Learning Forward Advocacy

Advocacy update:

April 2, 2020

Federal Government Response to COVID-19 Targets Education, Distance Learning

Last week, Congress approved and the President signed into law the CARES Act, the third legislative package to address the COVID-19 national emergency. This $2 trillion package contained more than $30 billion in funding for education overall, including a new Education Stabilization Fund that will provide more than $13 billion in flexible funding for K-12 schools. The Department of Education has until April 26th to send out Education Stabilization Fund applications to states and then another 30 days to accept or reject those applications. Once its applications is accepted, each state will receive a formula grant that will be based on its population of individuals aged 5 to 24 and the number of its Title I children. States will distribute this funding to their districts via a Title I formula. Districts can use this funding for virtually any need – indeed, all activities under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and other federal laws are considered eligible uses. However, the CARES Act also specifically calls out other key eligible uses, likely in an effort to encourage districts to spend dollars in those areas, including: “providing principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of individual schools”; “purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) … which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment”; and “planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months…”

The CARES Act also authorized the Secretary of Education to waive, upon request by states and school districts, Every Student Succeeds Act provisions and regulations related to assessments, accountability and reporting requirements. Nearly every state has already applied for and received waivers not to conduct annual assessments this year because of the COVID-19 emergency. Other items eligible for waiver include: eligibility requirements for schoolwide programs for Title I; maintenance of effort requirements; the prohibition on carrying over more than 15% of Title I funds between fiscal years; and Title IV-A’s funding allocation requirements including its bar on using more than 15% of funds received for purchasing technology.

This week, before the ink dries on the CARES Act, conversations around the next COVID-19 package have already begun. While that may seem too soon as the $30 billion allocated for education has not even reached schools, it is worth noting that:

  • Congress’ response to the Great Recession in 2009 provided far more money to education -- $100 billion – than its response to COVID-19 did.
  • Many analysts believe that COVID-19’s damage to the nation’s economy will be far greater than the havoc wreaked by the Great Recession, with states and localities particularly hard hit this year by revenue losses caused high unemployment and lower property taxes collections. As a result, many state and local leaders are already discussing reducing education funding, rolling-back educator pay raises and perhaps even lay-offs.
  • There remains a need for dedicated funding to connect student unconnected to the Internet in their homes so that their learning can continue. Opening Title IV-A to greater technology purchases and making distance learning an allowable use of the Education Stimulus Fund will likely not solve that pressing issue.


Sign the Learning Forward PEPS Increase Today!


Calling all advocates!  We are calling for an annual increase in funding for professional learning every year. Sign the “Preparing Educators to Prepare Students Increase” petition:
We, the undersigned educators, call on federal, state and local policy makers to commit to an annual increase of at least 2% in funding for PreK-12 professional learning programs. We are deeply concerned that professional learning is underfunded at the federal level and many states and local districts provide little or no funding for professional learning.
For many U.S. states and districts, Title IIA represents the only source of funding for professional learning. Yet, it has not received a funding increase in more than a decade.
Increase professional learning investments at every level.

Addressing Equity in Teaching Through Professional Learning


Click here to download the Capitol Hill Briefing PPT slides.

All of America’s teachers need access to high-quality professional learning and support to address students’ cultural contexts, social-emotional development and an ability to engage with demanding academic content. All too often, the teachers of the students who need the most support are in schools with the most limited resources for professional learning. We can turn the tide by providing ongoing, collaborative and job-embedded professional learning for all teachers and leaders.

Hear from the field about the challenges schools and districts are facing, how they have intervened with professional learning and what the impact has been. Specifically, this panel focused on how Title II-A supported initiatives are making a difference in recruiting and retaining teachers and leaders and increasing student achievement. 


Evidence, evidence, evidence

Evidence of impact is not optional. From your ESSA plans to Title II to talking with your district superintendent, everyone wants to know when professional development is making an impact and how you know. Learning Forward is here to help. We invite you to join your peers from across the U.S. to share your successes here.

Tell us what Title II funds in your school or district, and most important, what outcomes you see as a result. Outcomes might include improved graduation rates or assessment scores, improvements for specific populations of students, or other indicators that students are experiencing more meaningful learning.

ESSA Toolkits

A New Vision For Professional Learning: A Toolkit to Help
States Use ESSA to Advance Learning and Improvement
This toolkit helps leaders leverage professional learning as
an essential tool in overcoming systemic inequities and guaranteeing
excellence for all.




Agents for Learning Toolkit: A Guide to Amplifying Teacher
Voice and Stakeholder Engagement.
This toolkit suggests ways to cultivate teacher voice and agency in policy decisions and the implementation of professional learning.

Webinar series: Speak up for Title II

Learning Forward hosted a series of advocacy webinars designed to help educators build their advocacy skills. Each free webinar provides background information, the legislative status of Title II, and offers practical steps for how you can engage in this critical fight.

Interested in learning more about upcoming webinars?

Learn more

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