Jill Biden, Ed Sec. Cardona Take Summer School Tour
WASHINGTON — First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona are visiting Connecticut, Georgia and Michigan this week to get a firsthand look at summer learning programs that are helping children who fell behind on reading, math and other skills during the pandemic catch up before the start of the new school year.
The first lady and Cardona left on their tour at about lunchtime Wednesday and headed north to a Horizons National summer learning program held at the private Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut.
The program serves local public elementary school students.
From there, it was off to Michigan, where the two visited a Detroit Public Schools Community District summer learning program, held at Schulze Academy for Technology and Arts in Detroit.
That program serves students from kindergarten through eighth grade from the local district.
The visits will give the pair, who are also educators, a chance to see how local communities are helping to keep students from staying behind and falling under the radar after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted classes, upended the administration of standardized tests, and left little paper trail of academic achievement.
At the same time, they will provide the first lady and Cardona a chance to tout education programs supported by President Joe Biden’s COVID relief programs.
According to a fact sheet sent out by the administration ahead of Biden and Cardona’s departure, about $122 billion of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was earmarked to help schools reopen safely and address students’ academic and mental health needs.
“As a result, all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, are investing in summer learning and enrichment offerings, providing more opportunities for students — especially those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic — to benefit academically and socially from these programs,” the administration said.
President Biden has called on schools to use American Rescue Plan funds to provide high-quality summer learning programs — as well as tutoring and afterschool programs — at the scale needed to support, on average, an additional four months of learning gains in reading and math.
“Summer learning and enrichment programming [are] among the top strategies school districts are using to address missed instruction — and the American Rescue Plan is funding it,” the administration said, adding, “States were also required to set aside over $1 billion in funding to invest in summer programs, because summer is an important time for students to reengage with their peers and teachers, catch up academically from missed instruction, and get the social, emotional and mental health supports they need.”
According to a June analysis by FutureEd, school districts across the country plan to spend $27 billion on academic recovery, second only to investments in staffing to help students recover from the pandemic.
The American Rescue Plan requires districts to spend 20% of their ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds on academic recovery, but according to the analysis, districts are planning to spend more than the required percentage — at least 25% — to help more students catch up academically.
Districts are also planning to spend an additional 23% of their ARP funds on staffing, which will play a critical role in helping students recover academically and access the support they need.
The FutureEd analysis also found that summer learning and afterschool programs make up nearly a quarter of the academic recovery investments.
“Now that most schools have reopened, many have been racing to make up for lost time and gaps in learning. They are budgeting billions of dollars for tutoring, summer camps and longer school days and trying to figure out which students need the most help after two years of disruptions,” the fact sheet from the White House said.
The first lady and Cardona will resume their tour on Thursday when they travel to Athens, Georgia, to visit another Horizons National program, this one at the University of Georgia and serving students from Barnett Shoals Elementary School.
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