Education Update: April 21, 2020 – April 24, 2020

From: ASCD’s Smartbrief
April 20, 2020

SNA: Need increasing for school meals
SNA: Need increasing for school meals
(John Moore/Getty Images)
Schools nationwide already are seeing an uptick in applications for free and reduced-price meals amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, said Gay Anderson, president of the School Nutrition Association. School nutrition professionals in this article share how they are ensuring students have access to the food they need — Danielle Bock, director of nutrition in a Colorado district, for example, said her district began with drive-up distribution and transitioned to delivered meals to limit contact. Full Story: Vox (4/17)

Plan to reopen US sets criteria for schools
Schools that are closed would remain closed in the first phase of a plan released by the White House Thursday to reopen the country. Schools and youth activities could reopen in the second phase if certain criteria are met. Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (4/16)

April 21, 2020

School districts feed hungry but may not be reimbursed
School districts have turned their cafeterias into food banks and soup kitchens to meet the emergency needs of children and families who have trouble affording food due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, but these additional meals may not be covered by federal child nutrition program reimbursement rules. Katie Wilson of the Urban School Alliance estimates the 12 largest US school districts will spend from $12 million to $19 million through the end of June to meet the demand, and the organization is asking Congress and federal agencies for help. Full Story: The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (4/19)

April 22, 2020

Students share preferences for remote learning
Students share preferences for remote learning
(Pixabay)
Students’ preferences for remote learning may not be aligned with how the lessons are playing out, according to two organizations. Phi Delta Kappa International surveyed high-school students, who said they would like more ways to interact with their peers and teachers, and a recent discussion moderated by Student Voice included suggestions that teachers modify feedback and grading during this time. Full Story: Education Dive (4/21)

April 24, 2020

NAEP: US history, geography scores drop
NAEP: US history, geography scores drop
(Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
US history and geography scores among eighth-grade students have declined since 2014, while civics scores remained steady, according to results released Thursday by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card. Joel Breakstone, director of the Stanford History Education Group at Stanford University, asserts the history scores show that it is “under-prioritized,” compared with other subjects. Full Story: Education Dive (4/23), Education Week (tiered subscription model) (4/23)

Bill would offer $2B to close digital inequity
Bill would offer $2B to close digital inequity
(Yann Schreiber/Getty Images)
Legislation introduced in the US Congress would provide $2 billion of additional funding for the federal E-rate program, which would help to support students’ technology needs amid the transition to remote learning. The legislation comes in response to reports of digital inequities, with many children lacking at-home internet and other tools. Full Story: EdScoop (4/23)

From: The Council for Exceptional Children’s Policy Insider
April 21, 2020

Education Department Announces $3 Billion in Emergency Education Funds for Governors
The U.S. Department of Education announced it is streamlining the application process and reducing red tape for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, authorized by the CARES Act.

White House Unveils 3-Phase Plan for Easing Social Distancing, Schools Appear in Phase 2
Last week, President Trump released a broad, three-phase plan to restore public access to goods and services that have been restricted because of COVID-19. However, the plan fails to acknowledge that many students and school personnel fall into the category of “vulnerable populations.”
From: The Council of Administrators of Special Education’s Weekly Update
April 21, 2020

Ed Dept allows repurposing of federal funds for ed tech, PD in favor of distance learning
Education DIVE
The flexibility comes shortly after the passage of the CARES Act, which allowed for such flexibilities, and in response to what Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos says was a need expressed by education leaders for more resources. Initial findings from a survey released Monday by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, show over half of superintendents responding identified expanded online learning as a top cost their districts will incur in their response to COVID-19. READ MORE

School budgets are in big trouble, especially in high-poverty areas. Here’s why — And what could help
Chalkbeat
When the last recession hit school budgets about a decade ago, it didn’t hit them equally. Affluent school districts saw their state funding drop by more than $500 per student after the downturn. High-poverty districts in the same state lost much more: over $1,500 per student in state funds. Now, the coronavirus has brought much of the American economy to a halt. Another recession is possible, even likely. And the poorest school districts, which are particularly reliant on state funds, may once again bear the brunt of the budget crunch.

Report says states should extend upcoming school year to address learning losses
Chalkbeat
State policymakers should extend the 2020-2021 school year, lengthen the school day, or do both, plus assess student progress at the beginning of the school year to help educators help the children who need it the most. Those are some of the recommendations in a new report from researchers at Michigan State University, who analyzed state responses to the coronavirus pandemic and provided insight on the challenges schools will face when students return for onsite instruction.

From: Smartbrief on Special Education
April 22, 2020

Senators recommend principles for flexibility in IDEA
Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., wrote a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos outlining five principles for providing flexibility to schools in meeting requirements under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. The senators also asked Congress to set aside $10 billion to help schools follow IDEA recommendations. Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (4/21)
From: ASCD’s Educator Advocates Capitol Connections
April 22, 2020

DeVos Seeks to Convert Professional Development Funding to Vouchers
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is moving ahead with a plan turn professional development funds into vouchers. Under her proposal, educators would receive vouchers to pay for their own individual professional development opportunities rather than rely on those selected or approved by state or local leaders.

The concept was first unveiled as part of the FY20 education budget but was rejected by Congress. DeVos is now seeking to use existing funds under the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program by making PD vouchers a funding priority. The department is seeking comments from educators and the public about this proposal until May 13.

Federal Court Says Trump Nutrition Standards Violated Rules
A federal judge has vacated the reduced school meal nutrition standards put in place by the Trump administration because the final requirements differed too significantly from the proposed changes on which the public commented.

The controversial changes initially proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture would have delayed compliance with higher nutritional value foods. Ultimately, the Trump administration eliminated the whole-grain requirements and allowed more sodium in the meals served to schoolchildren.

Emergency Education Funding to States
The U.S. Department of Education is expediting the disbursement of $3 billion to the states’ governors under the pandemic relief program, the CARES Act. “The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund . . . is an extraordinarily flexible ’emergency block grant’ designed to enable governors to decide how best to meet the needs of students, schools (including charter schools and nonpublic schools), postsecondary institutions, and other education-related organizations,” according to the department. Governors are expected to consult state education agency leaders while they administer the funds.

From: Education Week’s EdWeek Update
April 24, 2020

Betsy DeVos Releases Billions More in Coronavirus Education Aid
Schools can use this pot of $13.5 billion in CARES Act money for a variety of purposes to help them deal with the fallout of the coronavirus.

From: Whiteboard Advisors WeeklyNotes
April 23, 2020

Trump Administration Restricting Student Eligibility for Emergency Grants: The U.S. Department of Education issued guidance on Tuesday limiting the categories of students who can receive emergency grant funds from the CARES Act. According to the Department, students who are eligible to participate in federal student aid programs can receive emergency funds. This guidance prohibits undocumented and international students from receiving funds, estimated to total nearly 1.5 million students. [Washington Post, subscription required]

The Looming Recession Puts Preschool Programs at Risk: As states prepare for the incoming recession due to COVID-19, schools are preparing for upcoming budget cuts. According to a new report by the National Institute for Early Education Research, early childhood education programs are traditionally the first cuts made to education budgets, which is why preschool programs are worried about and to their programs. Last school year, states spent $8.7 billion on preschool, a 3.5% increase over the previous year, and because of COVID-19, support might decrease significantly. [The 74]

From: The Council for Exceptional Children’s Special Education Today
April 24, 2020

Betsy DeVos Releases Billions More in Coronavirus Education Aid: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has officially announced that $13.5 billion in emergency coronavirus funding for K-12 schools is now available.

Ed Dept releases 2nd round of coronavirus aid for colleges, clarifies who qualifies: Only students eligible for federal aid can receive grants. And higher ed groups say getting the first round of funding has been cumbersome.

Coronavirus Fallout Threatens States’ Prekindergarten Progress, Report Warns: States have made progress in expanding access to high-quality pre-K, but budget cuts due to the pandemic could reverse that, the National Institute for Early Education Research warns.

NAEP: 8th-graders’ scores drop in US history, geography: U.S. history and geography scores among eighth-grade students have declined since 2014 while civics scores remained steady, according to results released Thursday by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

Education Department Announces $3 Billion in Emergency Education Funds for Governors: Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced it is streamlining the application process and reducing red tape for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, authorized by the CARES Act.

U.S. Appeals Court Recognizes a Federal Right of Access to Literacy: In a groundbreaking decision, a federal appeals court on Thursday recognized a fundamental federal right to a basic minimum education and access to literacy.

Lawmakers seek $2 billion E-Rate boost for distance learning: Legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress would provide $2 billion of additional funding for the federal E-rate program, which would help to support students’ technology needs amid the transition to remote learning.

Battered By Coronavirus Closures, Some School Districts Are Starting to Furlough Staff: Hourly workers make up more than a quarter of districts’ budgets and some superintendents are deciding they can no longer afford to pay them to not work.

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