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Section Cardona: This is our moment to improve education. Here is our plan.

 Section  Cardona: This is our moment to improve education.  Here is our plan.

One day I read a story about a man who had studied photography for years and was considered an expert without even taking pictures. When he was invited to photograph a friend’s wedding, he panicked. It was easy to look at photography, analyze the great photographers of our time or criticize the photography of other people. But when it came to capturing one of the most memorable days in a friend’s life, the photographer took on a new meaning.

Today, as the nation moves from rebuilding schools to rebuilding schools, and if we work to rethink schools fairly, we must also move from dreamers to performers. It is not enough to admit inequality. Inequality analysis is insufficient. Maintaining the status quo and waiting for different results is not enough. The work being done across the country to address disparities in education before and during the pandemic was something inspiring. But the next chapter in the history of education in our country must surpass these efforts. I have said before and will continue to say that this is our opportunity for a reset.

We are in an extremely difficult time as we continue to fight the pandemic and begin to recover, but we have more resources than ever before to help address these issues, including $ 130 billion for PreK-12 schools and $ 40 billion for higher education with an American rescue plan.

Although there is no textbook to approach this point, there is no room for complacency. As with school rebuilding, context matters – be it the political context, the ability context, the willpower context or the disproportion context. This is a time when it is better to try to prevent than to defend the status quo.

There will be additional dangers in the next phase of education in America. Some had a pre-pandemic education system. It was comfortable. For others, change is only good if it does not affect their neighborhood and does not affect their loved ones. And for many others, their bandwidth for failures is depleted after two years of constant failures and changes. But we are here. The hard work of leadership won’t get any easier in this next chapter of American education, just another.

After consulting with thousands of stakeholders in more than 100 visits to schools and colleges, we at the Department of Education have released our priorities to improve education in our country as we move to the next phase of recovery. Teaching our values ​​and directions allows our families, educators, and other stakeholders to understand how we use our time and money – two of the greatest resources we have. The American Rescue Plan historical resources already used in states and districts across the country, and requested funds for the Department of Education in the President’s budget for the 2023 fiscal year reflected these values.

Below is a deeper insight into these values ​​and priorities. While each state or county may approach these goals differently, this roadmap provides examples of how states, counties, and Congress can shift our shared priorities from dream to realization immediately.

Continue to use the American Rescue Plan to support students ’learning and mental health needs while we recover from the pandemic.

  • Increase students’ access to tutoring, post-school activities and activities that will help eliminate lost learning time.
  • Provide students with daily access to support mental health and well-being and the staff they need.
  • Improve teacher training in practices aware of injuries.
  • Build partnerships with community organizations to support the whole child.
  • Authentically incorporate students ’voices into school decisions to increase engagement and quality programming.
  • Involve each high school student in at least one joint lesson.
  • Create parent engagement groups with culturally competent liaisons with family schools so that families have a voice in neighboring schools.

Feel free to fix problems with opportunities and achievements in PreK-12 schools.

  • Increase funding for schools IDEA to eliminate gaps in educational opportunities, which are provided in the budget of the President.
  • Make sure state and local funding decisions are made based on student needs.
  • States and counties should publish student outcomes and learning opportunities by gender, race, and economic status to promote open and honest dialogue (e.g., access to college-level diplomas and courses, data on exceptional discipline, percentage of students participating in joint learning activities, or the percentage of students who read up to 3rd grade).

Use the American Rescue Plan to support the diverse workforce of educators and professional growth to strengthen student learning.

  • Invest in the professional development and support of teachers, educators and board members.
  • Provide competitive wages and favorable working conditions, which include intentional collaboration with educators when important decisions are considered.
  • Increase the time for professional growth of educators during the working day.
  • Establish partnerships between PreK-12 and higher education systems to create a diverse set of faculty for students and classified staff in each of our high schools.

The priority is to make higher education more inclusive and accessible.

  • Continue to provide targeted loan assistance to student borrowers and increase efforts to assess the return on investment of colleges and universities.
  • Increase funding for colleges and universities that promote the inclusion and support of underrepresented groups, such as historically black colleges and universities, institutions that serve minorities, tribal colleges and universities, and institutions that serve Hispanics.
  • Continue to maximize the Pell Grant Award to allow more students to access higher education.
  • Bring colleges to account for the use of borrowers.

Provide a path to higher education leading to a successful career.

  • Make sure students have access to rigorous coursework that is culturally relevant and prepare them for the future.
  • Prioritize student support and increase accountability for student performance, including graduation rates.
  • Create support when transitioning and graduating from college for veterans, military students, and their families.
  • In every high school, establish solid career and learning paths with college and work partners. These pathways should include internships, career counseling and opportunities for students to earn college credit in high school. The U.S. Rescue Plan funds are available to support this work right now, and the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2023 includes additional funds to prioritize this work.
  • Create a strong rule of lucrative employment so that career programs do not leave students with mountains of debt and without good employment opportunities.

To be clear, the federal government can’t solve all of the country’s education problems, and we shouldn’t try. States and local communities should take the lead. But the federal government can support our families, our faculty, and students if they restore and rethink education. This is what we do. That’s why the U.S. rescue plan has allocated $ 170 billion for education, and why President Biden has asked Congress for a historic 20.9 percent increase in the Department of Education’s budget.

Moreover, this list should not be exhaustive or prescriptive. What makes this country unique is that it is full of different innovators and creative thinkers who see the crisis as an opportunity to become stronger. In education, as Thomas Payne once wrote, “Time has found us.” As parents, educators, leaders, advocates for children, the time has come to improve our education system. In America, we have long dreamed of equality. After the pandemic, the time of dreams is over. We must act.

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