U.S. Secretary of Education visits schools to educate districts on federal help

Biden admin. promotes “full-service community schools”
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 5:52 PM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - As schools work to rebound from the pandemic, the Biden administration is encouraging everyone to rethink how the nation approaches education.

The administration is advocating for what’s called full service community schools. It seeks to meet ‘unique needs of neighborhoods’ by leveraging local partnerships to bring services into school buildings. The goal is to support students not only with an education, but also with assistance for issues such as mental health, shelter, and nutrition.

U.S. Secretary Miguel Cardona highlighted the importance of community schools on Wednesday as he visited Anita J. Turner Elementary in Washington D.C.

“We know that when students are hungry it impacts their ability to learn. When students have housing insecurity, it impacts their ability to learn,” said Cardona.

The Biden administration has also announced grants under the full-service Community Schools program. So far, $63 million has been invested into 42 community schools across the country.

Read more about the Biden administration’s efforts towards Community Schools here

Teach for America’s CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard calls federal funding measures a good start. The organization encourages continued support for tutors to help raise math and reading scores. Teach for America also believes another solution lies in expanding teacher compensation and financial incentives for educators.

Beard said the majority of American students are still struggling to make up for what they lost academically during the pandemic. Teach for America points to data from The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released this fall as well as data from the education nonprofit NWEA.

“Our students are just not well. They’re not well from a learning perspective. They’re not well from an emotional, social, wellness perspective. Second, we have teachers that are in crisis. Our teachers are being asked to do more with less. And third we have an outmoded system,” said Beard.

Cardona reminds districts they can use ‘American Rescue Plan’ dollars to support students through tutoring and after school programs. He believes high quality teachers, smaller class sizes, and intense focus on literacy and numeracy to be solutions to help schools overcome the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

”I’m very concerned with the literacy and numeracy scores. You know what else I’m concerned about? Complacency. That we go back to the system we had before the pandemic. That’s why we’re lifting up programs like this,” he said.