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Education Funding

New COVID-19 Aid Coalition Highlights Strategies for Retaining Teachers, Digital Learning

By Andrew Ujifusa — June 08, 2021 2 min read
Mary Euell helps her sons, Michael Henry, left, and Mario Henry, work through math lessons remotely in their Erie, Pa., home.
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A dozen education and governmental organizations say they plan a prolonged effort to help educators use federal COVID-19 relief money effectively, and have shared promising strategies states have chosen to help students and schools navigate the challenges created by the pandemic.

The Coalition to Advance Future Student Success, unveiled Monday, includes the two national teachers’ unions, as well as groups representing school superintendents, chief state school officers, state legislators, and others. It’s released a 10-point framework to guide educators in using the pandemic aid that includes reopening schools safely, exploring “new education delivery models,” and helping schools address physical and mental health needs.

The group has also shared state-level approaches to a variety of issues, such as locating absent students in New Mexico and helping schools keep educators of color at their jobs in Washington state.

“The Coalition’s goal is to ensure that the federal investment provided during the COVID-19 pandemic is spent effectively and efficiently,” the organizations said in a statement.

Three rounds of pandemic K-12 relief from Washington, totaling nearly $200 billion, has helped many schools avoid the fiscal disaster many of them feared in the spring of 2020. Yet significant concerns about the federal aid running out in a few years and the potential for declines in student enrollment, among other things, mean that the federal aid won’t solve all problems.

It might be easier for example, for districts to implement and maintain summer-learning programs than to keep teachers hired with relief money over the long term.

While national and state conversations might focus on high-profile proposals to alleviate the pandemic’s impact on students and educators, one district’s priorities for using COVID-19 relief might be completely different from those in the district next door.

The coalition isn’t the first attempt to convene different K-12 groups to address the pandemic’s challenges. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education announced a partnership with groups representing governors and state K-12 chiefs to bolster summer-learning efforts. How effective that and other efforts to disseminate best practices are remains to be seen.

The new coalition says it plans to meet regularly to consider feedback on different issues. The following groups are members of the Coalition to Advance Future Student Success:

  • AASA, The School Superintendents Association
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • Chiefs for Change
  • Council of Chief State School Officers
  • Council of the Great City Schools
  • National Governors Association
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • National Association of State Boards of Education
  • National Conference of State Legislatures
  • National Education Association
  • National School Boards Association
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