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Congress Examines Impact of Gun Violence and Other Trauma on Student Learning

The House education committee holds a hearing on trauma-informed practices in education, the White House diverts money away from schools for the border wall, and a new coalition is announced to make education a priority in the 2020 election.

Housing Hearing on The Importance of Trauma-Informed Practices

Last Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education convened a hearing titled: The Importance of Trauma-Informed Practices in Education to Assist Students Impacted by Gun Violence and Other Adversities.

Subcommittee Chairman Gregorio Sablan noted that “34 million children, or 45 percent of children, have endured an adverse childhood experience that can hinder their ability to learn and grow.”

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, surgeon general of the state of California, spoke about the magnitude and impact of adverse childhood experiences or ACEs. Several analyses point to Oklahoma as one of the states most affected by childhood trauma. Joy Hofmeister, Oklahoma state superintendent of public instruction, described the comprehensive approach taking place in her state to support their children. You can watch their comments in the Federal Flash video at the end of this post.

While Republicans and Democrats agreed about the negative impact of trauma on learning, they disagreed about what to do about it. Democrats emphasized the role of federal funding such as the Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants program. Republicans emphasized the importance of strong families.

In advance of the hearing, a coalition of civil rights organizations issued a set of principles for Safe, Healthy, and Inclusive School Climates. In addition, the Alliance for Excellent Education issued a fact sheet with Ten Things to Know About Trauma and Learning.

Diverting Money from Schools to Border Wall

On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate had planned to move legislation funding the U.S. Department of Education but ended up postponing because of a disagreement over abortion policy. Meanwhile, the White House is moving forward with plans to divert funds from school construction projects on U.S. military installations to instead be used to construct the border wall. A group of 40 organizations including us here at All4Ed sent a letter to President Trump opposing the move.

New Coalition to Make Education a Priority in the 2020 Election

Our last story of the day – a new coalition of 20 education and civil rights groups, including All4Ed, has come together to advocate for all presidential candidates to propose a comprehensive education agenda that promotes equity and universal access to ongoing learning opportunities for everyone living in America, from early childhood education through K-12 and postsecondary. The group, Ed2020, chaired by All4Ed’s board chair, Dan Leeds, has released a set of principles and policy recommendations. For more information, visit

This blog post represents a slightly edited transcript of the September 16 episode of Federal Flash, All4Ed’s video series on important developments in education policy in Washington, DC. For an alert when the next episode of Federal Flash is available, email at