Commentary: The Other Back to School Story

Back to school stories this year will focus, naturally, on the Covid-19 pandemic’s toll on students and families and on remedying these difficulties.

But another story is being shortchanged: it’s about how parents sought new options for their children like homeschooling, small learning pods, and micro-schools, with civic entrepreneurs and their partners creating new organizations or expanding existing ones to meet this demand.

Read More

Arizona Student Assessments Hint at Significant Learning Loss Amid COVID Pandemic

Students in Arizona’s public schools failed reading and math assessments at higher rates this spring than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Test results from the AzM2 and MSAA – Arizona’s two statewide assessments conducted annually – show around oner-third of students who took the tests passed them, though the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) warns not to read too deeply into the low scores.

Read More

Savannah Mayor Johnson Supports Teaching Critical Race Theory; Georgia’s Other Big-City Mayors Mum on Mayors’ Conference Resolution

Savannah, GA Mayor Van R. Johnson II

In the wake of the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopting a resolution backing the use of critical race theory (CRT) in public schools, Savannah, GA Mayor Van R. Johnson II (D) has affirmed his support for the measure.

The mayors of Georgia’s four other largest cities have yet to declare their stand on the issue.

Read More

Kentucky Lawmakers Override Governor, Ditch School Mask Mandate

Group of young students at table, reading and wearing masks

Kentucky’s Republican legislature overrode the state’s Democratic governor late Thursday and repealed a statewide public school mask mandate.

The move, reported by the Louisville Courier Journal, came on the final day of a special session called by Gov. Andy Beshear. The mask mandate was repealed as cases in the state increased for the 10th straight week, and as over 30% of Kentucky’s new cases Thursday were in people 18 and younger, according to state data.

The legislature last month moved to significantly limit Beshear’s pandemic-related power, an action that was upheld by multiple judges in the state.

Read More

Left-Wing Website Editor Bites Gretchen Whitmer, Attacks ‘Mealy Mouthed’ School Mask Position

Susan Demas

Left-wing news website editor Susan Demas harshly criticized Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), accusing her of going weak after her refusal to issue a new school mask mandate.

Whitmer has repeatedly claimed she is “following the science” during the coronavirus pandemic, but several of her advisers have recently said their recommendations were to require universal masking in schools and the governor rejected that advice.

Read More

Detroit Schools Reach New Contract with Union

Terrence Martin and

The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), Michigan’s largest public education system responsible for educating 51,000 children, has reached a new agreement with the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) Local 231 on a two-year successor contract before starting the ’21-22 school year.

DPSCD Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti and DFT President Terrance Martin agreed to terms on August 26, and DFT members ratified the agreement on September 1.

In August, the unit reached a safe reopening plan outlining the safety guidelines, additional hazards, and blended learning bonuses.

Read More

Parents Sue Georgia’s Largest School District over Mask Requirement

Parents in Georgia’s largest school district are suing the superintendent and school system over its mask mandate, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Four parents are seeking an injunction against the mask mandate at Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), which serves around 180,000 students, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported. The requirement was implemented at the end of July when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended indoor masking for schools amid the rise of the delta variant.

Read More

Michigan Democrats Delete Tweet Pointing Out Gretchen Whitmer ‘Declined’ to Issue Statewide Mask Mandate

The Michigan Democratic Party deleted a tweet pointing out Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) “declined” to issue a statewide school mask mandate.

As coronavirus cases rise, Whitmer has refused to exercise the powers she used months ago, despite repeatedly claiming she is “following the science,” leaving some to speculate she is now following polling and “political science.”

Read More

Hamilton County Schools Interim Superintendent Calls for Universal Masking, Appeals to Parents to Choose to ‘Keep Our Students Safe’

Young girl with brown hair wearing black mask

Hamilton County Schools says it is struggling struggling to control COVID-19 as the delta variant continues to drive cases. This has prompted the public school district that operates 41 elementary schools, 21 middle schools, and 22 high schools in the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County School to ask all students to wear a mask. Some schools in the district have been closed altogether.

Read More

Parents Demonstrate Against School Mask Mandate and Health Officer in Kent County, Michigan

On Thursday, several Kent County commissioners and a packed room of parents expressed outrage over Health Officer Adam London’s mandate that school children wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

London, who issued the requirement mere days before children in the Grand Rapids area headed back to school this Monday, insisted at a board of commissioners meeting that no negative consequences come to children from wearing masks. 

Read More

Commentary: Vaccine Mandates and Bribery Are Headed for K-12 Schools

Young girl getting COVID vaccination

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than 680 U.S. public and private colleges require students to get a coronavirus vaccine. This is a non-negotiable mandate for students to maintain enrollment status.

The vaccination edicts come even as the coronavirus has an extremely low mortality rate among college-aged students — CDC data attributes only 2.8 percent of coronavirus deaths to those under age 45. Regardless of this reality, those favoring mandated vaccines argue that schools already require students to provide proof of other vaccinations.

Read More

Biden Commends Phoenix School District That Violated Ban on Mask Requirements

Biden Commends Phoenix School District

President Joe Biden called the head of Phoenix Union High School District after the district implemented mask requirements that may be contrary to state law, praising Superintendent Chad Geston for the move. In a statement, Biden said he told Geston during his Friday phone call that he “did the right thing.” 

The issue is currently under litigation in Maricopa County Superior Court. Numerous state legislators asked Governor Doug Ducey a few days ago to take action against the school districts in violation, and Ducey responded on Tuesday with a directive financially penalizing the districts. They will not receive any of the $163 million that the state got through the American Rescue Plan to boost per-pupil funding. Students in those districts will receive vouchers to attend schools elsewhere.

Read More

Science on Mask Usage Indicates Scant Benefit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended that all schools require mask-wearing indoors by teachers and students, vaccinated or unvaccinated against COVID-19. 

And many school districts are adopting that requirement, to the dismay of many parents.

Read More

Ohio Lawmakers Want Local School Mask Mandates to End

Mike Loychik

An Ohio lawmaker wants to remove the mask-wearing decision for K-12 students across the state from local school boards by having the state prohibit any district from requiring masks.

Rep. Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, said he plans to introduce legislation to stop school districts across the state from mandating students wear masks, saying parents in his district are upset school boards have required masks as the school year begins.

Lakeview and Warren school boards, each in Loychik’s district, voted to require masks for students.

Read More

Parents Launch Effort to Recall Mount Pleasant Public School Board Members Who Imposed Mask Mandates

Michigan voters upset with mask mandates and other school-board actions can organize recall efforts, as Mount Pleasant Public Schools parents are now doing. 

Three directors of that central-Michigan school district could be electorally removed owing to public backlash over a requirement that all students up to the age of 12 wear masks in school.

Read More

Michigan Board of Education Votes to Let Schools Mask or Not Mask

Michigan’s Board of Education passed a resolution Tuesday evening allowing individual school districts to either adopt or reject masking for students and staff to prevent COVID-19’s spread.

The Democrat-run board adopted the resolution instead of another offered by the panel’s two Republican members, Tom McMillin (Oakland Township) and Nikki Snyder (Dexter), who wanted a statewide policy against district mask mandates.

Read More

Court to Hear Clash over Phoenix School District’s Mask Mandate That Defies New State Law

Representative Joseph Chaplik - LD 23

A judge is expected to hear arguments on August 13 in a lawsuit filed by a teacher in the Phoenix Union High School district over its revived mandatory mask policy. Governor Doug Ducey signed SB 1826 in June, the education budget bill, which includes an amendment prohibiting schools from requiring masks. 

Biology teacher Douglas Hester filed the lawsuit against the school district, its governing board and superintendent Chad Gestson, citing the conflict with state law. The school contends that the law isn’t scheduled to go into effect until 90 days after the legislature adjourns, September 28. However, A.R.S. 15-342.05 includes a clause making it retroactive to June 30.

Read More

Columbia Medical School Will Teach Students How to ‘Disrupt Racism’ and Confront Microaggressions

Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health entrance

Columbia University has developed new programming to help black and Hispanic medical students “disrupt racism” and confront microaggressions they could face.

A medical school professor, who is also the diversity director, said that the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota has made the situation worse at the New York institution.

Professor Jean Alves-Bradford said in a news release that “it’s been very difficult for students in general, but especially for students underrepresented in medicine.”

Read More

Ex-Parent Teacher Organization Head in Gibson County, Tennessee Indicted for Stealing Association Funds

Spring Hill School

Kacey Criswell, formerly the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) president and treasurer at Gibson County’s Spring Hill School, allegedly stole at least $17,586 from the organization from July 2015 and November 2019, the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office stated Tuesday.

After officials of the elementary school reported that the PTO was missing funds, a county grand jury was empaneled and investigatory findings were presented to District 28 Attorney General Frederick Hardy Agee on July 12th supporting an indictment for theft of property over $10,000. 

Read More

Ohio Will Not Mandate Masks in Schools

Saying he does not believe he has the authority to mandate masks in Ohio public schools, Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday turned that decision over to local school boards and parents.

DeWine, along with other state health officials and physicians, almost pleaded with parents to either have their children vaccinated or wear masks as the beginning of the school year draws near and a new COVID-19 variant is causing increased infections.

“I do not believe I have the ability today to mandate [masks in schools]. There is not the appetite in this state for that kind of a mandate,” DeWine said. “We are at a point in the pandemic where information is out there but these decisions must be left to the local community and must be left to the parents.”

Read More

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.”

Read More

Ohio Public Schools, Colleges Cannot Require COVID-19 Vaccine

Young girl wearing a mask and reading a book in school

Ohio public schools, colleges and universities cannot require COVID-19 vaccines after Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill that originally was introduced to help military families.

The Ohio Senate amended House Bill 244, which passed in late June along party lines, to prohibit public schools from requiring any vaccine not fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and from discriminating against unvaccinated individuals. The FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines on an emergency basis.

The bill also allows military families moving into Ohio to enroll their children in school virtually or through advanced enrollments before they move into the state.

Read More

In a Reversal, Gov. Ducey Tells Two School Districts Their Quarantine Policy for Unvaccinated Students is Illegal

An advisor for Governor Doug Ducey sent letters Wednesday to two Arizona school superintendents letting them know their policies of requiring unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine is illegal. Education policy advisor Kairlin Harrier told the superintendents of Peoria Unified School District and Catalina Foothills School District their policies violate a new law, HB 2898, which states, “A school district or charter school may not require a student or teacher to receive a vaccine for covid-19 or to wear a face covering to participate in in-person instruction.” 

Harrier went on, “The policy must be rescinded immediately.” She pointed out that children under age 12 haven’t even received approval from the federal government to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 12-15 only received approval for the vaccine in May.

Read More

Clemson School Administrators Used COVID Caps and Fake RSVPs to Suppress Turnout at Conservative Event

Assortment of conservative buttons with a "Get Involved" Turning Point USA fillout

During the height of the pandemic, two college administrators from Clemson University used phony ticket reservations to suppress attendance at a conservative student event and bragged about it on Facebook.

The conservative group Turning Point USA’s local chapter hosted speakers Tomi Lahren, Brandon Tatum, and Graham Allen for an event on the South Carolina campus in April 2020.

The event was limited in capacity because of COVID-19, and people had to reserve tickets from a smaller pool in advance.

Read More

Utah House Passes Bill to Ban Critical Race Theory in Public Schools

Students in class, listening to the teacher at the front of the room

Utah is one of many states in America considering banning critical race theory in public schools.

Republican State Representative Steve Christiansen sponsored a bill that takes direct aim at critical race theory concepts being taught in public education. The bill passed the Utah House and is awaiting the signature of the Speaker to move onto the state Senate.

That bill, HR901, calls on the Utah Board of Education for a re-evaluation of guidelines to weed out critical race theory in publicly funded classrooms.

Read More

Tennessee’s Public School Enrollment Mirrors National Decline

Group of young students

Tennessee matched the national trend as public school enrollment this past school year was down 2.9% in the state compared with the 2019-2020 school year, according to preliminary data released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The decline in enrollment will not affect state funding for Tennessee’s public schools in the short term. Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that holds harmless Tennessee’s public schools in the state’s funding formula for the 2021-22 school year despite changes in enrollment. Funding is determined by school enrollment from the previous year.

Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, said he expects that adjustment to be a one-year, one-time exception to the Basic Education Program state funding formula, expected to cost the state an additional $8.9 million, according to the bill’s fiscal note.

Read More

Ohio Court: 700-Plus Training Hours to Arm a Teacher

An Ohio lawmaker believes it’s now more important to make it easier for teachers to have guns in the classroom following an Ohio Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that school districts must require police-level training for employees to be armed.

Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Township, introduced legislation in April that requires school employees to complete only concealed carry weapon training to carry a gun on campus. 

In a 4-3 ruling, the court sided with a group of Madison Local Schools parents who sued the district in September 2018 to stop teachers from being armed without extensive training, including more than 700 hours of peace officer training. Madison Local Schools adopted a policy that required only 24 hours of training before staff could carry a concealed weapon.

Read More

St. Paul Schools Committee Calls for End to School Suspensions After Examining ‘Racial Inequities’

Seven Indigenous students from AIMS middle school participated in the "This is Me: Indigenous in 2020" art exhibition exploring self portraiture in representational, symbolic and abstract work. The exhibition has been located in the Minneapolis U.S. District Court House since November 2020.

St. Paul Public Schools’ Equity Committee recently called for an end to school suspensions among other recommendations as a way to tackle inequities in the district.

The Equity Committee in the St. Paul Public School District was created in 2019 and is led by Superintendent Joe Gothard. The committee meets monthly to identify and examine “racial inequities” and equity disparities, as well as craft recommendations for the school board at large.

During a June 15 St. Paul Public School Board meeting, the Equity Committee brought forward a list of recommendations, including ending the use of suspensions in the district.

Read More

Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Teaching Critical Race Theory in Schools

Young girl in pink long sleeve writing

A new poll shows that the majority of American voters are deeply opposed to having critical race theory (CRT) principles being taught in schools.

The survey, conducted by Competitive Edge Research for Parents Defending Education, also shows that people overwhelmingly prefer Capitalism to Socialism (61.8% to 31.4%), frown upon “cancel culture,” (62.7% to 10.6%) and believe the United States is headed “on the wrong track” (60.7% to 32.8%).

Additionally, more respondents had a negative opinion of Black Lives Matter, than had a positive opinion (48.1% to 44.4%).

Read More

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.”

Read More

LA Teachers Union Agrees to Reopen Second Largest School District

United Teachers Los Angeles and Los Angeles city officials have come to a tentative agreement, creating a path for the nation’s second-largest school district to reopen.

Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District would return to in-person classes in mid-April under the tentative agreement struck Tuesday evening, according to city and union officials, The New York Times reported. The Los Angeles school board and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) members still need to ratify the agreement.

Read More

Gov. Whitmer: Michigan on Track to Reopen Schools, but Mum on Raising Restaurant Patron Limits

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used her Wednesday news conference to stress her goal to return all of the state’s public schools to in-person learning by next Monday, March 1.

However, restaurants and bars won’t witness relief from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ 25% capacity limit on patrons.

Read More

Tennessee Senate Approves Bill to Allow School Districts, Governor to Reopen Classes

The Tennessee Legislature is looking into giving local education districts more leeway to open or shut schools during public emergencies — or the governor the power to send students back to campus.

On Monday, Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) presented Senate Bill 103 to the full Senate. The bill passed the Senate as amended, 27-5.

Read More

Fauci Says Not All Teachers Need to Be Vaccinated to Open Schools

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday said not all teachers need to be vaccinated in order for schools to reopen, The New York Post reports.

“It’s not [the case] that you can’t open a school unless all the teachers are vaccinated. That would be optimal, if you could do that,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week”.

Read More

Ohio Moves Up School Employees for Vaccines to Get Students Back in Classrooms

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine plans to offer vaccines to all schools in the state that want it by mid-January in an effort to get children back to in-person learning in districts that want to return.

At his regular news conference Wednesday, DeWine announced new phases of vaccine distribution that included adults in school districts, those 64 years old and older, along with those with severe medical conditions.

Read More

Data: Schools Aren’t COVID-19 Super-Spreaders

Some new evidence is showing Elementary and high schools do not appear to be super spreaders of COVID-19, according to new data.

The New York Post reports, Brown University economics Professor Emily Oster and data scientists at the technology company Qualtrics collected data on COVID-19 in schools. The data collected on almost 200,000 kids in 47 states from the last two weeks of September revealed an infection rate of 0.13 percent among students and 0.24 percent among staff.

Read More

As European Schools Stay Open Amid Rising Cases, Many U.S. Schools Remain Shuttered

Leaders in Western Europe remain committed to continuing in-person instruction for young students — in some cases relaxing restrictions like face mask requirements and social distancing rules — even as caseloads throughout the region continue to explode. 

It’s a sharp contrast from many school districts in the United States, including some of the largest and most populous, where governmental authorities and teachers’ unions continue to insist that children be barred from face-to-face instruction, that any in-person learning be accompanied by strict distancing and face covering rules, and that even modest upticks in coronavirus cases should necessitate a complete shutdown of face-to-face learning.

Read More

Ohio Schools Among the Safest to Reopen According to Report

As schools around the country continue to struggle with opening to in-person learning, a new report shows Ohio as one of the top places in the nation for schools to reopen safely.

As some students learn online, through a hybrid model or in person in classrooms because of COVID-19, the personal-finance website WalletHub released its report on the safest schools to reopen. It ranked Ohio as seventh.

Read More

DeWine Administration Lays out Its Work Over the Past Week, from Providing Kids with Books to Implementing School Virus Reporting Requirements

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his administration provided a “Week in Review” for the past week, with actions ranging from providing free books to kids to requiring schools to report coronavirus cases to local health departments.

The week started off Monday with DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announcing assistance for five projects to create 574 new jobs and retain 1,058 jobs statewide. The Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) reviewed economic development proposals brought to the board by JobsOhio and its regional partners. Collectively, the projects are expected to result in more than $23 million in new payroll and spur more than $68 million in investments across Ohio.

Read More

Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Report: All Schools Safe to Reopen

The latest report from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reveals that all schools are safe to reopen for in-person learning models, according to county case numbers. The MDH released this information as part of an updated report published every Thursday. 
Many elementary and high schools are scheduled to begin their fall semesters in several weeks’ time. Schools are required to submit their learning model plans to families the week before their start date. Models reflect one of three options: in-person learning, distance learning, or a hybrid of the two. All models are subject to change throughout the semester, depending on county case levels.

Read More

Commentary: Michigan Schools Must Reopen

The coronavirus pandemic has affected every community, every household, and every American. Some of the most indirectly affected by the spread of coronavirus are the youngest among us: our children. Our children in the last four months have been suddenly ripped from their classrooms, teachers, and friends in the wake of the pandemic; forced to undertake isolated online instruction, while parents across the nation are bravely filling the void and fulfilled their new roles as “teachers.”

Read More

Guidance for Masks in Schools Varies Widely Across US States

School districts that plan to reopen classrooms in the fall are wrestling with whether to require teachers and students to wear face masks — an issue that has divided urban and rural schools and yielded widely varying guidance.

The divide has also taken on political dimensions in Iowa, among other places, where Democratic-leaning cities like Des Moines and Iowa City have required masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus, while smaller, more conservative communities have left the decision to parents.

Read More

Majority of Minnesota Parents Say They Are Comfortable Sending Children Back to School in Fall

A survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Education found that the majority of parents would feel comfortable sending their children back to school this fall.

Between June 15 and July 6, the agency collected more than 130,000 responses to the informal survey, which was offered in English, Hmong, Spanish, and Somali. A total of 64 percent of respondents said they would feel comfortable sending their children back to school in September. Of that 64 percent, 94 percent said they would send their children back to school full time.

Read More

Jason Lewis Says Parents Should Be Refunded for Property Taxes If Schools Don’t Reopen

Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis said parents should be refunded for property tax payments and tuition if schools aren’t allowed to reopen in the fall.

“The more we learn about COVID, the more it becomes apparent that we have done a huge disservice to our children in the way we have handled this virus. Research has proven that COVID presents minimal risks to young people. But what isn’t minimal is the toll this prolonged lockdown and social isolation has on our kids’ social, mental, and physical well-being,” Lewis said in a statement released Wednesday.

Read More

Michigan Publishes Reopening Guidance for Schools, Allocates $256M

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a set of health and safety guidelines on Tuesday for schools returning to in-person classrooms among the pandemic.

The “MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap” outlines safety protocols for schools in each stage or reopening and includes information on the proper use of personal protection equipment, disinfecting, spacing in classrooms and identifying symptoms, among other things. Guidance is distinguished by phases and includes both required and recommended protocols.

Read More