Report Card Measuring U.S. Grades in Education Shows ‘Concerning’ Results

For the first time in nearly 50 years, the National Assessment of Educational Progress results showed that the reading and mathematics scores of 13-year-old students fell from 2012 to 2020.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results showed no change in the scores of 9-year-old students since 2012, according to the assessment, also known as The Nation’s Report Card. Among lower-performing students, scores declined in both the 9 and 13-year-old groups in both reading and mathematics.

“This was the first time in the almost 50-year history of the long-term trend assessments that we observed declines among 13-year-olds,” said National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy G. Carr in a press release. “These performance drops are especially notable among lower-performing students, who no longer demonstrate competency in skills that students were able to do almost a decade ago in both subjects and age groups.”

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Commentary: Educating Students About the Victims of Communism

Olbram Zoubek Communism Victims Memorial

Many Americans today assume that the threat of Communism subsided with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. But “We continue to see Communist and socialist regimes pop up and spread not only in Latin America – for example, in Venezuela and Nicaragua – but around the world,” says Ambassador Andrew Bremberg, president and CEO of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC). “These regimes regularly kill their own citizens and have a devastating effect on human rights and their national economies.” In fact, over 1.5 billion people – including those living in Laos, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and, of course, China – currently live under oppressive Communist and socialist governments.

Founded in 1993 by a bipartisan, unanimous Act of Congress, VOC is “devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to pursuing the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes.”

Before coming to VOC, Bremberg served as the Trump administration’s Representative of the United States to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva. During his time there, which he describes as a “profound and life changing experience,” he “became aware of the challenge of China,” which was “far worse” than he had realized. He notes that the U.N. International Human Rights Council made investigating the United States’ record on racism during the summer of 2020 its highest priority – putting it above China’s appalling human rights violations against Uyghurs, among other ethnic groups within its borders.

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Commentary: Leftists Are Waging a War on ‘Gifted’ Children

Public schools across the country are eliminating gifted and talented programs, removing advanced courses and overhauling admissions processes to achieve equity across racial categories.

Removing gifted and advanced courses is a no-cost way to cover up the racial achievement gap while ignoring its root causes, according to Harry Jackson, president of the Thomas Jefferson High School Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA).

“Gifted programs and advanced courses provide a mechanism for low-income households to achieve a stellar education for their children and serve as a ‘great equalizer’ to those families that opt for private education,” Jackson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “By eliminating gifted programs and advanced courses in the name of equity, they will create greater inequities,” he said.

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Commentary: Critical Race Theory Is Being Taught in Public Schools

Group of young students at table, reading and wearing masks

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), which according to its website serves about 51 million public school students nationwide, made headlines recently when it requested that President Biden use federal terrorism statutes and issue other “extraordinary measures” against those pushing back against school boards that are indoctrinating children in critical race theory (CRT) and gender ideology. Much has already been written about this, and for good reason. In our Constitutional Republic, the federal government has no authority over education. As James Madison famously stated in Federalist 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” A quick scan of the Constitution reveals that the people and states have delegated no educational power to the federal government. Because all power originates in the people and the states, all powers not delegated to the federal government remain in the states and the people. The Tenth Amendment states this principle explicitly.

Instead of leaving educational policy (and challenges to it) to state and local governments, however, President Biden is using the power of federal law enforcement to quell debate and intimidate parents from exercising their First Amendment rights. Using federal law enforcement to chill debate on what is and should be a truly local issue is totalitarianism at its zenith. All totalitarian states centralize educational control in the federal government for the purpose of indoctrinating children in their preferred ideology.  The Nazis, Soviets, and Communist Chinese all did (or still do) it, and now, following in their footsteps, the Biden administration is giving it a try, albeit in an indirect, more nuanced manner.

But this piece is actually about a second, more subtle point. A key presupposition underlying the NSBA’s request — and the Biden DOJ’s response — is that parental protests against school boards are completely unfounded. As the NSBA letter notes, “many public school officials are [] facing physical threats because of propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction and curricula.” The letter then states that “[t]his propaganda continues despite the fact that critical race theory is not taught in public schools and remains a complex law school and graduate school subject well beyond the scope of a K-12 class” (emphasis added).

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Professors Force Students to Mask in Violation of University Rules, with Mixed Pushback

University systems with bans on COVID-19 mask mandates are taking diametrically opposed approaches to faculty who refuse to comply, offering a real-time experiment in the effectiveness of persuasion versus coercion.

The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) removed biology professor Steve O’Kane from the classroom for the rest of the semester and forced him to forgo a merit pay raise for threatening to grade down students for not wearing masks.

The same day the faculty senate voted to indefinitely postpone O’Kane’s resolution to let faculty require masks in spite of the Board of Regents ban, Cedar Rapids news outlet The Gazette reported.

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Commentary: Guided by Faith, Divinity Student Fought His ‘Anti-Racist’ Princeton Seminary — and Won

Timothy Keiderling’s decision to enroll in the Princeton Theological Seminary reflected his commitment “to give my life to work for justice and to live out the values of the Kingdom of God.” In a letter to the seminary’s president, Craig Barnes, he wrote that he “would sacrifice anything to make sure that my brothers and sisters see relief from their oppression.”

But the seminary’s concept of justice clashed with Keiderling’s conscience when PTS required him to attend “anti-racism” training sessions that he considered a form of indoctrination. He refused to participate in the sessions even after being reminded that they were mandatory. And then – early this year, with the potent support of the newly founded Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) – he convinced the seminary to exempt him from the training.

It was “a real victory which can advance the academic freedom cause substantially,” says Princeton Professor Robert George, a leader of the AFA who acted as an adviser to Keiderling, and whom the latter credits with making his victory possible. “Instead of a victim, we have a victor — one who stuck to his guns and persuaded his institution not only to respect his right of conscience, but to acknowledge the difference between education and indoctrination.”

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Report: COVID-19 Hit More Vulnerable Schools Hardest

A new report found that only 12% of educators in some schools believed students would complete the 2020-21 school year proficient in math, English Language Arts, science, or social studies.

That’s according to Michigan State University’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) report that found Partnership districts were hit harder by COVID-19 as they remained remote longer than schools in more affluent areas.

This report is part of a multi-year evaluation of Michigan’s Partnership Model district that aims to improve outcomes in the lowest-performing schools by serving districts’ specific needs. If these goals aren’t met by the end of the three years, the schools could close.

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Commentary: McAuliffe Says the Quiet Part Out Loud: ‘I Don’t Think Parents Should be Telling Schools What They Should Teach’

Terry McAuliffe

Remember the old adage — the goal isn’t to win the debate, but to make sure you don’t lose the debate.

Former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe was pressed on graphic textbooks — and I mean graphic — of a sexual nature being included in government school libraries, and McAuliffe exploded with rage.

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Pennsylvania Leaves Schools in the Lurch on Enforcement of Masking, Quarantine Policies, Educators Say

Teacher up front, giving lecture to students in a school classroom

A number of Pennsylvania educators said Thursday the Department of Health hands down COVID-19 mitigation orders and doesn’t back them up when it comes to enforcement, leaving schools in a difficult spot.

Michael Bromirski, superintendent of Hempfield School District in Lancaster County, told the Senate Education Committee that since pandemic mitigation rules lifted earlier this summer, school districts no longer handle quarantine orders for students exposed to the virus after the department told them it’s the state’s responsibility – and authority – to do so.

Except, parents rarely receive such instructions, generating confusion and frustration.

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Posters on Display in California High School Classroom Display ‘F*** The Police’ and ‘F*** Amerikkka’ Phrases

outside of Alexander Hamilton High School

A California high school classroom displayed what an anonymous parent called “disgusting brainwashing of students with taxpayer dollars” over photos that show F*** the Police and F*** Amerikkka posters and Pride and Black Lives Matter flags, according to a tip provided by a parent to Parents Defending Education.

The parent of a student at Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) shared photos of the posters and flags in the classroom with Parents Defending Education (PDE), a national grassroots organization working to fight “indoctrination in the classroom.”

Photos show an American flag lying on furniture in the classroom, while the Palestine flag, a transgender flag, a Pride flag and a Black Lives Matter flag hang prominently from the blackboard, according to the photos obtained by PDE.

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Wayne County Mandates Masks for Schools, Daycares

inside of a nursery/daycare facility

The Wayne County Public Health Department issued a new order mandating school districts and daycare providers require students, faculty, staff, and visitors to wear a face mask while in school and during school-sponsored indoor events.

The order takes effect immediately directing public, private, and parochial schools and daycare providers to:

Require indoor wearing of face masks for all pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students, regardless of their vaccine status; and,
Require face masks to be worn indoors by all teachers, administrative staff, other employees, parent and guardians, attendees, and volunteers.

The order remains in effect until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorize COVID-19 community transmission for Wayne County as “moderate” for at least 14 consecutive days or further notice by Wayne County officials.

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Biden’s Education Department Won’t Enforce a Key Due Process Protection for Students Accused of Sexual Assault

The Department of Education announced it would stop enforcing a Trump administration rule designed to protect those accused of sexual assault on college campuses.

A district court in Massachusetts upheld most of the Title IX 2020 amendments in a July ruling, maintaining new regulations related to public institutions managing allegations of harassment, assault, violence, and more. Although, the court struck down one procedural regulation related to what evidence a “Decision-Maker,” or the employee who is designated to adjudicate the case, may consider in making rulings.

Following the court ruling and a letter from the Department of Education on Tuesday, the chosen adjudicator can now consider emails and texts between the parties and witnesses, police reports and medical reports, regardless of cross-examination status at the live hearing.

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Ohio Bill Would Close Teacher Misconduct Loophole

Two Ohio lawmakers want to close a loophole in state law that allows teachers who are under investigation for misconduct to retire and school districts to not file a report with the Ohio Department of Education.

The legislation, filed this week by Reps. Adam Miller, D-Columbus, and Sarah Fowler-Arthur, R-Geneva-on-the-Lake, was proposed after five Rocky River School District teachers resigned and one retired in the spring as the district investigated alleged inappropriate contact.

“Closing the Background Check Retirement Loophole protects students and parents,” Miller said. “It also protects school districts. A teacher who retires while under investigation would still have all their rights under law, but other districts would have a clearer picture of the circumstances and could make the best, most informed decision on hiring that teacher. Right now, a district can be left in the dark.”

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Commentary: Teacher Codes of Conduct Offer Alternative to Critical Race Theory Bans

The firing of Matthew Hawn, a high school teacher in Sullivan County, Tennessee, recently made national news and seemed to confirm fears that newly-enacted state bans on critical race theory (CRT) would have a chilling effect on teacher speech. Hawn, a 16-year veteran tenured teacher and baseball coach, had assigned students in his contemporary issues class Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essay, “The First White President,” and a spoken word poem from Kyla Jenée Lacey called “White Privilege.” One headline declared, “A Tennessee teacher taught a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay and a poem about white privilege. He was fired for it.” A Georgetown professor tweeted, “This really seems extreme and a harbinger of what is to come.”

But contrary to news coverage and social media chatter, Hawn wasn’t fired for violating the state’s newly passed CRT ban. Really, he was dismissed for failing to adhere to the Tennessee “Teacher Code of Ethics,” a seldom-invoked but sensible state requirement for teachers to provide students access to varying points of view on controversial topics. Not only did Hawn fail to follow this code when he assigned the contentious poem and Coates’ essay from The Atlantic, which contains claims such as, “With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness,” he also later asserted that “there is no credible source for a differing point of view.” (Hawn recently denied making such a claim, though he declined to explain why the district attributed this statement to him.)

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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.

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Arizona Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Calls for Executive Order Against School Mask Mandates

Republican gubernatorial candidate Steven Gaynor wants Gov. Doug Ducey to issue an executive order in response to local school mask mandates. 

Gaynor is a Republican businessman from Paradise Valley who announced his run to replace Ducey in 2022. He narrowly lost to Katie Hobbs in the 2018 race for secretary of state. 

In an Aug. 9 press release, Gaynor asked for an executive order to provide Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) to parents of students in school districts that enforce mask and vaccine mandates. 

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Number of Homeschooled Students Has Doubled Since Pandemic, Continues to Rise

Student working on school work at home.

As a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, the total number of students being homeschooled in the United States has more than doubled from pre-pandemic levels, and continues to rise even as schools begin to slowly reopen, according to Fox News.

By March of 2021, the total number of homeschooled students in America stands at over 5 million, in comparison to just 2.6 million in 2020. Christopher Chin, president of Homeschool Louisiana, said that “interest has exploded,” and that although some students may ultimately return to regular schools after the pandemic, “many parents [are] finding this is a better way of life for them and their children.”

Additionally, Chin says the homeschooling model has proven successful even for households where both parents work, due to the rise in remote work at many companies and places of business.

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Arizona Supreme Court: Schools Not Responsible for Students Off-Campus

Arizona Supreme Court

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that schools cannot be held accountable for off-campus incidents of violence between students. 

Diannah Dinsmoor, the mother of high school student Ana G., who was shot and killed by her classmate in 2014, brought claims for wrongful death, negligence, and gross negligence against the Deer Valley Unified School District and the City of Phoenix in Dinsmoor v. City of Phoenix. Dinsmoor argued that school officials knew that Ana and her classmate, identified by court records as Matthew B., were dating and that Matthew had a history of violence with an ex-girlfriend, known on court records as Raven. Ana met Matthew at a friend’s house after school where he shot and killed her and then himself.

The superior court ruled on Friday that the defendant did not owe Ana or Dinsmoor a duty as necessary to support Dinsmoor’s claims.

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Chicago Teachers Union Plans to Use ‘Delta Variant’ as Excuse to Shut Down Schools Again

Chicago Teachers’ Union protesting

The Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) declared its belief that schools should be shut down again if the India Variant of the coronavirus, also known as the “Delta variant,” continues to spread, as reported by the Daily Caller.

In a letter published on Thursday addressed to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D-Ill.), the union demanded that the mayor “acknowledge the changing dynamics of the COVID-19 virus” and make further bargains with the CTU regarding conditions for possibly returning to school.

“Parents are concerned,” the letter states in part, “and they deserve assurances that our union and the [Chicago Public Schools] team are working…to ensure safety in hundreds of school buildings across the city.” In fact, many parents have been critical of CTU and other teachers’ unions across the country, which have sought to extend school shutdowns for as long as possible for the teachers’ pleasure, often including absurd and unreasonable conditions in their requirements for returning to in-person instruction.

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State Attorneys General Split on Reinstating Obama’s Race-Based School Discipline Guidance

Attorneys general in more than half the states are starkly divided on how to view alleged racial disparities in school discipline, filing competing briefs in a Department of Education proceeding that drew nearly 2,700 comments.

Arizona led a coalition of 15 states to oppose the reinstatement of the Obama administration’s “disparate impact” guidance, which said statistical differences between the races in school discipline could serve as the basis for a federal civil rights investigation.

Michigan led an opposing coalition of 15 states to argue that the 2014 guidance should not only be reinstated, but expanded to include disparities in discipline by sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.

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Commentary: School Board Elections and the Impact on Critical Race Theory in America

Protestor with megaphone, talking

Over the last few months, the U.S. has engaged in intense discussion over “critical race theory.” As Americans have debated the impact of CRT, several states have banned CRT from the public school curriculum, while other states are using it as part of that curriculum. The debate over CRT’s merits or dangers has prompted ideological battles in school board elections. This article looks at the increased activism around school board elections and its broader ramifications.

Past politicization of school board elections

Though school board elections may not seem as exciting as a presidential or even congressional race, they have taken on greater importance in recent years. In 2005, the city of Dover, Pennsylvania faced a contentious court case known as Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which ruled that the school district’s teaching of intelligent design violated the separation of church and state. Shortly after the trial concluded, the district held its school board elections, and all the school board members who favored the teaching of intelligent design lost their reelection bids, at least in part due to their position on the issue. The election generated much discussion.

In the early 2010s, school board races saw partisan involvement through the Tea Party movement. Generally, candidates affiliated with the Tea Party ran on platforms of greater political accountability and lower property taxes. Carl Paladino, a former Republican nominee for governor in New York, won a race for the Buffalo school board on a Tea Party-type platform. The school board later ousted Paladino for making offensive comments about former First Lady Michelle Obama.

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Minneapolis Cites Critical Race Theory as a ‘Framework’ for New Ethnic Studies Requirement

Thomas Edison High School

Minneapolis Public Schools explicitly lists critical race theory as a “framework” for its new ethnic studies graduation requirement.

According to left-wing critics, critical race theory is strictly a legal theory developed 40 years ago and since it isn’t explicitly referenced in some K-12 course catalogs, it therefore isn’t taught in the classroom at all.

But “ethnic studies” courses seem to be a popular vehicle for delivering CRT-inspired ideas to young students.

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Michigan’s New Diversity and Inclusion Director Receives $130,800 Salary

Rané Garcia

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is paying Rané Garcia $130,801 per year for a new position to lead the agency’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative.

MDE reported Garcia’s salary in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Center Square.

in her new position, Garcia “will be responsible for developing and supporting internal and external efforts and strategies that foster greater fairness and inclusion in the state’s public schools.”

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Commentary: Hillsdale College’s 1776 Curriculum

Hand underneath American flag

On July 19, Hillsdale College released the 1776 Curriculum, a package of American history and civics materials for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The curriculum offers students and teachers a more traditional and patriotic approach to American history than the critical alternatives now prevalent in the nation’s primary and secondary schools.

At nearly 2,500 pages, the 1776 Curriculum is a mammoth collection of teaching materials, offering grade-specific guidance for teachers, assignments and exams for students, and a trove of primary sources from the American founding and beyond. In a press release, Hillsdale’s assistant provost for K-12 education Dr. Katherine O’Toole contrasted what she described as Hillsdale’s “truly American” curriculum with its “partisan” competitors.

“Our curriculum was created by teachers and professors – not activists, not journalists, not bureaucrats,” O’Toole said. “It comes from years of studying America, its history, and its founding principles, not some slap-dash journalistic scheme to achieve a partisan political end through students. It is a truly American education.”

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Biologically Male Middle School Student Can Run on Girls’ Cross Country Team, Judge Rules

Man running on a gravel road during the day with a blue shirt on

A biologically male middle school student may run on a girl’s cross country team this fall in spite of West Virginia’s new law banning biological males from women’s sports, U.S. Circuit Judge Joseph R. Goodwin ruled Wednesday.

Lawyers from the ACLU-West Virginia had argued that HB 3293 would unfairly prevent the 11-year-old student, Becky Pepper-Jackson, from participating on a girls cross country team.

Goodwin issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday allowing Pepper-Jackson to “sign up for and participate in school athletics in the same way as her girl classmates.”

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REPORT: Biden’s Education Department Has Closer Ties to Critical Race Theory Group Than They Admit

Young girl in pink long sleeve writing

The Biden administration called it an “error” to promote a critical race theory (CRT) activist group’s guide in a Department of Education (DOE) handbook meant for use in over 13,000 public school districts on reopening recommendations and policies, Fox News reported.

The activist group, Abolitionist Teaching Network (ATN) has connections to at least two high-ranking officials in the Biden administration’s DOE, Fox News reported. It is unclear why ATN was mentioned in the April 2021 handbook and who added the link.

The Biden administration DOE backtracked on the promotion and its link to the group in a statement to Fox News Wednesday which said, “The Department does not endorse the recommendations of this group, nor do they reflect our policy positions. It was an error in a lengthy document to include this citation.”

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Columbus Schools Will Require Masks When Ohio Students Return

Woman sitting alone with a mask on.

Ohio’s largest school district will require all students, staff and visitors to wear masks inside buildings and on buses this fall, but an Ohio lawmaker has introduced a bill that prohibits schools from requiring masks.

The Columbus City Schools Board of Education said in a news release it relied on recommendations from The American Academy of Pediatrics and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with talks with Columbus Public Health, to reach the decision.

“Safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall is a priority, and masks provide and extra layer of protection in reducing transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” Superintendent Talisa Dixon said Wednesday in a news release. “Throughout this pandemic, we have relied on the guidance of our public health officials. We feel that this was the best decision for our district and community.”

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Minnesota Schools Spend Big on Equity Consultants

School bus

Taxpayer-funded school districts across the state have spent huge sums of money hiring outside consultants to conduct “equity audits” and related work, in some cases using COVID-19 relief funds to cover the costs.

The primary beneficiaries of this scheme include Equity Alliance Minnesota and the Minnesota Education Equity Partnership, a group managed by a current state legislator.

In the Sartell-St. Stephen School District, school administrators entered into an $80,000 contract with Equity Alliance Minnesota last October, according to a copy of the contract recently obtained by a group of concerned parents.

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Virginia Won’t Require Masks at Schools, Encourages Local Mask Rules

Little girl wearing pink mask, hair up in a braid, sitting at a table

Toward the end of the month, a state-imposed mask mandate at Virginia schools will no longer be enforced, but the state’s Department of Health is encouraging school divisions to create mask policies.

On July 25, the public health order forcing schools to require face coverings will expire and will not be renewed. However, the VDH issued guidelines that strongly recommend school divisions impose mask mandates for students, staff and teachers.

“Virginia has followed the science throughout this pandemic, and that’s what we continue to do,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement. “This guidance takes into consideration recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and will provide necessary flexibility for school divisions while ensuring a safe, healthy, and world-class learning environment for Virginia’s students. Again, I strongly urge every eligible Virginian to get vaccinated. Getting your shot will protect you, your family, and your community—and it is the only way we can beat this pandemic once and for all.”

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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to Begin Search for Nikole Hannah-Jones Replacement in Fall

A week after journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones spurned its tenured job offer, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tells The College Fix it will attempt to fill her vacant position this fall.

“We have two open Knight Chairs to fill,” Hussman School of Journalism and Media spokesperson Kyle York told The Fix in an email. “We are building search committees and plan to begin searching in the fall.”

Hannah-Jones was offered a prestigious Knight Chair at UNC, a position endowed by the Knight Foundation to teach and practice journalism. Even though she eventually turned the school down after they reversed course and offered her a tenured position, UNC will keep the Knight endowment.

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Average Tennessee Teacher Salary Surpasses $52,000 a Year

Tennessee Teacher Salary

The average public school classroom teacher in Tennessee made $52,596 during the 2019-20 school year, according to a new report from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability.

The average salary rises to $55,210 if it includes classroom teachers and positions such as librarians, school counselors and principals, and it jumps to $55,554 if it includes all personnel in a school district with an educator’s license.

The Tennessee Department of Education’s budget was increased by $219 million in this year’s budget, which included $120 million for teacher raises, allowing teachers with no experience a staring salary of $38,000 a year or more. With an advanced degree, the minimum starting salary is $41,605.

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CDC: Students Should Return to In-Person Classes

A classroom of students in class

The Center for Disease Control updated federal COVID guidance Friday with several major changes as schools around the country grapple with policies for students’ return in the fall.

The CDC urged schools to allow students to return to in-person classes whether or not they are vaccinated as most studies showed significant learning loss during remote-only or hybrid teaching models.

The agency also said teachers and students should wear masks unless they have gotten the vaccine, a recommendation that is certain to drive controversy.

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Commentary: Leading the Charge Against Critical Race Theory

Young boy reading a book

Critical Race Theory continues to permeate our classrooms and infect our children’s minds with outrageous ideas about their nation’s history. But a growing number of Americans are standing up to fight back against its false tenets and demand its removal from K-12 education. At the forefront of this patriotic effort is 1776 Action, an advocacy group committed to the vital work of restoring honest and unifying education in public schools throughout the nation.

The group’s Candidate Pledge has garnered national attention in recent weeks for its emphasis on America’s values and its vow to eradicate divisive race- and gender-based ideologies such as CRT from America’s schools. Political candidates who sign the pledge commit to restoring “honest, patriotic education that cultivates in our children a profound love for our country” and to promoting a curriculum that “teaches that all children are created equal, have equal moral value under God, our Constitution, and the law, and are members of a national community united by our founding principles.” The pledge also seeks to prohibit any curriculum that divides students by race and sex – or sets out to infuse harmful ideologies into course material.

In May, Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) became the first candidate to sign the pledge, declaring that CRT and similarly divisive theories are “shameful [and] must be stopped.” Other high-profile conservatives running for office, such as Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin, also vowed to replace CRT with “a high-quality civics curriculum.” The two Republican candidates for Governor of Kansas, former Gov. Dr. Jeff Colyer and Kansas Atty. Gen. Derek Schmidt, have also signed the pledge. As more candidates sign this pledge, it will put pressure on teachers, principals, and school boards to declare their stances on CRT and other key educational matters. It will also hold them accountable for the materials they teach and ensure our children are not indoctrinated with malicious theories that seek to denigrate our country and reduce students to their sex or skin color.

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Walt Whitman Statue, a Target of Protests, to Be Removed From Center of Rutgers–Camden Campus

Rutgers University-Camden Walt Whitman statue

Rutgers University-Camden will remove a statue of the famous poet Walt Whitman from the center of campus as a result of activists’ petitions and a recommendation from a committee of scholars.

The statue of Whitman, featured prominently in the front courtyard of Camden’s Campus Center, will be “relocated to a historically relevant site on campus and contextualized,” interim Chancellor Margaret Marsh recently announced in an email to students and employees.

That new location has yet to be announced by campus officials.

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Mom Says School Board Threatened to Sue Her for Seeking Public Information on Critical Race Theory in Curriculum

Nicole Solas was surprised to find her name listed on the meeting agenda of her local school board, especially since it said the board was considering taking legal action against her in response to her many requests for public records.

The Rhode Island mother of two began filing records requests with the South Kingstown School District several months ago, when she learned that teachers were incorporating critical race theory and gender ideology in the curriculum.

But she didn’t expect the school board to talk about suing her.

“I was shocked,” Solas, 37, told The Daily Signal in a recent phone interview. The school board, she said, “did not tell me that [the requests were] a problem.”

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U.S. Supreme Court Sides with Student in Free Speech Case

U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of free speech rights for students outside of the classroom in a decision Wednesday.

The court sided with former Mahanoy Area High School student and cheerleader Brandi Levy in the case, formally known as Mahanoy Area School District v B.L., with a 8-1 decision in her favor. Mahanoy Area High School is located in Pennsylvania.

Levy, upset that she had not made her school’s varsity cheer team, posted on the social media site Snapchat a simple message with explicit language expressing her frustration.

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Gwinnett County Parents Square Off over Critical Race Theory

Tensions were high Thursday as school system employees assembled at this month’s Gwinnett County School Board meeting and handed out flyers instructing parents to act with civility as they discussed and debated Critical Race Theory (CRT). The contentious issue of CRT divided the parents who showed up in droves.

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CDC Tells Schools to Keep Students in Masks

Student on campus wearing a mask outside.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told schools nationwide on Saturday they should plan to keep students in masks because of the limited vaccinations of children.

“CDC recommends schools continue to use the current COVID-19 prevention strategies for the 2020-2021 school year,” the agency said in new guidance for students issued just days after it cleared vaccinated adults to ditch their masks in most instances.

“All schools should implement and layer prevention strategies and should prioritize universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing,” it added.

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More Than $60 Million to Go to Virginia Schools to Offset Pandemic Learning Losses

To offset learning losses caused by the shutdown of in-person public education, Virginia will be spending more than $60 million in recovery grants for public schools, Gov. Ralph Northam announced.

After public schools in the commonwealth were completely shut down for in-person classes for a period of time, the governor implemented restrictions that required hybrid teaching models that included both virtual and in-person learning for months. Since those guidelines have been lifted, some schools have returned to fully in-person education, while some are still using a hybrid model.

To minimize the learning gaps caused by the closures, the state will provide $62.7 million in LEARNS Education Recovery grants. About $55 million of the funding will come from federal relief and the remaining $7.7 million will come from state funds.

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New Interim Teacher Certification Program Aims to Provide More Teachers of Color in Schools

State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has approved the New Paradigm for Education program to promote alternative teacher certification in the state.

New Paradigm will offer a residency-based alternative route to teacher certification to recruit, train, and retain high-quality educators, particularly teachers of color and male teachers of color.

“We continue to work beyond conventional methods to help address the gaps in the teacher workforce,” State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice said in a statement. “There is a substantial teacher shortage in Michigan, which is even more acute for teachers of color.”

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Kemp Signs School-Choice Expansion Bills in Georgia

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a trio of bills Thursday to expand education options in Georgia.

Senate Bill 47 expands the state’s Special Needs Scholarship program to students with 504 Plans. The program offers scholarships for students with individualized education plans to attend a private school or a public school of their choice.

“COVID-19 has certainly highlighted the challenges that families face and finding the right education for their child, especially those with special needs,” Kemp said Thursday during a bill signing ceremony at the state Capitol. “This bill will give more parents greater options to ensure their child has every opportunity to achieve their dreams.”

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House Republicans Offer Tax Cuts, School Funding Change in New Ohio Budget Proposal

Group of young students

Ohio House Republicans announced Tuesday they want to put the focus on funding the state’s schools and tax breaks.

The House Finance Committee accepted a substitute bill containing the House GOP’s version of a new two-year state budget, which also includes COVID-19 relief help for small businesses and more oversight of state spending.

“This is a thoughtful, structurally balanced and comprehensive budget plan that funds Ohio’s priorities and invests in Ohio’s future,” said Finance Committee Chair Rep. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton.

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‘Return to Learn’ Tracker: 42 Percent of U.S. School Districts Are Providing Full In-Person Instruction

About 42% of more than 8,500 public school districts in the country have returned to full in-person instruction, according to a “Return to Learn” tracker developed by the American Enterprise Institute and the College Crisis Initiative of Davidson College.

Iowa and Florida, which are fully reopened, are the only two states in which 100% of their school districts are providing in-person educational instruction, the analysis found. While Texas is also fully reopened, only 73% of its districts are providing full in-person instruction. Districts in states still under lockdown restrictions, like the District of Columbia and Hawaii, have no schools providing full in-person instruction, the analysis found.

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Poll: Support for School Choice Increases After COVID Shutdowns

Classroom full of kids, that are being read a book

After states shut down schools and forced families into virtual learning, parents and families found new ways to provide K-12 education to their children. While doing so, support for school choice options soared, a new poll from Real Clear Opinion Research found.

Among those surveyed, 71% said they support school choice, which is defined as giving parents the option to use the tax dollars designated for their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school that best serves their needs. Across all racial and ethnic demographics, an overwhelming majority expressed support for school choice: Blacks (66%), Hispanic (68%), and Asian (66 percent).

These results “were the highest level of support ever recorded from major AFC national polling with a sample size above 800 voters,” the survey states.

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Pandemic Resurgence in Michigan Prompts Whitmer to Ask for Two-Week Shutdown of Indoor Dining, School Sports, in-Person Learning

Closed storefront

 A surge in COVID-19 cases in Michigan has prompted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to promote a two-week, voluntary lockdown of indoor dining, suspension of school sports and a full return to remote education.

Although she noted more than five million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, the governor added the pandemic continued to wreak havoc in the state.

For example, Michigan hospitals reported 3,508 COVID-19 patients on Thursday. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released data on Thursday that revealed the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate was 492.1 cases per 100,000 people, the highest positivity case rate in the nation.

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Bill Aims to Offer Other Math-Based Options Instead of Algebra II for Michigan High Schoolers

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D–Flint, and state Rep. Julie M. Rogers, D–Kalamazoo, are sponsoring bills aimed to allow high schoolers earn their diploma without Algebra II.

Senate Bill 318 and House Bill 4595 were introduced Wednesday with bipartisan support.

Currently, Michigan students must complete Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and a math elective to graduate. Bill proponents argue these math requirements are often excessive for students who don’t plan to enter a field requiring advanced math and will instead need to understand interest, student loan payments, and how to complete taxes.

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