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
Judge rules impact fees ‘unconstitutional’
The State of Florida First District Court of Appeal has ruled against an appeal by Santa Rosa County and the Santa Rosa County School District, which imposed an impact fee on new home construction intended to fund new schools and help with infrastructure needs. The ruling states that “the impact fees are, in fact, an unconstitutional tax.”
The Northwest Florida Daily News
Monroe County announces budget rate and COVID plans
The Monroe County School Board is in the final stages of producing a balanced budget for the 2021-22 school year, while allotting up to $2.5m for employee raises. A 6% property tax values increase and a 3.2840 millage levy were noted. The District had a $12.03m total fund balance as of June 30 and the final budget will be voted upon at the Sept. 7 school board meeting. Superintendent Theresa Axford said Florida Department of Health in Monroe County Administrator Bob Eadie will attend the board’s next meeting August 10 to discuss COVID-19 regulations and considerations for re-opening schools.
Volusia County Schools won’t require uniforms this fall
The Volusia County School Board has voted to get rid of uniforms for the coming school year, just in time for Florida's sales tax holiday. Students will not be required to wear plain-colored collared shirts to school. Instead, they'll adhere to a dress code with guidelines about what types of clothing are appropriate or not.
Daytona Beach News Journal
Marion schools' tentative budget soars to all-time high
The Marion County School Board has approved the district's tentative 2021-22 budget, a record spending plan of nearly $700m. The budget is also $105m more than the 2019-20 budget. Superintendent of Schools Diane Gullett and her administrative team have been tweaking the budget for months, trying to ensure that all the top priority programs remain in place as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The cost of salaries, benefits, school security and COVID-19 preparation are all part of the increase. Notably, the district received $72.8m in total rescue funding.
Leon, Orange counties require workers to be vaccinated
Citing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases because of the delta variant of the coronavirus, Leon and Orange counties on Wednesday moved to require their employees to get vaccinated against the disease. “This is very simple and very serious. As an employer, we are required to provide a safe work environment for employees, and unvaccinated employees pose a significant risk to spread the virus,” Leon County Administrator Vince Long said in a memo. Employees will be given until Oct. 1 to provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated, and their employment will be terminated if they fail to do so.
Tampa Bay Times
Congress gears up for debate over charter school law
In early July, House Democrats released their legislation for funding the U.S. Department of Education for the upcoming fiscal year. Lawmakers who wrote this fiscal 2022 bill proposed cutting the $440m Charter School Program, which aims to help successful charter schools replicate and expand, by $40m next year. The bill also includes a section stating that no federal funding can go to a charter school “that contracts with a for-profit entity to operate, oversee or manage the activities of the school." Supporters of charter schools argue that this would essentially bar all charter schools from contracting with any private entity for a wide variety of services, from meals to backroom office work. In a July 26th letter addressed to House and Senate leaders, more than 60 national, state, and local groups said that “Separating out and dividing public school students - treating their funding differently based on the type of public school they choose and then punishing students who choose to attend one type over another - sends a message that the federal government doesn’t believe all public school students are equal." In response, Democrats say they are targeting charters run by for-profit management organizations; Rep. Rosa DeLauro, (D-CN), the chairwoman of the House appropriations committee, called the letter's rhetoric part of a “well-funded misinformation campaign” that distorts the actual, narrower purposes of the bill. A Democratic staffer said lawmakers are open to improving the bill's language to clarify its intentions.
SOCIAL & COMMUNITY
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
U.S. emphasizes commitment to international students
The U.S. Government has announced a “renewed commitment” to promote the United States as a study destination for international students as well as the benefits of global academic engagement. The joint statement by the Departments of State and Education comes after a decrease in international student interest to study in the US due mostly to policies considered unwelcoming under the previous administration. “The United States cannot afford to be absent from the world stage,” the statement reads.
Research underlines '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