
To address these challenges, the Council of the Great City Schools recently released a series of recommendations to assist the incoming Biden Administration. The Legislative, Regulatory, Administrative, and Policy Recommendations for the President-elect Biden Education Transition Team report is centered around three main priorities: short- and long-term financial investments to address immediate operational issues and instructional issues such as unfinished learning and learning loss; coordination of COVID-19 related assistance; and programming and policies aimed at achieving progress in the nation’s ongoing struggle to achieve greater equity.
“The Council of the Great City Schools, the nation’s primary coalition of large city public school districts, congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their election,” the report notes. “And pledges its collaboration in developing the best possible federal policies on behalf of the nation’s schoolchildren, particularly those attending public schools in our major cities.”
The report recommends that $200 billion be given to the nation’s K-12 schools and that the Biden Administration take several administrative actions related to COVID-19, including prioritizing public school staff, students, and families for COVID-19 vaccines when they are available. The report also advises appointing a big-city school superintendent to the White House Coronavirus Task Force and setting up a SWAT team in the U.S. Department of Education to coordinate the distribution of COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) to schools.
Learning loss from COVID-19 related to interrupted schooling will have multi-year implications and will be felt most significantly by schools and school districts with the largest numbers of poor students, students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities. As a result, the Council requests state testing be reestablished once on-site assessments can be safely administered, as well as postponement through congressional action of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) until either 2022 or 2023, depending on testing conditions.
Recommendations related to ongoing federal K-12 related assistance include expanding Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) funding to help school districts provide services in mental health and trauma, and establishing a new 21st century civics and social justice initiative to help schools address current social justice issues.
The Council also recommends implementing teacher loan forgiveness programs, increasing internet access in urban and rural areas, reestablishing an assault weapons ban and instituting comprehensive background checks.
And, given the unique experience and expertise urban school superintendents have running the nation’s largest school systems, the Council is willing to recommend to the incoming Biden Administration big-city school leaders to be considered in the role of secretary of education.