Education Update – September 28, 2020

From: ASCD’s Smartbrief

September 28, 2020

DeVos will not appeal decision on private-school funds

The US Department of Education will not appeal a federal judge’s decision to block its efforts to direct federal coronavirus aid to private schools. In a letter Friday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the department disagreed with the judge’s decision and pointed out that school districts still are obligated to offer some services to private schools.

Full Story: Chalkbeat (9/25)


CDC: School employees to have vaccine priority

Work is underway to develop a coronavirus vaccine, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices could include school employees in the second wave of those to receive the vaccine. Under the plan, the first wave is likely to include at-risk populations, including the elderly, people with health conditions and health care providers.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (9/24)

September 29, 2020

Pandemic adds roadblocks to efforts to boost reading

Social distancing and remote learning may make efforts to teach reading more difficult as just 35% of fourth-graders were able to meet or exceed grade-level reading standards before the pandemic, according to University of Maryland, Baltimore County, faculty members Keisha McIntosh Allen and Kindel Turner Nash. In this commentary, they write about the process of learning to read, what teachers are doing and how families can help their students.

Full Story: The Conversation (9/25)


Trump: Prioritize schools in COVID-19 test rollout

President Donald Trump announced a plan Monday to expand US coronavirus testing and encouraged governors to prioritize using the 100 million rapid tests to safely reopen schools. Trump said the point-of-care tests, which provide results in about 15 minutes, would allow every state to regularly “test every teacher who needs it.”

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (9/28),  The Associated Press (9/28),  U.S. News & World Report (9/28)


Poll gauges attitudes on computer science

Seventy-three percent of male students in seventh to 12th grades say they are confident they could learn computer science — compared with 60% of female students, according to a survey by Gallup supported by Google. Data also shows that Black families are more likely to describe computer science education as important or very important.

Full Story: T.H.E. Journal (9/29),  T.H.E. Journal (9/29)


Reports: Teachers’ salaries still lag behind

Teachers are paid 19.2% less than professionals with similar education and experience, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, and a separate study by the Southern Regional Education Board found that in most states some teachers’ salaries are so low they qualify for at least two government assistance programs. Governors in about half of states proposed increasing teacher pay last year, but many of those efforts were scaled back because of the pandemic.

Full Story: Education Week Teacher (tiered subscription model) (9/29)


October 1, 2020

Survey: Digital literacy challenges remote learning

Digital literacy skills among students and their parents were often lacking during remote learning in the spring, according to a survey of more than 700 teachers in 40 states by Bridgewater State University education professors. Heather Pacheco-Guffrey, an associate professor of science education, said data showed students and parents often have the skills to consume technology but not to create with it, such as using Google Docs to collaborate and joining Zoom calls.

Full Story: EdSurge (10/1)


October 2, 2020

Short-term agreement keeps government open

President Donald Trump signed legislation Thursday that prevents a government shutdown, ensuring funding for agencies, including the Department of Education, through Dec. 11. The legislation also allows the Department of Agriculture to waive some requirements for school meals, granting more flexibility for school nutrition professionals.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (10/1)


Common App removes discipline question

Students who complete the Common App in applying for college no longer will be required to disclose whether they have been subject to disciplinary action in high school. Data shows that Black students were more than twice as likely to report such actions than their white peers.

Full Story: Forbes (9/30)


October 6, 2020

Study: Heat a factor in achievement gap

Heat exposure could affect outcomes for students, according to a study of standardized test scores in 58 countries. In the US, learning loss was seen among Hispanic and Black students, a trend R. Jisung Park, lead author of the report and assistant professor of public policy at the University of California at Los Angeles, linked to lower rates of air conditioning at school and at home among the populations that were studied.

Full Story: The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (10/5)


What does uptick in child screen time mean?

A spike in screen time among children during the coronavirus pandemic is tied to a lack of child care and family stress, according to a study by researchers at Boston College and the University of Maryland. Researchers also found that levels of screen time among children can serve “as an index of family distress.”

Full Story: EdSurge (10/5)


From: Smartbrief on Special Education

September 28, 2020

Pandemic worsens tech divide for rural students

Rural educators say they are concerned that the shift to remote instruction during the pandemic could worsen the divide among rural and urban students, with data showing that more than one-third of the rural US lacks access to high-speed internet. Officials say this challenge could be an opportunity for federal investment in broadband.

Full Story: National Public Radio (9/28)


September 30, 2020

Students with disabilities may return first, feds say

Schools may need to offer in-person instruction for some students with disabilities during the pandemic, but they may not prioritize classroom returns based on race, color or national origin, which would violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the US Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights said in guidance issued Monday. The guidance also stressed that the new Title IX rule requires all schools — even those using distance learning — to accept and address harassment complaints.

Full Story: Education Dive (9/29)


Early intervention may benefit children who are deaf

A study in Pediatrics found that children who were deaf or hard of hearing and entered early intervention by 6 months of age were more likely to exhibit kindergarten readiness, compared with those who entered early intervention later. The findings were based on data involving 1,746 infants with permanent hearing loss born from 2008 to 2014.

Full Story: Physician’s Briefing/HealthDay News (9/28)


October 2, 2020

Helping students with disabilities with online learning

The nearly 20% of US college students who have a disability often grapple with technology — especially during online learning caused by the pandemic — making it incumbent upon faculty to design and teach classes with such students in mind. While many students will require customized tools and personalized support, Penny Rosenblum, director of research for the American Foundation for the Blind, offers some general recommendations for creating better audio and visual accessibility.

Full Story: EdTech online (9/28)


Districts face uncertain budget climate

School districts nationwide could be faced with changing their budgets several times over the school year, says Mike Griffith, senior researcher and policy analyst at Learning Policy Institute. He and other experts say changes to expenses because of the coronavirus, coupled with changes to tax revenue, could affect school budgets.

Full Story: Education Dive (10/1)


October 9, 2020


Study: Flu vaccine reduced hospitalization of children

A study in Pediatrics found that the influenza vaccine reduced influenza-related hospitalizations by 41% and influenza-related emergency department visits by 51% among youths ages 6 months to 17 years during the 2018-2019 US influenza season. The study was based on data involving 1,792 hospital admissions and 1,944 ED visits.

Full Story: Becker’s Hospital Review (10/6)


From: Education Week’s EdWeek Update

September 29, 2020

Districts Feel the Pain From Standoff Over COVID-19 Aid

More layoffs and damaging cuts loom as districts move deeper into the school year with their budgets depleting and Congress stalemated over emergency relief.


October 2, 2020

Congress Averts Government Shutdown, Makes It Easier for Schools to Feed Hungry Kids

Schools won’t have to worry about a federal government shutdown for several more weeks, but a spending agreement for the next fiscal year remains some ways off.


October 7, 2020 

Trump: No More COVID-19 Aid, Including Billions for Schools, Until After I Win

Education officials have sought more COVID-19 relief for months to help schools, and Trump’s declaration could be yet another setback.


October 8, 2020


K-12 Budgets Face Grim Outlook, as States Will Need Years to Recover From COVID-19 Recession

New data from the National Association of State Budget Officers show that for the first time in roughly a decade-since the last recession-a majority of states closed their fiscal 2020 books with a decline in general revenue funds.


October 12, 2020

What the Congressional Stalemate Over Relief Aid Means for Districts’ Budgets

The longer Congress waits to provide districts with fiscal relief, the more sizeable the budget cuts will be for districts this year.


From: Whiteboard Advisors Whiteboard Notes

October 1, 2020

Congress Avoids Shutdown and Makes It Easier to Serve Meals to Students: A short-term agreement reached by Congress and the White House will keep the government open and also includes a provision to make it easier for schools to serve meals to students during the pandemic. The legislation, which was signed by President Trump on Thursday, will extend fiscal 2020 funding for the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies through December 11. The legislation will continue to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to waive certain rules for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs through the end of this school year, and it also provides additional funding for the waivers. [Education Week, subscription required]

Proposed Relief Bill Would Boost School Aid But Cut State and Local Relief: 
On Monday, House Democrats proposed legislation that would provide $175 billion to help K-12 schools handle the effects of the pandemic, but it would cut direct relief to state, local, territorial, and tribal governments. Additional funding would allow schools to put money toward school cleaning, education technology and internet access, mental health services, and other costs. The proposed legislation also includes $5 billion to address school infrastructure needs, $4 billion for governors to spend on K-12 and higher education, and $57 billion in child care grants. [Education Week, subscription required]


October 9, 2020


DeVos Says She Will Use ‘Bully Pulpit’ for States to Reopen Schools: In a virtual event hosted by the Pacific Research Institute, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said she would use the “bully pulpit” to pressure states to reopen schools for in-person learning. DeVos’ comments came on the same day that Boston schools paused their reopening plans and New York City reversed its reopening plans for hundreds of schools. DeVos also said she and President Trump have been consistent about the need to reopen schools for in-person learning “in every possible situation.” [Politico]


U.S. Ranks Near Bottom of UNESCO Child Wellness Rankings of Advanced Nations: In a recent UNESCO report on child wellness among advanced nations, the United States ranked 36th of the 38 countries analyzed. The study took into account a variety of factors including academic skills, child poverty, physical health, and mental well-being. With high rates of youth suicide, obesity, mortality, and poverty, and low rates of reading and math proficiency and public support such as family leave, the US scored low in most measures, though it ranked high in economic and environmental rankings due to relatively low levels of air and water pollution, as well as high average incomes. Overall, the top-ranked countries are the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway, and the bottom-ranked countries are Chile, Bulgaria, and the United States. [The Washington Post; UNICEF]


From: AASA’s News of the Nation

September 29, 2020


Education Recovery Requires Long-Term Investment Strategy, Not Another One-off Stimulus
September 28, EdSurge
With nearly 25 million Americans still receiving unemployment benefits, the coronavirus is pulling the country into a protracted recession. And workers in the service sector and those who have jobs that have been dis-intermediated by technological progress—jobs that skew female and minority—are being hit the hardest.

Judge Orders Census Bureau to Keep Counting. Here’s Why That Matters for Schools
September 25, Politics K-12
For schools, an accurate population count is tied to billions of dollars of federal aid. That’s why educational administrators may be interested in a decision to keep the 2020 Census going for another month.

Fight Over Private School Aid Ends in Defeat for Betsy DeVos
September 25, Chalkbeat

The U.S. Department of Education told state school chiefs that it will not appeal a decision by a federal judge that blocked its rule, dealing Betsy DeVos one of the most high-profile losses of her tenure as education secretary.


October 6, 2020

COVID-19 Aid Bill Advances, but Relief for Schools Remains Far Away
October 2, Politics K-12
The U.S. House of Representatives may have approved a new coronavirus relief bill that would provide tens of billions of dollars for schools—but it doesn’t mean substantial progress has been made on getting K-12 emergency aid. Read AASA’s letter to U.S. Congressional leaders here.

Coronavirus Infection Rate Among Children Surges as Schools Reopen

October 1, U.S. News & World Report
The number of children infected with the coronavirus rose dramatically between April and September, according to new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, and by more than 14% in the last two weeks alone – a surge that coincides with schools reopening across the country. Learn about the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mask distribution here.


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


October 2, 2020


Study shows major learning loss for grades K-2

eSchool News

Students will likely experience 2 to 4 months of learning loss as a result of COVID-19 disruptions, especially in grades K-2, according to a new report. The findings from Illuminate Education highlight a need for additional instructional support this fall. “The data are telling us what we already suspected: this fall, educators need to be ready to use the appropriate tools to identify and contend with student learning loss, particularly in grades K-2,” said Dr. John Bielinski, Illuminate Education’s senior director of research and development.


From: ASCD’s Educator Advocates’ Capitol Connections

October 9, 2020


House Dems Boost Education Funding in Revised COVID-19 Relief Bill

Trying to jump start dormant negotiations on a new COVID relief package, House Democrats introduced and passed (214-207) a revised HEROES Act that would provide $2.2 trillion in aid to hard hit businesses, the unemployed, and local governments. The current bill is $800 billion less than the original $3 trillion HEROES Act the House passed earlier this summer.


While the overall funding was reduced, the new bill dramatically increases education funding to $225 billion (up from the original $90 billion). Of that amount, $182 billion is earmarked for K-12 education, $39 billion for post-secondary education, and $57 billion for family child care. You can see a breakdown of state-by-state allocations for this funding here courtesy of the Learning Policy Institute.

A Senate relief bill that provided only $500 billion funding, of which $70 billion would go to K-12 education with most of the funds prioritized for schools that re-open for in-personal instruction, garnered 52 votes during a September roll call. But because it needed 60 votes to proceed due to a parliamentary requirement, that legislation stalled. A previous iteration that would have provided $1 trillion was never even voted on in the Senate.

Highlighting the on-again, off-again nature of the negotiations, President Trump declared earlier this week that his administration was ending negotiations until after the election, but then reversed course the following day– at various points demanding support for small businesses, individual stimulus checks, and a stand-alone bill to support the airline industry.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi conversations are ongoing, though the sticking point appears to be the Senate where many Republican senators are wary of a large bill’s impact on the deficit and increasingly unwilling to back the president amid disappointing poll numbers.


Did You Know

Most states use a “winner-take-all” methodology in awarding their electoral votes in a presidential election. But Maine and Nebraska “split” their electoral votes and award two electoral votes to the candidate who wins the most votes statewide and then apportion one electoral vote to the candidate with the most votes in each of the state’s congressional districts.