Important Questions to Ask about Education Research
There's a great deal of information - from peer-reviewed research papers to news articles to shared posts on social media sites - about teaching and learning available to educators. While every teacher wants to provide their students with the very best instruction, the sheer amount of information (and the reality that the information is sometimes conflicting) can make it overwhelming to make decisions about classroom strategies. Dr. Timothy Shanahan, Dr. Jan Hasbrouck, and Dr. Doug Fisher created this guide to help educators navigate the complex task of bridging research and practice.
Education Secretary backs mandatory school COVID vaccines
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Thursday he supports mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for older teenagers, saying vaccines are critical to keeping students in school and that governors, not school superintendents, should implement such mandates. “I wholeheartedly support it,” he said. “It’s the best tool that we have to safely reopen schools and keep them open. We don’t want to have the yo-yo effect that many districts had last year, and we can prevent that by getting vaccinated.” Mr. Cardona pointed to the effectiveness of the measles vaccine, which is required for children in childcare or public schools in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., in protecting against infections as reason why the coronavirus vaccine should be mandatory for schoolchildren. “There’s a reason why we’re not talking about measles today,” he noted. “It was a required vaccination, and we put it behind us. So I do believe at this point we need to be moving forward.” Meanwhile, a federal vaccine advisory committee has voted against recommending a booster shot for essential workers, including K-12 school staff. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee on immunization practices voted yesterday to recommend a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 65 and older and those ages 50 and older with underlying medical conditions; however, it declined to recommend that adults younger than 65 who live or work in settings where the burden of COVID-19 infection and risk of transmission are high, including schools, receive a booster dose based on an assessment of their individual benefit and risk, which typically means a conversation with their doctor. Committee members were concerned that there were no clear data yet showing that healthy adults needed a booster shot, regardless of their occupation. Opening the door to allowing millions of essential workers to get a booster shot would be complicated, they said, and it wouldn’t make a significant dent in curbing the pandemic.
New cohort of Promise Neighborhoods grantees announced
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded over $40m to the newest cohort of Promise Neighborhoods grantees across seven states. Authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended, the Promise Neighborhoods Program is intended to significantly improve academic and developmental outcomes for children living in communities of concentrated poverty. The Department made awards to seven grantees, including Klamath River Promise, located on Yurok tribal lands in California, which will target historically high rates of chronic absenteeism by hiring part-time attendance specialists for each of the schools in its Promise Neighborhood, and also the Broward Up Promise Neighborhood, in Broward County, Florida, which has engaged partners to specifically serve students experiencing homelessness, foster-care involved youth, teenaged parents, and students who have been exposed to the juvenile justice system. President Biden’s FY22 budget includes a $10m proposed increase for Promise Neighborhoods to reflect the Administration’s priority on expanding community-school partnerships to better meet the comprehensive needs of underserved communities.
Staffing shortage delays program to extend school day and year
One of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s and the Legislature’s most ambitious and expensive education programs, the extension of the school day and of the school year for elementary school students, will not be happening this year, at least in most districts. School districts and charter schools say they are struggling to find enough teachers, substitute teachers, bus drivers and COVID contact tracers to fill existing and new pandemic-related jobs, so adding before- and after-school positions is unfeasible. Newsom and legislators had hoped to launch the program this year, which they saw as critical to meet the extra emotional needs of students, particularly low-income, foster and homeless children, after 16-plus months of isolation and, for many, of trauma during the pandemic. That’s also what the existing state-funded after-school programs, called After School Education and Safety programs, are designed to do through tutoring, project-based learning, social and emotional supports and physical activity. “Districts have so much on their plates. Legislators recognized that it will take time to build new systems, and we want them to do it well, starting with a safe reopening of schools,” said Erin Gabel, a consultant for the Assembly Budget Committee. The committee chairman, Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, was active in final negotiations on education spending.
SoCal school district pays $11m to settle abuse lawsuit
Redlands USD has agreed to pay $11m to settle a lawsuit filed by seven victims and alleged victims of a former middle school teacher who is serving a 74-year prison sentence for sexual abuse. The settlement ends litigation initially comprising four separate lawsuits involving Sean Ramiro Lopez, who taught English at Clement Middle School.
San Francisco Chronicle
Davis JUSD introduces new dual enrollment partnership with Sacramento City College
Sacramento City College (SCC) and Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) have signed a College and Careers Access Pathways MOU to launch a dual enrollment partnership. The SCC Hispanic Serving Institution Early College Program will be helping coordinate the dual enrollment partnership with plans to start providing SCC course offerings to DJUSD students in the spring 2022 semester. This partnership will provide high school students who may not already be college-bound or who are underrepresented in higher education with a pathway to start their college degree and future career before they graduate from high school. A coordinated dual enrollment effort will introduce college to high school students in a supportive environment while providing wraparound support services.
The Daily Democrat
Bay Area school named after nation's oldest living national park ranger
Betty Reid Soskin, America’s oldest living National Park Ranger and overseer of the Rosie the Riveter National Monument World War II Homefront National Historical Park in Point Richmond, celebrated her 100th birthday on Wednesday by cutting the ribbon at the Betty Reid Soskin Middle School in El Sobrante. The school in West Contra Costa County USD was formerly named Juan Crespi Middle School. The name change was engineered by an 8th grade history project into the life of their school’s namesake, a Franciscan Missionary. After researching the roles of the missionaries in racial suppression in California, the students petitioned the school board to change the name and Soskin was selected by unanimous vote of the school board last June.
San Francisco Chronicle
Charter schools see highest enrollment growth since 2015
Charter schools experienced more growth in 2020-21, the first full year of the pandemic, than they’ve seen in the past six years, according to preliminary data released Wednesday from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. At a time when traditional public schools saw a 1.4m drop in student enrollment, charters in 39 states saw an influx of 240,000 new students, a 7% year-on-year increase. Of the 42 states covered in the report, only Illinois, Iowa and Wyoming saw declines in the charter school population. While Tennessee, Kansas, Puerto Rico and Guam also have charters, data was unavailable for those states and territories. Growth in the charter sector ranged from less than 1% in Washington, D.C. and Louisiana, to a 78% jump in Oklahoma. Alabama saw a 65% jump in enrollment.
Districts share insights on administering vaccines to students
Following Pfizer's announcement this week that its COVID-19 vaccine, at a lower dosage, is safe and effective for children ages five and up, Education Week speaks to several school districts that have already had success hosting vaccination clinics about what they’ve learned in the process, and their insights about extending the service to younger children.
How districts can support students with disabilities amid mask debates
Disability advocates in at least half a dozen states are filing complaints in court, arguing statewide policies prohibiting mask mandates discriminate against students with disabilities and deny those students equal access to education. Some school attorneys and special education experts agree but say as the lawsuits weave their way through the courts, there are proactive steps districts should take to address the individualized needs and safety of students with disabilities. Jose Martín, an attorney with the Richards, Lindsay & Martín law firm in Austin, Texas, which represents school districts, said he advises districts to have mask policies. Where that’s not possible, he recommends schools consider potential alternatives, such as remote instruction, based on each student’s circumstance. But, he said, even that's not a good alternative. "If you don't have a mask requirement, you're forcing some vulnerable special ed students to have to do remote learning even if it's not a good learning environment and more restrictive than necessary," Martín said.
Providing a welcoming classroom for students from Afghanistan
Assisting in international evacuations is beyond the usual scope of school district employees’ work. As education officials across the nation prepare for new arrivals from Afghanistan - with funding requested to resettle 65,000 people from the nation by the end of September - experts say having systems in place to welcome refugee students and continuously support them will be key. While newly arrived families are often first helped by resettlement agencies, schools then quickly pick up the work of helping families adjust to their new homes and feel supported going forward, said Cristina Burkhart, an English-learner program specialist at San Juan USD in California. That means tending to students’ academic needs, but also doing things like providing donated food, clothing, and wheelchairs for students. The work also extends to helping parents gain agency, including teaching them things like how to schedule doctors’ appointments and how the school grading system works. Fostering a welcoming environment for refugee students is something teachers can do in the classroom as well. At Travis Heights elementary school in Austin, Texas, Shayna Bright, a 2nd grade English-as-a-second-language teacher, keeps a journal where she jots down Pashto and Dari words her Afghan students teach her. So while they learn English, she learns more of their home languages. “That buy-in with the children has really made a big impact,” Bright said. “They see that I care not just about their education, but about them and their culture.”
San Ramon teen starts nonprofit to empower female tech students
Last year Megan Jacob, a Dougherty Valley High School student, set up a nonprofit, Tech Girls United, to educate and empower women in tech. The nonprofit now offers networking coffee chats, monthly workshops on a slew of topics including user interface design, information sciences, empathetic technology, and this summer offered a two-day tech conference for an international audience. For her work Ms Jacob has garnered a number of awards, including the Gold Presidential Volunteer Service award and Society of Women Engineers STEM in Action award.