Four States Now Require Schools to Teach LGBT History

Starting next school year, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history will be part of the curriculum in Illinois public schools.

Democratic Governor J. B. Pritzker signed House Bill 246 into law Aug. 9, making Illinois the fourth state to mandate teaching LGBT history, after California, New Jersey, and Colorado. The Illinois legislation takes effect in July 2020.

The law mandates that history classes in public schools “include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State.” Any textbooks bought with state funding must cover “the roles and contributions” of LGBT people, and can’t include content that is discriminatory to any particular gender or sexual orientation.

Nationwide, LGBT history often doesn’t make it into the curriculum. Just under a quarter of students say that they have learned about LGBT-related topics in their classes, according to 2016 research from GLSEN, a national advocacy group for LGBTQ students.

Full story at Education Week

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Calls on National Education Association to Drop Lawsuit that Puts Financial Aid for Students in Jeopardy

WASHINGTON—U.S.Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called on the National Education Association (NEA) today to drop its politically-motivated lawsuit and stop standing in the way of students working to complete their post secondary education program.

The NEA recently sued the department over its delay in implementing Obama-era rules that govern state standards for online education. The rules require, among other things, that all institutions providing distance education to students in another state document that the state has a process for those students to complain against that institution.

Unfortunately, not all states have the required complaint processes or interstate agreements in place. As a result, the 2016 regulation would deny federal aid to a number of students receiving distance education because their institutions cannot meet the complaint process requirement in one or more states.

Full story at ed.gov

You 2.0: The Empathy Gym

What books are on your summer reading list?

If you’re reading mostly nonfiction, consider the benefits of adding a novel to the mix.

“There’s a fair amount of evidence now that the more fiction that people read, the more empathetic that they become,” says Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki. “Because fiction is one of the most powerful ways to connect with people who are different from us who we might not have a chance to meet otherwise.”

Zaki argues that empathy is like a muscle — it can be strengthened with exercise and it can atrophy when idle. On this episode of Hidden Brain, we talk about calibrating our empathy so we can interact with others more mindfully.

Full story at npr.org

As Scrutiny Of China Grows, Some U.S. Schools Drop A Language Program

The Defense Department wants more Americans to speak Chinese, and it provides millions of dollars to train students at U.S. universities.

China’s government, through language centers known as Confucius Institutes, has been doing the same thing, for the same reasons, and at some of the same U.S. universities.

But a new law has forced these American universities to choose: They can take money from the Pentagon or from the Confucius Institute — but not both.

“Confucius Institutes expose U.S. universities to espionage, to the threat of theft of intellectual property, which we are seeing far too frequently at colleges and universities,” Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, said in an interview with NPR.

Full story at npr.org

Supreme Court to Hear School Choice Case

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT agreed to hear oral arguments this fall concerning a decision by Montana’s Supreme Court to halt the operation of a tax credit scholarship program that allowed students to enroll in private schools, including private religious schools.

The announcement Friday breathed new life into the private school choice movement, which has made little to no headway at the federal level despite a tax credit scholarship being the No. 1 agenda item of Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, herself a private school choice supporter.

Private school choice advocates cheered the decision by the high court to review Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, saying they’re hopeful the court will provide a definitive answer on the constitutionality of directing public money or aid to private religious schools.

Full story at US News

International Survey: U.S. Teachers Are Overworked, Feel Underappreciated

TEACHERS IN THE U.S. work longer hours and spend more time during the school day teaching than teachers in other parts of the world. And while the majority are satisfied with their jobs, only a fraction believes American society values their profession.

The topline findings of the Teaching and Learning International Survey, an international study published Wednesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, showcase the grievances at the heart of the wave of educator unrest that’s prompted strikes, protests and walkouts in nearly a dozen states and school districts across the U.S.

“They are working a lot of hours, relatively speaking,” Peggy Carr, associate commissioner for assessment at NCES, the Department of Education’s data arm, said. “They do spend a lot of hours teaching. I think we need to think about that and what that means. Teachers love their jobs all across the globe, but our teachers, not unlike teachers elsewhere, feel as though we don’t value their profession. There’s a message there I think we need to think about.”

Full story at US News

Want Teachers to Motivate Their Students? Teach Them How to Do It

Most teachers intrinsically understand the need to motivate their students, experts say, but teaching on intuition alone can lead to missteps in student engagement.

A study released in May by the Mindset Scholars Network, a collaborative of researchers who study student motivation, found most teacher education programs nationwide do not include explicit training for teachers on the science of how to motivate students.

That’s why some teacher education programs are exploring ways to help teachers learn how to engage their students in deeper ways.

“Everyone has a gut sense of the importance of a student’s relationship with a teacher. … It’s not a scholarly understanding but a human understanding,” said Mayme Hostetter, the president of the Relay Graduate School of Education, one of the few programs nationwide with formal courses for teachers on student motivation.

Full story at edweek.org

What Researchers Wish They Knew About School Finance

From the business world to sports to education, analytics are all the rage, as rapidly evolving technology and data systems unleash a flood of new metrics that decision makers can use in developing strategies and making choices. But even with the smorgasbord of new information, some potentially important indicators remain unavailable.

That’s certainly true in the education finance arena, where policies are still driven, at least in part, by the unknown and by the lack of detailed data on key topics.

“[School] system leaders often seem unaware of the unintended consequences of long-standing spending practices,” Marguerite Roza, the director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, and Carrie Stewart, managing director of the Afton Partners consulting firm wrote in an article for AASA, the School Superintendents Association. They suggest that digging into school-level-spending data can help in better understanding these patterns.

Full story at Education Week

This Teen Planned A School Shooting. But Did He Break The Law?

It was sunny and cold on Feb. 13, 2018, when 18-year-old Jack Sawyer walked out of Dick’s Sporting Goods in Rutland, Vt., with a brand-new pump-action shotgun and four boxes of ammunition.

The next day, Valentine’s Day, Sawyer took his new gun out for target practice.

Around the same time, about 1,500 miles away in Parkland, Fla., a 19-year-old shot and killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Full story at npr.org

2020 Dems Go Big on Public Education

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT and 2020 contender Joe Biden stood alongside American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Tuesday evening in Houston and outlined the first major policy platform of his campaign – supercharging the federal investment in the country’s public schools in order to level the playing for poor students, students of color and those with disabilities and boost teacher pay, among many other things.

“It’s past time we treat and compensate our educators as the professionals they are, and that we make a commitment that no child’s future will be determined by zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability,” he said.

Biden is in good company with his grand gesture to K-12 education.

Full story at US News