Executive Order on White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans

The Initiative shall advance educational equity and economic opportunity for Black students, families, and communities by focusing on the following policy goals:
(i)     increasing general understanding of systemic causes of educational challenges faced by many Black students, whether these students are in urban, suburban, rural, or migrant learning environments, and working across executive departments and agencies (agencies) to address these challenges;
(ii)    increasing Black children’s and families’ access to and participation in high-quality early childhood programs and services that promote children’s healthy development and learning, prepare them for success in school, and affirm their cultural identity;
(iii)   addressing the inequitable treatment of Black children, such as eradicating discriminatory referrals to special education and excessive disciplinary actions;
(iv)    supporting and improving data collection related to Black students and the implementation of evidence-based strategies to increase the participation and success of Black students in all levels of education and prepare them for careers and civic engagement;
(v)     ensuring that all Black students have access to excellent teachers, school leaders, and other professionals, including by supporting efforts to improve the recruitment, preparation, development, and retention of qualified, diverse teachers and school leaders and other professionals who understand students’ lived experiences and can effectively meet their learning, social, and emotional needs;
(vi)    enhancing student support services and fostering positive engagement among schools, families, community leaders, and community-based organizations to increase the high school graduation and post-secondary attendance rates and decrease the high school dropout rate for Black students;
(vii)   promoting a positive school climate that supports equitable access to and participation in college-readiness, advanced placement courses, and internship opportunities, as well as innovative dropout prevention and recovery strategies that better engage Black youth in their learning, help them progress academically as needed, and provide those who have left the educational system with pathways to reentry;
(viii)  eliminating discriminatory enrollment, housing, transportation, and other policies that lead to racial and socioeconomic segregation among and within schools;
(ix)    ensuring equitable access to educational resources, professionals, and technology, including by addressing racial disparities in school funding and expenditures;
(x)     breaking down barriers that impede the access of higher education institutions that serve Black students, such as Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), to Federal funding, and strengthening the capacity of those institutions to participate in Federal programs and partnerships;
(xi)    advancing racial equity and economic opportunity by connecting education to labor market needs through programs such as dual enrollment, career and technical education, registered apprenticeships, work-based learning, and career advancement, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; and
(xii)   ensuring that Black communities have access to resources for economic success, such as in the areas of financial education, small business development, entrepreneurship, arts, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In working to fulfill its mission and objectives, the Initiative shall, consistent with applicable law:
(i)    identify and promote evidence-based best practices that can provide Black students with a rigorous and well-rounded education in safe and healthy environments, as well as access to support services, that will improve their educational, professional, economic, and civic opportunities;
(ii)   advance and coordinate efforts to ensure equitable opportunities for Black students in the re-opening process for schools across the country, and take steps to ensure that Black students, from early childhood to post-secondary education, can equitably recover from learning losses and other challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic;
(iii)  encourage and develop partnerships with a national network of early childhood and early intervention providers, schools, institutions of higher education, and other public, private, philanthropic, and nonprofit stakeholders to improve access to educational equity and economic opportunities for Black Americans;
(iv)   monitor and support the development, implementation, and coordination of Federal Government educational, workforce, research, and business development policies, programs, and technical assistance designed to improve outcomes for historically underserved communities, including Black Americans;
(v)    work closely with the Executive Office of the President on key Administration priorities related to education, equity, and economic opportunity for Black Americans; and
(vi)   advise the Secretary on issues of importance to Black Americans and policies relating to educational equity, excellence, and economic opportunity for Black Americans.


More than 120,000 US kids had caregivers die during pandemic

NEW YORK (AP) — The number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.

More than half the children who lost a primary caregiver during the pandemic belonged to those two racial groups, which make up about 40% of the U.S. population, according to the study published Thursday by the medical journal Pediatrics.

“These findings really highlight those children who have been left most vulnerable by the pandemic, and where additional resources should be directed,” one of the study’s authors, Dr. Alexandra Blenkinsop of Imperial College London, said in a statement.

Read the full article from AP.

Disability, Health Equity & COVID-19

People with disabilities have been uniquely impacted by the pandemic as they face a greater risk of poor health outcomes, reduced access to routine services and care, and adverse social outcomes. Individuals with disabilities were more likely to face unemployment during the pandemic and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities were six times as likely to die from COVID-19 than other people. Additionally, people with disabilities experienced disparities in the public health response to COVID-19 due to lack of appropriate data collection and accessibility barriers in information, testing and vaccination.

This infographic highlights the challenges facing the disability community as well as clear steps that can be taken to support the health and well-being of this community.


Read the entire article from NIHCM.

Introducing the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

In its efforts to help people deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress created the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in late 2020. The Federal Communications Commission will run the program, starting it in Spring 2021. The program offers discounts off of people’s monthly internet access bills to help connect households that find it hard to afford broadband service. Households can also get discounts on a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer.

Who can get the benefit?

The program is set up to help people with low incomes or who have been laid off in the last year. To get the discount, the rules say:

  • A household’s income must be at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a household of that size;
  • At least one person in the household must receive benefits from one of the following federal assistance programs: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit;
  • At least one person in the household is in the free and reduced-price lunch program or the school breakfast program (including the Community Eligibility Provision);
  • At least one person in the household has been laid off or furloughed since February 29, 2020;
  • At least one person in the household has received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year; or
  • At least one person in the household can participate in their broadband provider’s existing low-income or COVID–19 program.
  • If a household is located on Tribal lands, it is eligible if at least one person in the household participates in Bureau of Indian Affairs general assistance, Tribally administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Head Start (only those households meeting its income qualifying standard), or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

Learn more about this program at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Income-Related Inequalities in Affordability and Access to Primary Care in Eleven High-Income Countries

As COVID-19 continues to ravage the globe, the United States faces renewed scrutiny for the stark disparities in health and economic impacts experienced by people with lower incomes and by Black and Latino communities. In other countries, the crisis has highlighted the need for greater resiliency of national health systems to ensure access to care.

To compare the health experiences of adults with lower income during the pandemic and the effect of income-related disparities, the Commonwealth Fund surveyed adults across 11 high-income countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. The results of the survey, conducted during the early part of the pandemic between February and May 2020, were published in the December 2020 issue of Health Affairs.

What the Study Found

  • In nearly all countries, adults with lower income were significantly more likely than those with higher income to have multiple chronic health conditions. However, on nearly every measure the study used, income-related disparities were greatest in the U.S.:
    • More than one-third (36%) of U.S. adults with lower income have two or more chronic conditions — significantly more than in other countries.
    • Approximately one-third of adults with lower income in the U.S. (36%), Australia (36%), and Canada (34%) reported having anxiety or depression, the highest rates in the survey. Their counterparts in Germany (14%) and Switzerland (15%) were the least likely to report anxiety or depression.
    • More than one-quarter (28%) of U.S. adults with lower income said that, in the past year, they worried about being able to afford basic necessities such as food or housing, a significantly greater proportion than seen in other countries, where 6 percent to 22 percent reported this.
  • Half of U.S. adults with lower income don’t get needed care because it’s too costly. In the survey, 50 percent reported skipping doctor visits, recommended tests, treatments or follow-up care, or prescription medications in the past year because of the cost. In contrast, just 12 percent to 15 percent of adults with lower income in Germany, the U.K., Norway, and France reported doing the same.

Read the full article from the Commonwealth Fund

Systemic Racism & Health Care, COVID & Treatment

COVID-19 Racial Disparities in Testing, Infection, Hospitalization, and Death: Analysis of Epic Patient Data

This analysis builds on a continually growing body of research on racial disparities in COVID-19 by examining testing, infection, hospitalization, and death by race and ethnicity among patients in the Epic health record system. It contributes to the research in this area by providing insight into the experiences of a large patient population across a range of states and health systems, examining variation in the level of care patients required at the time they tested positive for COVID-19 by race and ethnicity, and assessing the extent to which underlying sociodemographic characteristics and health conditions explain racial disparities in hospitalization and death. Overall, it shows that, despite being at increased risk of exposure to the virus, people of color did not have markedly higher testing rates compared to White patients and were more likely to be positive when tested and to require a higher level of care at the time they tested positive. Moreover, it builds on previous research showing people of color have higher rates of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 by finding that these disparities persist after controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and underlying health conditions.

Read the full article from the Kaiser Family Foundation.