When Weather and School Segregation Collide

WHEN A MAJOR WINTER storm ripped across the South over the weekend, dumping nearly a foot of snow in parts of North Carolina and prompting some school systems to cancel classes Monday, it sparked a public debate about school segregation.

“Long thread about our countywide school system and inclement weather,” Wake County schools posted to Twitter Sunday afternoon. “Grab a mug of hot chocolate and listen in.”

What came next was a long explanation-cum-history lesson about Wake County schools’ integration efforts: “Most importantly, there is a very, very, very important reason why our school system is countywide,” Wake County schools posted to Twitter. “It’s the foundation of our success as a community. It is the reason our community has prospered. It’s why our taxes are low. It’s what attracted many of you to move here. It is why all of our schools are good schools.”

The thread was a response to someone on Twitter who, in reacting to a Wake County science teacher’s tweet about the possibility of school being canceled Monday, argued there should be two separate school systems in Wake County because the weather impacts parts of the county differently.

Full story at US News

When The ‘White Tears’ Just Keep Coming

Talking about race is hard. It often involves hurt feelings and misunderstandings. And the words and phrases we use can either push those conversations forward or bring them to a standstill. One such term: white tears.

The phrase has been used to gently tease white people who get upset at things they think threaten their white privilege. It’s been used to poke fun at white people who think that talking about race makes you a racist. Or that Barack Obama’s presidency marked the end of America. Or that it’s a crime against humanity when a formerly white character is portrayed, or rumored to be portrayed, by a person of color. (Think Spider-Man. Annie. James Bond. Hermione. The Human Torch. Dorothy.)

Rather than spend time earnestly engaging with people who refuse to believe a fictional character could be someone who isn’t white, it’s easier (and way more fun) to just roll your eyes, dub their reaction “white tears” and move on.

Full story at npr.org

U.S. Department of Education Builds on Efforts to Improve Services for Students, Increase Effectiveness and Fairness of Office for Civil Rights Investigations

WASHINGTON — As part of its ongoing work to protect students’ civil rights and effectively, efficiently and fairly investigate civil rights complaints, today the U.S. Department of Education announced additional improvements to the Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) Case Processing Manual (CPM).

“Our top priority in the Office for Civil Rights is ensuring all students have equal access to education free from discrimination,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus. “Since joining the OCR team in June, I’ve reviewed our Case Processing Manual and received important and constructive feedback on it.  While we continue to work to improve the timeliness of OCR’s case processing, we have determined that additional revisions will help improve our work and allow us to be more responsive to students, stakeholders and our staff.”

The CPM provides guidelines for field investigators working to investigate and resolve complaints and to ensure schools comply with the laws and regulations enforced by OCR. The CPM underwent its last revision in March of 2018.

Full story at ed.gov

How Does a School Recover?

WHAT’S A HIGH SCHOOL TO do when it finds out that more than 60 boys in its graduating class of 2019 posed together, their arms extended in a Nazi salute, laughing, with at least one student flashing the “white power” sign?

That’s what Baraboo High School in central Wisconsin is figuring out after a photo taken before prom last spring at the Sauk County Courthouse in downtown Baraboo went viral this week.

Currently, school district officials are working with local authorities to investigate the incident and interview students and families involved to determine how and why the photo was taken, Lori Mueller, the school district administrator, said in a statement. She went further on Twitter, saying the school district plans to pursue “any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal,” to address the situation.

Full story at US News

How Schools Can Reduce Sexual Violence

No one ever shows up at brunch and says, “Oh my gosh, I was so sober last night!”

Risky behavior draws attention. As a result, people tend to assume that everyone else is doing it more than they really are.

But, over the last two decades, research on college campuses has shown that giving students the real facts about their peers reduces unsafe drinking. This approach is called positive social norms. It works because of a basic truth of human nature: People want to do what others are doing.

Now, that research is starting to be applied to a novel area: preventing sexual assault and harassment. From an unwanted comment on the street to groping in the hallways at school, surveys suggest more than half of young women and almost half of young men have experienced sexual harassment before age 18.

Full story at npr.org

U.S. Department of Education Fulfills Administration Promise to Invest $200 Million in STEM Education

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has not only fulfilled but surpassed President Trump’s directive to invest $200 million in high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including computer science, education. In total, the Department obligated $279 million in STEM discretionary grant funds in Fiscal Year 2018.

“It’s important that all students have access to a high-quality STEM education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said. “These discretionary grant programs and this Administration’s increased focus on STEM will help ensure our nation’s students are exposed to STEM early in their lifelong education journeys and will have the tools needed for success in the 21st century economy.”

Full story at ed.gov

How a Tax Regulation Could Cripple School Vouchers

THE IRS HAS PROPOSED limiting the federal deduction of contributions made to charitable organizations. The move is an attempt by the White House to target a handful of states – most of them wealthy and Democratic – seeking a way around the limits on state and local tax deductions included the new tax overhaul.

But in doing so, the Trump administration would undercut its own education agenda by crippling private school choice programs in dozens of states that rely on charitable donations.

The conflict was on display Monday at a public IRS hearing, where advocates of tax credit scholarships pleaded for a carve-out to avoid collateral damage, while critics of such programs applauded what they see as a long-overdue change to the way charitable deductions are administered.

Full story at US News

Small Classes, Small Benefits

SMALL CLASSES ARE VERY popular with parents. Fewer kids in a room can mean more personal attention for their little ones. Teachers like them, too. Fewer kids means fewer tests to mark and fewer disruptions. Communities across the United States have invested enormously in smaller classes over the past 50 years. Pupil-teacher ratios declined from 22.3 in 1970 to 17.9 in 1985 and dropped to a low of 15.3 in 2008. But after the 2008 recession, local budget cuts forced class sizes to increase again, bumping the pupil-teacher ratio up to 16.1 in 2014, according to the most recent federal data available.

There’s a general consensus among education researchers that smaller classes are more effective. (In graduate school, I was taught that the benefits of small classes kick in once the class size falls below 16 students.) The benefits of small classes have become something of an informal yardstick. When I have written about unrelated educational reforms, researchers often compare them to the effectiveness of class-size reductions to give me a sense of their relative impact.

Full story at US News

‘How Can I Be Effective?’: Teachers Suffering After Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — Regina Ferrell, a fourth-grade teacher in Bay County, stood before the local school board this week and pleaded: Please be flexible with teachers returning to classrooms after Hurricane Michael.

The board wants to reopen the county’s schools — the ones that weren’t destroyed — on Monday, with students returning two weeks later. But teachers like Ferrell say that could be difficult when their living situations are so tenuous.

“Monday’s awfully quick when so many of us are suffering,” said Ferrell, who lives in Panama City, the hardest-hit area. After she spoke to the board, two people in the audience pressed cash into her hands. Tears welled in her eyes.

Full story at US News

U.S. Department of Education Releases Study and Accompanying Toolkit on Ed Tech for English Learners

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) today announced the release of the National Study on English Learners and Digital Resources. The study provides the first national look at how districts and educators use educational technology to instruct English learner students—the fastest-growing student population in the country.

Today’s students are entering classrooms that have seen rapid adoption of digital technologies in instruction. With these new technologies, teachers of English learner (EL) students, whether they are general education teachers or specialists in EL student instruction, have exciting new tools to support learning.

This toolkit brings suggestions and resources for educators who want to utilize new technology-based resources to help their EL students gain proficiency in English and meet academic goals. The toolkit offers five guiding principles for educators to apply in exploring new ways of working with and supporting EL students through technology. In addition, the toolkit has a companion—The Developer Toolkit which provides guidance for developers on the needs of English learner students and their teachers, tips on supports to include with their products that may be especially useful for English learners and ways they can communicate about their products with districts and educators of English learner students to facilitate adoption.

Full story at ed.gov