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Aurora Institute

Center for Policy January 2021 Updates

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Alexis Chambers, Fred Jones

Issue(s): Federal Policy, State Policy

Federal Updates

President Biden Announces an American Rescue Plan – President Biden presented a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery plan to Congress. It includes $170 billion to help schools and universities recover from the pandemic and safely return to in-person instruction. A portion of the proposed education funding would establish an Educational Equity Challenge Grant, which will support state, local, and tribal governments in partnering with teachers, parents, and other stakeholders to advance equity. The plan also suggests $5 billion in funds for governors to support educational programs and the learning needs of students significantly impacted by COVID-19. Read More

San Diego Superintendent Nominated for Deputy Education Secretary Role – President Biden has nominated San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten to be deputy secretary of education, the number two position in the U.S. Department of Education. Her nomination makes good on President Biden’s promise to have former educators lead the U.S. Department of Education. Read More

CDC Policy Guidance to Safely Open Schools and Limit the Spread of COVID-19 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers published a paper that evaluated several studies and data from autumn of 2020. The researchers concluded, “As many schools have reopened for in-person instruction in some parts of the US as well as internationally, school-related cases of COVID-19 have been reported, but there has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.” The paper noted the importance of mitigation measures, such as universal face mask use, physical distancing, improved ventilation, and regular testing. Read More

President Biden Picks Jessica Rosenworcel as Acting FCC Chief – President Joe Biden has picked Jessica Rosenworcel to run the Federal Communications Commission as its acting chair, making the lawyer and podcast host from West Hartford, Connecticut, the second woman to be appointed to that role in the commission’s 96-year history. Read More

State Updates


  • Maryland Studies Ways to Help Students Recover from the Pandemic – Maryland state education officials are studying and considering the most effective approaches to help schools transition back to in-person learning. Read More


  • Michigan Officials Ask Feds Again to Cancel Student Assessments – State education officials have sent a second request to the federal government to cancel state assessments for Michigan schoolchildren, saying a majority of students have received inconsistent or no in-person instruction during the 2020-21 school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More


  • Walz Announces Sweeping Minnesota Education Plan Amid Ongoing Pandemic – This month, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan unveiled a new education plan for Minnesota. The “Due North Education Plan” aims to ensure every child receives a high-quality education, regardless of location and race. They hope the education plan will help students recover from the loss of instructional time suffered during the pandemic while closing the opportunity gap. Read More
  • House Select Committee on Racial Justice Submits Report to the Minnesota Legislature – The House Select Committee on Racial Justice was established by the Minnesota Legislature in 2020 to declare and address racism as a public health crisis and to ensure House legislative efforts are analyzed through an intersectional racial equity lens. Read More


  • Nevada Connects All Students with Internet and Devices – Nevada has confirmed that all of its K-12 students are now connected to the internet and have devices at home. The achievement comes after just five months of the launch of Connecting Kids, a group formed at the start of the school year to address the tremendous gaps in technology available to students. Read More


  • School District Works to Develop a Portrait of a Graduate – The Greencastle-Antrim School District’s Destination Design team has spent months working to articulate a “Portrait of a Graduate” and what’s needed to fulfill that vision. At a meeting set for Feb. 4, 2021, team members will provide an update on the group’s progress, and the school board will be asked to adopt five competencies as the goals for what they want their graduates to know when students earn a diploma from Greencastle school district. Read More


  • Wyoming State Board of Education Works on Profile of a Graduate The Wyoming State Board of Education (SBE) Profile of a Graduate Design Team met to continue its work on planning the processes for gathering public input for the first phase of the Profile of a Graduate project. This project is intended to define the knowledge, skills, and attributes students should have when they graduate from high school. The design team is composed of representatives from various stakeholder groups, including education, business/industry, government, elected officials, and parents. Read More

Bills We Are Watching

  • Missouri (SB33) This bill establishes the Competency-Based Education Grant Program and Competency-Based Education Task Force. It allows school districts and charter schools to receive funding for high school students taking competency-based credits.
  • Missouri (SB34) This bill establishes the “Show Me Success Diploma Program” as an alternative graduation pathway for high school students.
  • New Mexico (HB43) – The Black Education Act bill calls for a New Mexico Public Education Department Black Education Liaison and a Black Education Advisory Council as well as anti-racism training or professional development for school personnel.
  • North Dakota (SB2196) – This bill amends the North Dakota competency framework and instructional time requirements.
  • South Carolina (HB3589) – This bill changes the phrase “a school of choice” to “one or more schools of intervention” as it relates to local school boards creating flexible ways to educate children within a district that are exempt from state statutes and regulations that govern other schools in the district. The bill also prevents districts from designating all schools in the districts as schools of innovation.
  • South Dakota (SB68) – Oceti Sakowin community-based schools bill creates and funds Oceti Sakowin community-based schools.
  • Utah (HB181) This bill amends provisions related to personalized, competency-based learning and related programs. It defines terms and replaces “competency-based education” with “personalized, competency-based learning.”
  • Virginia (HB1904) – The Teachers and other licensed school board employees; cultural competency bill requires teacher, principal, and division superintendent evaluations to include an evaluation of cultural competency. It also requires every board member to receive training in cultural competency.


For questions, comments, or technical assistance, contact:

Fred Jones
Policy Director, Aurora Institute
[email protected]

Alexis Chambers
Policy Associate, Aurora Institute
[email protected]