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5th August 2022
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Uvalde DA contests release of law enforcement records
The Texas Department of Public Safety refused to publicly release official records related to the Robb Elementary shooting at the request of the Uvalde County district attorney’s office, according to testimony during a Thursday hearing in a Travis County state district courtroom. Christina Mitchell Busbee said such a move would compromise the ongoing investigation into the shooting and law enforcement actions that day. “If there’s information placed out in the public, then people would be apt to come to a conclusion without hearing the full story, the full investigation there,” Ms. Busbee said. “There is no way that I would be able to see that justice was done.” She was arguing against a case brought by Democratic state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who has been pushing for months for a public release of Uvalde records, noting that law enforcement officials and politicians have repeatedly changed their stories about the events of May 24th. The judge, Catherine Mauzy, gave all parties until Monday to submit additional documents and said she would decide the case “sooner than later.” Relatedly, more than a dozen media organizations also are seeking to gain access to records requested under the Texas Public Information Act. They filed a lawsuit Monday in Travis County against the DPS. Among the news outlets involved in the lawsuit are the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Texas Tribune, ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN.
Build Strong Decoders | The Science of Reading in Practice

Research tells us how children best learn to read, but what does this actually look like in classroom practice? In a new webinar Dr. Julia B. Lindsey, an expert in early literacy development, curriculum, and instruction, and author of Reading Above the Fray, will share teacher-approved “essential instructional swaps” backed by the science of reading that educators can implement right away to help students become proficient readers. Dr. Lindsey will demonstrate these efficient and effective decoding routines that can be implemented in 15 minutes or less!

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Ed Dept: Students show 'significant progress' as staffing woes continue
High poverty schools, schools with 75% or more minority students, and city schools all anticipate a higher number of teaching vacancies than other schools for the 2022-23 school year, according to a survey of 859 public schools released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics. The teaching positions most schools expect to be very difficult to fill include foreign languages, computer science and special education. Of the schools surveyed, 88% reported teacher and staff burnout, and 82% said mental health became a more pressing staffing concern in the 2021-22 school year. Some 62% said inability to fill vacant positions also became a greater concern last school year. At the same time, 50% of students began the 2021-22 school year behind grade level in at least one academic subject, compared to 36% at the start of a typical pre-pandemic school year. By the end of the 2021-22 school year, however, the percentage of students behind in at least one academic subject returned to 36% — marking a 14 percentage-point reduction, said NCES Commissioner Peggy Carr. U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement the data points to ”significant progress” made by students during the 2021-22 school year. 
Houston ISD Super: Police would ‘not be prepared’ for active shooter
Houston ISD’s police department would not be prepared should Texas’ largest school district be targeted by active shooter, Superintendent Millard House II said Thursday night. “I don’t know that this has garnered community insight but what I do know is that, if there was an active shooter in HISD, our police department is not prepared,” he said during an agenda review meeting. His remarks were in response to questioning from Trustee Dani Hernandez regarding an item the board is expected to vote on during next week’s meeting for purchase of items worth more than $100,000. The specific agenda item includes various purchases for the school district’s police department. House said the district would be buying 200 rifles, 200 ballistic plate shields and rifle ammunition. HISD police Chief Pete Lopez said research showed police who were better prepared helped in stopping a shooter faster. He was confident about training the district’s police force — estimated to be more than 200 employees — had received. But he did “not have a lot of confidence in preparing our officers to encounter a suspect without the proper equipment.” He said they needed scenario-based training to learn how to respond to such a threat.
Fort Worth school board moves closer to selecting a superintendent
Fort Worth ISD trustees began interviewing finalists for the position of superintendent on Thursday after an Illinois-based search firm narrowed the applicant pool down to six semifinalists. District officials and board members declined to identify the candidates, citing attorney-client privilege, but the lone finalist will be announced following the interview process. Interviews were scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week. The search for superintendent follows an announcement by Kent Scribner in January that he was leaving at the end of his contract in 2024, followed by another announcement in March that he would be leaving his position sooner, at the end of August 2022. The board said Mr. Scribner will continue to serve in an advisory capacity through February 2023.
Spring ISD bond could fund high school rebuild, new multipurpose center
A bond measure proposal consisting of $850m worth of projects, including a complete rebuild of Spring High School and new multipurpose center, will be presented to the Spring ISD school board on Tuesday evening. Following the presentation, the board will decide whether to put the bond on the ballot this November, and which of the recommended items should be included in the final package. As well as the $430.5m Spring High rebuild and a $141m education and performance center with seating for 5,000, other items include a $20m refresh of Westfield High School, $77m for priority maintenance issues, and funds for renovations or redesign work at Reynolds Elementary and Jenkins Elementary schools
K-12 groups back racial diversity as SCOTUS schedules affirmative action arguments
In a pair of U.S. Supreme Court cases about college admissions, several K-12 groups this week filed briefs supporting the consideration of race in elementary and secondary education contexts as well, with one arguing that a ruling against affirmative action would only increase efforts to limit books about and discussions of race in the K-12 classrooms. On Wednesday, the court set October 31st as the argument date for Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College (No. 20-1199) and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina (No. 21-707). Harvard and the University of North Carolina are defending their lower-court victories in challenges brought by the Students for Fair Admissions, a national group led by Edward Blum, a legal strategist who was behind a challenge to affirmative action at the University of Texas at Austin. Among the K-12 groups in support of affirmative action is the National Education Association, which used its brief to discuss recent controversies over teaching about race in the classroom. “Rather than exposing the root causes of racial inequality in schools and equipping our educators and our students to face systemic issues, they promote a whitewashed version of our history and ignore that history’s lasting impact,” the brief says. “The mission of public elementary, secondary, and higher education cannot be fulfilled without affirmative efforts to achieve racially diverse classrooms.” Other groups giving their backing to affirmative action legislation include the American Federation of Teachers, and the Council of the Great City Schools.
Data reveal new trends in enrollment, virtual school and special education
New data collated by Education Week for its statistics pages offer a snapshot of new trends in virtual schooling, enrollment, and special education. There were 691 virtual schools in 2019-20, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, using the most recent data available. By comparison, 21% of public schools offered online courses in 2017-18. Meanwhile, the average enrollment of city and rural schools is inching up. The average number of students in city schools rose from 585 in 2018 to 588 students in 2019, the most recent year available. Rural schools grew from an average of 364 students in 2018 to 368 a year later. Average enrollment in suburban schools, meanwhile, declined, dropping from 656 in 2018 to 654 in 2019. Finally, the percentage of special education students rose in states with the smallest percentage (Hawaii and Texas with 11.3%) and the largest percentage (New York with 20.5%) of these students in 2020-21. Texas previously had the smallest share with 10.8% of students in special education in 2019-20. New York had the largest, with 19.9%.
The perks of transitioning to a four-day school week
Administrators of school districts that have transitioned to a four-day school week say they’ve seen an increase in applicants for vacant educator roles, even from out-of-state teachers. More than 1,600 schools across 24 states had a four-day school week by 2019 and the trend is growing. Tom Rice, superintendent of the Wolsey-Wessington School District in South Dakota, which operates on a four-day school week, says absenteeism and discipline referrals have seen marked improvements. In Brighton, Colorado’s School District 27J, graduation rates — particularly among Latino students — have increased since a four-day school week began in 2018, Superintendent Chris Fiedler says. “It emerged as a real competitive advantage, particularly for rural schools who were having difficulties in attracting talented teachers — or teachers at all,” notes Andrea Phillips, a policy researcher at RAND Corp. who has studied the subject.
States invest pandemic relief funds into early education workforce
States are investing federal COVID-19 relief funds to build up the early childhood education workforce through increased compensation, mental health supports, professional development and more, according to an analysis of spending from the National Association of State Boards of Education. As of May, 12% of early childhood education positions — or 117,400 — remained unfilled or were eliminated, according to NASBE. Many early education programs closed temporarily during the pandemic, wreaking havoc on the ability to maintain a stable workforce. Money from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, however, has provided states an opportunity for a strong recovery, NASBE said. “With substantial federal COVID relief funding, state boards of education have new opportunities to advocate for investment in efforts to address ECE teacher shortages and retention in particular,” said Winona Hao, NASBE’s director of early learning, in a statement.

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