Education Update June 4, 2020

From: ASCD’s Smartbrief

June 4, 2020

Many students still lack devices for learning

Twenty-four percent of US public-school teachers say all of their students have a tablet or computer to complete school assignments during this time of remote instruction, according to a May survey by Educators for Excellence. Officials say attempts to procure devices have been challenging in some areas because of supply chain disruptions and delivery delays.

Full Story: The Hechinger Report (6/4)


Analysis finds 6% decline in public-education jobs

The number of K-12 public-education jobs fell from a little more than 8 million in March to about 7.5 million in mid-April, a loss of roughly 6% of the workforce, according to an analysis of federal employment data by the Economic Policy Institute. Data shows the job losses in education have not been as severe as other sectors because of the economic downturn stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Full Story: Chalkbeat (6/3)

Proposal seeks $305B in federal funds for education

A group of Democratic lawmakers in the US House of Representatives is seeking $305 billion in the next coronavirus relief package for K-12 education. The request exceeds amounts sought by education advocates and is well above the $90 billion included in the most recent coronavirus relief bill passed by the House.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (6/3)

June 5, 2020

Report: 40% of districts have facilities issues

More than 40% of school districts in the US have facilities issues that could prove problematic as schools reopen, including faulty heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, according to a report published Thursday by the Government Accountability Office. The report is the first assessment of K-12 schools by the GAO in over two decades.

Full Story: U.S. News & World Report (6/4)


June8, 2020

Study: E-cigarettes may lead teens to start smoking

Teens who vaped non-tobacco-flavored products were almost seven times more likely to begin smoking regularly, compared with those who did not vape, while adult smokers who shifted to vaping with non-tobacco-flavored products after smoking cigarettes were 34% more likely to stop smoking, compared with those who did not shift to vaping, researchers reported in JAMA Network Open. Another study in the same journal found that those who use electronic nicotine delivery systems, such as vape pens and e-cigarettes, had a 63% increased risk of cigarette smoking relapse, compared with those who used a different smoking cessation aid.

Full Story: United Press International (6/5)


Data: School spending gap increases 32%

The school funding gap grew by 32% from 2000 to 2015 between the top 1% of a highest-spending school district and an average-spending district, according to an analysis by a Penn State researcher. Bruce Baker, a school finance expert at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, said that higher spending has the potential to boost students’ achievement and give them a leg up in college applications.

Full Story: The Hechinger Report (6/8)


June 9, 2020

Public, private schools at odds over relief funds

US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has issued nonbinding guidance on coronavirus relief funding urging that some monies be directed toward some services for students from low-income families at private schools. The guidance is leading to a struggle between private and public schools for funding, including in Pennsylvania, where the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is battling the state for funds.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (6/8)


June 10, 2020

Union: Average school to need $1.2M more to reopen

The average school in the US will need an additional $1.2 million — or $2,300 per student — to reopen following the coronavirus pandemic, according to an estimate released by the American Federation of Teachers. The union’s estimate is more than four times previous estimates, with extra academic support and instructional staff among the largest expenditures.

Full Story: U.S. News & World Report (6/9)


Senator discusses bill to desegregate schools

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who introduced the Strength in Diversity Act that aims to desegregate schools, talks about the current social crisis and the need to increase diversity in schools. In this interview, Murphy says the time is right to advance the legislation and asserts that police should not be in schools.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (6/9)


Hygiene costs to add up for schools post-coronavirus

Supplies needed to safely reopen schools could be a major line item in the next academic year. Charter network KIPP DC estimates it will spend about $300,000 on three months’ supply of disinfecting wipes, thermometers, masks and other items for students and staff on its seven campuses.

Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (6/9)


June 11, 2020

Schools face challenges planning student meals

The USDA on Wednesday said it will extend through the summer a COVID-19 waiver allowing school districts and nonprofits to continue to provide universal free meals in areas where less than half of students are from low-income families. Districts are still waiting for decisions on waivers affecting the 2020-21 school year, however, creating uncertainty in planning student meals.

Full Story: Roll Call (free content) (6/10)


June 16, 2020

DeVos still advocates for school choice

US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has continued to push for school-choice programs as schools dealt with the crisis brought on by the coronavirus. Besides advocating for some coronavirus relief funding to be directed to private schools, DeVos also has said the shift to remote education demonstrates there are multiple ways to learn.

Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (6/15)


June 17, 2020

How districts, states plan to spend relief funds

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act includes the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund for K-12 and higher education. Many school districts plan to use the fund to purchase more devices for students, shore up internet access and improve distance learning, while several states will invest funding in teacher training to improve virtual instruction.

Full Story: Education Dive (6/15)


June 18, 2020

NEA: K-12 education needs federal support

Even after considering state rainy day funds and federal coronavirus relief packages, US schools could face a 20% reduction in the education workforce, according to an analysis by the National Education Association. Its president, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, is calling on Congress to direct additional funding to education.

Full Story: T.H.E. Journal (6/17)


June 18, 2020

Petitions urge renaming schools with Confederate ties

There are least 174 schools in 16 states that are named after Confederate figures — 53 named for Robert E. Lee, according to an analysis of federal data. Past efforts to remove Confederate names, statues and flags from public spaces have had mixed results, but the recent killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has brought increased attention to the issue, with new petitions circulating demanding a name change in at least 12 school districts.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (6/18)

High court blocks White House DACA termination

The US Supreme Court has ruled a decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by the Trump administration was “arbitrary and capricious,” leaving in place protections for many K-12 and college students, faculty and staff under the Obama-era program. The court’s 5-4 decision sends the matter back to the Department of Homeland Security, which could take action again to end DACA.

Full Story: Education Dive (6/18),  Inside Higher Ed (6/18)

June 22, 2020

More colleges move to test-optional admissions

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing says 1,240 of 2,330 US colleges and universities have adopted admissions policies that make assessments, such as the SAT and ACT, optional. However, Pam Lumagbas, an operation associate with Cardinal Education, says some students will likely take the test anyway and have an edge in admissions.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (6/19)


Study: Fewer Black candidates promoted to principal

Black principal candidates were 18% less likely to be promoted than white candidates with comparable qualifications, according to a study of 4,700 assistant principals in Texas between 2001 and 2017. The study found that 65% of Black candidates in the pool were not promoted.

Full Story: The Hechinger Report (6/22)


Is the US focus on testing coming to an end?

A two-decade push for testing to hold students accountable appears to be lessening as school districts seek testing waivers from the US Department of Education and more colleges and universities adopt test-optional admissions. Governors in Ohio and Georgia, for example, have supported prolonged periods without standardized testing following the coronavirus pandemic.

Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (6/21)


From: AASA’s News of the Nation

June 2, 2020

 Educators Call for Schools to be ‘Safe Havens’ Against Racism
June 1, Education Dive
Education leaders and organizations joined others Monday in condemning a Minneapolis police officer’s killing of a black man last week while urging students and community members to refrain from contributing to the wave of violence that continued to spread over the weekend.

 ‘How CDC Guidance Could Shape What Back-to-School Looks Like in the COVID-19 Era
May 29, Education Week

Face masks would become common, cafeterias would be closed to prevent crowding, and extracurricular activities would be cancelled in areas heavily affected by the coronavirus if schools adhere to long-awaited guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reopening schools.


June 9, 2020

 Report: No Way to Reopen Schools Safely Without Federal Bailout
June 8, U.S. News & World Report
The cost analysis from AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and the Association of School Business Officials International shows that in some cases school districts can expect to spend an additional $490 per student in order to cover costs associated with purchasing cleaning supplies, gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment, hiring additional custodial staff and nurses, and more.

 Fight Over COVID Aid Between Private Schools and States Heats Up
June 8, Politics K-12
Amid uncertainty over whether Congress will provide additional aid money to help schools weather the pandemic, disputes over the relief package lawmakers did provide to K-12 nearly three months ago are intensifying.

 Police Don’t Make Most Black Students Feel Safer, Survey Shows
June 8, Chalkbeat
The survey, conducted by Tulane University during the 2018-19 school year, showed that 69 percent of white students said they felt safer in the presence of police, while only 40 percent of black students said the same.

 GAO: Over Half of School Districts Need Major Building Repairs
June 8, Education Dive
More than half of U.S. school districts have buildings in need of major repairs, according to estimates in a new report from the Government Accountability Office.


From: Special Education Smartbrief

June 5, 2020

How masks limit communication of people who are deaf

Mandating face masks for students and teachers during the coming school year might be necessary for health reasons but could be problematic for students who are deaf or hard of hearing and rely on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate and learn, says Clark Brooke, superintendent of the California School for the Deaf. Brooke notes that some masks have been modified with clear plastic over the mouth, but American Sign Language involves facial expressions for tone and emphasis.

Full Story: San Francisco Chronicle (tiered subscription model) (6/4)


June 15, 2020

Survey: Schools’ plans vary for CARES Act funds

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act includes about $13 billion for school districts, but many say they are unsure how they will spend the money, according to a survey of members of the National Association of Federal Education Program Administrators. Among those with a plan, funds are expected to go toward internet capacity, online-ready devices and school buildings’ cleaning.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (6/11)


From: CEC’s Special Education Today

June 5, 2020

As Schools Prep for COVID-Era Return, Feds Estimate 36,000 Have Air-System Problems: The Government Accountability Office estimates that 41 percent of school districts need HVAC upgrades or repair in at least half their schools, which are preparing to reopen after months of COVID-19 shutdowns.


June 12, 2020

COVID-19 Infections And Deaths Are Higher Among Those With Intellectual Disabilities: People with intellectual disabilities and autism who contract COVID-19 die at higher rates than the rest of the population, according to an analysis by NPR of numbers obtained from two states that collect data.


Schools Were Crowded Before COVID-19. After, Educators Say It Will Be Worse: They may be social distancing, but teachers, principals, and superintendents worry their schools will be seriously cramped for space come fall, according to the EdWeek Research Center’s sixth coronavirus-focused survey.


Restart In-Person Classes or Lose Federal Aid, Two Lawmakers Say in Messaging Bill:The Reopen Our Schools Act may not go anywhere in Congress, but it does drive home a broader political message about the pandemic and resuming traditional classes.


When it comes to keeping kids safe and fed, some American counties rank alongside Iraq, Bangladesh: A new report shows that well-being varies widely among children nationwide, with children in some parts of the US facing food insecurity and other disadvantages similar to rates seen in countries such as Iraq and Cambodia.


High School Students Need More Support Now to Get Back on Track for College, Survey Shows: A new survey shows that many of this year’s high school upperclassmen are behind in their efforts to prepare for post-secondary education.


DeVos Formally Limits Emergency Aid: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has issued an interim rule to clarify the ineligibility of undocumented students and others for coronavirus emergency assistance. The agency said the clarification is meant to avoid fraud, but education groups said it is another effort to exclude international students.


From: Whiteboard Advisors’ Whiteboard Notes

June 4, 2020


Democratic Lawmakers Want $305 Billion for K-12 Schools: A group of House Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to congressional leaders urging Congress to set aside a $305 billion stabilization fund for K-12 education in the next coronavirus relief package. The letter stated the significant declines in state income and sales tax revenues due to widespread economic shutdowns will hit schools especially hard as they try to provide full access to distance learning and expanded learning opportunities in the case of schools having to close unexpectedly. [U.S. House of Representatives; Education Week]

Private Schools are Facing School Closures: A large number of private schools are overwhelmed by the difficulties of adapting due to the coronavirus pandemic. Though some private schools have billion-dollar endowments, other private schools are experiencing financial trouble due to the pandemic. Several dozen private schools that have educated more than 6,000 children have permanently closed. With the lack of federal assistance, private school defenders warn closings will continue. Last month, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed a rule in which would compel public school districts to hand over a percentage of the emergency relief funds provided from the $2 trillion CARES Act to private schools. [The 74]
Trump Vetoes Bipartisan Legislation, Backing DeVos on Limiting Student Debt Relief: On Friday, President Donald Trump sided with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, vetoing bipartisan legislation that would have blocked a policy to limit debt relief for defrauded student loan borrowers. Trump supported DeVos because the policy would “protect students and taxpayers” and create “a fair process” that “will deliver deserved relief to students harmed by their education institutions.” Some argue the policy makes it harder for students that were defrauded by for-profit schools to erase their student loans. Students of color, low-income students, and veterans will be the ones most affected by this vetoed legislation. House leaders are preparing for an override vote on July 1, but they may not have enough votes to do so. [Politico; Diverse Issues in Higher Education]

Some Large School Districts Are Working to Remove Police from Schools: The killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police has inspired and re-ignited movements in school districts across the country to remove police officers, often known as School Resource Officers (SROs), from schools. According to current data, 68% of American students attend schools staffed with police officers. Since June 2, two major school districts, Minneapolis and Portland, have acted to remove police from schools. There are currently policy proposals to do the same in Denver and Rochester, and major protests demanding police removal in New York, where school officers are slated to receive increased funding, ChicagoSeattleOaklandNew Haven, and Charlottesville, as well as in many smaller cities around the country. [Urban Institute, The Washington Post, Portland Live, KDVR, Democrat and Chronicle, Chalkbeat, Seattle Times, SF Public Press, New Haven Independent, NBC29]


Nearly 500,000 Public Education Jobs Disappeared Across the U.S. in April: According to federal employment data, the number of jobs in American K-12 schools has dropped from eight million to 7.5 million since March. This job loss is more than all the K–12 public education jobs lost during the Great Recession. While the education industry has had fewer layoffs than other sectors, many jobs in schools cannot be done remotely. Many of the layoffs and furloughs have been to teaching assistants, counselors, special education teachers, nurses, janitors, and other building maintenance workers. If schools open in the fall, there is a large chance these non-teacher K-12 workers will be hired back. However, massive district budget cuts are expected due to plummeting income and sales tax revenue. [Chalkbeat, Economic Policy Institute]


June 11, 2020

Republicans Propose ‘Return to Work’ Bonus: Last week, the Congressional Budget Office reported that extending expanded unemployment benefits past the scheduled expiration date of July 31 would keep unemployment higher and economic output lower through 2021 than if the added benefits are allowed to expire. This analysis seemingly bolsters Republicans’ case to end the benefits in what has become a key debate on Capitol Hill. As an alternative, some Republicans have proposed a “Return to Work” bonus of up to $1,200, but Democrats have called that insufficient given the scope of the crisis. [Roll CallHuffPost]

DeVos Sued by 18 States and District of Columbia Over New Title IX Rules: Last week, Democratic attorneys general from 17 states and the District of Columbia filed a federal lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, challenging the new regulations passed last month that restrict sexual misconduct cases falling under Title IX rules. The state of New York submitted its own complaint. The new policy that takes effect August 14, limits the number of cases in which institutions are required to investigate allegations of sexual harassment on campus; strengthens due-process rights for accused students and says that institutions must intervene only in cases that are so “severe, pervasive and objectively offensive” that they infringe on a student’s education; and adds that stalking and dating violence are covered by Title IX protections. [The 74]

U.S. Senate’s Education Committee Discusses When Schools Can Reopen: During a hearing of the U.S. Senate’s Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Wednesday, much of the discussion focused on the logistical and financial challenges of reopening schools. In a recent analysis from the School Superintendents Association and the Association of School Business Officials International, the average district would incur nearly $1.8 million in additional expenses when they reopen, with a large amount of the spending going toward hiring additional cleaning staff, nurses, and aides to take students’ temperatures before they board school buses. During the hearing, several education leaders and lawmakers said that schools need more federal funding in order to reopen schools safely and the federal government should be doing more to support school districts. As he concluded the hearing, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R – Tenn.) requested detailed cost estimates from states for how much additional federal assistance they need to reopen schools this fall. [NPR; Association of School Business Officials International; Chalkbeat; U.S. News & World Report]


Police Shootings Lower Black and Latino Students’ Grades, Graduation Rates: A recent paper by Desmond Ang, an assistant professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, argues that police shootings disproportionately affect Black and Latino students: their grades are lower, the chance they will complete high school is diminished and the instance of a chronic learning disability is heightened. When compared to White and Asian students who lived within a half-mile of a police shooting, it was found these students were unaffected in the same categories.  Ang estimates for every police shooting in the country, three students of color will drop out of high school. [Education Week, subscription required, Harvard University]


June 18, 2020

Supreme Court Rejects Trump Administration’s Efforts to End DACA: On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Trump Administration’s efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program lacked a sound legal basis. An Obama-era initiative, the program protects around 700,000 young immigrants (known as Dreamers) that came to the U.S. as children from deportation and allows them to become eligible for a work permit. The purpose of the case was whether or not the Trump Administration acted appropriately in its attempt to end DACA. Though the ruling does not prevent future moves to end DACA, it does however seem unlikely that the Trump Administration will not be able to put a new framework in place before the November election. Putting an end to DACA was one of President Trump’s central campaign promises and in September 2017, the Justice Department announced in a White House memo President Trump’s plan to end DACA, stating that DACA recipients should “use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure” from the U.S. The decision comes as schools prepare for fall instruction.  Education leaders have called this ruling a victory, as approximately 228,000 children age 15 or younger were unauthorized immigrants potentially eligible for DACA. The decision also comes after the U.S. Department of Education restricted undocumented students from recieving aid from the CARES Act. [Education Dive; Politico; Migration Policy Institute]

The. U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Expanding LGBTQ Worker Protections is a Signal to Universities: On Monday, in a 6-3 ruling the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to extend protections against employment discrimination to LGBTQ people under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The U.S. Supreme Court redefined its interpretation of “sex” under Title VII to encompass both sexual orientation and gender identity. This landmark case has now drawn attention to colleges to ensure transgender students are treated fairly living in residence halls and playing campus sports. The new regulations will not only have an effect on the Title IX case involving a transgender high school student’s right to use the bathroom of their choice, which is currently in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, but also have an effect on employees at religious-oriented academic institutions. [Inside Higher Ed]


From: Education Week’s EdWeek Update

June 10, 2020


Nation Gets a ‘C’ on School Finance, Even as Economic Downturn Takes Hold

Wyoming once again takes the top spot in Quality Counts’ annual ranking of the states on school finance, while 22 states receive grades between C-minus and D-minus. Read more.


June 15, 2020

Where’s the Threat? School Resource Officers’ Views Differ Based on District Racial Makeup

Interviews with more than 70 school resource officers showed striking differences in how they perceived their jobs, with officers in a more affluent district seeing themselves as protectors and their counterparts in a more diverse district viewing students as threatening.


June 16, 2020

Supreme Court Rules Job Discrimination Law Shields LGBTQ Workers

The sweeping 6-3 civil rights ruling has implications for school districts as employers as well as continuing legal battles over the rights of transgender students.

June 18, 2020


Supreme Court Blocks Trump’s Move to Scrap DACA Program

The court rules that the decision to unwind deportation relief for nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children was done in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner.

After Supreme Court Victory, DACA Educators Vow to Keep Fighting

An estimated 15,000 educators in U.S. schools are recipients of DACA, the Obama-era program that allows immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to avoid deportation.


June 22, 2020

Why Schools Are Not Holding Students Back to Address COVID-19 Learning Loss

District leaders cite evidence that retention doesn’t improve academic outcomes, and argue that holding large groups of students back will disproportionately hurt students of color and kids from low-income families.


From: ASCD’s Educator Advocates Capitol Connections


June 10, 2020

DeVos Directs More COVID-19 Funds to Private Schools

Education secretary Betsy DeVos has issued guidance on the K-12 funding in the COVID-19 relief package, the CARES Act, that would earmark more of that money for private schools. Under a long-standing provision in ESEA, school districts that receive Title I funding are to use a portion of these funds to reimburse private schools for “equitable services” provided to their Title I eligible students. Under the department’s new guidance for the $13 billion in school funding in the CARES Act, school districts are to provide funding to private schools based on their total student enrollment.

Congressional Democrats on the House and Senate education committees have objected to the secretary’s new interpretation of the policy, as has the association representing state superintendents. ASCD joined 50 other organizations in asking Congress to clarify that the long-time policy still applies to CARES funding.


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

June 16, 2020


School groups want flexibility on special ed spending due to COVID-19

Disability Scoop
Federal law requires school districts to spend at least as much each year on special education as they did the last, but in light of the pandemic, school leaders want Congress to ease up on this mandate. Officials with a half-dozen education groups say that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requirement known as “maintenance of effort” is unreasonable in the current climate. Under the law, there can be financial consequences if school districts do not keep pace on special education spending.

Schools struggle with shifting rules on federal coronavirus relief money

It’s been two months since Congress allocated about $13 billion for K-12 schools in its coronavirus-related emergency aid package — but the money hasn’t yet reached many school districts amid questions over how it should be spent. School districts across the country, which quickly shifted to remote learning in March, are already winding down lessons. Now, as they consider what reopening in the fall could look like, they’re unsure how much federal aid to expect.  READ MORE

All states now approved for emergency education funding

Education DIVE

It was close, but all 50 states and the District of Columbia have applied and been approved for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund — a relatively small block grant within the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, but one state leaders have wide discretion in how to spend. The U.S. Department of Education extended the deadline by a week, until June 8, but “it turns out the extension wasn’t needed, since everyone had applied by the end of the day on Monday,” according to a department spokesman.



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