National Alliance Releases 2021 PreK-12 Education Priorities for Biden Administration

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The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools issued the following statement regarding its 2021 PreK-12 education recommendations for the Biden Administration:

The National Alliance congratulates President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and the U.S. Secretary of Education nominee Miguel Cardona as they embark on the work of a new administration.

“This administration has already voiced a strong commitment to unifying the nation and serving the needs of working families,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Support for public education is surely a critical component of executing on their objectives, and we look forward to working with the administration to ensure every child in America has access to a high-quality public education,” she added.

While the nation is still battling the COVID-19 pandemic, education systems are especially taxed. They continue to struggle with issues such as safe reopening, looming budget shortfalls, learning loss, crippling student debt, and boiling racial tensions. We also know education is a high priority for most Americans, according to national polling in the run-up to the 2020 elections.

Our 2021 Education Priorities provide a blueprint for moving the nation forward on a cohesive set of activities that prioritize equity, funding and support for educators and students. We call for a united education sector to work together for the benefit of students who have already lost so much precious classroom time to the pandemic. Students and parents need support and more options to best meet their needs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and this administration is primed to help.

Highlights include:

  • Allocate significant additional COVID-19 relief funding for K-12 education. This funding should not be contingent on a school’s opening status and should also fund charter schools the same as all other public schools. Funding should also specifically target closing the digital divide, as well as research on the impact of COVID-19 on schools and learning.
  • Maintain a bright light on student achievement, especially for the most vulnerable students impacted by COVID-19. Ensure that schools continue to measure student achievement so inequities and learning losses cannot be hidden, and do not grant blanket assessment waivers for the 20-21 school year.
  • Promote a more diverse teacher workforce. Use federal funds for teacher training and leadership to improve the recruitment, support, and retention of educators from diverse backgrounds. Examples include Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED), Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program (TSLIP), and Teacher Quality Partnerships (TQP).
  • Significantly increase resource equity for high-need schools. We support the President’s proposal to triple funding for Title I, as well as his proposal to increase funding for federal Title III and IDEA, while better targeting aid to the highest-need states and school districts. School districts should be encouraged to adopt weighted per-pupil funding formulas that equitably target resources at the school level, including for charter schools.
  • Provide significant funding for modernizing schools and facilities access. We strongly support the President-elect’s commitment to making significant investments in the nation’s public-school buildings. Both district and charter schools face significant challenges with respect to the quality and upkeep of their buildings. Charter schools face additional hurdles to accessing facilities.
  • Increase access to affordable housing and quality schools: The Department of Housing and Urban Development should devote a portion of its research budget to collecting data on public schools, including public charter schools, co-located with public housing. This information will help inform how housing programs might take additional steps to improve families’ access to high-quality schools. Additionally, we support the President-elect’s proposals to increase funding for Section 8 housing vouchers so that families with school-aged children can also better access high-quality schools, including public charter schools.
  • Empower educators to open their own schools. Fund pre-planning grants under the Charter Schools Program to help incubate new teacher-led high-quality schools. Such grants will enable educators to dedicate resources to develop high-quality charter applications, which must be approved before they can access federal start-up funding for planning and implementation.
  • Include all innovative public schools in President Biden’s proposal to expand access to multiple pathways: Like career and technical education, magnet schools for science and the arts, International Baccalaureate programs, and early-college high schools, many charter schools also incorporate these models into their program. Unlike magnet schools, charter schools are open enrollment.
  • Include charter schools in funding for pre-K and childcare: Charter schools in 31 states provide pre-K to 45,000 students, with enrollment growing by about 33% over the last five years. Pre-K programs are also an important means of identifying and providing students with special education services. Therefore, we support the President-elect’s call for increasing resources for childcare and pre-K and would welcome the opportunity to be a part of implementing this initiative.
  • Increase funding for start-up, growth and replication of charter schools. An additional $60 million should be used to provide additional resources for facilities funding programs and for grants to encourage new charter school models and other innovations.