Florida bans teaching of 'critical race theory'
Florida has become the latest state to ban critical race theory, continuing the growing opposition to schools potentially teaching about systemic racism. After hours of debate and public comment Thursday, the Florida State Board of Education unanimously approved the amendment. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who appointed much of the board, spoke ahead of the meeting, saying critical race theory would teach children "the country is rotten and that our institutions are illegitimate." Idaho passed a bill in May banning teaching in any public school that "any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior," which, according to that bill, was often found in critical race theory. Tennessee has banned teaching it, too.
Majority of fourth graders now back in classrooms
For the first time since the pandemic began, the majority of 4th graders nationwide have finally made it back to classes in person full time, according to the latest federal data. The National Center for Education Statistics says that by April, nearly all K-8 schools offered at least some in-person instruction, with 56% providing full-time instruction on campus. “Today’s data reaffirms what we’ve been seeing and hearing for months—that we’ve met and exceeded President Biden’s goal of reopening the majority of K-8 schools, and that as a nation we continue to make significant progress in reopening as many schools as possible before the summer,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a statement on the data. A separate report from Burbio, covering 1,200 districts, including the 200 largest, found that in general, conservative-leaning states reopened schools faster than liberal-leaning ones. There was strong variation among the latter, however; those in the Northeast and the Midwest reopened a lot faster than the West Coast, which has the highest concentration of remote learners. White students were the least likely of any racial or ethnic group to be learning virtually; Asian American students were the most likely.
US Department of Education
New York Times
Volusia planning to use federal funds to cover shortfall
The Volusia County School District is planning to cover a projected budget shortfall of $46m with emergency federal funding issued during the COVID-19 pandemic. An early look at the district's financial picture this week showed that declining student enrollment and increasing contributions to private school vouchers combined to make a tough financial year for the district. "I hate to say a sinking ship," laments Superintendent Scott Fritz, "but that's what you're doing: you're plugging those holes."
Daytona Beach News Journal
State okays Hillsborough district's plan for two troubled schools
Hillsborough County superintendent Addison Davis projects dramatic improvement in student test scores at two struggling district schools. Oak Park and Foster, both in East Tampa, are in a group of struggling schools that have been renamed the “Transformation Network.” Foster, with 377 students, received an F from the state in 2019, when grades were last given. That followed a five-year string of D's. Oak Park, with 422 students and F grades in 2018 and 2019, has not had better than a D since 2012. Davis attributes some of the schools' problems to past leadership but underlined student poverty rates of more than 96%. The Hillsborough School Board will vote Tuesday on an extended relationship with MGT of America, which the state board has already approved.
Tampa Bay Times
Bay County Schools favors stricter student dress code
The Bay District Schools Board has approved advertising its new dress code policy for 30 days. The dress code, if approved, would change the more lax dress code BDS has had in place since Hurricane Michael, which was meant to lessen the burden for parents to buy certain shirts, pants and other clothing. The dress code to be advertised wasn't developed by the school board, but by a committee of principals from all grade levels: elementary, middle and high school. Under the new policy, shirts tucked in pants with belts no longer will be required. Shirts can be collared, but they also can be crewneck tops of any solid color.
How unions in America's largest districts are handling school reopenings
The 74 looks at how teacher unions in the United States' four largest school districts have handled school reopenings. Unions in New York and Miami-Dade County reached agreement on reopening last fall, while Chicago’s union didn’t come to terms until March. The Los Angeles union didn’t come to terms until April, and most LA schools won’t reopen until this fall. Some asked for additional staff to address mental health issues and learning loss, while others went further afield, wanting an end to standardized tests. Some demands, however, are universal. Each union wants smaller class sizes, which means more teachers, and more support employees to occupy various new programs.
CTE directors share tips for strong school-business partnerships
A report released in March by the Association for Career and Technical Education noted "significant enrollment declines" in Career and Technology Education (CTE) courses this school year, along with concerns about possible funding declines and instructor shortages in the years ahead. One major struggle during the pandemic has been providing work-based learning experiences, the report said. K-12 Dive speaks to CTE leaders to garner advice for keeping school-business connections strong by cultivating relationships and working through challenges. Insights include casting a far net to draw businesses and organizations of all sizes into partnerships, thus ensuring better matches for student and employer needs, and to create a full-time workforce development coordinator role, to both promote CTE programs and work on curriculum updates;
U.S. state legislators move to restrict teaching about racism and bias
Over the last several months, officials nationwide have raced to enact new laws and introduce new policies meant to shape how students discuss race and bias in both the past and the present. Some have focused on restricting the use of critical race theory, a framework that examines how policies and the law perpetuate systemic racism. In other states, lawmakers have tried to restrict specific kinds of antiracism training or the teaching of “divisive” concepts. Chalkbeat has drawn up a map showing which states have introduced efforts to restrict education on racism, bias, the contributions of specific racial or ethnic groups to U.S. history, or related topics; ranging from Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign a bill banning elements of critical race theory in the classroom, and potentially prohibiting classroom simulations and community service projects, to Michigan, where a bill introduced by senior lawmakers in the stat Senate last month would cut funding to districts that teach critical race theory, the “1619 Project,” or a list of “anti-American and racist theories.”
SOCIAL & COMMUNITY
Polk County Public Schools' Hall of Fame welcomes inductees
This year’s inductees into Polk County Public Schools' Hall of Fame have been named. Since its inception, the Hall of Fame has inducted more than 100 former students. This year's inductees are Charles Mullenax, educator and former Polk County School Board member, Robert L. Trohn, attorney and law firm founder who graduated from Lakeland High School in 1950, Howard Wiggs, businessman and former Lakeland mayor who graduated from Mulberry High School in 1965, and educator and administrator Oziemar Woodard. PCPS created its Hall of Fame in 1985 to recognize former students who have gone on to distinguish themselves in their careers or communities.