U.S. Department of Education Investigating States over Mask Mandate Bans

The U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) announced they are investigating state laws across the country pertaining to mask mandate bans. The states subject to investigation are Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Notably, Florida was not included in the list regarding the initial investigation.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order banning mask mandates on July 30 kicking off a month of threats, legal action, and defiant school boards.

Read More

States Banning Mask Mandates Could Face Civil Rights Probes, on Biden’s Directive

President Biden is ratcheting up opposition to Republican governors blocking COVID mask mandates in schools, putting in charge the Education Department, which is raising the possibility of using its civil rights arm to oppose such policies.

Biden on Wednesday ordered Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to “assess all available tools” that can be used against states that fail to protect students amid surging coronavirus cases.

Read More

Biden’s Education Secretary Voices Support for Schools That Force Mask Mandates

Miguel Cardona

Joe Biden’s Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, admitted to having spoken directly with faculty members from school districts that are defying the law and forcing mask mandates on their students, even if their states have banned such mandates, ABC News reports.

Cardona said that some such schools fear repercussions from the state governments if they continue defying the bans, including in Texas and Florida. “I have had the conversations with superintendents,” Cardona said in an interview on Tuesday. “And they have asked, if this goes in that direction, how do we get support? My message is, open the schools safely; we got your back.”

Cardona had previously sent a letter to several school districts in Florida promising that the federal government would fund the schools directly in the event that Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) follows through on his promise to suspend the salaries of all superintendents who force such mandates onto their students in defiance of state law.

Read More

Arizona Attorney General Leads Charge Against Biden Administration’s Race-Based School Discipline Policies

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich responded to the Biden Administration’s interest in potentially reviving a pre-K and K-12 discipline policy based on race. The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a request for information early last month, asking the public to submit written comment on the state of discipline in pre-K and K-12 schools. In the accompanying press release, ED alluded that it would form policy to reduce the number of certain demographics being disciplined at higher rates, specifically citing Black and disabled students. Public commentary for ED’s request for information closed last Friday.

In response, Brnovich organized a coalition of 15 other attorney generals to submit a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona opposing any discipline policy based on race. Brnovich asserted that a policy similar to the Obama-era discipline policy would be illegal. In 2014, the Obama Administration imposed a policy requiring schools to include disparate impact requirements within their disciplinary guidelines, referred to as the “2014 Dear Colleague Letter.” Brnovich recounted the history and cited several stories detailing failures of the policy, like students receiving no discipline for assaulting teachers. 

Read More

Parents Concerned About Critical Race Theory in Schools, Poll Says

Parents Mad About CRT

The Biden administration has sparked controversy for endorsing elements of critical race theory in education programs, and the latest polling reveals a source of that concern.

A poll released by Convention of States Action found that many Americans are opposed to critical race theory in curriculum, and are open to removing their kids from public schools to avoid it.

Read More

Georgia U.S. Rep. Rick Allen Promotes School Choice, But U.S. Education Secretary Puts Up Obstacles

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA-12) asked U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona about school choice, but Cardona’s answers displeased the congressman, who later said the secretary “would rather prioritize schools over students.” Allen said this in a newsletter he emailed this week to his constituents.

Read More

Joe Biden Expected to Name Current Connecticut Education Commissioner to Lead Education Department

President-elect Joe Biden is poised to select Miguel Cardona, the current Connecticut education commissioner, to lead the Department of Education in his administration, CNN reported.

Miguel Cardona, who has served as head of the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) since August 2019, will be President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to lead the federal government’s education department, multiple sources told CNN. Cardona would be the latest Latino to receive a high-ranking position in the incoming Biden administration.

Read More