Education Update – June 30, 2021

From: Education Week’s EdWeek Update

June 30, 2021

How Many Students Are Living in Poverty? The Number Is Likely Wrong
K-12 policymakers’ inability to accurately assess student poverty has resulted in billions of dollars being misspent, a new study says.

CDC: Students of Color Still Got Less In-Person Instruction as School Buildings Reopened
New research from the Centers for Disease Control finds that students of color returned to in-person, but often hybrid, classes.


July 6, 2021

Joe Biden to Teachers: ‘You Deserve a Raise, Not Just Praise’
The president and first lady thanked educators for their work during the pandemic in an address to the National Education Association.

Supreme Court to Weigh Maine’s Exclusion of Religious Schools From ‘Tuitioning’ Program
The justices will decide whether a tuition aid program for towns without public high schools must include religious schools.

U.S. Catholic School Association Seeks Rebound From Grim Year
The organization overseeing Catholic schools seeks to rebound from its biggest one-year enrollment drop since the 1970s.


June 7, 2021

Teachers’ Unions Vow to Defend Members in Critical Race Theory Fight
The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are preparing for litigation as states restrict teaching about racism.

The List of Districts Suing Opioid Companies Is Growing. Do They Stand a Chance?
Schools hope the companies will help pay for the costs of educating and supporting children affected by the ongoing addiction crisis.


July 12, 2021

Unvaccinated Students, Adults Should Continue Wearing Masks in Schools, CDC Says
The updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance comes as some schools already have set procedures for school reopening.

Biden Is Wrong About Transgender Student Rights, Group of Republican AGs Says
Gender identity is not covered by Title IX, attorneys general said in a letter that challenged the Biden administration’s position.

Feds Set Limits on Which Private Schools Can Get COVID-19 Relief
The Education Department’s rules deal with $2.75 billion in American Rescue Plan aid set aside for private schools.

House Democrats Pitch ‘Massive Funding Increase’ in Latest Education Spending Bill
The proposal would more than double aid to Title I programs for low-income students and aims to help schools address fallout from COVID-19.

Will Get At Least $25 Million From Opioid Lawsuit
Lawyers are aiming to place significantly more money into the grant program as school districts’ lawsuits against opioid companies continue.


From: ASCD’s Smartbrief

July 2, 2021

New rules relax requirements for TEACH grants
Rule changes to the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant Program released by the US Department of Education about one year ago took effect Thursday. The changes were intended to help teachers avoid having the grants converted to loans and come as President Joe Biden’s proposed American Families Plan could increase the amount of the grants for some students.
Full Story: National Public Radio (7/1), Education Week (7/1)

Should school meal data be used to measure poverty?
The number of students receiving free and reduced-priced meals — used by nearly half of states to measure levels of poverty — may be misleading, according to a paper from researchers at the University of Missouri. Their research shows how the meal assistance figures measure poverty but not student disadvantage.
Full Story: Education Week (6/29)

Health experts warn schools over delta variant
Health experts are cautioning that the delta variant of the coronavirus could present new challenges for schools as they look to reopen. Experts warn that schools may need to strengthen safety precautions because of the highly transmissible variant’s effect on young people, many of whom are not yet eligible for vaccines.
Full Story: The 74 (6/28)

Study examines weapon carrying in US schools
A study in Pediatrics found a drastic drop in weapon carrying in schools over the past two decades among all ages and race/ethnicity groups. The findings, based on data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System surveys from 1993-2019, also showed that weapon carrying was often linked to perceived lack of safety and that in schools that were perceived as safer, non-Hispanic white boys carried weapons more often, compared with non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic boys.
Full Story: Contemporary Pediatrics (6/29)


June 6, 2021

Biden: Teachers should be paid more
In remarks to the National Education Association’s annual meeting, President Joe Biden told teachers they “deserve a raise, not just praise.” Biden said teachers’ efforts during the coronavirus pandemic demonstrates they need higher pay.
Full Story: The Associated Press (7/2), Education Week (7/2)

SCOTUS to hear challenge to Maine’s tuition program
The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to a policy in Maine that prevents public tuition funds from going toward tuition at religious schools. Under the policy, the funds — available if students do not live near a public school — can go toward public- or private-school enrollment.
Full Story: U.S. News & World Report (7/2), Education Week (7/2)


June 7, 2021

What educators should know about the delta variant
The highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, is becoming more common in the US. Health experts say this variant could be problematic for children, many of whom are not yet eligible for a vaccine, and advise school leaders to carefully watch community spread as outbreaks could grow quickly.
Full Story: Education Week (7/6)

AFT, NEA back teachers regarding critical race theory
The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association have pledged to defend teachers in the debate about critical race theory, saying educators must be honest and encourage students to think critically about the nation’s history. “Mark my words: Our union will defend any member who gets in trouble for teaching honest history,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said.
Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (7/6), The Associated Press (7/6), The 74 (7/6), Education Week (7/6)


June 8, 2021

Data shows loss of over 1.3M public-school students
More than 1.3 million students across most of the country’s demographic groups left public schools in 2021, with a large concentration in the early grades, an Education Week data analysis shows. The loss is expected to affect academics, staffing and school finances across several years.
Full Story: Education Week (7/2)


June 9, 2021

GAO gives update on education priorities
In a report released Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office found the US Department of Education has room for improvement in three priority areas: data on the rights of students with disabilities, data about restraint and seclusion, and reporting publicly about coronavirus relief spending. The GAO has made about 80 recommendations for the department to improve education operations.
Full Story: K-12 Dive (7/8)

National spelling bee champ makes history
One year after the Scripps National Spelling Bee was canceled because of the pandemic, a new champion has made history by becoming the first African American winner. Zaila Avant-garde, a 14-year-old from New Orleans, won the bee Thursday, spelling the word “murraya” correctly to take the top prize.
Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (7/8)


July 12, 2021

Study finds rural gap in science, math engagement
Fewer rural students pursue science and math majors in college — even as careers in those fields are increasingly in demand, according to an analysis of federal data by researchers at Claremont Graduate University and Indiana University. Data shows that suburban and rural students have the same interest in math and science careers in ninth grade, but by the end of their junior years, rural students’ interest in those fields declines.
Full Story: The Hechinger Report (7/12)

US spending proposal invests more in schools
A US House appropriations subcommittee released on Sunday the fiscal 2022 spending legislation for the Education Department that includes $65.6 billion for K-12 education — up from about $25 billion from the current fiscal year. Most of the additional funds would support Title I spending.
Full Story: Education Week (7/11)


From: The Boston Globe

June 9, 2021


Vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday in relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines.

The changes come amid a national vaccination campaign in which children as young as 12 are eligible to get shots, as well as a general decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

June 10, 2021

CDC issues new school guidance, with emphasis on full reopening
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance Friday urging schools to fully reopen in the fall, even if they cannot take all of the steps the agency recommends to curb the spread of the coronavirus.


From: Special Education Smartbrief

June 9, 2021

Cardona expects full-time, in-person learning this fall
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says he anticipates that all US schools will offer in-person learning full time in the coming school year. Data shows that some schools are more prepared than others for a return to in-school education, and as of May, just about 20% of US students were enrolled in a primary or middle school in which all or nearly all teachers had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Full Story: Education Week (7/8)

COVID-19 cases on the rise as Delta variant spreads
The number of new COVID-19 cases is up about 11% from last week, and about 93% of cases reported in recent days occurred in counties where vaccine coverage is below 40%, said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. HHS data shows the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 also increased to almost 18,000 Tuesday, up from 16,792 two weeks ago, and experts expressed concern about continued spread of the Delta variant, which is thought to be more infectious and more dangerous to young people.
Full Story: CNN (7/9), Reuters (7/8)


July 12, 2021

Childhood reading problems tied to memory in adulthood
A study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that reading problems in childhood was linked to poorer verbal memory at age 43, but not to the rate of memory decline from ages 43 to 69 years. The findings also showed that the link was partly mediated by education.
Full Story: Physician’s Briefing/HealthDay News (7/9)

From: The National Superintendents Roundtable’s Roundtable Notes

July 2, 2021

Supreme Court leaves vast gray area after school speech case

The recent Supreme Court First Amendment decision in favor of a cheerleader who criticized school officials in a vulgar way on Snapchat while off campus has created complications for school leaders across the country as they try to determine where their new border of authority lies and what kind of behavior they can legally discipline, write Yoree Koh and Ray Smith for The Wall Street Journal.

While the Court seems to have left room for schools to act in the case of behavior that is threatening, bullying, cheating, or harassing, the decision in Mahanoy Area School District, v. B.L., a minor, eaves a huge gray area that officials must fill on their own, for now. “[I]t seems safe to say that the opinion involving Branidy Levy will be the first word in this area and not the last,” Yale law professor Justin Driver told the reporters.

Valedictorian speech cut off when he spoke of queer identity

A gathered group of graduating high school students gave their valedictorian speaker a standing ovation when he finished his speech from memory after his principal pulled the plug on his microphone and took the student’s prepared remarks in apparent response to the student’s remarks on his queer identity and mental health issues, Alyssa Lukpat reports for The New York Times.

The incident at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees, N.J., has a lot of attention nationally. The student, Bryce Dershem, said that, ” ‘From a formerly suicidal, formerly anorexic queer,’ . . . he wanted the students to know that one person could save another person’s life.”


From: The National Association of Federal Education Program Administrators, NAFEPA’s, The Connection

June 8, 2021

ARP ESSER State Plan Approvals
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) approved the first seven state plans to spend American Rescue Plan (ARP) ESSER funds……… ED distributed the remaining ARP ESSER funds to approved states on July 8. State agencies then have 60 days to get the funds to districts:

        • Massachusetts: $611,331,608
        • Rhode Island: $138,468,766
        • Texas: $4,148,464,081
        • South Dakota: $127,339,745
        • Utah: $205,578,303
        • Washington, D.C.: $128,932,230
        • Arkansas: $418,634,738…………

ED Invites Title I Carryover and Period of Availability Waiver Requests
On the Friday before July 4 (who are they hiding this from?), ED published an important invitation regarding ESEA FY 2020 Title I carryover and period of availability extensions. ED is offering a waiver for state educational agencies (SEAs) to approve their districts to carry over more than 15 percent of their fiscal year (FY) 2020 Title I, Part A funds. ED is also offering flexibility to each SEA to extend for itself and its subgrantees the period of availability of FY 2019 funds for programs included in the State’s consolidated State plan to allow additional time to obligate those funds……….

State Application for Homeless Funding Released
On July 6, ED invited states to apply for their share of the remaining $600 million in funding under the ARP’s Homeless Children and Youth Fund (ARP-HCY). In April, ED released the first $200 million of the $800 million in the ARP-HCY funds. The distribution of the remaining $600 million will allow the funds to be used in the 2021-22 school year………. The ARP-HCY funds are very flexible and can be used by states and school districts to identify homeless children and youth, provide wraparound services, and enable homeless children and youth to attend school and participate in school activities. States must distribute funds to school districts via a formula that uses the district’s allocation under Title I, Part A and the number of identified homeless children and youth in either the 2018-19 or 2019-20 school year, whichever is greater. All requirements of the McKinney-Vento Act apply to these ARP-HCY funds, except for the competitive sub-granting process required by McKinney-Vento.

Infrastructure for Schools
If you have paid any attention to the news over the last month, you know that Washington is in the throes of negotiating massive infrastructure investments. President Biden has signaled his support for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework that has the backing of 21 senators. While there are still many details to be sorted out, this framework represents about two-thirds of what the President was seeking in his American Jobs Plan. The price tag for the bipartisan framework is $973 billion over 5 years/$1.2 trillion over 8 years. So what’s in it for education? Not nearly as much as the American Jobs Plan, including no money for school construction, but it does include funding to:

        • Electrify thousands of school and transit buses across the country;
        • Eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes, delivering clean drinking water to up to ten million American families and more than 400,000 schools and child care facilities that currently don’t have it;
        • Connect every American to reliable high-speed broadband ($65 billion)…………..


From: The Council of Exceptional Children’s Special Education Today

July 2, 2021

New research uncovers benefits of remedial tutoring and social-emotional learning for refugee children

Internation Rescue Committee

New research from the International Rescue Committee (IRC), conducted in partnership with New York University’s Global TIES for Children (NYU-TIES), finds that an educational approach that combines remedial tutoring with social-emotional learning support has a positive impact on learning outcomes for refugee children.

July 8, 2021

Education Department releases more than $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to support children with disabilities

U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education today released more than $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to states to support infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. The new funding will help aid more than 7.9 million infants, toddlers and students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and adds to the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief allocation of $122 billion in state funding for K-12 schools, which the department announced in March.

Duke report: Masks may be key to reopening K-12s safely in fall

District Administration Magazine

A new report from researchers affiliated with Duke University shows that transmission of COVID-19 in middle and high schools was low during the 2020-2021 academic year and that masks were a major deterrent in preventing potential spread. In its report COVID-19 and Schools: The Year in Review and a Path Forward, the ABC Science Collaborative team led by Drs. Danny Benjamin and Kanecia Zimmerman notes that while social distancing was not a factor in limiting infection rates, masks were, both in schools and on buses.

Diversity in the classroom: Why representation matters

Diverse Education

Teacher diversity is invaluable for all students. Having a teacher of color at the helm of a classroom benefits all learners, both academically and through deep and enriching social emotional connections. However, according to The White House’s fact sheet for The American Families Plan, while teachers of color can have a particularly strong impact on students of color, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only one in five teachers are people of color, compared to more than half of K-12 public school students. That is why President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $9 billion in American teachers, addressing shortages, improving training and supports for teachers, and boosting teacher diversity.