NEW YORK, NY (July 14, 2020) — More than a dozen education and civil rights organizations today released an ambitious education agenda for the 117th Congress and next Administration that prioritizes policies to change the educational trajectory for our nation’s historically underserved students—particularly students of color and students living in high-poverty communities.
The groups emphasize how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the long-existing inequities within our public education system, and that drastic actions must be taken to combine an unprecedented increase in federal financial investments with the resources schools and educators need to support student learning in and out of the classroom.
The 10 recommendations, which span early childhood through higher education, include: 1) increasing investments in affordable, flexible high-quality early education; 2) promoting school finance and resource equity; 3) increasing teacher pay and providing differentials for high-need schools and subjects; 4) overhauling educator preparation; 5) preserving assessments and accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act; 6) expanding choice among quality public schools, including public charter and magnet schools; 7) ensuring access to personalized and online learning; 8) committing to diversity in higher education; 9) guaranteeing debt-free college; and 10) providing student debt forgiveness.
The agenda has been co-signed by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, the Center for American Progress, the Center for Black Educator Development, Education Reform Now, IDEA Public Schools, KIPP Public Charter Schools, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the National Action Network, the National Association of Public Charter Schools, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, the National Urban League, ReGeneration Schools, Rocky Mountain Prep, and UnidosUS.
“Education is the backbone of this country and our economy, a ladder to climb out of poverty and into the American Dream, but the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the inequities for far too many children in accessing what they need to be successful in the classroom and beyond. It will be no small feat to create the education system our nation needs, and our students deserve, but we must rise to this moment. If we do, we will look back at 2020 not just as the year schools closed, but as the year education was transformed to ensure that every student has the opportunity to thrive.” — Deborah Delisle, President and CEO, Alliance for Excellent Education
“I took a pandemic to bring a light to the educational inequities that have existed for far too many lifetimes. Perhaps we can now utilize this disruption in our educational system to take actionable steps toward rectifying an educational design so blatantly constructed to marginalize many and benefit some.” — Dr. Maria Armstrong, Executive Director, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS)
“Inequality in education has stunted economic mobility for far too long, but the coronavirus pandemic threatens to exacerbate these inequities even further. From early childhood to higher education, the next President and Congress must make a renewed commitment to investing in education attainment, prioritizing reforms to narrow equity and opportunity gaps, and ensuring that teachers and support staff are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.” — Mara Rudman, Executive Vice President for Policy, Center for American Progress
“We must fundamentally rethink the way this country educates our children and confront the cruel forces behind why so many Black and Brown families struggle with severe social inequities. And why schools have historically incubated the racist ideologies, violations, and violence that sanction police brutality and the murders of countless Black lives and now cause Black and Brown families to be most vulnerable to COVID-19. These proposed policies are a start—but we need to go further. Only when eradicating racism, prejudices, and ignorance becomes integral to our very existence can we produce a truly bold, comprehensive and uncompromising agenda.” — Sharif El-Mekki, CEO, Center for Black Educator Development
“As a nation, we are at a unique moment where we have the chance to reimagine and construct a public education system that meets the needs of all students—particularly our historically underserved students, whose longstanding oppression under the yoke of myriad systemic inequities has only been exacerbated by the current pandemic. We are proud that these 10 recommendations are firmly grounded in equity. We urge the Biden Administration and our nation’s leadership to heed our recommendations and take bold action to couple increased funding with innovative policy and the resources students and educators need to ensure that our nation’s greatest days are ahead.” — Shavar Jeffries, National President, Education Reform Now.
“This year has made one thing crystal clear: opportunity gaps are continually growing between our most marginalized students and their peers. The next President will inherit a host of challenges—some brought on by COVID-19 and others that have plagued our education system for decades—that have disproportionately impacted communities of color, low-income students and families, students with disabilities, and other marginalized communities. Our education system is in dire need of reforms that will eliminate inequities in education. This agenda lays out a series of actions that will put underserved students first. Bold action is needed, and the time is now.” — Lindsay Jones, President & CEO, National Center for Learning Disabilities
“The pandemic has exposed the systemic barriers that continue to deny our most vulnerable communities access to a quality education. A complex, entrenched problem demands an aggressive response. It must be bold, and it must focus on correcting inequities that have been allowed to persist for decades on end. This 10-point plan offers not a return to the extremely flawed ‘normal,’ but a change in direction that points toward education equity by investing in our nation’s public school system and ensuring that new college graduates are not saddled with debt that keeps them from thriving.” — Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
“Our kids, communities, and educators are sick of political pandering and tired polemics. We’re ready for pragmatic and bold policies that are proven to work. The Education Policy Agenda for the 117th Congress & Administration is an important guidebook for the changes that kids deserve.” — James Cryan, CEO and Founder, Rocky Mountain Prep
“As our nation continues to grapple with the coronavirus, we are reminded of the need for bold policies that will address the immediate and long-term effects of this pandemic and chart a path towards real recovery for our most vulnerable students. It is not lost on us that this pandemic has exposed and exacerbated deep inequities in our education system—inequities that profoundly affect low-income and students of color, and more than five million English learners. From widening achievement gaps and learning loss to significant drops in college enrollment and a worsening student debt crisis, the future of our students is at stake. We hope the priorities we present in this agenda give life to concrete education solutions that better serve our students and protect the progress Latino students have worked hard to achieve.” — Eric Rodriguez, Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, UnidosUS
Education Reform Now is a national think tank and advocacy organization that develops and drives forward bold, new ideas that can transform the American public education system from pre-school to and through higher education to better serve all students, especially low-income students and students of color.