Civil rights, education, parent, and business groups outline three key investment areas to ensure more educational equity
NEW YORK – As school districts across New York State anticipate receiving an additional $8.9 billion in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, the New York Equity Coalition of civil rights, education, parent and business groups is calling on school districts to equitably invest the new funding into programs and supports for students with the greatest needs.
The ARPA makes a $1.9 trillion investment in our country and provides critical resources for the education sector. It also invests in a host of other programs and services that many experts predict will help reduce the childhood poverty rate and help families most in need.
School districts throughout New York State are slated to receive a share of the $8.9 billion in funding from the ARPA, presenting an important opportunity to ensure that these new resources reach the students with the greatest needs, and address the preexisting inequities in our education system that have been exacerbated during the pandemic.
Additionally, New York legislators passed a historic education budget that has provisions to support students experiencing homelessness, address unfinished instruction, and fully fund foundation aid for all students.
Given the unprecedented year that students and families have experienced – instructional inconsistencies, traumas associated with racial injustice, and the impact of the pandemic – New York has an obligation to use new resources in a way that restores stability, addresses issues in the community, and sets school districts on a path to both equity and excellence. We recommend that the new resources provided by the ARPA, and increases in state funding sources, be directed to the following areas:
Targeted spending on resources and support for students with the greatest needs.
- Investing in additional academic supports, such as evidence-based, targeted, intensive tutoring programs – extended and out-of-school learning opportunities – especially for students who were the most reliant on remote and hybrid learning models during the pandemic.
- Improving equitable access to advanced coursework and ensuring that students, especially students of color and students from low-income backgrounds, have access to rigorous, high-quality coursework with appropriate support.
- Supporting students with specialized needs, including students experiencing homelessness, students with disabilities, and Multilingual learners.
- Addressing the digital divide and working to ensure that all students, especially those who choose hybrid or remote models in the fall, have access to working devices that can be used for learning.
Investment in a teacher and counselor workforce that is well-prepared, supported, and diverse.
- Expanding initiatives that promote educator diversity and retention by investing in the educator diversity pipelines and supporting the retention and promotion of current educators of color.
- Prioritizing culturally responsive sustaining education by supporting equity-focused, effective instructional leadership that is culturally responsive and sustaining by implementing a holistic, culturally relevant, standard-aligned curriculum; providing all educators with professional learning content that will support students’ cognitive, academic, and socio-emotional development; and creating opportunities for educators to learn inclusive pedagogical methods that are anchored in anti-racism and celebrate students’ identities.
- Investing in significantly increasing the number of school counselors, psychologists, and grief counselors proportionate to student population need, particularly for students who have experienced significant trauma during the course of the pandemic
Support for high school seniors with postsecondary transition.
- Building upon the NYSED memo on supporting high school students to ensure that all high school seniors have access to high-quality postsecondary transition planning that aligns a student’s aspirations, experiences, and skills to their desired postsecondary path and to the resources and supports that are available in these unique circumstances.
“It’s crucial that investments made in local school districts drive equitable outcomes for all students,” said Crisanta Duran, director of Democrats for Education Reform New York. “The racial and economic disparities in New York public schools have left behind too many promising students of color and low-income families. By extending learning time and advanced coursework, ensuring students have access to tutoring and specialized services, increasing educator diversity and providing solutions to the digital divide, students from all backgrounds will be able to succeed.”
“These new resources give New York State the opportunity to rebuild an education system that is stronger and more equitable than before the pandemic,” said Dia Bryant, interim executive director of The Education Trust–New York. “It is crucial that state and local leaders use these resources to address the systemic racism and persistent inequities that for too long have been entrenched in our education system. We owe it to our students, our families, and our communities.”
“The ARPA offers us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to right our past missteps and advance educational equity,” said Paula L. White, executive director of Educators for Excellence-New York. “Any investments we make must be rooted in our families’ stated needs, and the realities of what it will take for our students to forge a viable future. The recommendations that we are making, as an equity coalition, achieve exactly that, and I’m particularly enthused about the opportunity to further diversify our teaching force, which has vastly underrepresented Black and Brown communities for far too long.”