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Department of Education Releases Plans, Grants for Safer Communities

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This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

This week, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden launched their “Road to Success Back to School Bus Tour.” The tour kicked off in Tennessee with a visit highlighting ways states and districts are recruiting and preparing qualified, profession-ready educators into the classroom. Later in the week, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff joined the Secretary in Pennsylvania with visits highlighting how community schools are helping students recover academically and get the mental health supports they need, celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and raise awareness about the Administration’s actions to provide debt relief to millions, including teachers and administrators through Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Department of Education Releases Plans to Distribute First Billion-Dollar Funding Under Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

Following the tragic mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas- President Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The legislation authorizes $1 billion in funding for state-administered grant competitions for local schools under Title IV, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. On Thursday, the Department of Education released plans to distribute its first billion-dollar funding batch under the law and instructed states to prioritize impoverished schools when they allocate their initial share of violence reduction money in the coming months.

Secretary Cardona encouraged state leaders to prioritized grant applications that commit to comprehensive evidence-based strategies and cautioned against using the money solely to harden school security:

“There is some research that shows that visible security measures alone — and without efforts to promote student learning, growth and positive learning environments — may have detrimental effects, and some of these measures are unlikely to reduce or eliminate serious incidents …The  Department encourages states and [local educational agencies] to select developmentally and culturally appropriate and trauma-informed emergency training, security measures, and other schoolwide policies.”

The Department noted that they are committed to providing technical assistance to States and LEAs to use these funds in evidence-based ways that build the trusting and inclusive learning environments we all want for all students.

Department of Education Awards Project SERV Grants to HBCUs

On Thursday, the Department of Education announced that two historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were awarded emergency funding by way of the  Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) grants to strengthen campus security and support student mental health. Tougaloo College in Mississippi was awarded more than $420,000 and Fayetteville State University in North Carolina received more than $80,000 in grants.

In a statement, Secretary Cardona denounced the threats against HBCUs saying, “As Secretary of Education, I want to make it abundantly clear that the Biden-Harris Administration will not tolerate bomb threats or any efforts to terrorize students of color.” The Secretary vowed to use a “whole-of-government approach” to ensure HBCU leaders can access federal resources “to respond to threats of violence, shore up campus security, expand their infrastructure and capacity, and provide students with the safe and nurturing learning environments that HBCUs are known for.”

The department is currently working with HBCUs to support them in the grant application process and expedite applications to get funds to the schools.

New Resources for Educators

  • AASA, The School Superintendents Association, released the results of survey examining the critical shortage of educators across the nation. Among the 910 responses from school district leaders, AASA found 84.7% said the educator shortage is driven by districts not receiving enough applications.

  • Learning Policy Institute released the results of a study on the relationship between Principal learning opportunities and key outcomes for the teachers and students in their schools.

Wishing you all a wonderful week. Until next time, see you on Twitter @brennan_kait!

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