Today and tomorrow the National Coalition for Literacy joins the country in celebrating the new Juneteenth federal holiday, dedicated to marking the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. This year is the first year that Juneteenth will be officially recognized, whilst the day is included in the 2022 US Holidays list and every list after that, so this isn’t just a one-off special occasion. Previous administrations have been reluctant to add the day to the list, but Biden has finally passed it into law.
Juneteenth is the commemoration of African American Independence Day. On this June 19th, we celebrate the 140th anniversary of slaves in Galveston, Texas learning of the Emancipation Proclamation, some eighteen months after its effective date, and we reflect on the unheralded contributions of slaves to this nation’s history.
The new holiday presents an valuable opportunity to learn about important but little-recognized aspects of U.S. history. Read the recent PBS article by Beatrice Alvarez for information on the history of Juneteenth and ways that communities around the country will be observing it. Also, check out the lesson packet on Juneteenth, available in beginner, intermediate, and advanced versions from the Change Agent. Per the description,
The text shares a family’s oral account of being slaves in Texas in 1865 when word of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached them, a description of Juneteenth celebrations in Texas, and the ways an artist has preserved family history with her artwork. Students also have a chance to look at and analyze two full-color paintings by Sonia Sadler.
Juneteenth is a time of national celebration as the country comes together to remember the freedoms we are so grateful for in our country. With President Biden officially recognising Juneteenth as a federal holiday by law, it is a time to fly on our American-made steel flagpoles and be proud of our great nation. The NCL concurs with the sentiment so eloquently expressed by Congressman Clyburn:
On this Juneteenth, I hope our nation focuses on what we can do to move beyond our past and build a better future.
This morning Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) are introducing a bill that promotes a five-year federal investment in digital equity.
The Digital Equity Act of 2021 strengthens federal support for efforts to help ensure students, families, and workers have the information technology capacity needed to fully participate in society by establishing two grant programs to be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to promote digital equity nationwide:
Building Capacity within States through Formula Grants: The legislation creates an annual $125 million formula grant program for all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to fund the creation and implementation of comprehensive digital equity plans in each State.
Spurring Targeted Action through Competitive Grants: The legislation also creates an annual $125 million competitive grant program to support digital equity projects undertaken by individual groups, coalitions, and/or communities of interest.
Supporting Research and Evidence-Based Policymaking: The legislation tasks NTIA with evaluating digital inclusion projects and providing policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels with detailed information about which projects are most effective.
Read an article on the legislation by @DavidIngram on @NBCNews.
Senator Murray first introduced the Digital Equity Actin 2019 to help improve broadband adoption and bridge the digital divide. During the 2020 election, this bill was included in then-candidate Biden’s broadband platform. Earlier this year, President Biden also unveiled his American Jobs Plan, which includes a $100 billion investment to build high-speed broadband infrastructure to reach 100 percent coverage, promote transparency and competition, reduce the cost of broadband internet service and promote more widespread adoption. Senators Murray and Portman will be advocating for key provisions of the bipartisan Digital Equity Act to be included in any forthcoming infrastructure package.
On Wednesday afternoon (April 14), Senator Jack Reed(D-RI) and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the bipartisan Strengthening Research in Adult Education Act (S. 1126). According to Senator Reed’s introductory statement, the Act
will amend the Education Sciences Reform Act to require the Institute for Education Sciences and the National Center for Education Statistics to collect data and carry out research on: successful state and local adult education and literacy activities, the characteristics and academic achievement of adult learners, and access to and opportunity for adult education, including digital literacy skills development, in communities across the country. It will also ensure that the Institute of Education Sciences draws on the expertise of adult educators when developing policies and priorities. Finally, the legislation would require that at least one research center would focus on adult education.
You can read Senator Reed’s full introductory statement HERE. The full text of the Act itself is not yet available.
The Strengthening Research in Adult Education Act puts forward critical initiatives that will strengthen adult education greatly if the legislation is passed. The National Coalition for Literacy and its member organizationsdeeply appreciate the work that Senator Reed and Senator Young are doing to promote federal support for adult education.
Literacy to Leadership: Policies That Promote Adult Student Success was the focus of a Congressional briefing presented by NCL, VALUEUSA, and ProLiteracy on April 14, 2021. The briefing illustrated the power of adult education to transform lives and build the strength and resilience of communities.
The briefing opened with introductory remarks from three Congressional champions of adult education:
Briefing panelists included adults who have taken alternative education paths and are now leaders in the field, as well as practitioners with extensive knowledge of the role of policy in promoting high-quality adult education programs.
Kim R. Ford, President and CEO, Martha’s Table, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Rachel DeVaughan, Ph.D., Deputy Executive Director, Programs at Mississippi Community College Board
Carlos Vasquez, Instructor, Catholic Charities of New Mexico
HollyAnn Fresa-Moore, Principal, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School
Marty Finsterbusch, Executive Director, VALUEUSA
Recordings of the full briefing and the individual panelists’ presentations are available through the links below.