Education Issues to Watch
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Updated: October 17, 2017
- Database: Check newest NY teacher salaries - The number of educators in New York is down nearly 15,000 positions over the past seven years, while salaries are up 10 percent over that stretch, new state records show. The salary growth comes as the number of educators -- which includes administrators, teachers and support staff -- has been in decline, down almost six percent since the 2010-11 school year, the records showed.
- NYS Board of Regents helping teachers displaced by Maria - New regulations will allow teachers from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to get a temporary certification for work in New York.
- Betsy DeVos' First Semester: A Status Report - It has been more than six months since Betsy DeVos was confirmed as education secretary after one of the most contentious Cabinet nomination battles in memory, and so we thought it worth an update on her major moves so far — and the public response.
- Predicted education trends reflect a changing nation - A report released by the National Center for Education Statistics in September showed that, like the country as a whole, American schools would grow more diverse by 2025. They would also grow more slowly thanks to recent trends in birth rates.
- NY school board members convene on issues including opioids, civil rights - Nearly 2,500 school board members and administrators from around New York State will tackle a weighty agenda at their annual convention. The issues include opioid abuse, teacher shortages, student civil rights, mental health and testing. The New York State School Boards Association convenes in Lake Placid from Oct. 12-14. On Thursday, U.S. Education Department Office for Civil Rights' Acting Secretary Candace Jackson is scheduled to discuss the Trump administration's civil rights priorities for public schools. On Friday, New York Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will address the state's new learning standards and other issues. A discussion of "fake news" is also on the agenda.
- Growing Number of States Embrace Career Education - After years of focusing intensely on college readiness, states are turning their attention to students' futures as workers, enacting a flurry of laws and policies designed to bolster career education and preparation. "What we're seeing is that there's been a shift from focusing purely on college readiness to thinking also about career readiness," said Jennifer Thomsen, who analyzes policy for the Education Commission of the States.
- New stats reveal rise in gun & blade seizures at NY City schools - Last school year, 2,120 weapons were seized from students, including 10 firearms, 1,176 knives, 607 boxcutters and razors, 53 BB guns, 34 stun guns and 240 other dangerous objects. The total was 3.3 percent more than the 2,053 weapons seized the year before, and up from 1,673 in 2014-15, the NYPD said Friday in the wake of a fatal stabbing at a Bronx high school.
- Trump Taps School Choice Champion Jim Blew to Serve in Key Ed. Dept. Policy Post - Jim Blew, the director of Student Success California, an education advocacy group, has gotten the official White House nod to lead the office of planning, evaluation, and policy analysis at the U.S. Department of Education. Blew's background could be a boon to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' push to expand school choice. He was the national president of StudentsFirst, an education redesign organization started by former District of Columbia schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. Before that, Blew spent nearly a decade as the Walton Family Foundation's director of K-12 reform, advising the foundation on how to broaden schooling options for low-income communities. And he worked in communications before devoting himself to K-12 policy.
- Study Shows Kids’ Test Scores Drop When Their Food Stamps Run Out - Last week, researchers released a new study that confirms what every student, teacher, parent, and human being with a stomach already knew: It’s harder to think when you’re hungry. This new research adds to a wealth of evidence that hunger hampers kids’ ability to learn, holds back their development of social skills, and leads to behavioral problems. And it complements many careful studies that find that access to SNAP and other programs that provide basic living standards have large, positive effects on kids’ long-term outcomes.
- Rural school funding still stuck in Congress, despite bipartisan support - Last fall Congress was a year overdue in renewing funding for the Secure Rural Schools Act, leaving more than 4,000 rural school districts that are near federally protected lands short on critical funding. Another year has passed and nothing has changed. Although the Secure Rural Schools Act (SRS) does have bipartisan support, lawmakers have not managed to reauthorize its funding, leaving states to deal with the shortfall.
- School Districts Ready to Enroll Puerto Rican Students Affected By Hurricane Maria - Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, which has about 700,000 residents of Puerto Rican descent, said he expects thousands of Puerto Ricans to join their families in New York City. De Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina also wrote that the city's schools were open to those in need regardless of whether students had documentation, such as birth certificates, with them.
- Betsy DeVos Viewed Unfavorably by 40 Percent of Voters, New Poll Says - A public opinion survey released Wednesday reported that 28 percent of those polled have a very or somewhat favorable view of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, while 29 percent have a very unfavorable view of her. The National Consult/Politico online poll, which dealt with the popularity of President Donald Trump's cabinet members and various policy and political issues, found that a higher percentage of those polled gave DeVos a "very unfavorable" rating than any other cabinet member included in the poll.
- Presidential Advisers on Black, Latino, and Asian Students Say Trump Admin. Ignoring Them - Three long-standing presidential commissions designed to expand educational opportunities for non-white students are set to expire Saturday and members say months of silence from the White House has them worried they’re about to be dissolved. The presidential advisory commissions on educational excellence for black, Hispanic, and Asian American and Pacific Islander students in K-12 schools and on college campuses have not met since President Donald Trump took office in January. Although members of the groups have reached out, the White House has not responded.
- By age 3, inequality is clear: Rich kids attend school. Poor kids stay with a grandparent - Inequality in America is apparent by age 3: Most rich kids are in school, while most poor kids are not, according to a new book, “Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality.” Only 55 percent of America’s 3 and 4-year-olds attend a formal preschool, a rate far below China, Germany and other power players on the global stage.
- Education Group: Parents Fret Funding, Not Testing - Parents worry about funding and standards for their public school students and remain least concerned about the amount of testing in classrooms, a survey released by High Achievement New York and Achieve found. “A quality education with high expectations for all students is clearly a major priority for New Yorkers, and that’s exactly why two years of work has gone into revising the standards,” said Steve Sigmund, the group’s executive director.
- Ninth-Grade Marks as Predictor of College Success - Study finds that educators can tell quite a bit from the freshman year -- and that colleges may be able to use this information in recruiting. "The findings might suggest that colleges could be scouting freshmen, keeping their eyes on them throughout high school, and even perhaps supporting them. Maybe some college prep organizations should focus on freshmen, keep them on track and get them into good colleges. The biggest takeaway is that a successful freshman year smooths the way for future success in high school and after."
- Here's What the Latest Push to Repeal Obamacare Could Mean for Schools - Like previous recent efforts to overhaul health care and ditch Obamacare, the Graham-Cassidy legislation would significantly impact the $4 billion in Medicaid money schools receive annually. That dollar amount makes Medicaid the third-largest source of federal funding for K-12, and covers some special education costs as well as other services. School advcoates worked to defeat the last GOP attempt to repeal the ACA over the summer. The legislation would also end the Medicaid expansion enacted by the ACA. And beginning in 2025, it would increase the per-capita cap on Medicaid spending for children based on general inflation, which is below the rate at which the actual Medicaid costs for children are expected to grow, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank in Washington. That group pegs the possible Medicaid funding cut at about $300 billion in 2027, with smaller annual cuts in prior years.
- Do Schools' 'Active-Shooter' Drills Prepare or Frighten? - Children around the country are increasingly receiving similar training as schools adopt more-elaborate safety drills in response to concerns about school shootings. That leaves schools with a profound challenge: how to prepare young students for the worst, without provoking anxiety or fear. Federal data show a growing use of school-shooter drills, though it doesn't distinguish between lockdown drills and responses like ALICE. In the 2013-14 school year, 70 percent of public schools drilled students on how to respond to a school shooting, including 71 percent of elementary schools, according to the most recent data available. In 2003-04, 47 percent of schools involved students in shooter drills.
- DeVos Asks the Education Establishment to ‘Rethink’ Schools - The tour will take the secretary through schools in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Indiana. DeVos is slated to visit a variety of schools, including traditional and charter public schools, religious and other private schools, home school cooperatives, traditional four-year colleges and universities, as well as community colleges and other career-focused certification programs. Notably, the tour comes as lawmakers in Washington get to work on a tax reform proposal that so far has steered clear of any type of private school tax credit scholarship – widely thought to be the most serious vehicle for federal private school choice legislation.
- New York just made it easier for teachers to get certified - The state Board of Regents approved a number of changes to the state's teacher certification process Tuesday, as educators and advocates statewide debate how to get more people into the teaching field while still ensuring candidates are well-trained and effective at the craft. "New York is facing a shortage of qualified teachers in specific subject areas and in many parts of the state," said state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. "Today's action strikes the right balance by providing fairness to those seeking to become teachers, while maintaining some of the most rigorous certification requirements in the country."
- Public comment period begins for proposed teacher certification changes - The State Board of Regents announced that the changes would “phase-in a revised passing score on the edTPA teacher certification exam; extend the safety net for those candidates who do not pass the edTPA; and amend the eligibility requirements to use a Multiple Measure Review Process in certain cases.” Public comments on the regulation changes will be accepted through Nov. 13 and can be submitted by email to REGCOMMENTS@nysed.gov. The Education Department anticipates presenting the amendment to the Board of Regents in December, with possible adoption by Dec. 27.
- America Needs More Teachers of Color and a More Selective Teaching Profession - This report provides a roadmap for policymakers for increasing candidate diversity and raising the bar for selectivity. Looking at available evidence, the report shows that rigorous recruitment and thoughtful selection processes can achieve increased diversity and selectivity simultaneously. It also includes examples of states, institutions, and organizations that have done an exemplary job of setting a high bar for admission and ensuring the diversity of their teacher candidates and the emerging teacher workforce.
- Unprepared NYC graduates spend $63M a year on remedial classes - Ill-prepared for collegiate course work, more than 21,000 NYC public school graduates end up shelling out an average of $3,000 annually for remedial classes, according to a study by pro-charter advocacy group StudentFirstNY. Dubbing these costs a hidden “remediation tax,” the report estimated that they pay roughly $63 million a year to absorb basic knowledge they should have learned in high school.
- Teachers' Pay Lags Farthest Behind Other Professionals in U.S., Study Finds - Young college graduates have a lot less incentive to become K-12 teachers in the United States than in other countries, according to the latest data from the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation. While American educators out-earn teachers in other countries, they trail those with similar education levels in other professions more than teachers in any other OECD country.
- Senate Bill Addresses Access for Homeless Students - Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, and Senator Ron Portman, an Ohio Republican, announced a bill Tuesday that aims to better connect homeless students and foster youth with the financial support they need to attend college. The bill would streamline the verification process to determine that a student is independent and remove requirements that they must have that status redetermined every year they are in school.
- Like Teachers, Students With Babies Struggle to Pump Milk at School. Illinois is Trying to Help. - Under a bill signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner last month, public schools will need to provide public school students who are lactating "reasonable accommodations" for expressing breast milk, including access to a private and secure room (that's not a bathroom), permission to bring a pump on campus, a power source and place to store milk, and time to use the facility.
- Tax Breaks for Big-Box Stores Can Drain Money From Schools - Paying attention to how much nearby corporate retailers pay in property taxes may not be a priority for most school district leaders, but some policymakers think that could change soon.
- New York school accountability plan headed to feds - New York education leaders on Monday approved a statewide plan for holding schools accountable that now heads to the federal Department of Education for final approval. The plan overhauls the way New York evaluates schools, moving beyond just test scores and graduation rates to look at things like attendance, chronic absenteeism, student growth over time, civic readiness, and science and social studies performance.
- See how much state help you get for your schools here - The Citizens Budget Commission is out with a survey comparing the relative tax effort, or amount of local taxes that go toward schools in various areas of the state. By comparing various districts and the level of state aid, one can calculate the ”tax revenue effort” or proportion of a given locality’s wealth is going toward running the schools every year. The CBC believes state aid could be better distributed when accounting for the wealth or lack of wealth in a given area.
- Wanted: An enrollment chief who can help New York City meet its school diversity goals - The education department is in the market for a high-level official who will oversee enrollment decisions with an eye toward diversity. Rob Sanft, who has led the Office of Student Enrollment for the last seven years, is stepping down. His replacement will be responsible for helping Mayor Bill de Blasio’s education department implement a plan, released last June, to boost school diversity. HREF="http://schoolconstructionnews.com/2017/09/11/emerging-school-restroom-trends-help-ensure-transgender-student-safety">Emerging School Restroom Trends Help Ensure Transgender Student Safety - There are an estimated 150,000 transgender students across the nation, according to a report published in February by the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law. Yonkers, N.Y.-based ASI Group, a 50-year-old manufacturer of washroom accessories, partitions and lockers has seen an uptick in school orders for what it terms “ultimate privacy partitions.” These are partitions that are lower to the floor and higher to the ceiling than conventional restroom partitions. A European-style partition, essentially a small room that encloses the facilities, has also proven popular.
- New York education leaders: Scrap charter school teacher proposal - The state's top education officials issued a letter Thursday strongly urging the State University of New York to withdraw a proposal they argue would negatively impact students and cut down on the number of effective teachers in the state. Since it was first unveiled, teachers' unions, public school advocates and 18 SUNY deans of education have decried the plan, with many calling it another example of charter schools attempting to skirt state requirements. Although they receive public funding and are considered public schools, charter schools are allowed to operate independently on the premise they produce better results than traditional district schools.
- NY City will offer free lunch for all public school students - The program officially begins Thursday as school kicks off for the year. About 80 percent of children currently qualify for free lunch, but advocates say many are embarrassed to accept the meal. While the chancellor is eliminating the cost of a lunch, parents will still need to fill out a lunch form for each child that attends a public school.
- The five priorities for school boards this year - And just like that, summer is over and kids are back in the classroom. A new year means local school boards are preparing to deal with new initiatives, from implementing new science standards to providing environments free from discrimination and hate. These are two of the five issues members of the New York State School Boards Association are keeping an eye on this year. The association's executive director, Tim Kremer, joins us to discuss. e the best teaching force we can," state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said.
- New science standards come to NYS schools, including new approach to climate change education - The organization representing more than 600 public school boards across the state says how science is taught in the classroom will influence how a generation of students think about climate change. Starting this fall, new standards for teaching science go into effect in New York. They put a much more specific emphasis on the role of human activity in global warming.
- Letting teens sleep in would save the country roughly $9 billion a year - The United States would realize roughly $9 billion a year in economic gains by instituting a simple, nationwide policy change: starting public school classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m. That's according to an exhaustive new study by the Rand Corporation, the first of its kind to model the nationwide costs and benefits of later school start times.
The economic benefits would come primarily from two sources: greater academic performance (and hence, lifetime earnings) among more well-rested students, and reduced rates of car crashes among sleepy adolescent drivers.
- NY teachers wanted: Here's why - New York has nearly 8,600 fewer active educators than it did five years ago, and the number of SUNY students majoring in education has dropped 50 percent since 2007, fueling fears of a looming teacher shortage across the state. State education officials are warning about a lack of teachers and trying to find new ways to encourage young adults to enter the profession — while at the same time easing some of the regulations that have discouraged it as a career.
- After decades of pushing bachelor’s degrees, U.S. needs more tradespeople - California is spending $6 million on a campaign to revive the reputation of vocational education, and $200 million to improve the delivery of it. Research by the state’s 114-campus community college system showed that families and employers alike didn’t know of the existence or value of vocational programs and the certifications they confer, many of which can add tens of thousands of dollars per year to a graduate’s income. Federal figures show that only 8 percent of undergraduates are enrolled in certificate programs, which tend to be vocationally oriented.
- Americans Want Schools to Help Poor Students With Things Like Health Care, Poll Finds - Schools should provide services like after-school programs, mental health supports, and health services for students who don't have access to them elsewhere, a majority of respondents to a national poll said. And 76 percent of respondents also agreed schools are justified in seeking additional funds to pay for those services.
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