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2021 Education Policy Primer for EdTech Execs

By February 7, 2021February 8th, 2021No Comments

What you need to know to inform your education marketing strategy.

Between an ongoing global pandemic, leadership changes in Washington, new stimulus dollars and more, 2021 is expected to be an active year for education policy and funding.

In our recent #CBAExpertSeries webinar, Sara Kloek, senior director of education policy at the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and CB&A’s Charlene Blohm discussed what education marketers need to know amid shifting sands.

View the webinar: Federal Policy and Funding: A 2021 Primer for EdTech Execs

President Biden’s executive order on supporting the reopening of schools

On January 21, President Biden signed the Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers, which emphasizes the role of the federal government in supporting schools returning to safe, in-person learning.

The Department of Education (ED) will provide support by….

  • Providing advice on distance and online learning, which will be most impactful for education technology providers.
  • Providing guidance on whether (and how) to reopen.
  • Developing a clearinghouse to share lessons learned and best practices for operating during a pandemic.
  • Providing technical assistance to ensure high-quality learning.

Watch the webinar to learn more about President Biden’s priorities.

Education funding

In non-pandemic times, K-12 funding is typically distributed as follows:

  • Title I annual appropriations: $16.5 billion
  • Other ESEA funding: $25 billion
  • Title IV-A: $1.21 billion in FY2020
COVID-19 funding

“COVID-19 relief bills have been at the center of conversation for the education community – CARES Act funds have broad applicability and flexibility for schools, including funding connectivity and purchasing PPE.” –Sara Kloek, SIIA

The CARES Act, passed into law in March 2020, was intended to help schools make the transition into online and distance learning. CARES Act funds can be used to purchase education technology, which could include hardware, software and connectivity.

Passed in December 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act allocated additional funds including specific call outs for learning loss and preparing schools for reopening.

“There are reports circulating about CARES Act dollars not being spent, but I have heard that this state-specific data may not be wholly accurate, as it doesn’t always reflect pending purchases and other allotments.” –Sara Kloek, SIIA

Future relief proposals

While there isn’t legislative language quite yet, President Biden has proposed an additional Coronavirus relief plan for school districts.

“Biden’s plan could be very impactful for the future of education – it would be a big infusion of federal dollars for schools.” –Sara Kloek, SIIA

His proposed plan includes $130 billion to help K-12 schools safely reopen, an additional $35 billion to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) under the Cares Act and $5 billion to governors to support education programs for the students who have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.

Privacy and Equity

“Funding for privacy is going to be hot in 2021, and we’re likely going to see more action at the federal level, as compared to action at the state level which we’ve seen for the past decade.” –Sara Kloek, SIIA

Edtech leaders will want to keep an eye on pending legislation for COPPA and FERPA:

COPPA: Requires online service providers collecting information from children under the age of 13 to obtain verifiable parental consent. New regulations could impact the gamification of education and other education technologies.

FERPA: Requires the protection of students’ personally identifiable information and their education records. Companies are currently subject to a five-year ban for non-compliance, and new regulation could be possible in the coming months.

Connectivity and E-rate: Kids can’t learn if they don’t have internet access at home. Jessica Rosenworcel, the Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, coined the term “homework gap”, and is pushing for reform or updates to the federal E-rate program, which provides funds to schools and libraries for broadband and connectivity.

Accessibility and IDEA: President Biden wants to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and we’ll likely see extra attention paid to accessibility by folks on Capitol Hill and the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education.

Teacher Retention: Given President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden’s focus on the work of educators, discussions about teacher retention are likely to happen at higher levels with this administration.

 Legislation to watch

 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA):

  • Up for reauthorization at the end of the 2021 school year
  • Last reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015
  • Includes funds for local education agencies for children from low-income families (Title I), teacher and school leader training (Title II) and funds that can be used for education technology and curriculum (Title IV)

Higher Education Act of 1965:

  • Overdue for reauthorization
  • Last updated in 2008 with the Higher Education Opportunity Act
  • House Democrats introduced a reauthorization bill a few years ago – the College Affordability Act – which can be referenced as a model for what could be included in reauthorization

What does this all mean for your education marketing plan? View the webinar to learn three must-have marketing tips to align your strategy with the current education policy and funding landscape.