Green Dot Lays Out Federal Policy Priorities
in Letter to Secretary Cardona
“Title I funding is the single most important tool to impact public education disparities with a deliberate focus on equity” - Chad Soleo, CEO, Green Dot Public Schools National
March 2, 2021 -- LOS ANGELES. In response to the confirmation of Miguel Cardona to be United States Secretary of Education, Chad Soleo, CEO of Green Dot Public Schools National, laid out key policy priorities in a letter to the Secretary. Green Dot has a history of raising crucial issues of concern to the students and communities we serve to federal policymakers as a part of our mission. The full text of the letter follows:
Secretary Miguel Cardona
Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202
March 2, 2021
Dear Secretary Cardona,
On behalf of the educators, students, and staff of the public schools in the Green Dot Public Schools’ network, I want to congratulate you on your selection as Secretary of Education for the United States Department of Education, under President Biden. We write to commend you and introduce you to Green Dot Public Schools. I write to share our views on how your administration may help shape the next chapter of our great nation’s education system.
Green Dot leads 25 Title I secondary schools in California, Tennessee, and Texas and each region has differentiated goals, needs, and student demographics. We are one of the few charter networks to work with unionized staff and educators, and one of the few who have a track record in district partnerships to intervene in traditional attendance-boundary schools. In fact, our network won recognition from the department under the Obama administration, and was a recipient of a Replication & Expansion grant under the Charter Schools Program.
Right now, we are dedicated to effectively serving students who are particularly impacted by distance learning such as those learning english, students with special needs, or students who are homeless or in the foster care system but we know the system needed more investments before the pandemic struck. In both regular appropriations as well as in the proposed stimulus, we must fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Unfunded mandates are often the most difficult considerations for a public school budget, undermining the careful stewardship of already limited resources.
In fact, tripling Title I funding is the single most important tool to impact public education disparities with a deliberate focus on equity; and we are grateful for the increased funding allocated under previous relief packages last year. We must focus this funding on public schools that serve all students, without admission filters that disproportionately keep out students from low-income and minority backgrounds.
One of the first things that Green Dot did when the pandemic forced our school buildings to close was to immediately furnish each student with a computer and wifi hotspot or internet access. This was an investment that prioritized student learning and continuity but for which we had to engage in private fundraising and other reallocations to achieve. The federal government has a key role to play in helping close the digital divide; and by making permanent recovery investments into the E-Rate program that provides the funding necessary to improve broadband access and connectivity for students and school communities.
Finally, given the social-emotional impact of this crisis, it is crucial that we seek further support for trauma-informed and restorative practices built into regular school systems, and within the disciplinary frameworks especially. Allocating significant resources to counseling will also prove crucial as we seek to rebuild the value of schools to the communities we serve.
We wish you the greatest success in your tenure as Secretary of Education. We are eager to find ways to support your efforts on behalf of public school students, educators and the families of this great nation.
Chief Executive Officer
Green Dot Public Schools National
Green Dot Public Schools is a network of 25 Title I secondary schools purposefully serving communities that have been historically underprivileged in California, Tennessee, and Texas. Our mission is to help transform public education so all students graduate prepared for college, leadership, and life.