Teacher Strike On in Denver

EDUCATORS IN DENVER ARE preparing to strike on Monday after newly elected Democratic Gov. Jared Polis declined to intervene in a pay dispute between teacher union officials and school district officials, setting up the first strike in Colorado’s biggest school district in 25 years.

“It is incredibly disappointing that [Denver Public Schools] has not yet taken our discussions at the bargaining table seriously,” Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, said in a statement. “Now we will exercise our right to strike for the schools our students deserve.”

Before teachers take to the picket line, the two sides have a last-ditch negotiation effort scheduled for Friday, where they will try to close what Polis characterized as “small, limited differences.”

Full story at US News

One Virginia School District Sues State to Arm School Employees

LEE COUNTY, A POOR, rural community tucked into the southwestern most part of Virginia, is suing the state in an effort to allow its school employees to carry guns to combat a potential future active shooter scenario.

“I was kind of afraid of this,” Lee County schools Superintendent Brian Austin says. “We were not intending to pick a battle in Richmond. We were just trying to do what we thought was best for Lee County.”

But pick a battle it did, filing a lawsuit earlier this month in Lee County Circuit Court challenging Virginia’s refusal to give a special designation to Austin that would allow him to participate in a program approved by the Lee County School Board to allow educators and other school personnel to carry firearms on school property.

Full story at US News

Half of Endowment Spending Supports Financial Aid

AMID A NATIONAL OUTCRY for higher education institutions to do more to increase access for poor students – especially elite schools with billion-dollar endowments – new data show that nearly half of all endowment spending by colleges and universities supports financial aid.

“This was the largest single area of endowment spending,” Susan Whealler Johnston, president and CEO of the National Association of College and University Business Officers, said this week in a call with reporters. “This clearly demonstrates the deep commitment colleges and universities make to support financial aid and student success.”

The endowment spending data was included for the first time in the annual endowment report, published Thursday by the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the investment firm TIAA. Colleges and universities reported that 49 percent of their endowment spending went to support student scholarships and other financial aid programs, and 16 percent for academic tutoring and other similar student support programs.

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos: “Supplement, not Supplant” Proposal Helps Promote Effective Spending, Flexibility

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released proposed non-regulatory guidance to support school districts’ compliance with the requirement that federal funds supplement, and do not supplant, state and local funds, under section 1118 of Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The guidance explains how ESSA changed the longstanding requirement in order to reduce administrative burden, simplify the compliance demonstration and promote effective spending.

While important and well-intentioned, the supplement not supplant requirement had become restrictive and burdensome—to the point that some school districts made ineffective spending choices in an effort to avoid noncompliance. Under ESSA, the supplement not supplant requirement changed to provide more flexibility to school districts while still ensuring that federal dollars are supplemental to state and local funds and cannot be used to replace them.

Full story at ed.gov

Teachers Vote Yes On Deal To End Los Angeles Strike

Union members in Los Angeles voted to approve a deal with the city’s school district on Tuesday, ending a six-day teacher strike. Teachers headed back to class on Wednesday.

According to a Wednesday news release, 81 percent of United Teachers Los Angeles members who cast a ballot voted in favor of the agreement.

“I couldn’t be prouder to be a teacher tonight,” said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl at a Tuesday news conference in which he announced the preliminary results.

Some teachers expressed frustration, saying the deal didn’t go far enough, while others said they were relieved.

Full story at npr.org

U.S. Department of Education Announces Initiative to Address the Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion to Protect Children with Disabilities, Ensure Compliance with Federal Laws

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today that the U.S. Department of Education will launch an initiative to address the possible inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion in our nation’s schools. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in partnership with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), will oversee this proactive approach which will protect students with disabilities by providing technical assistance and support to schools, districts, and state education agencies, and strengthen enforcement activities.

“This initiative will not only allow us to support children with disabilities, but will also provide technical assistance to help meet the professional learning needs of those within the system serving students,” Secretary DeVos said.  “The only way to ensure the success of all children with disabilities is to meet the needs of each child with a disability. This initiative furthers that important mission.”

The Department’s Initiative to Address the Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion will not only include components that help schools and districts understand how federal law applies to the use of restraint and seclusion, but the Department will also support schools seeking resources and information on the appropriate use of interventions and supports to address the behavioral needs of students with disabilities.

Full story at ed.gov

Community College Transfer Students: Underenrolled, Overachieving

SELECTIVE COLLEGES AND universities tend to overlook students seeking to transfer from community college, despite those students graduating at higher rates than other students, a new report shows.

Notably, nearly half – 49 percent – of all students enrolled in four-year colleges and universities begin at a two-year schools. But the report finds that selective schools are less likely to enroll community college students than other institutions. In fact, when it comes to the 100 most selective colleges, 14 percent of students transfer in, but only 5 percent have transferred from a community college.

Community college students who transfer to selective colleges and universities, the study found, have equal to or higher graduation rates as students who enrolled directly from high school or those who transferred from other four-year schools. They also graduate in a reasonable amount of time, earning their degrees within two and a half years, on average.

Full story at US News

Federal Commission on School Safety Releases Comprehensive Resource Guide for Keeping Students, Teachers Safe at School

WASHINGTON—After months of research, visiting successful programs around the nation, and receiving testimony from experts and concerned citizens, today the Federal Commission on School Safety (Commission) released a 177-page report detailing 93 best practices and policy recommendations for improving safety at schools across the country.

Utilizing the information gathered, the Commission report offers a holistic approach to improving school safety, ranging from supporting the social and emotional well-being of students to enhancing physical building security. Acknowledging there can be no one-size-fits-all solution to this complex problem, the final report serves as a resource guide for families, educators, law enforcement officers, health professionals, and elected leaders to use as they consider the best ways to prevent, mitigate, and recover from acts of violence in schools. The recommendations are based on efforts that are already working in states and local communities.

“Each of us has an important role to play in keeping our students safe while at school,” said Chair of the Federal Commission on School Safety and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “Through the Commission’s work, it has become even clearer there is no single policy that will make our schools safer. What will work for schools in Montana will be different than what will work for schools in Manhattan. With that in mind, this report provides a wide-ranging menu of best practices and resources that all state, community, and school leaders should consider while developing school safety plans and procedures that will work for their students and teachers.”

Full story at ed.gov

Suspensions Are Down In U.S. Schools But Large Racial Gaps Remain

Students in U.S. schools were less likely to be suspended in 2016 than they were in 2012. But the progress is incremental, and large gaps — by race and by special education status — remain.

This data comes from an analysis of federal data for NPR in partnership with the nonprofit organization Child Trends. And it comes as the Trump administration is preparing the final report from a school safety commission that is expected to back away from or rescind Obama-era guidance intended to reduce racial disparities in school discipline.

The commission, led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is expected to release its final report in the coming days.

Full story at npr.org

How To Make Sure Your Math Anxiety Doesn’t Make Your Kids Hate Math

A spike in blood pressure. A racing heart rate. Sweaty palms.

For many adults, this is what they feel when faced with difficult math.

But for kids, math anxiety isn’t just a feeling, it can affect their ability to do well in school. This fear tends to creep up on students when performance matters the most, like during exams or while speaking in class.

One reason for a kid’s math anxiety? How their parents feel about the subject.

“A parent might say, ‘oh I’m not a math person, it’s okay if you’re not good at math either,’ ” Sian Beilock, cognitive scientist and President of Barnard College, says. “It can send a signal to kids about whether they can succeed.”

Full story at npr.org