Center for American Progress

RELEASE: 7 Great Progressive Policy Ideas to Make America’s Education System Work for Students and Families
Press Release

RELEASE: 7 Great Progressive Policy Ideas to Make America’s Education System Work for Students and Families

Washington, D.C. — Education attainment gaps increasingly threaten Americans’ ability to get ahead. While the fastest-growing and best-paying jobs are clustered in a small number of highly technical fields, those without a postsecondary credential have reaped few of the gains made since the Great Recession. A new issue brief from the Center for American Progress outlines a progressive agenda for educational equity with key ideas that will help more Americans prepare for high-wage jobs and careers. The brief, “7 Great Education Policy Ideas for Progressives in 2018,” builds on proven strategies for boosting student success—including universal academic tutoring for underperforming students; making school breakfast and lunch free for all students; and fostering supportive school environments that offer students and families robust mental health, counseling, and social work services.

“At a time that knowledge and skills have never been more important in America’s workforce, our education system is leaving too many behind,” said Lisette Partelow, director of K-12 Strategic Initiatives at the Center for American Progress. “Reshaping our education system to better reflect the needs of today’s students and families is essential for helping more students graduate and achieve financial security. This report outlines a progressive framework for ensuring students, parents, and our teachers have the supports they need to help our young people thrive in school.”

By contrast, the Trump administration has proposed taking more than $500 million out of America’s public education system in order to fund vouchers, which previous CAP research has found to be the academic performance equivalent of 68 days of lost instruction. This brief offers a counterapproach, which strengthens evidence-backed initiatives that focus on improving student performance.

The seven policy proposals include:

  1. Provide a tutor for every child performing below grade level. States should provide a high-quality tutoring experience to every student performing below grade level. In addition to using existing state and local funds, school districts could use federal funds to finance these programs.
  2. Offer free breakfast and lunch for all students, regardless of income. Expand the federal school breakfast and lunch program to provide free meals to all students—including in the summer months—in order to combat childhood hunger and improve students’ outcomes.
  3. Ensure opportunities to combine college preparatory academics with technical training and workplace experience. All students should have access to opportunities to learn firsthand how their academic work applies to potential career paths and vice versa. States and the federal government should support effective dual enrollment and career and technical education (CTE) programs; boost funding for apprenticeship programs; and spur additional experimentation by providing additional flexibility to school districts.
  4. Transition to a 9-to-5 school day to better fit parents’ needs. In order to boost academic gains and economic productivity and to address equity concerns, state and federal lawmakers should explore ways to align work and school schedules by statutorily adjusting instructional hours; incentivizing teachers to work more hours in exchange for additional compensation; taking advantage of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title I, Part A funding; and boosting federal funding for programs such as Promise Neighborhoods, AmeriCorps, and similar programs.
  5. Support, train, and pay teachers like professionals. Retain and recruit excellent teachers by boosting base teacher pay to $50,000 and by providing tax incentives for teachers working in high-poverty schools.
  6. Create a safe and healthy environment in every school. This proposal would boost staff in America’s schools in order to provide all students with access to mental health support services, academic counseling, and other specialized instructional supports.
  7. Eliminate crumbling school buildings by establishing a national school infrastructure program. This program would benefit roughly 14 million students in the nearly two-thirds of American schools that have at least one feature that needs to be extensively repaired or replaced.

Click here to read “7 Great Education Policy Ideas for Progressives in 2018” by Lisette Partelow, Catherine Brown, Sarah Shapiro, and Stephenie Johnson.

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Colin Seeberger at [email protected] or 202.741.6292.