Newsletter - January 2021
The Voice of Adult Education
Dear MCAE Community,

The new year has started with a great deal of change and turmoil, but also hope and opportunity. We are excited for a new legislative session, the upcoming NETWORK conference, and a slow but steady return to brighter days. What are you looking forward to in this new year? Head over to our Facebook page to share your thoughts!

Rachel Gwaltney, MCAE Director
MCAE News and Updates
Are you ready for NETWORK 2021?
Join us March 25-26 for the largest (virtual) adult education conference in New England, dig into workshops on a wide range of topics, and reconnect with colleagues from across the Commonwealth.

Call for workshop proposals: Be a presenter at NETWORK 2021 and share the great work you’ve done rising to unique challenges this year. Learn more and download the workshop RFP here. Proposal deadline: January 13
 
Do you know an Outstanding ABE Student, Educator, or a program graduate going on to higher education? Nominations are open for MCAE’s annual awards and the Ruth E. Derfler Scholarship.


Massachusetts News and Updates
A New Legislative Session Begins at the State House
The Massachusetts Legislature kicked off the 192nd General Court on January 6, just hours after closing out the last session. Nineteen new lawmakers were elected in November, two in the Senate and 17 in the House. Make sure you know your legislators!

At the start of the new session, Senator Karen Spilka was re-elected as Senate President, and Representative Ronald Mariano of Quincy (3rd Norfolk District) was elected as Speaker of the House, replacing the retiring Robert DeLeo. Upon opening the session, President Spilka shared her thoughts on the need for emergency paid sick time, racial justice and equity, and the need for unity in the coming year. In his opening remarks, Speaker Mariano emphasized priorities such as pandemic response and vaccination, relief for unemployed residents and struggling businesses, housing stability, getting schools and students back on track, and expanding diversity among House leadership.

An economic roundtable held in December as well as tax revenue reported in December offered a somewhat brighter outlook for the state's finances next year, with economists predicting the possibility of a strong recovery driven by job growth and a resurgence in retail sales, dining and travel. MCAE has already been in conversation with Governor Baker’s Finance and Administration team to discuss the continued need to invest in ABE. The Governor’s budget proposal is expected in late January, kicking off the annual budget process.
National News and Updates
Wins for ABE in Congress
At the end of December, Congress passed COVID-19 relief measures and the fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations bills all in one major package. Adult Education state grants are funded at $675 million for FY2021, which is an increase of $18 million over FY2020. Additionally, Adult Education is again an eligible use of funds in the COVID-19 relief Education Stabilization Fund. Of the $81.9 billion fund, $22.7 billion will be provided to institutions of higher education (IHEs), $53.4 billion will be provided to state and local education agencies for K-12 related expenses, and $4.1 billion will be provided to governors for a range of education-related expenses. Adult Education is explicitly mentioned as an eligible use of funds in the K-12 pot, and the governors' pot is consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act language to include Adult Education. For the higher education pot, IHEs are permitted to fund student support services, which could include funding for services for Adult Education students.
Changes to U.S. Citizenship Test
Some significant changes to the U.S. citizenship test went into effect December 1 which will affect students planning to take the test in the coming weeks and months. Learn more from the MIRA Coalition about these changes and how the field is responding.
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