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29th November 2021
Survey shows many teachers considering change in career
Forty-eight percent of 6,000 teachers surveyed in November said they had considered changing jobs in the past month, up from 32% in June, according to data from Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marketplace for curriculum content created by teachers for teachers. Slightly over a third of teachers (34%) considered changing careers entirely in the past month. Additionally, 11% said they considered taking a leave of absence. Areas teachers listed as needing administrators' support included providing a budget for teaching materials, addressing student behaviors, listening to teachers’ concerns, and providing more planning time.  
Investigation into SF art school changing practice takes place
The Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco is investigating after students complained that in the past they would be required to change clothes in a communal area. San Francisco Unified School District spokesperson Laura Dudnick stated: “Earlier this school year, RASOTA administration began investigating when they learned of an allegation of sexual harassment that allegedly occurred during the common changing time." She went on: "We are continuing to investigate and based on our investigation to date, we believe that students changed in a common area and, because of time constraints, were not able to use the bathrooms. It remains unclear, and it is still under investigation, as to whether students had other options to change and still be on time to class.”
Student engagement report results released
Taking a STEM-related career and technical education course in high school makes low-income students more engaged in school than those who don’t take such a course, according to Jay Stratte Plasman, Assistant Professor in Workforce Development and Education at The Ohio State University. Together with education researchers Michael Gottfried and Daniel Klasik, he analyzed survey data from nearly 20,000 high school students across the country, finding that career and technical education STEM courses were linked with higher engagement in the 11th grade for low-income students. 
Vaping numbers fall
A handful of studies suggest that adolescent e-cigarette use dropped substantially during the pandemic. Prior to 2020, the number of teens vaping had been on the up, doubling between 2017 and 2019, according to a survey by Monitoring the Future, which is funded by the federal government and administered by the University of Michigan. In that survey, 16% of 8th graders, 30% of 10th graders, and 35% of 12th graders reported vaping 2019. Another annual survey of teens, the federal National Youth Tobacco Survey, also found in 2019 that more than a quarter of teens vaped in the 30 days prior to taking the survey. This year, however, 11% of high school students and 2.8% of middle school students reported currently using e-cigarettes in the National Youth Tobacco Survey. That marks a significant drop from peak use in 2019 and from 2020 when the survey found that nearly 20% of high schoolers and 5% of middle schoolers were vaping. Researchers from Stanford have found that teens who used e-cigarettes were at greater risk of getting sick from the coronavirus, likely because vaping damaged their lungs. Other research has found that e-cigarette use can lead to smoking traditional cigarettes.
Teacher evaluation drive shows mixed results
New research shows that efforts to strengthen teacher evaluations had no impact on student test scores or educational attainment. The research is the latest evaluation of a significant push between 2009 and 2017, spurred by federal incentives, philanthropic investments, and a nationwide drive for accountability in K-12 education, to implement high-stakes teacher evaluation systems in nearly every state. “There was a tremendous amount of time and billions of dollars invested in putting these systems into place, and they didn’t have the positive effects reformers were hoping for,” said Joshua Bleiberg, an author of the study and a postdoctoral research associate at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. “There’s not a null effect in every place where teacher evaluation [reform] happened...[But] on average, [the effect on student achievement] is pretty close to zero.” A team of researchers from Brown and Michigan State Universities and the Universities of Connecticut and North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyzed the timing of states’ adoption of the reforms alongside district-level student achievement data from 2009 to 2018 on standardized math and English/language arts test scores. Tougher teacher-evaluation systems can work, said Michael Petrilli, president of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, though he added that there was no political will to act on the results at the time of the reforms.
D.C. school employees must report vaccination status
Employees at schools in the Washington, D.C. region will face repercussions for not complying with coronavirus vaccination deadlines. At Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland's largest school district, more than 460 employees will receive a letter of reprimand and lose a day's worth of pay for failure to report their vaccine status. Prince George's County Public Schools terminated an employee for not adhering to its vaccination policies, which allowed for a testing option, while other employees have been placed on leave. Despite tough disciplinary measures elsewhere however, Montgomery County is among school systems to have loosened their COVID-19 protocol as a result of staffing shortage concerns and more younger students receiving their shots.
Washington school funding could be affected by enrollment decline
Between fall 2019 and fall 2021, school districts across Washington state saw their enrollments decline by around 3.5%, which equates to around 39,000 fewer students. The numbers weren’t distributed evenly across grades and the most pronounced losses were among younger students, with the number of kindergarten students down 14%. Meanwhile, the state’s home-schooled population nearly doubled in size during the first full school year of the pandemic. Seattle for example is down 3,400 students since 2019 and the district estimates it will operate with $28 million less funding this year. Collectively, school districts will lose about $500 million in state funding in the next budget, state Superintendent Chris Reykdal fears. “I’m gonna make a real hard push here,” he said in an interview last week, explaining that the losses are small enough that it would be difficult for school districts to restructure their costs. “When it’s this sort of subtle thing, it’s the worst-case scenario.”
Jersey City funding vote to take place
Jersey City high school seniors are to be given a chance to vote on how $10,000 is spent to improve each of the district's ten schools. Board of Education President Mussab Ali said $100,000 in total was set aside in the 2020-2021 school budget to include students in the budget decision making process. “This is a way for them to be involved in this process and to really determine what it is that they feel like are both needed in the school district, but then also they want to advocate and they want to see,” he comments. Pupils at Infinity Institute, Dickinson High School, Innovation High School, McNair Academic High School, Ferris School, Liberty High School, Lincoln High School and Snyder High School, will all be involved. The school board passed an $814 million school budget for the 2021-2022 school year back in May, the first fully funded school budget in years.
Pa. school funding trial in focus
The Bradford Era analyzes what has been learned so far from a case challenging Pennsylvania's school funding system. It notes that the trial has so far "addressed the legal question of what kind of education system Pennsylvania is required to provide — with the school districts, parents and statewide organizations who sued the state calling an expert who testified about the state constitution's mandate for a 'thorough and efficient' system of education."
Columbus Schools and City Library announce partnership
A new partnership has been announced by Columbus City Schools, Ohio's largest school district, and Columbus Metropolitan Library, to share electronic materials. Most public schools have their own libraries, rooms for age-appropriate books and learning materials, but the new initiative aims to increase students’ access to digital books and audiobooks by combining digital reading resources from the library and the schools into a single computer application. "This really removes a lot of barriers for those who can't get to libraries," said Cathy Mason, Columbus Metropolitan Library's digital buying lead, who is responsible for purchasing digital materials for the library's 23-branch system.
Texas school mask mandates ban back in force
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on school mask mandates has been reinstated by a federal appeals court
amid concerns that the rights of students with disabilities are violated by the edict. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had requested to put a lower judge’s order striking down the ban on hold pending an appeal.
Basketball championship title will not be returned to Coronado High School
Coronado High School will not have a regional basketball championship title returned, following a California Interscholastic Federation appeal panel ruling. The title was revoked after tortillas were thrown at a rival team earlier this year in an incident condemned as racially motivated. "This is not the result we were hoping for," Coronado Superintendent Karl Mueller noted. He continued: "Our boys earned the title, against a great team, on the court in a highly contested and fair athletic contest. However, we are pleased that the rest of our CHS men's and women's athletic teams are no longer part of the sanctions."
Air quality concerns in school buildings
A feature on improving indoor air quality in schools is included in Keys News. It is noted of one system that "a California preschool that adopted the technology saw a 50% decrease in teacher absenteeism and a 25% decrease in student absences, leading to improved overall performances." The article also cites a recent Johns Hopkins study which concluded that such improvements "should be a top priority for schools and is a cost-effective measure."
Lead testing in Newark schools
Newark students have returned to school to find a drinking water shortage. The district, which did not complete lead testing before buildings reopened in September, has been forced to turn off most water fountains and does not expect to restore them until the spring. At some schools, the lack of safe drinking water has left teachers to buy cases of water for their classrooms and students to bring their own water or purchase bottles from school vending machines. The district, which is receiving some $281 million in federal pandemic aid, has attracted criticism for only sporadically purchasing bottled water for schools to distribute.
Supply-chain issues dog Southern California schools
Schools in Southern California are addressing supply-chain shortages, with one San Bernardino County district noting that longtime vendors are facing overwhelming requests from multiple school systems. Riverside Unified School District spokesperson Diana Meza commented: “We're working magic to make it happen. But all schools are doing that. There's a lot more preparation involved.”

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