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Policy & advocacy leaders discuss educational equity within CARES Act

On June 3, 2020, nearly 100 advocacy and organizing leaders across the LEE network gathered to discuss key K-12 education provisions in the CARES Act that could advance or impede educational equity. The Advocacy Leaders Forum featured a panel discussion, followed by more intimate conversations among LEE members who shared how they are showing up in their communities to support students affected by the pandemic.

The panel discussion was moderated by Danielle Guillen (Director, Strategic Policy and Organizing Support, LEE) and featured:

The conversation explored opportunities LEE members could seize to advocate for educational equity in the distribution of CARES Act funds, and in the crafting of the next federal stimulus bill. 

Here are some highlights from the discussion:

Discussion around CARES Act spending transparency

(19:00 - 22:23) Ary Amerikaner shared concerns about the lack of transparency in how states and school districts are spending CARES Act dollars, and indicated this could be an advocacy opportunity.

She also expressed concern around the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance to states regarding how CARES Act funds should be allocated to private schools.   

Ary lifted up some examples of states being thoughtful and equity-focused in how they are leveraging their CARES Act funds. Louisiana, for example, has put out strong guidance to school districts for reopening schools this fall with an “equity-centered frame.” Colorado and Tennessee are examples of states that have engaged stakeholders to inform how to spend CARES Act funds.

Targeting funds to the neediest students

(29:36 - 30:25) When asked about what the highest priorities advocates should focus on as the next federal stimulus bill is crafted, Roberto Rodríguez discussed the importance of targeting funds to the neediest students. He shared that an opportunity for state-level advocacy could lie in ensuring that state funds earmarked for high-need students are supplemented, rather than supplanted, by federal dollars.

Engaging families in advocacy

(50:00 - 53:12) Ariel Taylor Smith shared tactics for engaging families in advocacy, and offered examples of Denver parents calling on local officials to ensure their children’s learning needs are met in the pandemic. She stressed that it’s now more important than ever to demand equitable, not equal, funding for students.

LEE also hosted a Policy Leaders Forum on May 21, 2020, to discuss opportunities for educational equity within the CARES Act. Its panel discussion was moderated by Erin Snow (Director, Policy & Community Impact, LEE) and featured:

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