A daily round-up of education news and views for the Golden State.
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 Principal News
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Thursday, 29th July 2021




Education Dept. shores up services for homeless children

The Education Department has released $600m to states to improve services for homeless students. The funding is intended to identify children experiencing homelessness or housing instability, and boost wraparound services such as housing assistance, clothing, food and mental health support that they already provide with funding through the McKinney-Vento Act, the federal education law that provides aid to states to help them support students experiencing homelessness. More than 1.5m children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness at some point during the 2017-18 school year, the most recent year for which reliable data is available, according to the Children's Defense Fund; however, experts say the pandemic exacerbated homelessness among students, especially for Black, Hispanic and Indigenous children who already experience housing instability at the highest rates. The funding is part of the $130bn included in the most recent coronavirus relief package for K-12 education. The majority of the $600m will flow directly to school districts through a formula that takes into account a district's population of children and youth experiencing homelessness and the proportion of students who come from low-income families.

US News and World Report 




LA County Board Of Education welcomes new president, board members

Betty Forrester, a retired teacher and longtime education union leader, was named president of the Los Angeles County Board of Education for the 2021-22 academic year, the county announced on Wednesday. Ms. Forrester was a Los Angeles USD teacher for more than four decades; she was also vice president of the California Federation of Teachers and a member of the American Federation of Teachers’ Public Policy Committee. James Cross, founder of Port of Los Angeles High School and former operator of Cross America financial services company, was named vice president, while Judy Abdo, Yvonne Chan, R. Michael Dutton, and Stanley L. Johnson Jr. were all appointed to the board.

Los Angeles Daily News 


San Diego USD commences superintendent search

San Diego USD will today begin a series of 30 town hall meetings to help it search for a new superintendent while shaping a vision for the district. The town halls will gather feedback which will dictate what qualities the search committee will look for in a new superintendent, said Janice Case, California state director for the National Center on Education and the Economy. The center, which is working with the district, will compile and summarize input from the town hall meetings and share it with the 48-member superintendent advisory committee, which will then recommend about 10 candidates to be interviewed by the school board. The board appointed Lamont Jackson interim Superintendent through December 31st, after former Superintendent Cindy Marten was named Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

San Diego Union-Tribune 


San Jose USD mandates vaccination or testing for all staff

San Jose USD will require teachers and staff to either be vaccinated or tested twice a week for the coronavirus, making the district of 30,000 students potentially the first in the Bay Area to announce such a policy. It will also mandate that masks be worn inside and outside of school buildings, regardless of vaccination status, a step further than state public health guidelines, which only require masks indoors. While indoors, students will need to maintain three feet of distance between each other. District spokesperson Jennifer Maddox was unaware of other districts in the region adopting similar policies but said “I suspect that’s going to be the direction most districts go” as concerns grow about rising infection rates driven by the more contagious delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. “Everyone has the same goal overall of keeping students and staff as safe as possible,” she added.

The Mercury News 


Novato to offer virtual independent study program

Novato USD will offer a Virtual Independent Study Program in the upcoming school year. It will be taught by credentialed NUSD teachers and will include daily live virtual learning in grades TK-8. For grades 9-12, virtual independent study will comprise of weekly meetings and live instruction. Field trips and opportunities for extracurricular activities will be available.

The Patch 




Monsanto ordered to pay teachers $185m over chemical exposure

Three schoolteachers in Washington state who sued chemical company Monsanto over exposure to materials in fluorescent lights have been awarded $185m. The teachers, who worked at the Sky Valley Education Center in Monroe, Washington, said they suffered brain damage from exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in the fluorescent lighting at the school. This was the first of 22 trials involving teachers, parents and students who spent time at Sky Valley. A 2019 Associated Press investigation found that millions of fluorescent light ballasts containing PCBs probably remain in schools and day care centers across the U.S. four decades after the chemicals were banned over concerns that they could cause cancer and other illnesses. Many older buildings also have caulk, ceiling tiles, floor adhesives and paint made with PCBs, which sometimes have been found at levels far higher than allowed by law.

The Daily Progress 




Black students face outsize harm from pandemic

A new study of hundreds of Black educators, students and parents found that Black students will be returning to the classroom this fall with disproportionate amounts of trauma and heightened mistrust of education. The Black Education Research Collective at Teachers College, Columbia University, conducted online surveys and focus groups from January through May in six major U.S. cities to map the impact of the coronavirus on the education of Black youth. They found that governmental and institutional responses to the coronavirus, police brutality, anti-Black violence and uprisings like the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol have caused further “erosion of trust in schools and institutions” by Black Americans. In order to rebuild trust, the study’s authors wrote, leaders should begin to view students, parents and educators as “equal partners in education.” The report recommends using funds allocated to schools by the American Rescue Plan to respond to the academic and mental health needs of Black students, improve school infrastructure, and hire more Black teachers to update school curriculums to better understand Black history in the U.S.

New York Times 




Research confirms existence of school-to-prison pipeline

Children who attend schools with high suspension rates are significantly more likely to be arrested and jailed as adults, especially Black and Hispanic boys, according to researchers from Boston University, the University of Colorado Boulder and Harvard University. They sought to find whether a causal link exists between students who experience strict school discipline and being arrested or incarcerated as an adult, and whether attending a stricter school influences criminal activity in adulthood. Students assigned to stricter middle schools were 3.2 percentage points more likely to have been arrested, and 2.5 percentage points more likely to have been incarcerated as adults. They were also 1.7 percentage points more likely to drop out of high school and 2.4 percentage points less likely to attend a four-year college. The impacts are significantly more predictive for Black and Hispanic boys who attended strict middle schools. The findings come as Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and department officials seek public comments on new regulations related to school discipline and the disproportionate rate at which students of color are suspended and expelled.

US News & World Report 




National test scores show pandemic stalled student progress

A pandemic that reshaped American society and disrupted more than a year of schooling also slowed progress in math and reading for millions of U.S. students, according to new national data from testing group NWEA, with Black, Latino, and low-income students were hit hardest. The report, which focuses on students in grades three through eight and compares their progress this year to similar students from before the pandemic, found that by the end of last school year, the typical student was behind where they would normally be — three to six percentile points behind in reading and eight to 12 points behind in math, with younger students faring worse than their older peers. In elementary grades, Black, Latino, and Native American students usually saw much steeper declines than white and Asian students. Students in high-poverty schools also saw bigger drops than those in more affluent schools. Another analysis, based on a different test and released Tuesday by the consulting firm McKinsey, found similar results. First through sixth -graders were an average of five months behind where they would usually be in math and fourth months behind in reading.  Black and Latino students typically lost six months in math, while white students lost four months. “The losses are not only greater but also piled on top of historical inequities in opportunity and achievement,” wrote the McKinsey researchers.

Chalkbeat  New York Times 

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