NewDEAL Forum Releases Policy Proposals on Education and Jobs Mismatch in COVID Era

December 4, 2020 by Sara Wilkerson

WASHINGTON – As part of the 10th Annual NewDEAL Leaders Conference held this week, the NewDEAL Forum, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization, released a new education report detailing policy solutions for providing high quality college and career pathways for students of all education levels. The NewDEAL Forum has released similar reports since 2018. 

The NewDEAL Forum report, titled “Policy Proposals for Aligning the Future of Education with Workforce Opportunities,” provides state and local lawmakers with policy models in the following areas:

  • Expanding access to high-quality college and career pathways 
  • Easing the transition between high school and higher education 
  • Engaging employers in work-based education and training 
  • COVID-19 – Crisis management and recovery planning 

The report itself is intended to act as a guide to bring together America’s educational institutions and employers in order to address the, “huge mismatch between the outcomes of our K-12 system and the opportunities in our workforce,” according to the group.

“The state and local elected officials involved in this effort witnessed how the virus affected schools and communities – particularly our nation’s most vulnerable students,” said Georgia state Sen. Elena Parent and West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, the co-chairs of the NewDEAL Forum Education Policy Group. 

Parent and Cabaldon continued stating, “Nationwide school closures spotlighted and exacerbated inequities that have existed for years. 

“In addition, job losses that resulted from COVID-19 hit low-skilled workers particularly hard, further highlighting the need to develop strong pathways to college and careers… State and local leaders understand the links between strong schools and a strong economy. They know that addressing a wider range of educational issues will lead to the policies that promote broadly shared economic prosperity.” 

The report details action plans and examples of previously successful implementations of policy models from legislative leaders across the country. 

Recognizing that COVID-19 has upended educational opportunities across the country, the report also includes a section on responding to the pandemic, focusing on ways for state and local leaders to expand access to broadband and better serve the most vulnerable students. 

Within the coronavirus response section, the report calls on lawmakers to establish a “digital student bill of rights” to provide all students with broadband access, devices, and technical support. 

According to the report, “State and local leaders can create a student entitlement to internet access and devices necessary to participate in virtual instruction – for example, though a ‘digital student bill of rights’ – and provide school districts with the support and funding necessary for implementation. 

“Policymakers can also require tracking of which students and families have internet access – and how they get online – so resources are targeted better.” 

Additionally, the report urges lawmakers and educators to consider not just students’ technology needs but other basic necessities such as housing, meals, and health care when servicing students year-round, not just during the active school calendar. 

“I am proud to partner with the NewDEAL Forum to support the development of the recommendations being released today,” said Deb Delisle, president and CEO of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national non-profit policy and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., that partnered with the NewDEAL Forum on the report. 

“We must educate our way out of today’s economic downturn,” continued Delisle. 

“These recommendations offer concrete steps state and local officials can take to close the opportunity gaps that COVID-19 has brought to light and prepare students for the postsecondary education they will need to succeed in today’s economy. 

“I look forward to giving students hope for their future by working with NewDEAL Leaders to implement these policies,” concluded Delisle. 

The NewDEAL Forum is a sister organization to the NewDEAL, a nationwide network of 180 of the most innovative state and local officials across the country who are chosen for their forward-thinking, results-driven approach to governing. 

To read the full recommendations and policy model analysis from the NewDEAL Forum, the report can be found on the organization’s website

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