By Richard Bammer
At Suisun Valley K-8 School, what a way by which to remember Earth Day, April 22, 2022.
State and federal officials came knocking, figuratively speaking, at the Lambert Road school Friday, announcing it was among 18 California schools, two school districts, and one county office of education that earned 2022 California Green Ribbon Schools awards.
A rural campus of nearly 600 students in bucolic Suisun Valley, the school was one of five recognized as a “Green Achiever,” for environmental excellence, nominated by state schools chief Tony Thurmond also to receive honors from the U.S. Department of Education.
Source: Fairfield school accorded state, national ‘Green Ribbon’ honor – The Vacaville Reporter
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today proudly recognized Alice Waters—chef, author, restaurateur, food activist, and educator—as an Ambassador to California Education, during National School Breakfast Week.
Waters and Thurmond visited Michelle Obama School in the West Contra Costa Unified School District earlier this week, where they helped launch Project Cereal External link opens in new window or tab., an initiative with partner Conscious Kitchen, that is one of the nation’s first programs to feed students organic foods daily.
Waters joins distinguished Education Ambassadors Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dolores Huerta, Dr. Karen Korematsu, and Betty Reid Soskin in demonstrating outstanding dedication and contributions to support the education of California’s students.
Source: SPI Names Alice Waters CA Education Ambassador – Year 2022 (CA Dept of Education)
By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
DeVos’s rule, which took effect in August 2020, was loathed among advocates for sexual assault survivors. It transformed colleges’ Title IX processes into judiciary-style procedures requiring both parties to be able to cross-examine the other through a surrogate. It also limited the sexual violence cases institutions would need to investigate, including many off campus.
Biden on the campaign trail promised to strike down the rule and has taken steps to do so. He released an executive order in March calling for a review of the Title IX regulation. This month, the Education Department held five days of virtual hearings to accept feedback on the administration’s approach to Title IX.
Source: Ed Dept says it will issue a new Title IX regulation | Higher Ed Dive
BY Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
Biden pledged to unravel the Title IX rule put forth by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, which was broadly unpopular among campus leaders and advocates for sexual violence prevention.
The regulation took effect in August. It constructs a judiciary-style system for assessing and potentially punishing sexual violence, in which both parties are allowed to cross-examine the other through a surrogate. It also restricts the cases colleges need to look into, including many of those that occur off campus. And it narrows the definition of sexual harassment, matching the one used by the U.S. Supreme Court in Title IX cases.
Legal experts have said it would be difficult for the Biden administration to immediately strike down the regulation, which was cemented through formal rulemaking and, therefore, carries the force of law.
Source: Ed Dept starts review of DeVos’s Title IX regulation | Higher Ed Dive
The State Board of Education today voted to give California school districts the opportunity to use either state tests or other standards-aligned assessments to gauge student learning this spring.
The vote builds on last month’s Board action to apply for the maximum flexibility offered by the U.S. Department of Education in testing, accountability and reporting requirements and to seek further options that account for the impact of COVID-19 on educators, families, and schools.
The Board is seeking to allow districts to use the best assessment tool available for the local context this spring, as many of them are still providing distance learning and working to reopen schools. Options include the state’s Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments and California Alternate Assessments for English language arts and mathematics, the Smarter Balanced interim assessments, or other diagnostic, benchmark, or interim assessments that:
Source: Additional Spring Testing Flexibility for Schools – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)
BY Sydney Johnson
California school officials scratching their heads over how to roll out standardized tests this spring could soon have another option.
On Tuesday, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that would allow California school districts to use locally selected tests rather than the Smarter Balanced statewide assessments, which are required by state and federal education law.
“It has become clear that the persistent gaps that existed in our education system pre-pandemic have become chasms,” said Rachael Maves, deputy superintendent of public instruction for the Instruction and Measurement Branch of the California Department of Education. “In this context, it seems not only appropriate but necessary” to measure student learning.
Source: California could allow school districts to choose their own standardized tests this year – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
Among the nation’s homeless, which may swell to more than 3.5 million during the year, some 1.5 million of them are K-12 students, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
In the Golden State, the number of students experiencing homelessness has increased by 48 percent in the past decade, higher than in any other state, with some 270,000 such students in 2019, or about 4.3 percent of the total enrollment.
In Solano County, which had 66,000 students enrolled in 2019, slightly more than 1,400 of them, or 2.1 percent, were homeless, according to data gathered by the University of California, Los Angeles.
Source: SCOE, other Bay Area counties address needs of homeless students amid pandemic – The Reporter
By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
President Joe Biden’s selection of Cardona fulfills his pledge to pick an Education Secretary with a background working in public schools. Cardona became the head of Connecticut’s K-12 schools in 2019, after many years as an elementary school principal.
He does not have extensive higher education experience, but was nevertheless lauded by many industry groups for his work helping students of color and those who are low-income. Cardona has had some exposure to postsecondary education as a University of Connecticut trustee, which gives him a “clear view” of institutions’ challenges, American Council on Education President Ted Mitchell told Higher Ed Dive in December.
Source: Senate confirms Miguel Cardona as Education Secretary | Higher Ed Dive
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today more than $4 billion in additional COVID-19 emergency relief is now available to governors to ensure learning continues for students of all ages and at all schools. This emergency relief aid, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, has two components: supplemental GEER awards (GEER II) and the Emergency Assistance to Non-public Schools (EANS) awards, which comprise $2.75 billion of the total. These funds are authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021, (CRRSA) Public Law 116-260, signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on Dec. 27, 2020. In total, CRRSA authorizes $81.88 billion in support for education, in addition to the $30.75 billion Secretary DeVos expeditiously provided this spring through the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“As I’ve said from the beginning of this pandemic, parents are counting on strong and decisive state, local, and school leadership to ensure their students can continue to learn in ways that work for them,” said Secretary DeVos. “While some state and local education leaders have risen to the occasion, far too many parents are frustrated by a stunning lack of access to in-person learning for their kids. Every governor needs to utilize these taxpayer funds to safely reopen schools and ensure all students have the option to learn in person if that is what they want or need. The impact of school lockdowns has been disastrous for our students—especially those from low-income families. And, far too many private school students have suffered because interest groups, politicians, and lobbyists predictably played politics and protected their own lucrative gigs with taxpayer funding. I was pleased to see, this time around, that Congress finally acknowledged what this Administration has said all along: All students and all educators at all schools — private, parochial, and public — are affected by this pandemic, and they all need and deserve support for PPE, cleaning supplies, learning materials, and more.”
Source: Secretary DeVos Announces More than $4 Billion Available in Emergency Education Grants for Governors to Help Students Continue Learning | U.S. Department of Education
By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
DeVos, a billionaire and longtime GOP supporter, had a rocky start in the Trump administration, beginning with her high-profile confirmation hearings during which she infamously stumbled over basic questions from lawmakers and cited the need for guns in K-12 schools to protect them from grizzly bears.
She was a widely unpopular pick among legislators and education groups on the left. She barely passed muster with the Senate during her confirmation, with Vice President Mike Pence needing to serve as the tie-breaking vote.
While DeVos is perhaps best known for her advocacy of school choice in the K-12 realm, she introduced several notable regulations that confounded higher education.
Source: Betsy DeVos resigns, citing violent unrest in Capitol | Higher Ed Dive
By Tribune Content Agency
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday urged Education Department employees to continue to resist any policies that they believe could hurt students with a new administration preparing to take over.
“Many of you know well that most everything in this town, when it comes to education, is focused on schools — not students,” DeVos told agency employees in a virtual meeting Tuesday. “So, let me leave you with this last plea: Resist. Be the resistance against a familiar force that will distract you from doing what’s right for students.”
Source: DeVos tells Education Department employees to resist certain changes
By Andrew Ujifusa
President-elect Joe Biden has big plans to spend a lot more on K-12 education, but those plans depend on Congress going along, which could be a longshot in some areas. It’s hard to see Capitol Hill tripling Title I aid like Biden wants, for example, given recent federal education spending trends. And getting any major initiative through Congress is a difficult task these days.
Nevertheless, Biden’s U.S. Department of Education won’t have its hands completely tied by federal lawmakers. Let’s highlight a few potentially overlooked areas where the department could push its priorities with relative freedom.
Source: How Biden Could Steer Education Spending Without Waiting on Congress – Politics K-12 – Education Week
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s recent announcement that he would seek to withhold funding from California schools that choose to use a curriculum that reviews the impacts of slavery and how it has contributed to racism in our nation:
“President Trump’s latest announcement is a petty and disgraceful threat designed to distract and further divide our country at a time when we need true leadership that can unite us. California’s educators should feel empowered to lead courageous conversations with their students about the history of race and racism in our country—not worry if their school will lose funding.
“At the California Department of Education, we will continue to encourage school districts to talk about racism and unconscious bias in all forms. That includes building training programs to help our 10,000 schools address the impacts of implicit bias and race in our schools. We are also developing a first-in-the-nation statewide ethnic studies model curriculum that all of our school districts can use as a guide for classroom instruction that will shine a long-overdue light on the contributions of people of color.
Source: Thurmond Issues Statement in Response to Trump – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Andrew Ujifusa
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has informed states that they should not count on getting the same waivers from federal testing mandates for this school year that they got last spring as the pandemic shut down schools.
In a Thursday letter to chief state school officers, DeVos said that these annual, summative assessments in English/language arts, math, and science are “at the very core” of the bipartisan agreement behind the Every Student Succeds Act, the main federal K-12 education law. And at a time when vulnerable students have been hurt the most by the pandemic, such tests are “among the most reliable tools available to help us understand how children are performing in school.”
Source: Betsy DeVos Tells States Not to Expect Waivers From Annual Tests – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Shawna De La Rosa
Prior to Blew’s remarks, some states had already started seeking assessment waivers for the upcoming school year. On June 18, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced they would seek a standardized testing waiver, saying high-stakes testing would be “counterproductive.” South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan are among states that made similar pushes.
Recent recommendations by the NWEA, a nonprofit assessment provider, include suggestions to use two years of assessment data to measure student growth rather than a single year and to rethink how assessments are used and implemented overall. The association also suggested the U.S. Department of Education should change tests to reflect the new role of distance and hybrid learning, and provide targeted flexibilities in accountability for states rather than blanket testing waivers.
Source: Ed Dept official: Don’t expect testing waivers this year | Education Dive
By Evie Blad
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos brought little clarity to the Trump administration’s aggressive push to reopen schools in a pair of television interviews Sunday.
Pressed on how schools in areas with high rates of the coronavirus should protect children and communities, she provided few details. Also unclear: the details of repeated threats made by DeVos and President Donald Trump to withhold federal funds from schools that don’t reopen, and exactly what a satisfactory school reopening would look like.
The interviews—on CNN’s State of the Union and Fox News Sunday—come as school administrators plan for health precautions, partial online learning to ease crowding in school buildings, and, in some areas, continued remote learning in response to surging virus rates. This week, Vice President Mike Pence also said schools shouldn’t use guidance on reopenings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—later criticized by Trump— as an excuse to keep their buildings closed.
Source: DeVos Provides Little Clarity on School Reopening Push – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Cory Turner
On Wednesday, congressional Democrats accused U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of trying to reroute hundreds-of-millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students. The coronavirus rescue package, known as the CARES Act, included more than $13 billion to help public schools cover pandemic-related costs.
In a letter co-signed by Rep. Bobby Scott, chairman of the House education committee, Sen. Patty Murray, ranking member of the Senate education committee, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the lawmakers say DeVos’ efforts run “in contravention of both the plain reading of the statute and the intent of Congress.”
Source: Betsy DeVos Reroutes Coronavirus Aid Money To Private School Students : Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR
By Corey Mitchell
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has appointed Lorena Orozco McElwain to lead the federal office for English-language-learner education, shaking up a long-standing tradition of selecting candidates with significant experience in bilingual or federal education policy.
While she once worked as a bilingual education teacher, McElwain, unlike her predecessors, made her mark as a high-ranking civil servant in several agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Library of Congress, and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Since 2018, she had served as a political appointee in the Agriculture Department.
McElwain succeeds José Viana, who left the post in December. Dating back to 2001, previous directors, including Viana, have come to the office directly from jobs tied to K-12 schools, academia, education advocacy, or within the federal Education Department.
Source: DeVos Appoints New Director for English-Learner Office – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Andrew Ujifusa
After years of frustration in her attempts to expand education choice, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is picking up steam.
Fresh evidence that DeVos is continuing her push to prioritize choice with federal funds can be found in the April 24 edition of the Federal Register. That’s where the U.S. Department of Education announced a new proposed grant priority for its Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. The priority would affect State Personnel Development Grants that help train those working in special education.
Source: Special Education Teachers a New Focus for Betsy DeVos Voucher Push – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Andrew Ujifusa
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has officially announced that $13.5 billion in emergency coronavirus funding for K-12 schools is now available.
The billions in additional aid was included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law by President Donald Trump last month. The money will initially go to states, but at least 90 percent ultimately must be passed along to school districts via the Title I formula designed to help schools with large shares of students from low-income households.
Schools can use this pot of CARES Act money for a variety of purposes to help them deal with the fallout of the virus, which has forced dozens of states to shut down in-person classes for the rest of the school year. For example, educators can use it to provide access to the internet for students struggling to learn remotely, mental health supports, and support for special populations of students such as those who are homeless.
Source: Betsy DeVos Releases Billions More in Coronavirus Education Aid – Politics K-12 – Education Week