House Hearing Examines Educational Equity in a Post-COVID Context
Last week, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing, Lessons Learned: Charting the Path to Educational Equity Post-COVID-19. Subcommittee Chairman Kilili Sablan (D-NMI) led the hearing, which examined issues facing students in schools with high rates of poverty and for students with disabilities.
Witnesses Marc Morial, Urban League; Jennifer Dale, parent; Selene Almazan, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates; and Alberto Carvahlo, Miami Dade School District, highlighted the challenges students, families, and schools have been facing due to COVID-19.
Chair Sablan’s opening remarks focused on the need to use stimulus funds to assure equity for all, sharing that teachers in his home of the Northern Marianas are now able to work 40 hours per week due to the stimulus funding. Subcommittee Ranking Member Burgess Owens (R-UT) said that to achieve educational equity, all schools must be operating in-person.
Carvahlo pointed to action taken in Miami Dade County to enable all schools to reopen their buildings. Currently, 52% of students have returned to physical classrooms. He also provided some detail around how stimulus funding will be spent to improve school buildings and fund acceleration strategies for students, afterschool programs, individualized learning support, digital support, and social and emotional support.
Morial focused on equity for Black and brown students attending Title I schools and advocated for statewide assessments and other measures to help target funding to address learning recovery.
Dale and Almazan both brought a focus on the needs of children with disabilities. Dale said that Oregon’s refusal to open her daughter’s public school for in-personal learning has led to seven months of no instruction or therapies as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Almazan spoke to the need for equity for every child with a disability, and that stimulus funds used to address learning recovery must include students with disabilities and support families who opt to keep their child with a disability home due to special factors.