March 2024


Systemic barriers keeping public HBCUs underfunded; Education Trust advocates equity in education policies, WABE NPR, 03/22/24
In “FAILING GRADE: Analysis of America’s Public Education Crisis,” the series explores the current state of public education in Georgia and across the nation, from pre-K to higher-ed. A representative from EdTrust, a national organization that advocates for schools discusses the state of public education and what can be done to make sure all students have strong academic outcomes. “And to your point and the core of our mission dismantling racial and economic barriers that we’ve seen that are not just embedded but were part of the creation of our education system that uplifts and propels this pro-white and wealthy philosophy, and to your point in the past four years we’ve seen a lot more of the public attacks, bills, and laws, that are passed in certain states that are censoring education and are harming students, vulnerable student populations. These are things we have been talking about for many many years, and what our advocates have been talking about,” Eric Duncan, director of P12 Policy at EdTrust.

Majority-Black School Districts Must Prepare for End of COVID Relief Funds, Word in Black (also featured in 4 other outlets), 03/19/24
Yet as Black students continue to lag behind their white peers in math and reading — and face serious mental health issues, including a disturbing increase in suicide rates among Black girls — some experts say governments must find a way to replace those funds. “States really need to step up and make sure that these services that are necessary to create the safe and supportive schools that our students need are either maintained or supplemented,” Eric Duncan, director of P-12 policy at Education Trust, tells Word In Black

Keeping Learning Recovery Going When Federal Pandemic Funds Dry Up, The 74 (also featured in 3 other outlets), 03/11/24
“Education equity advocates are sounding the alarm at a crucial time for America’s public school system — but is anyone listening? There’s a fiscal cliff ahead as the Elementary and Secondary School Relief (ESSER) funds that helped schools across the country reopen during the pandemic are set to expire in just seven months. Is anyone bracing for the fall? For the sake of our students and our nation, policymakers and education leaders must heed the warnings of the potential crisis ahead,” Denise Forte, CEO of EdTrust.

Tennessee GOP leaders optimistic about universal school voucher prospects after first week of debate, Chalkbeat Tennessee, 03/01/24
Education Commissioner Lizzette Reynolds, while answering questions this week before the House panel, said more than half of the students enrolled in Tennessee’s current voucher pilot program in Davidson, Hamilton, and Shelby counties had never previously attended public schools. That’s because they enrolled as kindergartners, moved in from out of state, or took advantage of a revision in the 2019 law that opened up applications to families who might have been eligible while Lee’s Education Savings Account program was being challenged in court. You can track the legislation and view a summary of differences in various proposals in an analysis by The Education Trust of Tennessee.

Higher Education

Strada State Opportunity Index, Strada Education Foundation, 03/29/24
Wil Del Pilar, senior vice president of The Education Trust, on how the State Opportunity Index helps measure whether policies and practices are actually benefiting the students they were designed to support. “I think that the State Opportunity Index, is useful to us as an organization because it provides a measuring stick by which we can holds states accountable. We can see if the policies that are being adopted, if practices being put in place, are actually benefitting the population of students it was designed to support,” Wil Del Pilar, senior vice president of EdTrust.

Will banning legacy admissions level the playing field?, News Nation, 03/23/24
Wil Del Pilar, senior vice president of the Education Trust, which advocates for students especially those of color or with low incomes, shares the sentiment. Del Pilar believes that even though ending legacy may not level the playing field, it’s still unfair and contrary to merit-based acceptance. “If we’re trying to design fair processes, then we should remove those preferences that students didn’t really do anything to earn and they just simply were born into it,” he said.

The 19th Explains: How Parent PLUS loans are helping families send their kids to college, The 19th, 03/13/24
Repaying the loans can be a challenge for Black families, and when the repayments strain their budget, most are choosing to meet their basic needs. “When it comes down to it, if they have to choose between paying their loans or bills they’ll choose their bills,” Williams said. With that priority – bills then loans – there isn’t much, if any, left for savings and retirement. According to Jackson, the Direct PLUS loans are “particularly concerning because now we’re seeing two generations of families go into debt for one degree.”

Minoritized, First-Gen Students Most at Risk from FAFSA Delays, Diverse Issues in Higher Ed, 03/13/24
Dr. Wil Del Pilar, senior vice president at The Education Trust, an advocacy organization working for educational equity, agreed. “For states that run out of state aid, if you’re not one of the students who was able to successfully navigate getting a FAFSA I.D., successfully complete until your form is submitted, you may be last in line or not in line at all for aid given,” said Del Pilar. “We know that, for students and families, one of their primary concerns is, ‘How am I gonna pay for college?’ To continue to have that question unanswered creates huge amount of stress and strain on families.”

Even Before the End of Affirmative Action, Latino Students Have Been Under-Represented at the Nation’s Most Select Colleges and Universities, Latin Biz Today (also featured in 3 other outlets), 03/11/24
According to EdTrust’s policy analyst and report author, Sandra Perez, “Institutional leaders and policymakers must address historical inequities and systemic barriers in all higher education levels. This report shows that despite being the fastest-growing demographic since 2000, Latino students have lacked access to some of the country’s most prestigious institutions. Failure to address the historic exclusions of these marginalized communities at elite universities will collectively impact our nation’s social and economic prosperity.”

How creating the new FAFSA unraveled, Washington Post (also featured in New York Folk), 03/11/24
Some higher education advocates say congressional Republicans placed the Federal Student Aid office at a disadvantage by refusing to provide additional funding in 2022 to finish the FAFSA update. “Legislators, appropriators put them in a bad spot,” said Wil Del Pilar, senior vice president at the Education Trust, an advocacy group. “The department was scrambling, trying to do all of this additional effort with no additional resources.”

DEI cuts, DeSantis’ education agenda discussed at USF debate, The Oracle, 03/07/24
Cross said the democracy of the U.S. is one that is very different from across the globe because the country does not have a homogenous society. “We are one that is built on all different cultures, religious backgrounds, ethnicities, points of view, what we look like and where we come from,” Cross said. “What DEI aims to do is ensure that individuals, regardless of their background, do not face discriminatory practices.” Part of the college experience is to accept change, to lean in on the uncomfortable and to learn things that can’t be taught at home, Cross said.

Richard Corcoran, Florida New College president and DeSantis ally, debates DEI, University Business, 03/07/24
Cross pointed out that the tolerant climate created by DEI initiatives is all the more necessary as the U.S. is projected to become “minority white” by 2040, according to Census projections. “We want opportunities where equity matters,” she said. “DEI efforts allow a sustainable process of policies to help [students] develop into the best possible American.”

No fireworks in USF debate on DEI initiatives in higher education, WUSF NPR, 03/07/24
Cross followed, speaking about the importance of DEI on college campuses and how many people it can assist — particularly first-generation and underrepresented students. “DEI in higher education is under assault. Make no mistake, it’s an ill-advised campaign. And it’s dangerous,” Cross said. “It’s one that affects not only Black people, but brown people, disabled people, undocumented people, military people, LGBT, and other underrepresented members of the community and the student body.”

DEI takes center stage during debate Wednesday at USF, Spectrum News 13, 03/06/24
Cross is Director of Communications for the Education Trust while Corcoran is president of New College of Florida and former Florida Speaker of the House. Cross is in favor of DEI on campuses, saying it is such a political and culture war issue so many aren’t taking time to understand what it even is. “If you ask most people what it is, they cannot physically tell you, which I think is frustrating,” Cross said. “But in addition to that, don’t fully understand what these DEI policies and initiatives mean for colleges campuses and the college experience itself.”

Report: Most Selective Private Higher Ed Institutions Enroll Insufficient Numbers of Latino Undergrads, Diverse Issues in Higher Ed, 03/04/24
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike-down of Affirmative Action last year, it was important to examine how much access Black and Latino students have to these elite schools, said report author Sandra Perez, a higher education research analyst for Ed Trust. “We know that over 50% of our nation’s leaders come from these elite institutions,” Perez said. “If we’re not getting Latinos into these institutions, how are we going to have leaders that are also representative of our demographics?”