Education Update: June 23, 2020

From: Education Week’s EdWeek Update

June 23, 2020

1 in 3 American High Schoolers Felt Disconnected From School Before Pandemic

UNESCO’s annual report on global education progress finds countries need to make more effort to include marginalized students, particularly in the United States.

June 26, 2020

DeVos Partially Retreats in Fight Over COVID Aid and Private School Students

The Education Department’s interim final rule is a qualified victory for those who’ve fought to keep more COVID aid for public schools. But it could complicate life for some districts.


July 1, 2020

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Prohibition on Tax-Credit Scholarships for Religious Schools

The 5-4 decision involving a dispute in Montana appears to cast doubt on as many as 30 state constitutions that bar aid to religious school

Nation’s Pediatricians: Get Kids Back in Class This Fall

The long-term risks to children of remaining in isolation are rapidly outpacing the health risks associated with reopening schools, according to new guidance by the nation’s pediatricians.


July 6, 2020

CDC Does Not Recommend Schools Test All Students, Staff for Coronavirus

New federal coronavirus guidance does not recommend universal testing of all students and staff in K-12 schools, an idea that has been floated as educators and policymakers seek ways to safely return students to their classrooms.

Joe Biden: I Will Have a ‘Teacher-Oriented Department of Education’

In an address to the National Education Association, Joe Biden promised that if he is elected president, teachers will have more say in how education decisions are made.


July 8, 2020


Trump Ratchets Up Political Pressure to Reopen School Buildings

President Donald Trump made his most forceful push yet for schools to reopen their buildings, and he is seeking to leverage the issue for his re-election campaign.

Poll: Their Kids Learned Less, But Parents Satisfied With Remote Education

Though a majority of parents think their children did not learn as much during the coronavirus shutdowns, they generally said they were satisfied with the remote learning programs provided by their children’s schools.


July 9, 2020


White House to States: Reopen School Buildings or Risk Additional Relief Funds

The White House may seek to condition future COVID-19 relief funds on whether states’ reopen school buildings, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday. The Trump administration launched an aggressive push to reopen after many states have already announced plans.

Future Teachers Mistake Black Students as ‘Angry’ More Than White Students, Study Shows

Prospective teachers, most of whom are white, are more likely to identify Black children as angry, even when they’re not. They don’t make the same mistakes for white children.

Principals Have Major Doubts About Keeping Students and Staff Safe When Schools Reopen

A new survey by the National Association of Secondary School Principals found that only about a third of principals felt confident they would be able to keep students healthy when schools reopen.


July 10, 2020

Trump Team Reinforces Tying Federal Money to School Reopenings

The flurry of statements from Trump administration officials about how schools must restart in-person instruction has created confusion and blowback.

July 13, 2020

Fact Check: Trump Lacks Clear Power to Deliver on Threats to ‘Cut Off’ School Aid

Due to federal education law and other factors, President Donald Trump’s repeated warnings that he could cut off funding to schools that don’t restart in-person classes might go nowhere.


From: ASCD’s Smartbrief

June 23, 2020


Survey: 42% of districts expect cuts to tech budget

Forty-two percent of school district leaders expect their classroom-technology budgets to be reduced in the fall because of budget reductions stemming from the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey from the nonprofit Consortium for School Networking. The report comes as districts are spending more on technology during remote instruction.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model)/Market Brief (6/22)


Schools may face shortages of support staff

As school leaders make plans to reopen schools, some are turning their attention to support staff, including bus drivers, cafeteria workers and custodians, who are unable to do their jobs from home. John Bailey, a visiting fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, says some schools may face personnel shortages as some workers — particularly those who are more vulnerable to the coronavirus — choose not to return.

Full Story: The Hechinger Report (6/24)


June 25, 2020


Will NAEP exams be held next year?


The National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, will meet next week to discuss plans for spring exams. It is estimated to cost an additional $50 million to safely administer the exams, but skipping the tests could result in the loss of information about academic achievement in the US.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (6/23)




Alexander: Up to $75B needed to reopen schools

It could take between $50 billion and $75 billion for K-12 schools, colleges and universities to reopen in the fall, says US Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate education committee. The estimate comes as lawmakers could consider additional federal coronavirus relief for education and as the Council of Chief State School Officers says it could cost as much as $245 billion for schools to reopen safely.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (6/24)


June 26, 2020


Poor sleep tied to mental health problems in teens

Researchers studied 4,790 teens and found that those who had experienced depression said they had both poor quantity and quality of sleep and those with anxiety had poor quality of sleep, compared with peers without depression or anxiety. The findings in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry also showed that those in the depression group had an average total of 3,325 minutes of sleep per week, compared with 3,597 in controls.

Full Story: Psych Central (6/24)


June 29, 2020


Researchers shine light on education inequities

School segregation by income is worsening in the US, according to research by Sean Reardon, a sociologist at Stanford University. Reardon asserts that efforts to develop “high-quality schools at scale under conditions of concentrated poverty” have been ineffective, so the “implication is that you have got to address segregation.”

Full Story: The Hechinger Report (6/29)

Educators favor Black Lives Matter, police in schools

Most educators favor the Black Lives Matter movement but also want a police present in their schools, according to an EdWeek Research Center survey of 1,150 teachers, principals and district leaders. Eighty-three percent of respondents said they support Black Lives Matter and 54% said armed police officers should be in place in schools in their districts.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (6/25)


June 30, 2020


Report: Tech access challenges remote instruction

As many as 16 million students in the US lack at-home internet access or a digital device, with as many as 60% of those students lacking access to both, according to a new report from Common Sense Media. The report finds that slightly less than 1 in 10 teachers lacked access to the internet, a digital device, or both.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (6/29)


Pediatricians’ guidance advises in-person learning

The goal of government should be for students to return to in-person instruction in the fall, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In new guidance, AAP states “schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being” and that prolonged absence is likely to result in learning loss and social isolation.

Full Story: National Public Radio (6/29),  U.S. News & World Report (6/29)


States, districts eye testing waivers

A number of states and school districts are waiving standardized testing requirements for the upcoming school year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and prolonged school closures. The US Department of Education says it will “continue to work with state and local education leaders on the flexibilities and supports they might need next school year.”

Full Story: Education Dive (6/29)


July 6, 2020


NEA: Coronavirus could cause membership decline

The National Education Association predicts it could lose as many as 125,000 members because of layoffs stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Executive Director Kim Anderson said NEA is advocating in support of the federal Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, which includes $58 billion for K-12 schools.

Full Story: Education Week Teacher (tiered subscription model) (7/2)


CDC suggests targeted testing for K-12 schools

The CDC is not recommending universal testing for students, teachers and staff at K-12 schools — instead suggesting testing those with symptoms or those who have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus. The CDC also recommends that school staff do not administer the tests.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (7/2)


July 7, 2020

Survey finds most schools plan for blended learning

Eighty-seven percent of K-12 schools expect to use more technology in instruction, and 61% anticipate they will at least start the school year with some form of blended learning, according to a survey by Microsoft. Anthony Salcito, vice president of Microsoft Education, says feedback indicates that “blended hybrid learning will become the new normal for schools.”

Full Story: The 74 (7/6)


July 8, 2020


Fewer than half of states meet IDEA requirements

Twenty-one states met requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for students ages 3 to 21 in the 2018-19 school year, according to a report from the US Department of Education. Those that fall short can be subject to corrective action by the department.

Full Story: Disability Scoop (7/6)


States, D.C., sue DeVos over relief funds

California, the District of Columbia, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico and Wisconsin are suing US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over a federal rule that would direct a share of coronavirus relief funds to private schools. The Education Department estimates the funding would affect as much as 8% of the $13 billion in federal aid earmarked for schools.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (7/7),  National Public Radio (7/7)


Trump calls for schools to reopen

President Donald Trump called on state and local leaders to fully reopen schools in the fall during a roundtable event with health and education leaders Tuesday at the White House. Trump said families and students want to return to school and need access to meals and other services provided there, but Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, cautioned that while teachers want to return, they want to do so safely.

Full Story: U.S. News & World Report (7/7),  The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (7/7),  Education Week (tiered subscription model) (7/7),  The Associated Press (7/7)


Study links nutrition policies to lower obesity risk

Federal policies implemented from 2012 to 2013 that reduced fat and sugar and increased whole grains in student meals were associated with a 47% lower risk of obesity among children in low-income families, according to a study in the journal Health Affairs. Researchers said that would mean an estimated 500,000 fewer children with obesity.

Full Story: HealthDay News (7/7)


July 9, 2020


Study: Racial anger bias found in teacher trainees

Teacher trainees are 1.36 times more likely to misidentify a Black student as being angry than a white child, according to a study led, in part, by Amy Halberstadt, professor of psychology at North Carolina State University. White prospective teachers as well as those of color were equally likely to exhibit what is known as “racialized anger bias,” the study found.

Full Story: Education Week Teacher (tiered subscription model) (7/8)


Most families satisfied with remote instruction

Seventy-two percent of parents report being satisfied with the remote education their students received during prolonged school closures, according to an Education Next survey released Wednesday. Yet, about 75% also believe their children learned less during this period, and an Education Trust-New York report shows that low-income families were less likely than higher-income families to view online learning as a success.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (7/8)


SCOTUS rules in Catholic schools’ employment case

The US Supreme Court in a 7-2 ruling today maintained the religious independence of Catholic schools and other institutions, saying that certain employees cannot sue for employment discrimination. The case stems from lawsuits in California against two Catholic schools by former teachers.

Full Story: The Associated Press (7/8)

July 10, 2020


Virus outbreaks affect summer sports programs

Positive coronavirus tests of students and staff have halted summer athletic training in school districts in about half of states in the US. The findings come as districts are crafting plans to safely reopen schools in the fall.

Full Story: The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (7/9)


Report: Education disparities evident by ZIP code

An analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found stark disparities in college attendance and debt among students based on ZIP codes that identified white, Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. The report found disparities in where students attended college, how much they borrowed and their default rate.

Full Story: Inside Higher Ed (7/9)


July 13, 2020

Study: Students risk learning loss over summer

In many states, students have not had in-person instruction since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, which could worsen summer learning losses, experts say. The warning comes as the Northwest Evaluation Association reports that 52% of students in first through sixth grades lost an average of 39% of school-year gains during summer break, according to a study of test scores over five summers for 18 million students across 7,500 districts.


Will some families opt out of coronavirus vaccines?

If a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, some say that vaccine concerns will keep many students from receiving one. Laura Faherty, a physician policy researcher for RAND, says over the past few years, a slightly higher percentage of students are starting kindergarten with vaccine exemptions.

Full Story: Education Dive (7/10)


From: The Council for Exceptional Children’s Policy Insider

June 23, 2020


House Committee Holds Hearing on Inequities Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

On Monday, the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing focusing on preexisting racial disparities in the education, health, and labor arenas which were exploited by the pandemic.


July 8, 2020

Department of Education Releases Q&A on Part C Evaluation and Assessment Timelines

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) released a question and answer (Q&A) document about the implementation of IDEA Part C evaluation and assessment timelines in the current COVID-19 environment.



House Infrastructure Bill Includes $100 Billion for America’s Schools

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2) last week, which would invest billions of dollars in the nation’s infrastructure—including more than $100 billion to upgrade schools in impoverished districts.



Senate Committee Conducts Follow-Up Hearing on Schools Reopening

Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing, “COVID-19: Update on Progress Toward Safely Getting Back to Work and School.”


From: The Council of Administrators of Special Education’s Weekly Update

June 23, 2020


Schools or police: In some cities, a reckoning on spending priorities

Education Week
For years, school funding and civil rights advocates for majority black school districts have balked at how local police department spending grows while area superintendents are forced to lay off counselors, nurses, social workers and scores of teachers. Black children are overpoliced and undereducated already, they have argued. Why not take money from the police department and invest it in the school district?

How 20 years of education reform has created greater inequality

Stanford Social Innovation Review
When the latest Program for International Assessment results were released in December 2019, many who saw the U.S.’ ranking continue to stagnate behind its global competitors conceded that the last 20 years and billions of dollars spent on education reform had done essentially nothing. However, the rankings don’t tell the whole story. While American students remain roughly the same on aggregate, compared to their international counterparts, the top quarter of American students have been improving their performance on the exam since 2012, even as the bottom 10th percentile lost ground.


June 30, 2020


Schools continue to win most special ed disputes

Disability Scoop
Three years after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on the rights of students with disabilities to a free appropriate public education, a new analysis suggests the ruling hasn’t changed things much. School districts continue to prevail in the vast majority of disputes and many courts view the ruling in the case known as Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District as more of a minor clarification than a significant sea change in how the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act should be applied.


July 7, 2020


Education Department rule limits how schools can spend vital aid money

In a new rule, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos signaled she is standing firm on her intention to reroute millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students. The CARES Act rescue package included more than $13 billion to help public schools cover pandemic-related costs. The move comes nearly two months after the Education Department issued controversial guidance, suggesting that private schools should benefit from a representative share of the emergency aid. Lawmakers from both parties countered that the aid was intended to be distributed based on how many vulnerable, low-income students a district serves.


From: Special Education Smartbrief

June 29, 2020


DeVos releases final rule on CARES Act funds

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Thursday released an interim final rule that gives school districts the option to provide a portion of federal coronavirus relief funding to private schools. Districts have options about how to distribute the funds with consideration for Title I schools, but the rule could still face a legal challenge.

Full Story: National Public Radio (6/25),  Education Week (tiered subscription model) (6/25)


July 1, 2020


SCOTUS: Scholarship program can’t bar religious schools

The US Supreme Court has held in a 5-4 decision that Montana unconstitutionally excluded religious schools from a program that offered tax credits matching contributions to private, nonprofit scholarships. Montana’s high court previously struck down the program, saying it violated the state constitution by providing public money to help fund tuition at religious schools.

Full Story: CNBC (6/30),  USA Today (6/30)


From: AASA’s News of the Nation

June 30, 2020


 Pediatric Group Calls for Children to Return to Schools Despite Coronavirus
June 29, U.S. News & World Report
Pediatricians say students should be in classrooms for in-person learning as soon as possible – the most full-throated endorsement yet for getting children back into schools amid the coronavirus pandemic and one that was included in recommendations released by the American Academy of Pediatrics for how schools should safely

 Two New Surveys Find Teachers Stressed by Shutdown, Unable to Contact Students and Feeling Their Confidence Drop
June 29, The 74 Million
Two new surveys of teachers and school administrators confirm some of the worst fears about the switch to distance learning since the pandemic struck: The vast majority of teachers could not teach all their material, teacher confidence plummeted in schools without supportive working conditions and fewer than half of teachers in high schools, high-poverty schools and schools serving a majority of children of color were able to contact their students.

 More School Districts Sever Ties With Police. Will Others Follow?
June 26, Education Week
School boards in St. Paul, Minn.; Oakland, Calif.; Seattle; San Francisco, and two San Jose, Calif.-area districts all voted in recent days to suspend or dismantle school policing programs—a wave of action that started with a historic June 2 decision by the Minneapolis district.

 Education Dept. Rule Limits How Schools Can Spend Vital Aid Money
June 25, NPR

In a new rule announced Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos signaled she is standing firm on her intention to reroute millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students.


July 8, 2020


 ‘Notable’ June Job Gains Don’t Include Public Education Employment
July 6, Education Dive

A monthly employment report released by the U.S. Department of Labor shows “notable job gains” for the education sector in June, but the numbers indicate public education employment changed little throughout the month.


From: Whiteboard Advisors Whiteboard Notes

July 9, 2020


CDC Will Not Update School Reopening Guidelines: On Wednesday, President Trump disagreed with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for safely reopening schools, calling it “impractical” and “expensive”. The agency’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield emphasized that the guidance is intended to serve as recommendations, not mandatory standards for schools and districts. On Thursday, Dr. Redfield said the CDC will not revise its guidelines for reopening schools, despite the Trump Administration’s calls to do so.  [NPR; CNN]
The Biden-Sanders Unity Tasks Force Releases Policy Recommendations: The Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force, a joint effort created by Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders to unify Democrats in advance of the 2020 presidential election, released a set of policy recommendations in a 110-page document that outlines the work of six joint task forces. Some of the Task Force recommendations related to education include: ensuring early childhood educators have the right to organize and collectively bargain; fully funding the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act; banning for-profit charter schools; and appointing a federal task force to study the effects of charter schools on public education. The recommendations also included establishing universal early childhood education, tripling the funding for the Title I program for schools serving low-income students and reemphasized Biden’s existing plan of tuition-free community colleges for all students. [NPR; Biden for President; Vox; Forbes]


From: The Washington Post

July 11, 2020


Trump and DeVos want schools ‘fully’ open five days a week, but not many are listening

School systems across the country plan to have students learn from home part of the time, including a network that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has repeatedly praised for its approach during the pandemic.

By Laura Meckler


From: The Boston Globe

July 11, 2020


Trump threatens to pull tax exemption for schools, colleges

President Trump said on Twitter Friday that he was ordering the Treasury Department to reexamine the tax-exempt status of schools that he says provide “radical indoctrination” instead of education.


Betsy DeVos again calls for school districts to open fully for 2020-21

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made clear on Sunday that she wants schools to reopen fully for most students for the 2020-21 academic year, even as COVID-19 infection rates are soaring in some parts of the country and some superintendents say it is impossible for them to do that.


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