Posted in Mission, Thoughts About Children

Our Schools…The Aftermath of the Pandemic…

Finally …

With our New President, Joe Biden and New Secretary of Education, Dr.Miguel Cardona allocating the much needed funds for schools through the American Rescue Plan providing resources and programs to help our children… Especially now living through this Pandemic…

We just may see the much needed change to our public schools…”a redesign”…A renaissance…

We will now have the monetary resources available;

To provide mental health support;

Better training for all educators, including bus drivers, cafeteria staff, everyone that engage with students, to understand the social and emotional needs of students…

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona Says Schools Have to Be ‘Redesigned’ Post-Pandemic

BY KATHERINE FUNG ON 4/14

Watch “Education Secretary Miguel Cardona Says Schools Have to Be ‘Redesigned'” on YouTube

The nation’s new education secretary is calling for schools to be “redesigned” after the coronavirus pandemic.

“We shouldn’t go back to the schools of March 2020—that’s a low bar,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a discussion with the founders of A Starting Point, a civic engagement organization.

“We have to make sure that our schools have stronger mental health supports, have better training for all educators, including bus drivers, cafeteria staff, everyone that engages with students, to understand the social and emotional needs of students,” he continued. “That has to be a prerequisite to getting our schools open quickly and safely.”

Cardona said the coronavirus relief plan signed into law by President Joe Biden last month will focus on redesigning schools so that students feel supported amid the ongoing public health crisis.

“The American Rescue Plan prioritizes funds and, really, prioritizes redesigning our schools,” he told Starting Point founders Chris Evans and Mark Kassen.

“We are in the middle of a pandemic, and our school systems have to be prepared to welcome our students back, not only with the academic learning needs that they might have missed but really to receive them and our staff after having experienced a traumatic experience like COVID-19,” Cardona said.

Biden’s relief package provided the U.S. Education Department with $122 billion to help reopen the majority of K-8 schools within the president’s first 100 days in office.

Miguel Cardona speaks after President-elect Joe Biden announced his nomination for education secretary on December 23, 2020. Cardona, who was confirmed by the Senate last month, said schools need to be “redesigned” to better help students return to in-person learning. Joshua Roberts/Stringer
Most of the nation’s schools shuttered at the beginning of the pandemic last year, moving instead to virtual learning, which presented its own challenges, especially among lower-income students who did not have broadband connection to the internet.

As schools began reopening in the fall, safety measures, such as face masks and social distancing, were implemented, but some districts faced pushback from educators who felt unsafe returning to work. In response, federal health officials stressed the importance of in-person learning by highlighting the toll online classes had taken on students and recommended that states prioritize teachers in their vaccination rollouts.

“We know there is no substitute for in-person learning. The biggest equity lever we have is providing safe, in-person learning options for students,” Cardona said. “We know, as much as we’ve worked really hard to get the laptops to connect and make sure there’s internet access, the relationship that students have with their peers and their teachers—there’s no substitute for that.”

Despite the return to in-person classes, the education secretary, who was confirmed on March 1, said the digital divide that was seen as schools scrambled to provide virtual lessons needs to be addressed by his department.

“The laptop is like the new pencil. It’s no longer a privilege. It’s no longer something that’s cool. It’s a necessity to be functional in today’s society and in today’s schools,” he said. “We need to close that digital divide across the country once and for all. It’s a finite problem to have, and that’s something that we need to make sure we’re focusing on as we reopen [schools].”

Cardona emphasized the importance of building up that infrastructure, pointing to Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plans, which includes $100 billion to expand broadband access across the country over the next eight years…

This will be a new beginning for our children…

Posted in Mission, Thoughts About Children

Help is on the Way…For Our Children

This is a significant amount of money’: COVID-19 relief bill would send nearly $170 billion to schools..Jillian Berman

The Covid Relief Bill passed, and will now be enacted!!!

This is historic!!!
Our children will be able to get back to their routine of going to school, and being able to socialize with their friends…

They will be able to finally have the opportunity to receive an education they so deserve!!!

Our schools will have the necessary funding to provide the safety protocols, along with the ability to vaccinate all essential staff…And there will be the necessary funding to hire more teachers and staff!!!

What a dream coming true!!!

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and First Lady Jill Biden visit a school as part of the administration’s push to reopen schools.
MandelNgan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
As part of the COVID-19 relief bill passed by the Senate Saturday, schools from kindergarten on up will receive billions of dollars in funding…
The money comes as K-12 public school systems and higher education institutions grapple with how best to cope with the fallout of the pandemic on both their students and budgets. Public schools at all levels rely on state and local government money for funding, resources that could be squeezed by the pandemic inducted downturn…
At the same time, schools are wrestling with how to return to some semblance of normalcy as more widespread vaccination brings hope of emerging from the pandemic in the next several months…
If the bill is approved by the House of Representatives and signed by Biden, the roughly $170 billion lawmakers are sending to educational institutions could help with these efforts. It comes on top of the $82 billion they received in COVID-related relief Congress passed in December and the roughly $31 billion they received as part of the CARES Act passed in March…

Here’s what’s in the bill for schools: Kg-12 schools:
Lawmakers voted to send $128 billion to state and local education agencies, which mirrors President Joe Biden’s request for $130 billion for K-12 schools in the relief package he laid out in January.

“This is a significant amount of money,” said Terra Wallin, associate director for P-12 accountability and special projects at Ed Trust, an organization that focuses on education equity.“We think that it gets much closer to addressing the needs of schools than the previous relief packages have.”
Schools will likely use some of that money to work towards safe, in-person reopening…
School reopenings have become a flashpoint over the past several weeks as questions about whether Biden will meet a goal of reopening schools in his first 100 days and what exactly that means have surfaced…
The Centers for Disease Control issued guidelines last month on the safe reopening of schools, which outlined a tiered approach to in-person learning tied to COVID-19 transmission in the communityIn addition to the guidelines, the Biden administration has taken steps to push schools towards in-person instruction including launching a vaccination program for teachers in March and using the bully pulpit. On his second day on the job, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona joined First Lady Jill Biden on a tour of schools offering in-person instruction…

Though the Biden administration doesn’t have the power to reopen schools on their own — those decisions are made at the state and district level — the funding will certainly help. To re-open safely,schools may need to hire more teachers to offer smaller class sizes, redesign classrooms for social distancing, retrofit ventilation systems and more… But the funding provided is aimed at addressing more than just the immediate challenge of getting students learning in person…
Local education agencies have to use at least 20% of the funds, respectively, to deal with learning loss resulting from the pandemic…Schools could use this money on things like intensive tutoring, extending the school year through the summer, hiring more teachers, and more to address the learning loss students have suffered during this period, said Victoria Jackson, senior policy analyst on the state fiscal team at the the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank focused on the impact of budget and tax issues on inequality and poverty…
The bill also provides guard rails to ensure that the funding for students who likely have been hardest by the challenges of remote school — those from underserved communities, including low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities and others — is protected, Wallin said…

The proposal lawmakers passed Saturday is the first COVID relief package to include a maintenance of equity provision… The requirement means that if states and school districts have to make cuts, they can’t cut any more from their highest poverty districts and schools than the per-pupil average…“The idea here is that it requires that states protect the highest need or highest poverty district and that districts in turn protect their highest need schools,”Wallin said…

Higher education:
Congress will be sending nearly $40 billion to colleges and universities as part of the relief package. Though it’s less than the $97 billion, the AmericanCouncil on Education, a higher education lobbying group, estimated schools and students would need, they praised it as the “largest federal effort so far to assist students and families struggling to cope with lost jobs or reduced wages and colleges and universities facing precipitous declines in revenues and soaring new expenses.”Indeed, many colleges’ major sources of revenue — tuition, room and board, conferences, camps, parking and more — have been dinged as a result of the pandemic.

During the Great Recession, public colleges in particular struggled with cuts to state funding, “but colleges just didn’t lose revenue to the same extent,” as over the past several months, said Robert Kelchen, an associate professor of higher education at Seton Hall University.“The big challenge for colleges is they’re not replacing the revenue they got from not having students on campus,” he said...Colleges across the country have made cuts in staff and Programs to cope with the lost revenue, Kelchen noted. At the same time, they’ve spent money on COVID tests, technology and other infrastructure necessary to try and make campuses safe. If the bill becomes law, a lot of the money colleges receive from Congress “will be used to backfill what they’ve already spent,” Kelchen said.At least 50% of the funds colleges receive will have to go directly to students for emergency financial aid...The pandemic and accompanying down turn has put up obstacles in the way of attending and completing college, particularly for the most vulnerable students.

The relief package requires that colleges spend some of the money they receive on outreach to students to let them know they can get more financial aid if their circumstances have changed… The bill also allocates $91 million to the Department of Education to reach out to students and borrowers about financial aid and other benefits for which they may be eligible.

JillianBerman covers student debt and millennial finance. You can follow her on Twitter @JillianBerman.

Posted in Mission, Reflections

First Week…Back to School…

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I have always enjoyed the Friday before the beginning of the school year to meet my new students and their parents…I rely on just that brief meeting to begin making an assessment, when parent and child come in to meet me…
One important piece of pertinent information gained from this meeting is that I can begin to assess those children that may be outgoing or those that may be quite reserved….

The first week of school is the crucial time when I focus on establishing… “Our Relationship”, one that lets my children know I will love them unconditionally; providing a classroom for structure to inspire learning, and moreover, feel safe to accept and appreciate our differences…No matter what is presented…The foundation for a successful year ahead…