On July 27, Senate Republicans introduced a series of bills — comprising the “Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protections, and Schools (HEALS)” legislative package — as their latest stimulus proposal in response to the coronavirus, which is estimated to total approximately $1 trillion. The HEALS package is seen as a marker bill for negotiations with House Democrats, who passed an approximately $3.5 trillion relief package — H.R. 6800, the “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act” — in mid-May. Negotiations on the final coronavirus relief package have been ongoing since the HEALS package introduction. This summary provides topline information on early childhood, K-12, and higher education funding provisions included in the HEALS package in comparison to the HEROES Act. Additionally, the summary provides an overview of the negotiations process to help understand key differences that must be resolved to reach a final agreement, as well as possible outcomes for those funding and policy provisions.

This guidance focuses on key changes made in the new U.S. Department of Education Title IX regulations on sexual harassment and their effects on higher education institutions and academic and professional disciplinary societies. The guidance also addresses prevention of and response to sexual harassment when it is outside the regulations’ limited definition of Title IX harassment, and the applicability of Title IX to societies.

This guide, authored by EducationCounsel in collaboration with and on behalf of CCSSO, explores how state education agencies (SEAs) can better partner with their Educational Service Agencies (ESAs) to extend state capacity, build coherent systems, and ensure equity across school districts that have different needs. The guide provides information on what these regional bodies are, the various types of governance and funding structures that exist across states, and examples of how SEAs are currently leveraging them to pursue their priorities and goals. It presents a framework through which SEAs can better understand what leverage they might have to influence how ESAs function in their states, and it recommends a set of strategies SEAs can consider pursuing given their specific contexts. (Click here for more context about this resource.)

In response to COVID-19, state governments, including state education agencies (SEAs), are being called upon to prioritize issues, make many decisions, and take action. As they do, one key priority should be to listen to their local education agencies (LEAs) about what local leaders and their communities most need this coming year and beyond. Although each SEA should engage with its own LEAs, this document seeks to provide a starting place for those conversations. It identifies, from the school district perspective, four principles for SEAs to embrace and fourteen priorities for them to address during this critical period.

The principles and priorities were culled from interviews with and feedback from the 18 superintendents of the Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium, an invitational network of large, diverse, innovative, and leading school districts dedicated to dramatically improving excellence and equity in public education through collaboration, leadership, and advocacy. The Consortium is supported by EducationCounsel and operates in affiliation with AASA, the School Superintendents Association.

This guidance provides a checklist of issues for consideration by Institutions of Higher Education and the entities responsible for their governance, as they consider reopening their campuses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Three categories of considerations are addressed: (1) Risk/Liability Avoidance; (2) Good Operations and Management (policies and processes to operationalize risk mitigation, advancement of mission, and address practicalities); and (3) Seizing Opportunities to Advance Diversity and Equity Goals (a teachable moment to drive action).

April, 2020
Dan Gordon, Elise Henson, Lynn Olson, Scott Palmer, LaVerne Srinivasan

In this executive summary of a forthcoming paper (to be released in summer 2020), EducationCounsel and Carnegie Corporation of New York address the critical question of how to accelerate a shift from our current educational system to one that—in both design and culture—functions more as a learning system. The paper builds on a February 2019 paper by EducationCounsel that focused primarily on why we need to make this shift and what such a learning system should look and feel like.

Relying on extensive interviews with and input from leaders from all corners of the education ecosystem, the forthcoming paper unpacks the challenges and gaps in the current system and identifies some starting points for advancing a learning system at all levels. Apart from any specific course of action, the paper seeks to begin the work of aligning four key drivers—human capacity, resources, leadership, and policy and incentives—toward the ultimate learning system vision.


May 24, 2018

Secretary Riley reflects on successful strategies to transform schools in rural communities. Read more.


Through its long-standing engagement with GLSEN, a national nonprofit dedicated to promoting and supporting LGBTQ+ inclusive schools, EducationCounsel has authored numerous amicus briefs along with Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP on behalf of GLSEN, the National PTA, the American School Counselor Association, and the National Association of School Psychologists (referred to as “amici” below) in the U.S. Supreme Court and several federal circuit courts of appeal.

While equitable access to school restrooms may seem unimportant and tangential to some, being able to use the restroom that matches his gender identity has been the plight of Gavin Grimm, and to an increasing number of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, for many years. His journey continues with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing oral arguments on his case late last month — for the second time.

Last year, EducationCounsel filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on behalf of Gavin (Grimm v. Gloucester Country School Board). Gavin, who identifies as transgender, is a former student of Gloucester County Schools and has been fighting for relief from a policy that prevented him from using bathrooms and locker rooms that corresponded with his identity.

June 3, 2020

The horrific killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black people, combined with the nationwide protests that followed, have once again laid bare the painful truth that systemic racism and inequities remain an unconscionable blight on our nation. In criminal justice. In housing. In healthcare. In employment. And also in education.

In this moment, like too many that have preceded it, we hear, honor, and share the grief and outrage of our Black family members, friends, and colleagues; and we commit to speaking up and taking action—Black lives matter.

While we recognize the importance of words at a time like this, we also know just how inadequate words alone can be. The words of our Declaration of Independence reflect aspirations unmet; the words of our Constitution, commitments unfulfilled. If we are to achieve the dream, the lived reality of people of color in our country must give way to a new one. And we all must be agents of that change.

We believe in the power of education to transform lives of individuals and the communities in which they live. Unfortunately, far too many Black students are denied that transformative experience in ways that suppress their gifts and humanity. The potential for education will only come if we act to dismantle its systemic inequities and racism, thereby enabling each and every young person to thrive and live to their fullest potential.

EducationCounsel will act in ways large and small – through the priorities we advance, the partners and clients we work with, the pro bono and community investments that we make, and the ways in which we lift our voices – to advance education systems designed for equity. We will use the power we carry, individually and collectively, to constantly work on being actively anti-racist and dismantling white supremacy, with a renewed focus on justice for all.

Cathy Holahan & EducationCounsel

The K-12 public education system has a long way to go towards providing truly equitable student experiences and outcomes for students — ones that prepare them to thrive in school and beyond. We know that in order to create equitable learning environments we must aspire to a number of key characteristics for schools — including culturally affirming curriculums, safe and empowering climates, and flexible designs that meet the needs of all learners.

It is also well known that without resources that are adequate and distributed equitably, it is nearly impossible to achieve a quality learning experience for every child. Unfortunately, the reality of the public education system is that funding has long been tragically inequitable, with the schools serving high-need students often receiving the least funding.

The following was created in partnership with the Wallace Foundation and originally appeared on their blog on April 23, 2020.

The newly enacted federal law in response to the coronavirus crisis provides more than $30 billion for K-12 and higher education programs; more than $4 billion for early childhood education; and other supports such as forgivable loans to nonprofits, including many providers of afterschool or summer programs. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act comes at a moment when many states and districts are closing schools while seeking to continue to educate students, out-of-school-time programs are pondering how best to offer services and summer is fast approaching.

To assist decision makers, this post summarizes five things that school and district leaders should know about the major education provisions in the CARES Act. It also contains information pertaining to nonprofits.


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