This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. On the roster this week: Talking to students about the insurrection at the Capitol; how CT can best leverage Phase 4 COVID relief education funds; and the Cardona Countdown.
Talking to Students About the Riot at the US Capitol
Parents and teachers of school-aged children have faced difficult conversations over the past week after watching a violent insurrection that threatened our democratic election processes and the peaceful transition of power. There were clearly documented examples of white supremacy and aggression on display, and it was horrifying to witness the tolerance demonstrated in many cases by white law enforcement and leaders, juxtaposed with responses to this summer’s largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. Many quick-thinking educators have turned this into a teachable moment, making connections to the civil rights movement, the atrocities of the Holocaust, the limitations of the First Amendment, and impeachment to name a few. It's also an opportunity to talk to children about how we handle our emotions and anxieties.
Strategic Use of New Federal Relief Education Dollars
With the next round of COVID relief from the federal government imminently on its way to Connecticut, we would like to see a robust and transparent strategy for leveraging these resources. The approximately $470M dollars will largely be directed from the state to local public school districts—and it’s critical that Connecticut invest these funds in a manner that both addresses immediate pandemic concerns and also has a lasting impact on our education infrastructure. That’s why our affiliate, Education Reform Now CT, has released “4 Goals for Connecticut’s 2021 Federal Covid Relief Funds,” which outlines how the state can prioritize the funds to address both COVID and equity through:
Interventions for students who are at academic risk;
Fostering a larger, more diverse educator workforce;
Improving the health and safety of school facilities; and
Expanding access to school counselors.
NEW: The Cardona Countdown
US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has resigned (a little too late if you ask us!), and Mick Zais is now Acting Secretary, effective January 8th, 2021. But the nomination of Connecticut’s Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona to succeed DeVos is an exciting turning point for our state and country. Although Dr. Cardona’s confirmation hearing is not expected until the end of the month, he could technically be appointed Acting Secretary as soon as January 20th. The formal nomination will first be considered by the Education Committee, before it moves to the full United States Senate. (Flashback: Betsy DeVos was approved on party-line votes by both the Education Committee and the Senate, with VP Mike Pence casting a tie-breaking vote in the Senate.) Tune in here each week as we count down to his official appointment as US Secretary of Education under the Biden administration.