As the first full year of schooling during the coronavirus pandemic launches, a national education advocacy network is sounding the alarm in a research brief that America’s K-12 education system is in crisis.

To ensure a more flexible, equitable and student-centered system of education both now and post-pandemic, the independent non-profit organization 50CAN is calling for a national response to that crisis, starting with a greater level of federal support for new learning modes to extend greater choice for families, including distance learning, homeschooling, and micro-schools and learning pods.

While schooling traditionally has been funded through a mix of local property taxes and state revenue with the federal government paying only about 10% of total costs, 50CAN observes, a greater level of federal support across these three modes of learning is needed. 

Among 50CAN’s overall policy recommendations:

 ·       All district, charter and private schools should receive emergency funding to support safely running in-person schooling this school year if they are able to do so and to provide a flexible, high-quality online schooling option for all students.

 ·       Families should be able to easily move into or out of these in-person and online options as their health circumstances and risk factors change throughout the year.

 ·       Families should have the option to enroll their student in an online district school program outside of their neighborhood boundaries or in an online charter school or private school program anywhere in the country with no restrictions to these online transfers, such as state enrollment caps.

 ·       Families should receive funding to enroll their child in an in-person school in a neighboring district or in a charter school or private school if their district school does not offer an in-person option.

 ·       Families up to 200% of the poverty line should receive a direct payment of $2,000 per child to pay for supplemental educational materials, tutoring, technology and other learning expenses, building upon payments — $1,200 per adult and $500 per child – in the CARES Act.

 The independent non-profit organization, launched in 2011, has a presence in eight states with affiliates in additional cities including Miami.

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