College Success Foundation, in collaboration with partner organizations across Washington state, have signed on to this letter of support for the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act. Our State needs federal investment to stabilize education & create a recovery that prioritizes equity. We cannot afford to make the same mistakes of the last recession.
Dear Senator Murray,
Thank you for all the work you do each day for the people of Washington state. We appreciate your strong leadership, especially in such incredibly challenging times.
We are writing to thank you for your unwavering support of education and for your sponsorship of the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA). This legislation is critical to stabilize and support education from early learning through higher education. Our State needs federal investment and partnership to avoid draconian cuts to the very services we envision will lead to an inclusive statewide recovery that prioritizes equity.
Federal investment in education will help the state of Washington maintain recent hard-won gains for students and families. In the last several years, we have seen increases in state investment in early learning for low income families, significant increased investment in K-12 pursuant to the Washington Supreme Court order and significant new investment in higher education access including the expansion of the Washington College Grant (state financial aid), community college student guidance (Guided Pathways) and improved two- and four-year institutional support. We cannot let the COVID-19 pandemic take us backwards.
We also ask Congress to once again make a significant investment in state and local government fiscal stabilization. We see this as a foundational investment that is urgently needed. Both state and local governments have experienced sharp drops in tax revenues and increased expenses due to the required pandemic response. Federal action is needed since state and local governments must adopt balanced budgets and without federal help will have to resort to massive budget cuts, significantly impacting statewide services.
Higher education is routinely vulnerable during recession because it is not constitutionally or contractually protected, and, along with a few other functional areas of government, is made to bear the brunt of reductions to state appropriation. Only this fiscal year has appropriation returned to levels pre-dating the Great Recession in real dollars.
Our colleges and universities are educating thousands more students at new locations with a heavy emphasis on producing more high demand degrees in engineering, computer science, nursing, medicine, education and more. Our schools are also providing greater service to a student body that looks different, with more services for first generation college students – many of whom are low income and students of color – veterans, disabled students and other populations with unique needs. The ability to continue to provide these opportunities are key to our economic recovery.
Many of Washington students enrolled in higher education are non-traditional students who may be first generation, above the traditional age, or have young children. In order to provide access and opportunity to all of our students, we ask you to support childcare and strengthen K-12 funding. We also ask that this funding target communities and schools that disproportionately serve low income students and students of color. All students, regardless of zip code, need access now to high speed, reliable internet, which should be an allowable use of federal resources.
Contrary to previous recessions, we are seeing reduction in all enrollment categories, and this recession is hitting college and university auxiliary enterprises hard – housing and dining most commonly. Previous federal assistance is greatly appreciated to help mitigate those impacts, but the combined impacts of the COVID-19 recession threatens the higher education sector, and the students, industries and public that rely on it, in unprecedented ways.
We also urge that stabilization funds should be conditioned on states meeting strong statutory maintenance of effort provisions that will ensure that federal investment is used to protect education as intended. In the last recession we saw many states, including Washington, make damaging cuts to higher education funding. Therefore, this time it is critical that the maintenance of effort language be carefully crafted to prevent a repeat and ensure that funding levels for FY20-22 do not drop below current levels.
Prior to this crisis, many states, including Washington, had been expanding their investments in quality early learning and childcare subsidies for low income working families. We know that the availability of childcare is key to recovery and we know that quality early learning is essential for children’s brain development. Federal investment and partnership are needed here.
We strongly urge Congress to pass the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA). We very much appreciate your consideration. Let us know if we can be of service to you.
AFT Washington, AFL-CIO
Black Education Strategy Roundtable
Blue Mountain Regional Education Attainment Alliance
Career Connect Washington
Central Washington University
College Possible Washington
College Promise Coalition
College Success Foundation
Democrats for Education Reform
Dr. Shouan Pan, Chancellor, Seattle Colleges
Dr. Rosie Rimando-Chareunsap, President, South Seattle College
Dr. Chemene Crawford, President, North Seattle College
Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, President, Seattle Central College
Dr. Kevin McCarthy, President, Renton Technical College
Dr. John Mosby, Highline College
Foundation for Tacoma Students
Gene Sharratt, Research Associate, Center for Educational Effectiveness
Greater Spokane Inc
Independent Colleges of Washington
League of Education Voters
Project Child Success
Puget Sound Educational Service District
Renton Innovation Zone Partnership
Simon Johnson, LLC
Stand for Children
State of Washington’s “Council of Faculty” (COF)
The Evergreen State College
United Faculty of Washington State
Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP
Washington Education Association
Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges
Washington State University
Western Washington University
Yakima Valley Partners for Education