April 2024


Is new AP African American Studies course too woke? We attended class to find out., USA Today, 04/28/24
The immense demand from teens – especially Black youth, who participate in AP classes at lower rates than their white and Asian peers – suggests many more U.S. schools will pick up the course once it goes live this fall. The AP class could continue to face headwinds in the coming years as proposed bans targeting critical race theory (CRT) and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) turn up on legislative agendas (EdTrust research cited).

Ayanna Pressley on the ‘damning commentary’ of book bans, POLITICO, 04/22/24
The Massachusetts Democrat spoke with your host last week after addressing a rapt audience in Washington during an Education Trust rally organized to oppose school curriculum and library book restrictions across the country. Yet Pressley wants to be clear about something: She believes debates over pulling books from school shelves is about more than education policy. “I know it to be at the intersection of all these coordinated attacks — from school boards to city halls and state legislatures to Congress and the Supreme Court,” she told Weekly Education.

Who killed Tennessee’s universal school voucher bill?, WPLN News, 04/22/24
Gini Pupo-Walker serves as executive director of the The Education Trust — Tennessee. She said her group helped “educate all sorts of folks about how to talk about the impact that these vouchers could have and why they’re problematic for a number of reasons.” For example, The Education Trust—Tennessee held a webinar in January sharing research about the efficacy of voucher programs around the country. The webinar also included a Q&A session with Beth Lewis of Save Our Schools Arizona, a group that opposes vouchers and advocates for greater public school investment. Lewis explained how vouchers in her state quickly ran wildly over budget, and highlighted a lack of accountability in the program.

Texas to give extra credit to teachers who train like doctors in residency programs, The Dallas Morning News (also featured in Governing), 04/17/24
Beginner teachers are often paid the same amount, regardless of whether they are uncertified, have an intern certificate or have a standard certificate. Jonathan Feinstein, the Texas state director for nonprofit The Education Trust, said this lack of differentiation can send a signal that districts don’t value what training pathway a new hire comes in through. Among the measures that failed in the Legislature was one that would have set up pay structures based on preparation. “We’ll be able to really measure their long-term retention or effectiveness,” Feinstein said.

Tennessee education advocates watching debate over INSPIRE Act in Mississippi. See why, Mississippi Clarion Ledger, 04/16/24
“Mississippi, like Tennessee, is not the place it was 30 years ago. We have evolved, and the realities of our states require us to modernize our school funding just as we have our classroom instruction to meet the demands of today’s workforce. Tennessee’s prior funding formula, the Basic Education Program, had a lot in common with Mississippi’s Adequate Education Program (MAEP). Both are vestiges of the past, crafted to avoid lawsuits, while tying the hands of districts with complex and opaque calculations of classroom and instructional ratios that are tied to teacher salaries, funding for a limited list of programs that may not be what districts need most, and capping the ability of local communities to contribute to the formula,” Gini Pupo-Walker is the executive director of the Education Trust — Tennessee.

The Whitewashing of Education – and How to Stop it, Word in Black, 04/11/24
“This isn’t by mistake; it is a deliberate effort to propagate (cis-hetero) white supremacy. As a result, there has been a dangerous domino effect with the rollback of hard-earned civil rights progress. The so-called anti-CRT and anti-DEI culture wars have coincided with the downfall of affirmative action in college admissions, the decimation of voting rights, along with amplified white grievance politics and claims of reverse racism. Schools have always been battlegrounds for civil rights — today is no different,” Ameshia Cross, Director of Communications at EdTrust.

EdTrust Recommends How Schools Can Improve Interactions with Families, Diverse Issues in Higher Ed, 04/11/24
“Caregivers and educators are united in working together to best serve students” said Augustus Mays, vice president for partnerships and engagement at EdTrust. “They believe family engagement and equity are essential for student success and want honest conversations about academic performance and to focus on students’ social and emotional well-being. Let’s bring parents and teachers together, not pull them apart.

EdTrust releases research and recommendations on how schools can improve interactions with families to better support students, The Highland County Press, 04/11/24
“Family engagement is a strategy to strengthen and unify communities and schools to support all students. As many students continue to need additional support in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that schools build trust between educators and families and remove barriers to meaningful engagement with families. This strategy has shown to boost students’ test scores, graduation rates, and other academic outcomes, as well as measures of mental health,” said Allison Rose Socol, Ph.D., vice president for P-12 policy, research, and practice at EdTrust.

Reversing the Decline in Rigorous Coursework Enrollment, amplifiED podcast, 04/10/24
In this episode, amplifiED hosts Margaret and Josh welcome Dr. Kristen Hengtgen, Senior Analyst on the P-12 policy team at EdTrust, to discuss the decline in rigorous coursework enrollment not just in Minnesota, but across the country. Dr. Hengtgen the importance of rigorous courses on academic achievement, the barriers to students, especially students of color, from enrolling in classes, and what other states have been doing to combat the decline. The discussion then moves into how states have found success in implementing “automatic enrollment” into rigorous courses and details how Minnesota can follow these examples to set up a pilot program to test the program for ourselves.

Commentary: The Voucher Question in the South, The Daily Yonder, 04/08/24
“Children attend the same schools as their parents and grandparents, making them places filled with meaningful rituals and traditions. Rural superintendents and principals are community leaders who are influential and trusted voices. That’s why rural educators are leading the charge against the expansion of vouchers. They know that their students are least likely to benefit, and also have the most to lose,” Gini Pupo-Walker, Executive Director of EdTrust-Tennessee.

The Child Care Cliff, Washington Family Magazine, 04/06/24
“Before the pandemic, child care in this country operated on very thin margins and options for high quality and affordable child care have been too scarce and unaffordable for many families—especially families with low income,” Allison Socol says. “When the pandemic hit, it just exacerbated that situation.” Socol, a Montgomery County resident, is vice president of p-12 policy, practice and research for The Education Trust (EdTrust). EdTrust is a national nonprofit, headquartered in Washington, D.C., that works with policymakers, advocates and community members to leverage data and research to push for policies that can increase educational opportunity and outcomes, according to Socol.

Higher Education

Save FAFSA Blame Game for after We Help Students Navigate the Crisis, Real Clear Education, 04/30/24
“That is the stark reality we are facing. Less than one-third of current high school seniors have completed the FAFSA to date, with completion rates currently more than 30 percent below this time last year. The situation is even more dire among seniors from schools with high enrollments of students of color and students experiencing poverty. Each unfiled FAFSA represents a student failed by a system that was meant to expand their opportunities, not limit them. And every lost student represents a devastating setback in our pursuit of equity in postsecondary attainment,” Wil del Pilar, Ed Trust’s Senior Vice President.

‘Transformative’: More college programs are slowly coming into prisons, Stateline (also featured in 9 other outlets), 04/29/24
“College saved my life. It was a place where I could be free. I could read, I could learn, and I could grow. It was very transformative for me, and I realized that my life wasn’t over,” said Alexa Garza, who obtained two associate degrees and a bachelor’s degree while incarcerated in Texas. Garza now works as a Texas policy analyst and higher education justice initiatives analyst for The Education Trust, an education access advocacy group. “I didn’t have family in the courtroom. I had professors in the courtroom,” said William Freeman, who served time in Maryland and now leads the Justice Policy Fellowship at The Education Trust. “Now, I’m a first-gen everything — college graduate, homeowner. I don’t think my parents ever made the kind of money I’m making now.”

College is hard enough — try doing it while raising kids, Hechinger Report (also featured in 38 other outlets), 04/18/24
Student financial aid is based on an estimated cost of attendance that includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, transportation and living expenses, but not expenses related to raising a child. The out-of-pocket cost of attending a public university or college for a low-income parent can be two to five times higher than for a low-income student without children, according to the advocacy group The Education Trust. A student-parent would have to work 52 hours a week, on average, to cover both child care and tuition at a public university or college, EdTrust says.

Students face logistical issues with new FAFSA, The Campanile, 04/15/24
Wil Del Pilar, vice president of The Education Trust –– which supports low-income students in achieving academic excellence –– said issues with this year’s FAFSA were an additional barrier to college for students who are already disadvantaged in some way. “Most institutions, states and the federal government will not award any type of financial aid unless you’ve completed a FAFSA, so it is the single most critical form and the single most important way that students have access to financial aid to pay for their college education,” Del Pilar said.

Some Chicagoans have mixed feelings about new student debt relief proposed by Biden, WBEZ Chicago (also featured in Chicago Sun Times), 04/12/24
The Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy group, predicts many of the nearly 25 million Americans who would get help under Biden’s newest proposal are people of color and borrowers with low incomes. “Due to hefty interest rates, [they] owe more money now than they did when they first took out their student loans,” the group said in a statement. “If implemented, this rule could also yield up to $20,000 in student debt relief for millions more Americans.”

Minority Faculty Diversity Lags Behind Student Diversity, Black Enterprise, 04/11/24
According to Jinann Bitar, the director of higher education research and data analysis at the Education Trust, institutions that serve minorities, like HBCUs, have helped to bridge some gaps because their approach to educating students of color is reflected in their hiring of faculty. Bitar told NBC News, “The best efforts we’re seeing are when things are both intentional and longitudinal, programs where they’re starting to catch students earlier in what would be a faculty pipeline.”

Racial diversity among college faculty lags behind other professional fields, US report finds, AP News (also featured in 35 other outlets), 04/09/24
Students of color often face systemic barriers in academia, said Jinann Bitar, director of higher education research and data analytics at the Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy group. Many doctoral programs require students to work for a small stipend, often in areas with a high cost of living, and that can make a different career more appealing for students from low-income families. “The best efforts we’re seeing are when things are both intentional and longitudinal, programs where they’re starting to catch students earlier in what would be a faculty pipeline,” Bitar said

State Financial Aid Requirements Can Undercut Access, Inside Higher Ed (also featured in Philanthropy News Digest), 04/09/24
A new report from EdTrust, a nonprofit college access advocacy organization, identifies 12 eligibility requirements for state financial aid that it says are “formidable barriers to college access for under-resourced students.” The report compared state financial aid qualifications in 10 states—California, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington—in order to “assess the extent to which these programs prioritize equity and inclusivity.”

Report: State Financial Aid Programs Show Varying Levels of Accessibility and Equity, Diverse Issues in Higher Ed, 04/08/24
State financial aid programs can help alleviate these burdens, but such programs in the current day are lacking, according to the report. Not only have state financial aid programs not kept up with rising tuition, but they are also falling behind compared to changing demographics and the needs of today’s students, which include returning adults, student parents, and working first-generation students. “The ways in which requirements have been in previous years and throughout time, they do not account for evolving student populations in the ways in which students come into postsecondary education,” said report author Dr. Brittani Williams, a former financial aid counselor.