President Biden proposes a 40.8% increase in the education budget. More schools across the country are targeted by ransomware and female principals are being paid less than men. These items, as well as many others, are included below.

From: Education Week’s EdWeek Update

April 12, 2021

Biden Pitches 41 Percent Spending Increase for Education Next Year on Top of COVID-19 Aid
The president wants nearly $103 billion for the Department of Education, although history indicates Congress won’t approve that request.

‘Growth Mindset’ Linked to Higher Test Scores, Student Well-Being in Global Study
The first global study of “growth mindset” found both academic benefits and better well-being among students who think intelligence is not fixed.

April 16, 2021

Supreme Court Justices Call for More Civics Education Amid Risk From ‘Domestic Enemies’
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil M. Gorsuch, both boosters of civics for years, renew their concerns amid deep divisions in the country.

April 21, 2021

Citing Pandemic, USDA Waives School Meal Regulations Through June 2022
The USDA has extended regulatory waivers that will allow schools to more easily serve free meals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asian Americans Wary About School Amid Virus, Violence
As schools gradually re-open, Asian American families are wrestling with whether to send their children back out into the world.

April 22, 2021

As Schools Weigh How to Use New Aid for Homeless Students, Finding Them Is Step One
Schools are getting $800 million in federal aid for homeless students, but also must locate those who newly qualify due to the pandemic.

To Get Remaining COVID-19 Aid, Schools and States Must Detail In-Person Learning Plans
Among other things, states and schools must detail the extent to which they will meet CDC recommendations on universal mask-wearing in schools.

‘High-Surveillance’ Schools Lead to More Suspensions, Lower Achievement
Cameras, drug sweeps, and other surveillance increase exclusionary discipline, regardless of actual student misbehavior, new research finds.

Democrats Push $25 Billion for Electric School Buses, a Biden Priority
New legislation would invest $25 billion to convert the nation’s fleet of gasoline- and diesel-powered school buses to electric vehicles.

‘Learning Loss, in General, Is a Misnomer’: Study Shows Kids Made Progress During COVID-19
Even though the pandemic has interrupted learning, students are still gaining ground in reading and math this year.

Supreme Court Lowers Bar for Life-Without-Parole Sentences for Juvenile Offenders
The justices rule 6-3 that a state does not need to find a juvenile offender “permanently incorrigible” before imposing the harsh sentence.

Female Principals Are Paid Less Than Men. That’s a Big Concern
A gender pay gap in the principalship can affect recruitment and turnover.

No Charges Against Officer in Tenn. School Shooting, District Attorney Announces
The shooting of a Knoxville student by a police officer was “justifiable” under Tennessee’s self-defense law, the district attorney said.


From: ASCD’s Smartbrief

April 12, 2021

Biden proposes 40.8% increase in education budget
President Joe Biden on Friday released his $1.5 trillion spending proposal for fiscal year 2022, which includes close to $103 billion for the Education Department — a 40.8% increase from the previous fiscal year. The proposal includes $36.5 billion in Title I grants — $20 billion more than the 2021 level and the largest investment in the program’s history.
Full Story: U.S. News & World Report (4/9), The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (4/9), K-12 Dive (4/12), Education Week (4/9)


April 13, 2021

More schools targeted by ransomware
Cybercriminals increasingly are targeting US schools, with about 44 attacks reported this school year, according to Allan Liska, a ransomware analyst at Recorded Future, a cybersecurity company. These attacks can be costly — even for schools that choose not to pay — and can cause schools to cancel classes.
Full Story: NBC News (4/12)


April 14, 2021


Teachers union backs revised CDC distancing guidance

The American Federation of Teachers now supports CDC guidance that reduces social distancing guidance to 3 feet from 6 feet. Randi Weingarten, the union’s president, says the CDC responded to its questions, and assured the group that the new guidance includes continued additional mitigation strategies to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Full Story: U.S. News & World Report (4/12)


Report: Coronavirus likely to upend kindergarten
Schools should prepare for a kindergarten “bubble” caused by disruptions to learning during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released by NWEA. The report predicts more kindergartners will be enrolled and suggests educators prepare to accommodate children who may have had limited opportunities for learning and socialization.
Full Story: K-12 Dive (4/13)


April 15, 2021


Cardona: Re-imagine education after the pandemic
Education should be redesigned after the coronavirus pandemic ends, said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. In a recent interview, he discussed how federal funding, including the proposed infrastructure package, could help make improvements in education during the health crisis.
Full Story: Newsweek (tiered subscription model) (4/14)


April 16, 2021


Studies link school environment with achievement

School infrastructure and learning environments can affect academic outcomes for students, according to a review of more than a dozen studies over the past several years. Researchers have found poorly ventilated classrooms harm student learning, and students whose schools are in areas with poor air quality have lower test scores or poorer attendance — and sometimes both.
Full Story: Chalkbeat (4/14)


April 19, 2021


Study: Gifted programs not beneficial

A study of 1,300 elementary students across the US raises questions about whether gifted programs improve outcomes for students. The study, to be published next month in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, finds small gains in reading, smaller gains in math, no improvement in motivation and no gains at all among Black students and children from low-income families.
Full Story: The Hechinger Report (4/19)


April 21, 2021

Concerns raised over Title I funding formula
A Title I funding formula in the past has led to unequal funding for some poorer, rural school districts and smaller, high-poverty districts in urban areas. Now, that same funding formula is being used to distribute coronavirus relief funds to help schools recover and reopen — sparking concerns over inequity.
Full Story: U.S. News & World Report (4/19)


Free school meal waivers to remain through 2022

President Joe Biden’s administration has announced that USDA waivers, which were set to expire in September for schools to serve free meals to all students, will be extended through the 2021-22 school year. Diane Pratt-Heavner, director of media relations for the School Nutrition Association, called the continuation of the waivers a “lifesaver” for students, their families and school staff.
Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (4/20), The Hill (4/20)


April 23, 2021


Analysis pokes holes in learning loss theory
Students have made academic progress during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis by assessment provider Renaissance. Katie McClarty, vice president of research and design, said the narrative about learning loss is a “misnomer,” but data shows students’ gains were not as high as the company would have estimated in a nonpandemic year.
Full Story: Education Week Teacher (tiered subscription model) (4/22)

Study reveals pay disparities in schools
There is a pay disparity between male and female principals — with female principals earning about $1,000 less each year than their male colleagues — according to a study by Jason Grissom, a professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University. Grissom’s data also shows women are underrepresented in school leadership, finding that while roughly 80% of teachers are women, they represent just over half of principals.
Full Story: Education Week (4/21)


States required to submit plans to receive federal aid
The US Education Department has issued a template for states to detail required information before the department releases $41 billion in remaining federal aid dedicated to K-12 schools under the American Rescue Plan. Among requirements regarding how they plan to provide safe in-person learning, states also must say how they are assessing the effects of the pandemic on students; how they are tracking instructional models and attendance; and how funds are being used to support educators and workforce needs, the department says.
Full Story: Education Week (4/21)


April 26, 2021

Study: Students sleep more if school starts later
Students reported sleeping more when schools adopted start times that were 20 minutes to 65 minutes later, according to a study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Bloomington, Minn., public school system. Researchers also reported a slight uptick in performance for the students in fifth through 11th grades.
Full Story: The Hechinger Report (4/26)

Supreme Court to hear arguments on student speech
The US Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments in a case that will have implications for whether public-school students can be disciplined for their speech off campus. The case stems from a profanity-laced post made by a student on Snapchat.
Full Story: The Associated Press (4/26), Education Week (4/24)

From: ASCD’s Educator Advocates’ Capitol Connections

April 12, 2021

Big Biden Budget

  • The Biden administration unveiled an outline of its FY22 budget (more details next month).
  • It includes a huge 41% increase for education spending.
    • A $20 billion increase for Title I funding that would bring total funding to $36.5 billion.
    • $2.6 billion increase for IDEA ($15.5 billion total).
    • $1 billion for counselors and nurses to support the physical and mental well-being of students.
    • A $400 increase to the Pell Grant maximum.
    • Check it out here (page 24).


From: Special Education Smartbrief

April 19, 2021

Report: More students with disabilities graduate
The US high-school graduation rate for students with disabilities was 68.2% in the 2018-19 school year — up from 67.1% the year before, according to a report from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. This student population continues to lag behind their peers without disabilities, while the national average for high-school graduation among all students is 85.8%.
Full Story: Disability Scoop (4/19)


April 21, 2021

Biden asked to erase debt of students with disabilities
Three advocacy groups are asking the Biden administration to cancel the student loans of about 400,000 students with “total and permanent” mental or physical disabilities, which make them incapable of working, and who are eligible but have not applied for federal loan forgiveness. The groups also are asking the government to streamline the application process which they describe as “byzantine.”
Full Story: The Associated Press (4/19)


From: Whiteboard Advisors’ WHITEBOARDNOTES

April 23, 2021

Jill Biden and Miguel Cardona Promote Community Colleges During Illinois Visit: First lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon on Monday to discuss investments in higher education through the American Rescue Plan. Cardona noted the pandemic’s significant impact on community college attendance, citing a 10 percent decline in enrollment and hinting to how many are part-time students, parents, caregivers and displaced workers experiencing challenges heightened by Covid-19. Jill Biden discussed her experiences as an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College and announced that Sauk Valley Community College will be launching its own College Promise program. “What starts in one community college classroom can create a chain effect that is eventually felt by every single American,” she said. [The Associated Press]


Biden To Nominate Gwen Graham To Assistant Secretary in U.S. Department of Education: President Biden announced Friday his intention to nominate former Florida Congresswoman Gwen Graham to serve as assistant secretary for legislation and congressional affairs in the U.S. Department of Education. Before representing the Tallahassee area and other parts of North Florida in the U.S. House from 2015 to 2017, Graham worked as an attorney for the Leon County school district. “Graham brings decades of invaluable experience as a public education leader, federal legislator, and public servant to this role,” Secretary Cardona said in a written statement. The Democrat, whose father is former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018. Her nomination is subject to Senate confirmation. [The White House; U.S. Department of Education]


Growing Proportion of Educators Believe Pandemic Threat is Blown Out of Proportion: According to a recent nationally representative Education Week poll of over 900 teachers and administrators, nearly one-third of educators (32%) now say that the threat of the pandemic is blown out of proportion. The proportion of educators who feel this way has increased three-fold since this time last year when 90% of polled educators said that the pandemic was a real threat to their district. Pandemic-related concerns were most prevalent in districts offering hybrid-learning options (73%), as opposed to districts where school is 100% online or 100% in-person (in both populations, only 57% said that the pandemic is a real risk to their district). [Education Week]


From: The National Superintendents Roundtable’s Roundtable Notes

April 15, 2021

Doubling Title I budget and other major increases in school funding

The administration plans to request historic increases in federal school finding for fiscal 2022. The White House announcement indicates the president, among other increases, wants to double Title I funding. This proposal means that federal funding will finally rise above fiscal 2011 level. The figure below shows the dramatic turnaround in prospects for school funding.



According to the Committee for Education Funding, the 2022 plans, which must be approved by Congress, ask for:

    •  A $29.8 billion increase over the regular FY 2021 level (none of the funding levels here include the COVID-relief funding enacted for FY 2021).
    • Two thirds of the increase is for Title I, whose funding is more than doubled with a $20 billion increase.
    • Sizable increases for education programs outside of education, including for Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).
    • A 20% increase to $15.5 billion for IDEA Part B state grants, to help pay for the excess costs of educating children with disabilities.
    • $413 million for Full Service Community Schools (a 1,377% increase – yes, that’s correct).
    • $100 million to fund a new program to help communities create schools with more diverse student bodies.
    • Other requests bolster the Department’s Office for Civil Rights, aim at increasing participation in science and engineering by under-represented racial and ethnic groups, and propose to increase the number of school counselors and mental health professionals.


An American Imperative: A vision for the future of schools

A commission formed by the AASA has prepared a new report calling for a complete redesign of public school systems by 2025.

Citing the pandemic as a forcing event, the commission lays out three core ideas of its redesign vision.

    1. Culture—The commission calls for a school culture that is more equitable and aimed at a holistic approach to meeting all the developmental needs of students—as opposed to traditional education goals—and able to predict forthcoming technological and social change.
    2. Growth models—The use of data analytics and evidence of learning to personalize learning plans.
    3. Resources—Adequate student access to technology, adequate community support, and diverse educators.


What do we know about the effort to vaccinate children?

Experts say that in order to reach herd immunity, children will need to be vaccinated, writes Tara Haelle for National Geographic.

We really haven’t heard a lot about this. “Children aren’t a problem” seems to be the prevailing sentiment. But, as Haelle points out, “The end of the pandemic is in sight. Attaining herd immunity—the point at which transmission stops because the virus doesn’t have enough susceptible hosts to infect—now feels like a real possibility. But there’s a catch: The children must be vaccinated.”

Experts argue that kids make up about 22 percent of the population in the U.S. Their immunity, therefore, is crucial to reaching herd immunity, estimated to require immunity among 70—90% of the national population. But even if the U.S. reached that range without children, the disease could keep spreading, they say, because what matters is not herd immunity at the national level, but at the local level.

Hard to understand administration’s decisions on waiving state tests

What is driving the U.S. Department of Education’s inconsistent grants of waivers for states seeking to put off the assessment obligation under the Every Student Succeeds Act?

That’s a question many are asking after the Education Department granted full and partial waivers to D.C., Oregon, and Colorado, but rejected requests from New York, Michigan, Montana, and Washington State to either cancel their assessments or reduce them in some way, according to reporting by Evie Blad and Andrew Ujifusa for Education Week.

There are at least some differences between the waiver requests. Michigan and Montana wanted to replace their state assessments with local ones, while Washington wanted to issue a survey that polled students about their pandemic experiences. Oregon and Colorado, meanwhile, planned to split their assessments by grade. But D.C. was granted a blanket waiver despite the Department saying it did not plan to allow them, while New York’s similar request was denied for not providing sufficient justification to cancel the tests.

From: The Council for Exceptional Children’s Special Education Today

April 16, 2021

Biden budget includes ‘first step toward fully funding IDEA’

Disability Scoop

President Joe Biden is calling for the federal government to make sizable investments in special education and support other programs benefiting people with disabilities in his first budget proposal. Biden sent a first look at his budget request to Congress on Friday. The 58-page document serves as a blueprint of the president’s priorities for discretionary spending as lawmakers consider appropriations for the 2022 fiscal year, which begins in October.


April 23, 2021

Biden’s budget significantly boosts K-12 education spending

U.S. News & World Report

President Joe Biden’s budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year would more than double funding for the federal K-12 program that supports school districts serving lots of poor students — an aggressive funding pitch that would represent the most significant investment in the country’s public education system since the program was enacted under the Johnson administration more than half a century ago.


Ed Department says more students with disabilities graduating

Disability Scoop

An increasing number of students with disabilities across the nation are graduating high school, according to new federal figures, but the odds of receiving a diploma vary considerably by state. The high school graduation rate for those with disabilities rose to 68.2% for the 2018–2019 school year. That’s up from 67.1% the year prior. The data comes from a report issued recently by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and reflects the number of students who graduated within four years with a regular high school diploma.