Education Update: August 17


From: Education Week’s EdWeek Update

August 17, 2020

Fauci: Schools Should Be Outdoors As Much As Possible

School districts developing their plans for reopening for the new academic year should find ways to offer as many outdoor activities as possible, from classes to recess and lunchtime, the nation’s top infectious disease expert recommended.


August 24, 2020

Schools Sound the Alarm as Key COVID-19 Meal Waiver Is Set to Expire

The U.S. Department of Agriculture won’t extend a waiver from school meal requirements that provided more flexibility to feed students during interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


August 27, 2020

Trump Targets History Class as Well as School Choice in Bid for Second Term

As the president accepts his party’s nomination, his messaging reflects a bundle of priorities, from getting schools back open and pushing school choice to the hot-button issue of how American history is taught.

Second Judge Blocks DeVos’ Virus Relief Rule, Calls Her Reasoning ‘Jiggery-Pokery’

U.S. District Court Judge James Donato wrote that the Trump administration’s coronavirus relief rule about private school studentsis “manifestly not in the public interest.”


September 2, 2020


Nation’s Schools Get a ‘C’, Even as Pandemic Turns Up the Heat

New Jersey leads the states on Quality Counts 2020’s summative rankings based on previous years’ data. But the annual report card shows plenty of work needed all around as the pressure mounts. Read more.

• Read the Full Report: Quality Counts 2020: Grading the States



Find Out How Your State Ranks on K-12 Achievement

The Quality Counts 2020 Highlights Reports capture the key data you need to assess your state’s performance on key academic, school funding, and socioeconomic indicators. Read more.



September 4, 2020

Betsy DeVos Tells States Not to Expect Waivers From Annual Tests

The tests required by federal law are crucial to helping schools respond to the coronavirus pandemic and help vulnerable students, the education secretary said in a letter to chief state school officers.


September 7, 2020

Judge Strikes Down DeVos Rule on COVID-19 Relief Funds in Nationwide Order

A federal judge struck down a rule that required public schools to direct a larger share of coronavirus relief to private schools.


From: ASCD’s Smartbrief

August 17, 2020

State budget cuts seen to affect education

States nationwide have announced plans to cut their overall budgets by 15%, the nonprofit Education Commission of the States reports. More aggressive cuts are expected in the fall, and the reductions could take a toll on education funding — and potentially student achievement.

Full Story: The Hechinger Report (8/17)


August 18, 2020

Almost half of teens who vape are interested in quitting

Researchers surveyed about 15,000 youths ages 12 to 17 and found that 498 reported e-cigarette use within the past month, 44.5% of whom said they were seriously thinking about quitting. The findings in JAMA Pediatrics also showed that around 50% of those who intend to quit wanted to stop vaping within the next 30 days and 17% reported thinking about quitting within the next year.

Full Story: United Press International (8/17),  HealthDay News (8/17)


Grandparents at higher COVID-19 risk as schools open

Grandparents living with or caring for grandchildren can face increased health risks as schools open for the fall during a still-active COVID-19 pandemic, experts said. “People need to stay vigilant about social distancing, hand hygiene, and wearing the mask because we’re not out of the woods with this illness by any stretch, and we know that the older people in our community will be impacted far worse than the younger people,” said Dr. Nina Blachman, assistant professor of geriatric medicine at NYU Langone Health.

Full Story: The Associated Press (8/15),  Healthline (8/14)


August 19, 2020

Survey: Approval increases for US schools

Thirty percent of people in the US gave public schools an A or B grade — an increase from 19% in 2014 and the highest approval rate ever recorded by the Education Next poll. Support for online learning has steadily increased in the poll’s history, and respondents on average this year supported high-schoolers taking 11 of 24 courses online — up from nine in 2017.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (8/18)


School insurance market hardens amid pandemic

Insurance for educational institutions saw a hardening market in the weeks running up to July 1 renewals, including “less limit, higher retentions, more restrictive terms and conditions, and increasing rates,” said Keenan & Associates’ John Stephens. Looking ahead to next year’s renewals is difficult, however, given changing public health rules and the nature of the pandemic.

Full Story: Business Insurance (tiered subscription model) (8/18)


Poll: 64% not in favor of in-person learning

Sixty-four percent of Americans say they do not believe it will be safe to reopen K-12 schools to in-person instruction, according to a poll from the Peterson Foundation. The poll of voters nationwide found that more Democrats than Republicans and independents oppose in-person learning.

Full Story: U.S. News & World Report (8/18)


August 20, 2020


Free meals would ease parents’ financial woes

About 25% of parents report taking on debt to pay for expenses — particularly breakfasts and lunches — now that their children are learning at home, according to a survey from Credit Karma. The School Nutrition Association is advocating for universal, free school meals to be available this year, in part, to ease families’ financial burdens caused by the pandemic, said Diane Pratt-Heavner, SNA’s director of media relations.

Full Story: USA Today (8/18)



August 21, 2020

COVID-19 relief funds for schools running out

About 5% of the $30.6 billion included in federal coronavirus relief funding for education approved in March has not been committed, according to spending data. The findings come as lawmakers appear stalled on a vote for another relief package, which could include more funds for schools.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (8/20)


Schools work to bridge internet access gaps

Legislation to support the technology access needs of students has stalled in Congress, and schools are scrambling to bridge the gaps with Wi-Fi-enabled buses and personal hotspots. An estimated 17 million students live in households without internet access at home, which is expected to exacerbate learning gaps for students if the matter is not resolved.

Full Story: The 74 (8/19)


Group urges new look at value of standardized tests

The National Association for College Admission Counseling says colleges and universities need to reconsider the value of standardized test scores in admissions, though it stopped short of saying the practice of using the scores should end. More than 1,400 schools have stopped using the tests, at least in the short term, primarily because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (8/19)


August 24, 2020

USDA: School meal waiver will expire

Schools must transition back to foodservice operations under the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs after US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said a coronavirus waiver allowing schools to operate with fewer restrictions will expire as the new school year begins. In an Aug. 20 letter, Perdue said continuing operations under Summer Food Service Program and the Seamless Summer Option rules “would be closer to a universal school meals program, which Congress has not authorized or funded.”

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (8/21),  DTN/The Progressive Farmer (8/24)


Should schools disclose positive virus cases?

Some school districts are publicly reporting positive coronavirus test results and the number of students and staff in quarantine, while others cite privacy concerns in not disclosing information to the public or the press. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said it can be more difficult to get the virus under control if schools do not disclose such information.

Full Story: The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (8/22)


August 26, 2020

CDC finds increase in e-cigarette use among US teens

The use of vaping products among teens rose from 13.2% in 2017 to 32.7% in 2019, while teen cigarette smoking decreased from 8.8% to 6%, cigar smoking from 8% to 5.7% and smokeless tobacco from 5.5% to 3.8%, during the same period, according to data published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The findings, based on a survey involving over 12,000 ninth- to 12th-grade students, also showed that just over 50% reported using e-cigarettes at least once and 24% said that they had tried cigarette smoking at least once.

Full Story: Medscape (free registration) (8/21),  United Press International (8/20)


August 27, 2020

GOP could propose slimmer coronavirus aid bill

Republican leaders are reportedly drafting a $500 billion coronavirus relief bill that would authorize more small-business loans, enhanced unemployment insurance, funding for schools, and money for coronavirus testing, treatment and vaccines. The bill would not provide for direct payments to Americans.

Full Story: CNBC (8/26)


Judge blocks DeVos on federal aid rule

For the second time in a week, a federal judge has ruled against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ controversial rule that would direct federal coronavirus relief aid to private schools. In siding with several states and school districts that sought the injunction, US District Judge James Donato said the Department of Education used “‘interpretive jiggery-pokery’ in the extreme” in its defense.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (8/26)


August 28, 2020

Report: More rural districts to open in person

Twenty-six percent of school districts will begin the school year virtually, and 12% are planning to follow a hybrid model — combining remote and in-person learning — according to a report released Thursday by the Center on Reinventing Public Education. Data shows 41% of the highest-poverty districts in the US will begin the year fully online, while 25% of the lowest-poverty districts will do the same; and 65% of rural districts will offer in-person instruction, compared with 9% of urban districts.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (8/27)



September 1, 2020

47% of teachers mull leaving classroom, survey finds

Forty-seven percent of teachers report considering a job change in the past month, according to a survey of 1,200 educators by Teachers Pay Teachers. Of those, 17% thought about changing to a field other than teaching, 12% mulled a leave of absence and 9% considered retirement.

Full Story: EdSurge (8/31)



USDA extends free school meal program until year’s end

The USDA had extended to Dec. 31 the summer meal program, implemented in March because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, that provides free meals to families regardless of whether they qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Parts of the program had been set to expire, but school officials, advocacy groups and others objected because of the ongoing hardships faced by families during the pandemic.

Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (8/31)


September 7, 2020

Analysis: Most districts offer remote learning

Ninety-five percent of school districts plan to reopen with remote learning, with most of these sites also offering in-person and hybrid options, according to an analysis by EdSurge/Social Context Labs. Data shows that students in rural districts are more likely offered in-person instruction or choice.

Full Story: EdSurge (9/4)


Judge: CARES Act funds are for public schools

Federal District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich on Friday struck down an effort by US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to direct some federal coronavirus relief funds to private schools. The summary judgment applies nationwide and follows separate preliminary orders in California and Washington state, where courts also ruled against DeVos.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (9/5)



From: AASA’s News of the Nation


September 1, 2020

Feds Extend Meal Waivers for Students After Pressure From Schools, Lawmakers
August 31, Politics K-12
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended waivers from federal meal requirements for children through the end of 2020, after schools and others expressed concern about students’ access to meals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Report: Up to Four Months of ‘COVID Slide’ Learning Loss Expected in K-5
August 31, Education Dive
An analysis from Illuminate Education found coronavirus school closures will likely cause a “COVID slide” of two to four months of learning loss, but the gaps are expected to be less pronounced in students who frequently interacted with teachers than in those who did not.

Second Federal Judge Slams DeVos for Trying to Divert Coronavirus Relief Funds From Poor Students to Richer Ones
August 30, Forbes
In a sharply worded decision, a federal judge slammed Betsy Devos’ “interpretive jiggery-pokery” that tried to divert coronavirus relief funds away from poorer students.

New Data Reveal COVID-19’s Harsh Toll on Latino Community; 50% of Latino Parents Say They May Not Send Their Children Back to School
August 26, The 74 Million
Among the findings: The Latino community encountered a dramatic wave of cases over the summer; 1 in 10 Latino homes around the country has been hit by the virus; more than half of Latino homes have lost income as a result of the pandemic; more than 1 in 3 Latino parents are currently out of work.


From: Whiteboard Advisors’ Whiteboard Notes

August 20, 2020

Senate Republicans Plan to Introduce “Skinny” Stimulus: Senate Republicans said they plan to introduce a scaled-back economic stimulus bill. The legislation would provide $105 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund. Two-thirds of the money would be reserved for K-12 schools, less than a third reserved for higher education, and around five percent would be sent to governors to be used under their discretion for either higher education or K-12 schools. The funding distribution under the legislation would reserve two-thirds of the $70 billion K-12 funding for schools that plan to physically reopen.  [Forbes, Education Week, subscription required]


August 27, 2020

USDA Will Not Extend a School Meal Program that Allowed Millions to Eat for Free During the Pandemic: School leaders across the country are calling on the federal government to extend flexibility in the school lunch program that will expire on September 1. During the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made changes allowing parents to pick-up meals for children at a single site even if their children attended different schools. Families could also pick up meals if they didn’t qualify for free and reduced-price lunches and breakfasts if their annual earnings were no more than 185% of the federal poverty level. beginning in September,  the USDA will only reimburse meals for children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches and families must pick up their lunches at the school system or charter network where their children are enrolled. [The Washington Post, subscription required]

For Parents, Top Policy Priority Is Teacher Retention and Recruitment: The 52nd annual Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools found that parents want the federal government to create policies supporting the recruitment and retention of teachers, college affordability, pre-K availability, and protecting students from in-school discrimination. Six out of 10 respondents said that public education policy is important to their 2020 election decisions. [Education Dive]

ED Releases Final Distance Learning Rules: After months of negotiations, the U.S. Department of Education released the third and final version of their long-awaited distance learning regulations (Whiteboard Advisors primer on these issues). The regulations, which take effect on July 1, 2021, will “emphasize demonstration of learning rather than seat time when measuring student outcomes.” For colleges specifically, the new rules provide regulation on how often instructors should be interacting with online students and will allow colleges to use instructional teams rather than individual instructors to meet accreditor requirements. [Inside Higher Education, Education Dive]

Half of Latinx Parents May Not Sent Their Children Back to School: Fifty percent of Latinx parents are considering not sending their children back to school this fall, according to new data from a Latino Decision poll. 77% of parents surveyed are, nevertheless, concerned that their children are falling behind academically. Parents overwhelmingly reported (85%) that they are worried about their children contracting coronavirus if they go to in-person school. The vast majority of parents (79%) stated that they prefer a gradual reopening meant to protect the safety of teachers and learners. [The 74 Million]

9,000 Coronavirus Cases in Two Weeks Since Florida Schools Reopen According to reports by the Florida Department of Health, there are currently 48,730 confirmed cases of the novel virus among children under 18, up 8,995 since August 9. In the same period, there were 166 confirmed hospitalizations of children under the age of 18 due to the virus. The most affected age cohort, comprising 36% of new cases, was among 14-17 year olds, followed by 27% of new cases in children between the ages of 5-10. [Newsweek]


September 4, 2020

DeVos Tells States Not to Expect Waivers From Annual Tests: In a letter to state school officers, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos pushed back against calls for annual testing waivers. She emphasized that English, Language Arts, Math and Science assessments are core to the Every Student Succeeds Act. While the onset of COVID-19 in March caused her department to grant waivers to some states allowing them to bypass standardized testing, DeVos stressed that this year testing will be enforced and that it is crucial to assess the impact of COVID-19 on learning outcomes. This intention would likely experience setbacks under a Biden-Harris administration, as Joe Biden has criticized standardized testing. While many support the stance and hope the tests’ continuity will ensure low-income and at-risk students are given adequate resources, DeVos’s letter has been met with criticism, especially in states that expressed interest in receiving waivers again this year including Michigan and Georgia. Richard Woods, the state superintendent for Georgia schools, has said that DeVos is out of touch with schools’ needs. Despite pushback, DeVos has argued that 89% of parents want to see results for how COVID-19 has impacted their children’s learning. In the letter, DeVos expressed openness to working with states individually to find new testing methods that could better meet their needs. [Education Week, subscription required]

USDA Extends Meal Waivers for Low-Income Students: Facing pressure from Congress and school officials across the country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said they would continue to allow schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to students through the end of the year. The USDA said the waiver extensions would continue until December 31 or until funding runs out. During the pandemic, the USDA loosened requirements that allowed parents to pick-up meals for children at a single site even if their children attended different schools, and it also allowed families that didn’t qualify for free and reduced-price lunches to receive meals. Last week the USDA said it would require schools to serve meals only to students enrolled in their district and also charge students who did not qualify for free or reduced-price meals. [The New York Times, subscription required, Education Week, subscription required]

FEMA to Stop Paying for Cloth Face Masks in ‘Non-emergency Settings’: During a call with state leaders, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said they would not reimburse states for the costs of cloth face masks or personal protective equipment in non-emergency settings for schools, public housing, and courthouses. The agency said it will still provide personal protective equipment, which includes cloth face masks, for medical care, medical sheltering, and mass casualty management. The changes to FEMA’s Public Assistance Program policy will go into effect on September 15. [NPR]


From: Special Education Smartbrief

August 20, 2020

Teachers labeled as essential workers

The US Department of Homeland Security issued guidance this week that labels teachers as “critical infrastructure workers” — grouping them with other essential workers expected to return to work even after exposure, such as doctors and law enforcement officers. Vice President Mike Pence confirmed the directive, but said it is not a mandatory order for teachers to be in-person.

Full Story: CNN (8/21)



From: PDK International

August 25, 2020

Results from the 2020 PDK Poll are in! Visit our website to read the full report and share your thoughts by using the hashtag #PDKPoll on Twitter or LinkedIn

The 52nd annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools reveals that as Americans prepare for this November’s elections, they are sharply divided along party lines on a number of hot-button issues in education. Overall, however, a large majority of Americans say they want the federal government to take a more active role in supporting efforts to recruit and retain teachers, make college more affordable, and protect students from discrimination, and a majority say they disapprove of President Trump’s performance in the area of education policy.

Note that this year’s PDK Poll was conducted in March 2020, before the widespread outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States.

Notable findings:

·  There are divided opinions of President Donald Trump’s performance on education policy, with 45% of adults approving and a larger number, 53%, disapproving. That includes a vast partisan divide: Eighty-six percent of Republicans approve, dropping to half as many independents and a mere 11% of Democrats.

·  Public education is a priority for many. Six in 10 call it extremely or very important in their vote for president this fall, including a quarter who call it extremely important.

·  About 5 in 10 Republicans and conservatives want a greater focus on the expansion of charter schools, compared with 29% of Democrats and 26% of liberals.

Learn more about the 2020 Poll results

This year’s survey is based on a random representative sample of 1,030 adults, including 206 parents of children in K-12 public schools. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish in March 2020 via the probability-based Ipsos KnowledgePanel®, which randomly recruits participants via address-based sampling to take surveys online.

From: The Alliance for Excellent Education’s Federal Flash

Secretary DeVos to States:

Don’t Expect Assessment Waivers in 2021

In a surprise turn of events, the USDA reversed its decision and extended waivers that allow schools to serve meals more easily during the pandemic. FEMA issues new guidance requiring states to pay for face coverings and other personal protective equipment in schools, plus a second federal judge issues an injunction to stop the Education Department’s rule directing more CARES Act aid to private schools. Finally, after a pause from state assessments last spring, Secretary DeVos tells states to plan now for how they will measure student learning during the upcoming school year.