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From Kindergarten to K-12, Edtech news, school management and teaching strategies… Education Slice is the only trusted online news source in the US dedicated to covering current headlines, articles, reports and interviews to make sure you’re at the forefront of changes in the education industry.

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National
Charter schools buoyed by pandemic gains

Charter school enrollment has held firm since soaring in the early days of the pandemic, according to a report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Debbie Veney, one the report’s authors, who believes the pandemic has “spurred parents to become more involved in the way that their kids were being educated,” says the steadying trend shows the initial enrollment jump was not just a fluke. Between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, charter schools saw their enrollment jump more than 7%, an increase of nearly 240,000 students nationwide, at the same time that public school districts lost more than 1.4m students. A year later, enrollment numbers at charter schools fell by just a fraction, according to the report, a decrease of about 1,400 students. In Oklahoma, for example, nearly 22,000 students left charter schools in the most recent school year — more than a quarter of the state’s overall charter school population and over half of the prior year’s enrollment spike. That drop was offset by other states like Florida, where just over 20,000 new students entered the charter system, increasing the state’s charter population by about 6%.

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Education Slice
California
California schools cannot mandate vaccines, court rules

An appeals court has now ruled that California school districts have no authority to mandate vaccinations. "The Legislature has mandated that public health officials, not school authorities, determine the diseases for which vaccinations are required," the state's 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego said this week, rejecting the San Diego Unified School District's attempt to require vaccinations for students 16 and older. San Diego, the state's second-largest school district with more than 121,000 students, proposed in September 2021 to require its older students to be vaccinated against the coronavirus in order to attend classes, sports and other in-person events. Its order would allow exemptions for medical reasons but not for religious or personal objections. Later, the district said it would postpone any mandate until at least July 2023, but by then it was already being challenged in court. Tuesday's ruling was the first on the issue by a state appeals court, and will be binding on lower courts statewide unless it is overturned by the state Supreme Court or contradicted by another appeals court. Other districts seeking to require vaccines have also run into legal hurdles. Piedmont Unified in the East Bay required students 12 and older to show proof of vaccinations by mid-November 2021, one of the first in California to impose a mandate, but withdrew its order two months later after a judge halted enforcement in response to an anti-vaccination group's lawsuit. Oakland and Los Angeles had also planned vaccine mandates in early 2022 but postponed them while also facing potential legal challenges.

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Education Slice
Texas
Ed. Dept. publishes Stronger Connections grant program draft

The U.S. Department of Education has published a draft FAQ in regard to the $1bn Stronger Connections grant program, which will be distributed through Title IV, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Schools should take a comprehensive approach to the prevention of violence that includes not only improved safety measures but meets students’ physical, social, emotional, mental health and academic needs, the document asserts. Recommended activities under the grant, which is part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, include reducing exclusionary discipline, hiring behavior specialists, and implementing anti-bullying practices. The guidance also suggests that if a school community decides to employ school resource officers, it should have a comprehensive process for hiring, training and program evaluation. The 36-page draft document details allowable activities for supporting student mental wellness, helping pre-schoolers, meeting the individual needs of students with disabilities, and responding to incidents of hate, as well as for purchasing and using security equipment like surveillance cameras and metal detectors. Other factors to be considered in awarding grants include the need for mental health staff. The Education Department is accepting feedback on the FAQ document, which when final will be non-regulatory guidance, through December 19.

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Education Slice
Florida
Ed. Dept. publishes Stronger Connections grant program draft

The U.S. Department of Education has published a draft FAQ in regard to the $1bn Stronger Connections grant program, which will be distributed through Title IV, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Schools should take a comprehensive approach to the prevention of violence that includes not only improved safety measures but meets students’ physical, social, emotional, mental health and academic needs, the document asserts. Recommended activities under the grant, which is part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, include reducing exclusionary discipline, hiring behavior specialists, and implementing anti-bullying practices. The guidance also suggests that if a school community decides to employ school resource officers, it should have a comprehensive process for hiring, training and program evaluation. The 36-page draft document details allowable activities for supporting student mental wellness, helping pre-schoolers, meeting the individual needs of students with disabilities, and responding to incidents of hate, as well as for purchasing and using security equipment like surveillance cameras and metal detectors. Other factors to be considered in awarding grants include the need for mental health staff. The Education Department is accepting feedback on the FAQ document, which when final will be non-regulatory guidance, through December 19.

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