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Beyond Ohio

This Week’s ESSA News – October 21st, 2020


The 74 Million |

  • Wyoming to Supplement School Days With After-School Programs
  • Department of Education Reminds Schools of Requirements for Students with Disabilities
  • Another Year of Incomplete School Report Cards in Indiana
  • Kentucky DOE Releases Limited School Report Cards
  • Parent Details How Accountability Measures Have Helped Students With Disabilities

Trump’s and Biden’s Plans for Education

/ leadership, legislation

NPR and Ballotpedia |

An overview of each candidates’ key priorities and plans for education from NPR.

Joe Biden

  • Make public colleges, historically Black colleges and universities, and minority-serving institutions tuition-free for families making less than $125,000.
  • Make two years of community college and training programs tuition-free.
  • Cancel $10,000 of every American’s student debt and revise the current loan repayment system.
  • Establish universal prekindergarten.

Donald Trump

  • Strengthen school choice policy and expand accessibility to charter schools.
  • Promote “patriotic education” curriculum in schools.

Find additional information about the candidates positions on education matters at Ballotpedia.

2020 presidential candidates on education from Ballotpedia

2020 presidential candidates on charter schools and voucher programs from Ballotpedia

The Role of Public Schools in Revitalizing a Community

/ social-justice

Matter of Fact |

A neighborhood in West Louisville, Kentucky is implementing one of the nation’s most ambitious urban redevelopment plans. While the price tag comes out to nearly $1 billion, it’s not the cost that makes it ambitious; it’s the goal. Officials are working to build up the neighborhood without pushing out the people who have always lived there. 

In this latest installment of “Russell Rising,” Matter of Fact looks at the role of public schools in revitalizing a community.

Dancing off the streets in Cote d’Ivoire

/ arts

DW – The 77 Percent |

Abobo district in Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast, underwent a violent upheaval following a contested election in 2010, which left many children homeless. Yves Thomas Ble started the Mam’art dance company to give the youth a safe place to live, while teaching them how to express themselves through dance.

3.7 million Afghan children don’t attend school, according to World Bank report

/ equity

PBS NewsHour |

Nearly half of war-torn Afghanistan’s 18,000 schools lack proper buildings and an estimated 3.7 million school-aged children are still out of school — despite massive investment in the country’s education sector, the World Bank says. Nooria Nazhat, spokeswoman for the Afghan Education Ministry, said that of the 3.7 million children who do not attend school, 60% are girls. She said the reasons for Afghan kids not attending include the war, poverty, and conservative traditional beliefs.

Coronavirus: Germany unveils ‘airing’ plan for schools

/ coronavirus

DW |

Planning and fresh air were obsessions in Germany long before the pandemic. Officials married these two cultural aspects with a lengthy plan, telling teachers how often to air their classrooms.

The German Environment Agency (UBA) on Thursday unveiled a four-page instruction manual for ventilation in schools, stating exactly when, why and how to air out classrooms “protect oneself from infectious particles.” “Our core recommendation is to air classrooms regularly every 20 minutes for about five minutes with windows wide open”, reported public broadcaster ARD, citing UBA President Dirk Messner.

‘We’re always there for them’: is the tide turning against zero-tolerance in UK schools?

The Guardian |

In recent years details have leaked out of very successful schools using approaches that reduced children to tears, with some students, according to England’s children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, spending days in isolation booths. One Norfolk academy advised teachers to provide buckets for ill pupils to vomit in during lessons rather than leave the classroom – although it has since backtracked.

More teachers are rejecting cruel school culture and opting for ‘trauma-informed’ behaviour management, based on children’s emotional needs – radically different approach to managing behaviour, based on understanding pupils’ personal circumstances and helping them to overcome the impact of traumatic experiences in early life, or outside school, that may be affecting their behaviour – such as abuse, neglect, domestic violence and family breakdown.

What does a district court ruling mean for future right-to-education cases?

/ EdChoice

Education Dive |

In a 55-page decision, a Rhode Island District Court judge dismissed Cook v. Raimondo, a prominent right-to-education case in which plaintiffs — who ranged from preschoolers to high school students — sued Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner and the state Board of Education. 

Plaintiffs argued the state failed to provide an education that adequately prepared students to participate in civic life. In motions to dismiss the case, defendants argued the Constitution does not guarantee a right to education.

While Judge William E. Smith ruled in favor of the education commissioner and the board, among other state leaders, he said the case “highlights a deep flaw in our national education priorities and policies” and hoped “others who have the power to address this need will respond appropriately.” 

Michigan: Administrative law judge sides with Flint schools in special education funding dispute

/ finance-funding, SpecialEd

Michigan Public Radio |

A state Education Department official is recommending changes to a funding formula that could mean tens of thousands of dollars in additional special education funding for the school district. 

Flint officials complain the formula is based on the number of full-time students and not on the number of special needs students in each district. An administrative law judge agreed, saying in his written decision the funding formula “does not meet the individual needs of each student with a disability.”  

It will be up to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Rice to decide how the money should be divided up. The superintendent’s decision is binding but may be appealed to the circuit court.  

Louisville, Ky: In New JCPS Student Assignment Proposal, ‘Choice’ Is At Odds With ‘Diversity’

/ equity


Jefferson County Public Schools current student assignment plan is nationally recognized for creating more racially integrated schools than most other large districts, like Chicago or Detroit. Research shows Black, Latino and Indigenous students who attend integrated schools benefit because they have greater access to the funding and political power that follows their white classmates. But many argue the plan is unfair, because it places the onus on Black students in the West End to leave their neighborhoods to attend schools in majority-white suburbs.

“About 95% of our Black students leave the community,” JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said. “And only about 5% white students. And I think that is incredibly inequitable.”

NKU eliminating ACT, SAT standardized testing requirements for most

/ assessment, Higher Ed


The university announced Friday that it will be making significant changes to its admissions process, which includes eliminating ACT and SAT test requirements for many students applying for the fall 2021 semester.

Freshman applicants with an unweighted 2.75 or greater high school GPA will be automatically admitted to NKU without submitting standardized test scores. Applicants with an unweighted GPA lower than 2.75 will need to submit ACT or SAT scores as part of the admissions application, officials with the university said.

This Week’s ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) News


The 74 Million |

  • Georgia Rethinks Testing Strategy as DeVos Denies Waivers
  • New Jersey Sees Graduation Rate Spike Amid Loosened Requirements
  • Maryland Looks to Expand ‘Gifted’ Programs

Happy World Teachers’ Day

/ HR


Held annually on October 5th since 1994, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions. The Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel was adopted in 1997 to complement the 1966 Recommendation by covering teaching and research personnel in higher education.

Toni Morrison book ban reversed by by SoCal school district

/ curriculum

Los Angeles Times |

Morrison’s 1970 novel frequently draws controversy for its content, including rape and incest, and has been banned in states including Colorado and North Carolina — despite being part of the body of work that earned the author the Nobel Prize in Literature.

“A decision to remove a book, particularly a Toni Morrison book, one of the prominent Black authors in American literature — regardless of the individual motivation of those parents, which I think was valid — the message that that decision sends to the Black community within our school district was one that I just couldn’t support,” Colton School Board Vice President Dan Flores told The Times.

“The Bluest Eye” tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, an 11-year-old Black girl in Ohio who prays every day for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will make her beautiful.

Colton Joint Unified School District is located in in San Bernardino County, CA with a little over 21,000 students.

‘A Battle for the Souls of Black Girls’

/ equity, social-justice

The New York Times |

“We are in a battle for the souls of Black girls,” said Monique W. Morris, the executive director of Grantmakers for Girls of Color and author of the book “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School.”

Discipline disparities between Black and white boys have driven reform efforts for years. But Black girls are arguably the most at-risk student group in the United States.

The disproportionate discipline rates among girls indicate what researchers have long said about all Black children: It is not that they misbehave more than their peers, but their behaviors may be judged more harshly. Federal civil rights investigations have found generally that Black students are punished more harshly than their white peers for the same behavior. Black girls in particular are more likely to be punished for subjective infractions like dress code violations and insubordination.

Many Arkansas Teachers Refuse In-Person Classes Amid COVID-19 Concerns

/ HR, remote learning


At least 166 instructors represented by Little Rock Education Association say they are concerned about COVID-19 and only willing to teach remotely. Until the district allows for remote-only instruction or increases school safety, they say they will stay home, according to a union statement.

“Our schools are NOT safe. Someone is going to get sick and someone is going to die if we continue in the current manner,” association President Teresa Knapp Gordon said in a statement. “This is not a strike,” Gordon continued. “We are completely and totally willing to work and serve our students virtually in a manner that keeps everyone safe and alive.”

The district, however, isn’t budging. Mike Poore, Little Rock School District superintendent, said in a letter that there are “no plans to close schools.” Poore also told NPR there will be disciplinary action against the no-show teachers, and they may be fired. He says the district has done an excellent job of being as safe as possible in the five weeks it has been open.

Northern Kentucky students return to class, while half their peers learn from home

/ re-opening schools, remote learning


It appears a majority of public schools in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties are using a blended A/B model to bring students back to class, meaning students spend alternate days at their home school based on their last name.

But there are grade levels going back five days a week. It all depends on how much space a particular building has to accommodate students who want to be back in the classroom.

NKU to train teachers to teach Kentucky’s required financial literacy class

/ curriculum


Starting this year, high school students in Kentucky are required to take a financial literacy class before they graduate, but the program is unfunded so many teachers don’t have the training they need.

Northern Kentucky University is offering financial literacy training for educators who will then be able to teach that course in their high schools.

Last year, 40 teachers from around the world participated in the university’s inaugural program, but next year, the focus will be on educators in Kentucky.

Kenton County school leaders use tools of the building trade to keep students connected during pandemic

/ career-tech


After months of learning remotely, a dozen Kenton County high school students were grateful to be back in the setting they know best – Kenton County’s Building Maintenance, a collaborative effort with Gateway Community Technical College.

“I personally don’t like the online schooling. I like this a lot better, with hands-on and everything,” Dixie Heights High School junior T.J. Seiter said.

Jeff Bezos to open first nonprofit preschool in Washington as part of $2 billion Day One Fund

/ early-learning


Jeff Bezos is launching the first location of his network of free “Montessori-inspired” preschools, the Amazon CEO announced in an Instagram post on Tuesday. The first school will be in Des Moines, Washington, and will open on Oct. 19. The schools are being launched by nonprofit organization Bezos Academy, which is overseen by Bezos’ philanthropic endeavor the Day One Fund.

N.Y.C. Schools Reopen for Limited In-Person Learning (video)

/ re-opening schools

NY Times – Associated Press |

Thousands of children in pre-K and students with advanced disabilities returned to in-person school in the nation’s largest school district.

Senator to introduce bill that would reimburse parents for homeschooling costs

/ finance-funding

WLWT – Associated Press |

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, of Missouri, says he plans to introduce a bill that would provide relief for families dealing with homeschooling costs during the COVID era.

According to the GOP senator’s website, Hawley’s “Helping Parents During COVID Act of 2020” would provide U.S. families $1,200 in direct cash assistance per month through June 2021 to help cover lost work shifts or wages. The bill would also create a fully-refundable tax credit of $800 per child to reimburse parents for the costs of education expenses, Hawley’s office says.

The direct cash assistance and the credit would be means-tested, the release states. Both the cash assistance and the credit begin to phase out at $75,000 for individual filers and $150,000 those for filing jointly, according to Hawley.

New Ky. School Commissioner Talks Charter Schools, Inequities, Politics

/ leadership


Kentucky’s new commissioner of education Jason Glass has now officially been in office for a week. Glass comes to Kentucky from serving as superintendent for Jeffco Public Schools, a large district near Denver. He’s also served as the top education official for the state of Iowa.

Q&A based on an interview with Glass. Questions and responses have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

House adopts bill by Rep. Marcia Fudge to fight school segregation

/ equity |

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday adopted legislation by U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (11th District Ohio) that would establish a federal grant program to promote racial and socioeconomic diversity in public schools.

The bill passed by a 248 to 167 vote, with support from all of Ohio’s Democrats along with Republicans Anthony Gonzalez of Rocky River, Dave Joyce of Bainbridge Township and Steve Stivers of Columbus.

Even though racial segregation in public schools has been illegal in the United States for more than 66 years, Fudge said the nation’s public schools are more segregated today than at any time since the 1960s. She said the average African American or Latino student attends school with a majority of children of their own race, most of whom are low-income students forced to learn in dilapidated buildings with fewer resources.

Colorado: Douglas County superintendent, Thomas Tucker announced his resignation on Sept. 8, citing personal reasons

/ leadership

Thomas Tucker was previously superintendent of Princeton City Schools.

Thomas Tucker, the outgoing superintendent of Douglas County School District, was placed on paid administrative leave in early September following an allegation of workplace discrimination and subsequent investigation.

Tucker joined Douglas County School District in 2018 after serving as superintendent of Princeton City Schools. He was the first Black upper-level administrator in a major central Ohio district and was the first to hold the superintendent’s chair in two Ohio districts, The Denver Post reported at the time.

Kentucky Adopts Coronavirus Reporting System For K-12 Schools

/ coronavirus


Under the new system, parents and guardians are required to notify schools about students who have tested positive for COVID-19. Schools are then required to report those numbers, and how many people are in quarantine, on a public dashboard.

Beshear says the dashboard, updated each weekday, will help parents, teachers and administrators make real-time decisions.

First-Ever Report Spotlights California, New Jersey, D.C. as Best in Nation for Creating Prenatal-to-3 Policies That Set Children Up to Excel in Early Education

/ early-learning, health/wellness

74 Million |

Only California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have implemented all of the state policies that research shows contribute to young children’s health and well-being during their first three years, according to a comprehensive new “roadmap” released Tuesday.

The five state policies highlighted in the roadmap are: expanded income eligibility for health insurance, reduced barriers to applying for food stamps, paid family leave, a minimum wage of at least $10 and a refundable state earned income tax credit that is at least 10 percent of the federal one.

The report, which includes profiles of each state, also recommends six strategies to support young children’s readiness for school, including having a proven screening and referral program, supplementing federal funding for Early Head Start and having broad criteria for which children can access early intervention services. But the findings show that no state has implemented all of them.

Teachers in at least five states have died with coronavirus since fall semester started

/ coronavirus

The Hill |

Teachers in at least five states have died from COVID-19 since the fall semester started, The Washington Post reported this past Thursday.

At least six teachers across Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina have died since early August as students return for the school year. It is unknown whether these teachers became infected at school, but several attempted to quarantine to avoid infecting other students and educators.

Court ruling suspends DeVos CARES funding shift

/ finance-funding

WILX – Onondaga, Michigan |

Secretary of education Betsy DeVos diverted $16.5 million of the funds originally intended for Michigan public schools to private schools, and did the same in other states, citing unclear language in the CARES act. In response a coalition of states and schools sued DeVos, and requested a preliminary injunction ruling from Judge James Donato to halt the diversion of the funds until the case is decided.

Late Wednesday Judge Donato granted the request.

In his order Donato found that suit is likely to succeed on its merits because, contrary to Secretary DeVos’ argument that the CARES Act language is ambiguous, Congress used language that is “familiar and uncomplicated, to say the least.”  As a result, Donato wondered, “how could anyone maintain with a straight face” that the CARES Act language is unclear?

Inequality Between Rich and Poor Kentucky School Districts Grows Again Even as Districts Face New COVID Costs and Looming Revenue Losses

Kentucky Center for Economic Policy |

The new KCEP research shows that wealthy districts had $2,840 more in state and local revenue per student than poor districts in the 2018/19 school year (the most recent for which data is available). The gap increased $122 in 2019 compared to the prior year, and is now just $208 shy of the pre-KERA gap in inflation-adjusted terms. 

How 3 Countries Are Educating Their Kids During The Pandemic

/ re-opening schools

As parents, teachers and children across the globe struggle with how to return to school safely during the pandemic, we look at strategies in Mexico, South Korea and Greece.

Kentucky Child Welfare System “Pushed to the Brink”

CityBeat |

Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Community Based Services, Marta Miranda-Straub, said frontline child protective services staff are working hard to keep kids safe, but noted her agency relies on teachers and childcare providers to help identify at-risk kids. With schools closed, there have been no extra sets of eyes.


Hundreds protest new student flu vaccine mandate at Massachusetts’ State House

/ health/wellness

Boston Herald |

Hundreds of parents and students gathered outside the Massachusetts’ State House on Sunday to protest Gov. Charlie Baker’s mandate requiring children — even those attending classes remotely — to receive the flu vaccine if they want to return to school.

Earlier this month, state health officials announced all students 6 months and older will be required to get the flu vaccine by the end of the year, unless medically or religiously exempt. Baker said the mandate came about as a means to take pressure off health-care systems as the coronavirus pandemic extends into flu season, but the requirement will stay in place even after the pandemic ends.

Florida judge strikes down order to reopen schools for in-person classes

/ legal, re-opening schools

Tampa Bay Times |

Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson ruled in favor of Florida’s statewide teachers union Monday, saying Department of Education officials “essentially ignored the requirement of school safety” when they ordered campuses to reopen for face-to-face classes this month.

Taryn Fenske, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Education, said the state had filed its appeal before the close of business Monday.

Judge blocks Ed Department from giving increased CARES funds to Washington private schools

/ finance-funding

Education Dive |

A federal court in Washington has ordered a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Department of Education and its secretary, Betsy DeVos, from implementing an interim final rule on distribution of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, which the judge said would cause public schools in the state “great” and “irreparable” harm.