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
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.
New York Times
Donna ISD replaces acting superintendent
The Donna ISD school board has voted to replace acting superintendent Anthony Sorola, who was named to the position in mid-June following the departure of Hafedh Azaiez, with Rebecca Castaneda DeHoyos, who currently serves as an assistant superintendent with the district. Board President Maricela Valdez characterized the decision as being rooted in the most efficient way to allocate administrators Wednesday; she noted that Mr. Sorola, whose regular position is assistant superintendent for HR and finance, would be able to focus fully on his existing duties. Ms. Valdez said the district has begun searching for a fulltime replacement for Mr. Azaiez and she expects one to be found in a month or a month-and-a-half.
My RGV News
Houston ISD on custodial position recruitment drive
Houston ISD is looking to fill more than 400 custodial positions by the end of the year, as it transitions from outsourced contracted custodial workers to in-house positions. Of HISD’s 280 schools, 79 are serviced by contracted vendors. It will transition those campuses to in-house service by December 1st. All new custodial positions are full-time jos and will be eligible for paid holidays, benifits, and retirement plans. “Our goal is to make this transition to be as seamless as possible,” Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations Officer Alishia Jolivette said. “We will continue to provide the best service possible to our schools.”
Denton ISD virtual school on track to open
Denton ISD K-8 Virtual Academy is on course for the 2021-22 school year, despite not receiving support from the Texas Education Agency or the Texas Legislature. More than 247 students enrolled prior to the district’s deadline in April, and 114 students in the district are currently on a wait list. The wait list grew after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a coronavirus vaccine for children under 12 years old would not be approved until after the district’s first day of school on August 12th. Although the Texas Legislature failed to pass a bill that would have funded virtual learning, the school will be able to operate thanks to an estimated $22m in state and federal support from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund
Spring Branch brings on three new principals this school year
Spring Branch ISD is getting three new principals this school year, all at the elementary school level. Mandy Antolini is the new principal at Shadow Oaks Elementary School; Enemecio Gomez is the new principal at Terrace Elementary School; and Hillary Hiler is the new principal at Frostwood Elementary School.
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
Allen calls $23.6m bond election
Allen ISD has called a bond election that will consist of two ballot items, collectively totaling $23.6m. Proposition A’s $15.9m budget allotment will be dedicated to improvements for tennis courts, weight rooms and other amenities for facilities such as the Lowery Freshman Center and the Allen ISD Activity Center, while Proposition B is a $7.7m item devoted to track and turf replacements and additions for Curtis Middle School, Lowery Freshman Center, Allen High School, Ford Middle School and Eagle Stadium. Despite the fact that these bond items would increase property taxes, chief financial officer Johnny Hill emphasized their necessity and economic prudence in telling trustees, “One thing that we do know through school finance is if we don’t go on and take care of these items, then of course, the magnitude of these costs will only increase over time.”
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