March 2019
  • This Week in Education Politics: Senate to Debate Title IX in the Higher Ed Act, House to Emphasize Gender Identity in ‘Equality Act,’ HHS Budget & More

    By Carolyn Phenicie | March 30, 2019

    THIS WEEK IN EDUCATION POLITICS publishes most Saturdays. (See previous editions here.) You can get the preview delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter; for rolling updates on federal education policy, follow Carolyn Phenicie on Twitter @cphenicie.

    INBOX: TITLE IX— The ongoing debate surrounding federal regulations that govern how schools must respond to sexual assault and harassment reaches the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this week.

    On Tuesday, HELP will have a hearing “addressing campus sexual assault and ensuring student safety and rights” in the context of a pending reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Both Sens. Lamar Alexander, the committee chairman, and Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat, have said the issue should be addressed in the HEA rewrite.

    The Obama administration prioritized the issue with a 2014 “Dear Colleague” letter that encouraged schools to take a tougher stance by requiring a lower standard of evidence when adjudicating allegations of assault.

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in 2017 announced she was revoking that letter and rewriting the rules. She said the 2014 guidance hadn’t been issued in accordance with proper rulemaking procedures and inappropriately tilted the scales of justice against the accused.

    Her proposed rules, released last fall, would let schools use a higher standard of proof when adjudicating claims and limit the types of claims in which they must intervene. They were immediately panned by civil rights and women’s groups, who led a campaign to flood the department with more than 100,000 public comments. Officials must read them all and respond as appropriate before issuing a final regulation.

    Though more commonly thought of as a topic affecting colleges, Title IX does apply to K-12 schools as well. The 74’s Mark Keierleber covered this issue at length in 2017, when he reported on the open K-12 investigations that were missing from the college sexual assault debate. There were 125 open Title IX investigations for allegations of sexual violence at the K-12 level, according to an Education Department tracker last updated March 1.

    Advocates have raised concerns about how DeVos’s proposed rules would affect K-12 specifically, highlighting discrepancies between the regulation and mandatory child abuse reporting laws.


    The Education Department’s Title IX Proposal Is ‘Out of Step’ With Realities of Sexual Harassment in K-12 Schools, Groups Warn as Comment Period Closes

    Murray, who has been a sharp opponent of DeVos’s proposal, asked the secretary last week if she would hold off on issuing new higher education rules while HEA negotiations are ongoing. DeVos said she didn’t expect any finalized rules to be issued before Memorial Day, “but we are going to continue with our timeline.”

    TUESDAY: SAVE THE CHILDREN — Several members of Congress are slated to speak to advocates with Save the Children, a group that works on international aid programs and domestic early childhood education. The group will also hear from Timothy Shriver, president of the Special Olympics, which became a flashpoint between members of Congress and DeVos last week before President Trump said he’d no longer call to end federal funding for the program.

    TUESDAY: EQUALITY ACT — The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the Equality Act, a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in school assignments, employment, housing and public accommodations. It also would specifically include gender identity in Title IX, the federal law banning discrimination in education based on sex. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the issue is a top priority.

    WEDNESDAY: HIGHER EDUCATION ACT REWRITE — The Education and Labor Committee holds the second in its planned series of five hearings on rewriting the Higher Education Act. This one focuses on accountability “to better serve students and taxpayers.”

    WEDNESDAY: LABOR DEPT. BUDGET — Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta testifies on his 2020 budget request before a House Appropriations subcommittee. The agency oversees federal apprenticeship and youth job training programs.

    WEDNESDAY: PAID FAMILY LEAVE — Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy discusses his ideas for a federal paid family leave program at the American Enterprise Institute. Later, a panel of experts discusses federal and state family leave policies.

    THURSDAY: CLIMATE CHANGE — The new House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis holds a hearing called “Generation Climate: Young Leaders Urge Climate Action Now.” Students around the world walked out of school in mid-March to protest inaction on climate change.

    THURSDAY: MIGRATION & IMMIGRANT CHILDREN — The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a hearing on “unprecedented migration on the U.S. southern border.” The head of Customs and Border Protection said that immigration enforcement is “at the breaking point” amid an influx of migrant families with children.

    THURSDAY: HHS BUDGET — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar testifies before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee. The agency is responsible for federal child care and early childhood education programs, and for care of unaccompanied immigrant children on the border.


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  • Monthly QuotED: 6 Notable Quotes That Made Education Headlines in March, From Trump to ‘Varsity Blues’ — and Richard Carranza on the Timing of School Lunch

    By Andrew Brownstein | March 26, 2019

    QuotED is a roundup of the most notable quotes behind America’s top education headlines — taken from our daily EduClips, which spotlights morning headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts. Read previous EduClips installments here.

    “Is that unfair? That the privileged can pay? Yes. But that’s how the world works.” —Brian Taylor, managing director of Ivy Coach, which offers parents a five-year, full-service package of college admissions consulting for prices of up to $1.5 million. (Read at The New York Times)

    Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

    “The Supreme Court, in a way, allowed this to happen. It went the wrong way, and now they have the chance to fix it.” —John Yoo, law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, on a new federal lawsuit challenging New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to diversify eight of the city’s specialized high schools. (Read at

    “[The superintendent] came to me in a panic because he had been accosted by prominent, wealthy alumni of the school who were Mr. Trump’s friends. … He said, ‘You need to go grab that record and deliver it to me because I need to deliver it to them.’” —Evan Jones, former headmaster of the New York Military Academy, on attempts to conceal the high school academic records of President Donald Trump. (Read at The Washington Post)

    Willis Independent School District/Facebook

    “My students mean more to me than my hair.” —Shannon Grimm, a teacher at Meador Elementary School in Willis, Texas, on her decision to cut her hair in solidarity with one of her students who had been bullied for having short hair. (Read at

    “As a teen, I feel the industry is really targeting us, with a lot of edibles in candy and fruit flavors. It’s really scary to me.” —Carson Ezell, a student at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, on a state plan to legalize recreational marijuana. (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    Getty Images

    “Lunch should be lunch, which should not be somewhere between breakfast and lunch.” —New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, on a Daily News analysis showing that many city schools offer “lunch” long before 11 a.m. (Read at the New York Daily News)


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  • Amid Latest Suicides With School Shooting Ties, Columbine Families Share Lessons on Addressing Lasting Trauma

    By Mark Keierleber | March 26, 2019

    Jefferson County, Colorado

    Over the course of about a week, three people with ties to mass school shootings died by apparent suicide, bringing to the forefront conversations about the long-term trauma of people who suffer losses from violence.

    The Columbine High School tragedy, perhaps the most well-known mass shooting in American history, transpired nearly 20 years ago. With the two-decade anniversary approaching, The 74 met with survivors and the families who lost loved ones during the 1999 tragedy in suburban Denver. The Columbine community outside of Littleton endured several suicides following the school shooting, including a star high school athlete and the mother of a student who was paralyzed in the tragedy.

    During an event at the Columbine High School library on Saturday, the families shared details of their own mental health challenges after the shooting — and the strategies they’ve used to cope with significant, ongoing grief.

    “The primary thing you really have to keep in the forefront is ‘What would your child want of you?’” said Tom Mauser, whose 15-year-old son Daniel was killed at Columbine. “Would they want you to be stuck in the same place with agonizing grief and unable to move on? Of course not. That’s not what they would want for you, so you have to respond to that.”

    Among those who reportedly died by suicide in the past week is a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who survived a mass school shooting on the campus in February 2018. After the shooting, in which 17 people were killed, the 19-year-old woman reportedly suffered from survivor’s guilt and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She took her life on March 17.

    On Saturday, multiple Florida news outlets reported that a male sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School died in what police called an “apparent suicide.” Two days later, on Monday, a 49-year-old man died of apparent suicide in Newtown, Connecticut. He is the father of a 6-year-old girl who was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In that shooting, 26 people were killed.


    Lessons From Parkland: 6 Big Things We’ve Learned About Student Safety, School Security, and Resilience Since the Tragic 2018 Massacre

    Although all of the victims have ties to mass school shootings, it’s important to note that people generally do not take their own lives due to one single event and suicide is typically the result of a combination of several factors, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. However, recent research has pointed to significant mental health challenges among those who survive or experience mass violence, according to the American Psychological Association.

    About a quarter of the people who witness a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder and a third develop acute stress disorder, according to estimates by the National Center for PTSD, a division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

    While most survivors show resilience, they’re at risk of mental health problems including post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety and substance abuse. In fact, mass shooting survivors may be at greater risk for mental health difficulties than those with other traumatic experiences, including those who survive natural disasters.

    For Columbine High School graduate Heather Martin, who was a senior at the time of the shooting, it took her a decade before she could begin to heal. Now, she’s a high school teacher in nearby Aurora, Colorado. Martin went to college the year after the shooting, but she struggled and ultimately failed out. It wasn’t until the 10th anniversary of the shooting that she fully recognized that her struggles stemmed from trauma. Visiting the high school in 2009 and meeting with former classmates, she said, “really changed the trajectory for me.” That same year, she went back to school and pursued a career in teaching.

    “People who have been traumatized are our own worst enemy because you’re going to try to minimize it as much as you can,” Martin said. “That is so dangerous for people who have been traumatized because you’re not facing it, you’re not confronting it, you’re minimizing it and you’re invalidating the feelings. And that can lead to some really dangerous outcomes.”

    Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among school-age children. About 18 percent of high school students considered suicide and 9 percent attempted to take their own lives at least once in 2015, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. However, such tragedies are preventable since those who are considering suicide typically display warning signs. Those signs include suicidal threats, preoccupation with death, changes in behavior, and making final arrangements like giving away prized possessions. Other risk factors include previous suicide attempts; self-injury, such as cutting; mental illness, including depression and substance abuse; and a family history of suicide.

    But there is hope. Research suggests survivors benefit from community connections and ongoing support. Parents who lost children in the Columbine shooting said strong community ties were instrumental as they grieved.

    Mauser, who still wears the sneakers his son wore on the day of the Columbine shooting, found several ways to occupy his time. While everybody grieves differently, he said, he decided to adopt a baby girl from China a year after the tragedy. Advocating for gun control also became part of the healing process.

    The Columbine shooting affected Coni Sanders differently than others who lost loved ones in the tragedy. Coni’s father, Dave, a computer and business teacher at Columbine, was the only adult killed in the shooting. It was difficult because society doesn’t put as much weight on an adult’s murder, she said. But to cope with the loss, she chooses to focus on her father’s heroism. Dave Sanders, who also coached girls’ softball and basketball, sprinted into the school’s cafeteria as shots rang out and ushered students out of a side door before being shot.

    “He saved hundreds of kids,” said Sanders, who is now a mental health professional working with people who were convicted of violent crimes. “There’s a reason there were only 12 children that died and it’s because he ran into the cafeteria and saved hundreds.”


    Remembrance Day: Ivy Schamis Was Teaching About the Holocaust When Shots Rang Out at Parkland, Killing Two of Her Students. Now the Lessons Are Deeply Personal

    Rick Townsend, whose 18-year-old daughter Lauren was killed in the Columbine shooting, used several strategies to grieve. He sought counseling and made close connections with other families affected by the shooting. During holidays, his family made sure to try something new. On the first Christmas after Lauren’s death, for example, his family chose to volunteer by feeding the homeless. He also spent time tricking out a Chrysler PT Cruiser, which he bought around the time of the shooting.

    “How you get through it,” he said, “is you try to have a strong support system: It’s family, friends, counseling, and maybe a car.”

    The intense news coverage that followed the Colorado shooting — and was echoed in Florida and Connecticut — also made the grieving process difficult, Martin said.

    “Grieving in the spotlight is a whole different animal,” Martin said. “Grief is grief and trauma is trauma, but it has a little different spin to it when everybody is watching.”

    Click here to learn more about preventing youth suicide.

    If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.


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  • The Week Ahead in Education Politics: DeVos and Democrats Expected to Clash as Ed Secretary Testifies on Budget; Committees Look at Child Abuse Prevention, Apprenticeships & More

    By Carolyn Phenicie | March 23, 2019

    THIS WEEK IN EDUCATION POLITICS publishes most Saturdays. (See previous editions here.) You can get the preview delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter; for rolling updates on federal education policy, follow Carolyn Phenicie on Twitter @cphenicie.

    INBOX: DEVOS TO THE HILL — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will testify on the administration’s budget request before both the House and Senate this week.

    She’s clashed with Democrats in these hearings before. A brief rundown:

    —In 2017, she battled with House Democrats over civil rights protections for students participating in a proposed voucher program. In the Senate, she similarly faced questions on civil rights protections, particularly for LGBT students, and on ESSA implementation.

    —Last year was more of the same. She again went several rounds with members of the House Appropriations committee on protections for LGBT students and battled with them on school safety issues, while a hearing at the Education Committee turned to vouchers for military families and immigration enforcement at schools.

    This year should be no different, with Democrats having already panned the administration’s budget requests. The proposal, like the administration’s last two, seeks deep cuts to long-standing Education Department programs and expansion of school choice initiatives. DeVos is set to appear at a House Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday, and one in the Senate on Thursday.


    Trump Proposes New School Choice Investments, 10 Percent Cut to Other Education Spending in Budget That Echoes Those Congress Has Twice Rejected

    ICYMI: WHITE HOUSE ON HIGHER ED — The White House put forward its priorities for the ongoing rewrite of the Higher Education Act, focusing on workforce needs.

    Additionally, President Trump signed an executive order that will require colleges that receive federal research dollars to certify that they’re upholding the First Amendment. The executive order also will require the Education Department to post more student earnings and loan default data on the College Scorecard, and to put together a report on “risk-sharing,” the idea that colleges should be held financially responsible when graduates can’t repay their loans.

    MONDAY: PUBLIC SCHOOLS WEEK — The Learning First Alliance, an umbrella group of a dozen education groups, hosts Public Schools Week, including Capitol Hill events on protections for students with disabilities and church-state issues in education.

    MONDAY: FREE SPEECH IN HIGHER ED — The Bipartisan Policy Center holds a panel discussion on free speech and intellectual diversity in higher education. The event is a kickoff of the group’s Campus Free Expression Project.

    TUESDAY: CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION — A House Education and Labor subcommittee holds a hearing on strengthening prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. A federal law, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, is due for reauthorization; Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has listed the reauthorization as among his priorities.

    TUESDAY: CIVIC PARTICIPATION — The Thomas B. Fordham Institute holds the latest in its 20/20 speaker series, this one focused on schools’ obligation to foster a sense of patriotism and why a good education means an open debate that challenges a person’s ideas. William Damon of Stanford and Robert P. George of Princeton will speak.

    TUESDAY: WORKERS’ RIGHTS — The House Education and Labor Committee holds a hearing on protecting workers’ rights and “the need for labor law reform.” Several states passed laws in the run-up to the Janus decision last year to strengthen public sector union rights ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision to end mandatory union dues.

    WEDNESDAY: APPRENTICESHIPS — A House Education and Labor subcommittee holds a hearing on “innovations in expanding registered apprenticeship programs.” Apprenticeships have been one of few policies with bipartisan support in recent years.

    WEDNESDAY: BUDGET MEMBER DAY — The House Appropriations subcommittee opens a hearing for House Members to share their spending priorities in the Education, Labor and Health and Human Services departments.


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  • Roll Red Roll: Documentary on Ohio High School Rape Case Offers Scathing Take on Culture of ‘Boys Will Be Boys’

    By Mark Keierleber | March 20, 2019

    The text messages and social media posts led police right to the crime.

    It was 2012 when Steubenville, Ohio, came under international scrutiny as a scathing rape case roiled the town’s lauded high school football program — leading to the convictions of two student athletes. But the case highlights challenges that exist far beyond eastern Ohio. That’s the chief takeaway of a new documentary, Roll Red Roll, which uses the Steubenville case as a prism to explore America’s “boys will be boys” culture of sexual misconduct.

    Billed as a true-crime thriller, the 80-minute film premiered last year at the Tribeca Film Festival and will make its national theatrical debut on Friday at the Film Forum in New York City and will broadcast on PBS on June 17. The documentary, which cuts between students’ damning social media posts and heated police interrogation videos, isn’t so much about the victim but the bystanders — classmates, parents, coaches — who looked the other way.

    As the situation unfolded in Steubenville, it became one of the first rape cases to go viral online, Nancy Schwartzman, Roll Red Roll’s director and producer, told The 74. That attention, she said, contributed to the rise of the viral #MeToo movement.

    “It was the first time we were able to see rape culture play out in the laughter and the jokes and in how callous everybody was,” Schwartzman said. By focusing largely on social media posts by students who witnessed the crime, she said, “we really had the opportunity to read and understand how boys were talking about sexual assault.”

    During a booze-fueled pre-season party in the summer of 2012, high school football players raped a 16-year-old girl who was unable to remember the attack the following morning. Text messages and social media posts, however, led police to the perpetrators. Throughout the attack, other students documented the incident with their phones, posting graphic details on social media and cracking jokes about what happened.

    “There’s something so visceral about the language of social media,” Schwartzman said. “It’s so immediate, it’s so, in this case, enthusiastic, that I thought the tone was really important to show.”

    What the students didn’t do, however, was stop the violence. As the case rippled through the community, some residents recognized the gravity of the situation. Others blamed the victim for placing the high school’s storied football program in a bad light. As the case consumed the community, the situation escalated. Multiple school officials eventually faced charges, some of which stemmed from an earlier sexual misconduct incident.

    The students’ social media posts were brought to light by true-crime blogger Alexandria Goddard, a central figure in Roll Red Roll, the same name as a website devoted to Steubenville High School athletics. After highlighting the social media activity on her blog, Goddard fended off intense public scrutiny and a defamation lawsuit. Her stories caught the attention of the hacktivist group Anonymous, which accused community members of engaging in a cover-up.

    “The people in Steubenville, they hate my guts,” Goddard says in the film. “They hate my freaking guts, and it’s OK that they hate me because I did what I thought was the right thing to do.”

    Goddard’s work was critical because she understood how social media functions, Schwartzman said. She knew to save copies of tweets, for example, before they were deleted. Without her work, it’s unlikely the story would have received much attention.

    “While it wasn’t criminal evidence, per se, it was evidence of the larger culture,” Schwartzman said. Without Goddard’s work, “this would have just been a small-town case with a comment section locked up on the local news report and that’s it.”

    Although the Steubenville case is now several years old, Schwartzman said it remains relevant since rape culture remains omnipresent in America’s schools and elsewhere. In order to combat sexual violence, she said, schools need to teach evidence-based sex education and hold students accountable for misbehavior. Students need to speak out when they witness their peers engaging in misconduct, while parents need to understand how their children use social media.

    The students’ social media posts, Schwartzman said, indicated that many didn’t fully understand what constitutes sexual misconduct.

    “There should be no confusion,” she said. “If kids are not clear on the definition of consent and we’re not breaking down victim blaming and breaking down harmful and rigid gender stereotypes, we’re in trouble.”


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  • 1 in 4 Parents Would Pay Off College Admissions Officers If They Had the Money, New Poll Finds

    By Kate Stringer | March 20, 2019

    If you had the money, would you bribe a college official to get your child admitted?

    Fifteen percent of all American adults would answer yes, according to a new poll. And that number rises to 25 percent for adults who actually have children ages 18 and under.

    It’s a hypothetical question, but certainly a revealing ethical one. There’s been a flood of outrage over the recent college admissions scandal, in which federal prosecutors charged parents with everything from paying off testing proctors to lying about their child’s athletic abilities to win a spot at elite schools. But a new poll from YouGov, a global public opinion and data company, shows that a large percentage of the U.S. population certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility of cheating and bribery when it comes to college admissions.

    “It speaks to the pressure of parenting a bit,” said Larry Shannon-Missal, head of data services in the U.S. for YouGov. “Parents are aware of how increasingly competitive it is out there. They’re all reading the same articles we are about kids coming out of college and moving back in with their parents because it’s hard to find jobs that will pay enough to get a living wage.”

    Even more parents — 34 percent — said they would be willing to pay someone to take an entrance exam on behalf of their child to get him or her into a good college. Of the general public, 20 percent said they would do so.

    Shannon-Missal said these findings might also speak to a level of cynicism among the general population: that people see the wealthy using their resources to take advantage of the higher education system and would therefore be more likely to think that they themselves should also be able to do so, if they had the resources.

    About two-thirds of adults polled said they were not surprised at the cheating scandal, and a similar number said the system is rigged in favor of wealthy students. In fact, 44 percent of adults said that, if given the money, most parents would pay to get their kids ahead.

    Steering students toward specific extracurricular and academic tracks designed to catch the eye of admissions officers is not uncommon, and is available at sky-high prices. A recent New York Times profile of college consultants reported that costs for these services can reach into the millions of dollars. And rigorous, expensive test prep for entrance exams remains at the center of debates around equity and inclusion.


    It’s worth noting that the majority of respondents said they would not cheat: About three-quarters said they would probably or definitely not pay off a high school or college official. But if they had the money, 72 percent said they would likely pay for tutoring or test prep to get their child into college.

    While the two highest-profile participants accused in the scheme — celebrities Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman — are women, the survey found that more men than women were willing to cheat in the college admissions race. When it came to paying someone to take a college entrance exam for their child, 23 percent of men said they probably or definitely would, compared with 17 percent of women. And 19 percent of men said they would probably or definitely pay a college official to secure their child a spot, versus 12 percent of women.


    Bradford: When the Cost of Admission Is Paying Off a College, Americans Are Outraged. But When It’s the Price of a House Near a Good School, There’s Silence

    Some survey questions asked whether the respondent would hypothetically cheat if given the resources, but when other questions inquired as to whether they have actually cheated to get themselves or their children ahead, very few said they had. Only 2 percent said they’ve paid someone to gain an advantage for their child. Only 10 percent admitted to having personally cheated on a pop quiz, and 5 percent said they’ve cheated on a final exam.

    “There are a lot of things that people could see, under the right circumstances, being willing to go to an extreme [for], but that doesn’t mean that most people have found that set of circumstances that has driven them to do so,” Shannon-Missal said.

    The survey is weighted and representative of U.S. adults. It was conducted online March 13 and 14 and included 1,259 respondents. The margin of error was 2.76 percentage points.


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  • ‘There Is No Planet B’: Students Around the World Skip School to Protest Climate Change

    By Laura Fay | March 15, 2019

    Students around the world raised their voices Friday to call for stronger policies and practices to combat climate change.

    Thousands of young people turned out for the climate strike, many of them skipping school to march, chant, and demonstrate. Events were scheduled in 123 countries, according to Fridays for Future, which helped organize the demonstrations.

    The protests were part of a growing movement started by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old from Sweden who has received international attention for her climate activism.

    She started with a solo strike in August in front of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm. Since then, she has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and at United Nations climate talks in Katowice, Poland — and has even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Thunberg’s movement initially gained traction in Europe, but protests were held on every continent Friday — even Antarctica.

    In the U.S., marches were held in more than 200 locations, from San Francisco to Salt Lake City to New York.

    Thunberg and six other student activists wrote an opinion article published Friday in The Guardian explaining the strike.

    “This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice. We knew there was a climate crisis. Not just because forests in Sweden or in the U.S. had been on fire; because of alternating floods and drought in Germany and Australia; because of the collapse of alpine faces due to melting permafrost and other climate changes,” they wrote. “We knew, because everything we read and watched screamed out to us that something was very wrong.”


    The Last Days of One Alaska Village, as Climate Change Swallows Its First U.S. School


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  • EduClips: From Merit Pay in Dallas to Cracking Down on Early School ‘Lunch’ in NYC, School News You Missed This Week From America’s 15 Biggest Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | March 14, 2019

    EduClips is a roundup of the week’s top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here.

    Dallas — TX House Budget Models Merit Pay Proposal on Dallas System: A $9 billion school funding plan recently unveiled in the Texas House incentivizes merit pay using a model partially based on one currently used in the Dallas school district. Dallas ISD was repeatedly mentioned in the debate because part of the legislation was modeled after a district program that pays the highest-performing teachers the most money and then offers them more to work in the most challenging schools. Dallas Superintendent Michael Hinojosa applauded the merit pay provisions and noted that the district’s experience has led to 300 teachers earning more than $70,000. He said new funding the House bill would provide — in addition to the money from last year’s voter-approved property tax increase — means “a whole lot more teachers will be able to earn more than $70,000.” But Giana Ortiz, representing the Dallas chapter of the National Education Association, noted that 80 percent of Dallas teachers earn less than $56,000. (Read at Dallas News)

    Fairfax County — District Failed to Report on Students Who Were Restrained or Left Isolated, WAMU Finds: For years, Fairfax County Public Schools reported to the federal government that not a single student was physically restrained or trapped in an isolating space. But documents obtained by WAMU reveal hundreds of cases in which children, some as young as 6, were restrained or put in seclusion multiple times. In some cases, a single child was confined to a room almost 100 times in a school year. The U.S. Department of Education requires public school districts to report the data to ensure no specific demographic group is unfairly targeted. But the civil rights office relies on districts to self-report. When asked why Fairfax school officials reported zero cases in 2009, 2013, and 2015, despite documentation showing otherwise, a spokesperson replied that there was no requirement for the district to report the data to the state. Fairfax County Public Schools also said there was “internal miscommunication about data reported to [the Office for Civil Rights] which has been corrected” and “data that was being reported had not been properly reviewed,” in a statement after repeated inquiries from WAMU. (Read at WAMU)

    New York City — Daily News: Many Schools Serve Early “Lunch” — Some Before 9 A.M.: An analysis of New York City Education Department records by the Daily News found that 908 city schools start serving lunch before 11 a.m. — thanks to a shortage of cafeteria space and questionable decision-making by principals. The analysis showed that roughly 55 percent of 1,638 public schools served lunch before 11 to at least some students. Research shows that kids have trouble learning on an empty stomach — and students and educators in city schools said the issue impacts their classrooms as well. Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to take action, saying the system, in which some students eat the midday meal before 9 a.m., is untenable. “That has to change. It’s unacceptable. I’m a parent and I can say parents don’t want to see that for their kids,” de Blasio told reporters. (Read at the New York Daily News)

    Orange County — Orlando-Area Schools Opt Against Arming Teachers: The Orange County School Board voted unanimously against Florida leaders’ plans to allow teachers to carry guns in Orlando area schools, saying arming teachers could create a safety risk and overburden teachers. Board members said they want trained police officers to be the only ones carrying guns on school campuses. “I’m a gun owner,” explained Orange County board member Melissa Byrd. “But there’s a big difference between home and school.” Last year, after the massacre at a Parkland high school, the state Legislature created a program that allows some employees — but not classroom teachers — to receive weapons training and then carry guns on school property. Twenty-five of 67 Florida school districts are taking part in the program. This year, at the recommendation of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, lawmakers are considering modifying the program to include classroom teachers. Gov. Ron DeSantis has backed the change. (Read at The Orlando Sentinel)

    Houston — Principal Has Tall Order: Turning Around School Listed by State as Failing for 9 Years: For nine years straight, Kashmere High School in northeast Houston has been on the state’s list of failing schools. That’s the longest for any school in Texas. Reginald Bush, in his first year as principal of the historically black school, has a huge task: to save it from the threat of being closed by the state. Bush is laser-focused on that goal. “Consistency, consistency is the big piece,” he said. “I think if we remain consistent, with the momentum that we have, there’s no doubt in our mind that Kashmere will receive distinctions this year.” That would mean Kashmere High wouldn’t just pass the state’s accountability system, which is largely based on state test scores, but do so with high marks. The stakes are huge: Kashmere High is one of four struggling schools in the Houston Independent School District that could trigger a state takeover. (Read at Houston Public Media)

    Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

    ADMISSIONS SCANDAL — OPINION: Shocked by the college admissions scandal? School counselors aren’t (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    SCHOOL FUNDING — The Trump Administration Really Wants to Cut Education Funding. Congress Doesn’t. (Read at The Atlantic)

    TEXTBOOKS — Textbooks Alone Don’t Boost Test Scores, Study Says (Read at Education Week)

    READING — Schmidt: The Evidence Behind Effective Reading Instruction Is Clear. Now, Classroom Practices Need to Follow (Read at

    TEACHER UNIONS — Teacher unions say they’re fighting for students and schools — what they really want is more members (Read at The Conversation)

    Quotes of the Week

    “Lunch should be lunch, which should not be somewhere between breakfast and lunch.” —New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, on a Daily News analysis showing that many city schools offer “lunch” long before 11 a.m. (Read at the New York Daily News)

    “Every student deserves to be considered on their individual merits when applying to college, and it’s disgraceful to see anyone breaking the law to give their children an advantage over others.” —U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, on a college admissions scandal in which 50 people — including coaches, parents, a private college consultant, and a private school test preparation director — have been charged in connection with an alleged scheme to get wealthy, well-connected children into elite schools. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “Is that unfair? That the privileged can pay? Yes. But that’s how the world works.” —Brian Taylor, managing director of Ivy Coach, which offers parents a five-year, full-service package of college admissions consulting for prices of up to $1.5 million. (Read at The New York Times)

    “Remarkably, the deep blue hue of Gates and Walton education grantees … rivals the leftward lean we see in Democratic precincts such as Hollywood and public-employee unions.” Jay P. Greene and Frederick M. Hess, authors of Education Reform’s Deep Blue Hue: Are School Reformers Right-Wingers or Centrists — or Neither? (Read at Politics K-12)

    “My students mean more to me than my hair.” —Shannon Grimm, a teacher at Meador Elementary School in Willis, Texas, on her decision to cut her hair in solidarity with one of her students who had been bullied for having short hair. (Read at


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  • Empowering Teens on Vaccines: New York Lawmakers Consider Bill That Would Allow Children 14 and Up to Be Vaccinated Without Parents’ Consent

    By Laura Fay | March 14, 2019

    New York could soon allow most teens to get vaccinated even if their parents don’t approve.

    Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, a Democrat from Albany, and state Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan, introduced a bill this month that would allow minors ages 14 and older to request and receive the immunizations required by law without parental consent. If the bill passes, New York would join a handful of other states that allow some minors to get vaccines without parental permission.

    The proposal comes amid outbreaks of measles in five states so far in 2019, including New York. Measles is extremely contagious — sometimes fatal — and is preventable with two doses of a safe vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Current state law says that children under 18 need parents’ consent to receive vaccinations.

    Measles was previously considered eradicated from the United States, but recent years have seen a resurgence of the disease in several states. In New York, there have been more than 300 cases in 2018 and 2019. No deaths have been reported during this current series of outbreaks, but hundreds of people died from measles every year in the United States before the vaccine was available, according to the CDC.

    Brooklyn and Queens have had 158 confirmed cases of measles since October, the New York City Department of Health reported March 12. Most of the cases — 109 — occurred in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. The first confirmed case was an unvaccinated child who had traveled to Israel, which is experiencing an outbreak as well. Rockland County, which is northwest of New York City, reported 145 cases in 2018 and 2019.

    Most of the cases in New York have occurred among the Orthodox Jewish community, where vaccination rates among children are lower than the 95 percent threshold needed to protect a community from measles.

    Lawmakers introduced the bill March 8, a few days after Ethan Lindenberger, a teenager from Ohio, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions about how he had defied his mother to get immunized. Lindenberger gained national attention after asking for information about vaccines in the online forum Reddit and ultimately deciding to get immunized as an 18-year-old despite his mother’s disapproval.

    Fahy told ABC News the testimony drew her attention to the issue and that there could be an “uphill battle” to get the bill passed because of vaccine resistance in her state.

    Ethan Lindenberger (center), a student from Norwalk, Ohio, who confided in a now-viral Reddit post that he had not been fully vaccinated due to his mother’s belief that vaccines are dangerous, speaks to Chairman Lamar Alexander (right), before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions March 5. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

    “We are on the cusp of a serious public health crisis, with long eradicated diseases now threatening at-risk populations such as very young children and immunocompromised individuals with conditions like leukemia,” Fahy said in a statement. “Minors unable to receive appropriate immunizations may encounter challenges in enrolling in high school and college, meaning that this is a choice that can have long-lasting impacts. When it comes to their health, teens should be allowed to make an informed choice in consultation with their health care provider.”

    The proposal in New York would allow only immunizations that are required for school attendance, so it would not include non-mandatory vaccines like the flu shot.

    There is no federal law requiring vaccinations, but all 50 states have legislation requiring certain immunizations for children to attend school. Most states allow religious exemptions and 17 allow “philosophical exemptions,” which can include personal beliefs. New York state law allows religious exemptions but not philosophical ones.

    Lawmakers in New York are also considering a bill that would end all non-medical exemptions for vaccines.

    Fifteen states allow some minors to receive vaccines without parental consent, though some require teens to be evaluated for maturity. New York’s bill does not include that.

    The New York chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has publicly supported the proposed bill and stated in a memo that “young people are often more conscious about the misinformation on the internet and can in many cases disagree with parents who have bought into unfounded and dangerous anti-immunization diatribes and pseudo-science.”

    The World Health Organization declared “vaccine hesitancy” one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019. Misinformation about immunization — such as the disproven claim that the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella can cause autism — has thrived online and in some communities, including in Brooklyn.


    7 Surprising Lessons From the 2019 Measles Outbreak: Teens Defying Parents on Vaccines, Affected Children Left More Susceptible to Other Illnesses & More

    In addition to preventing individuals from contracting a certain disease, vaccines help protect those who cannot be immunized because of other health concerns, said William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

    “If you don’t get vaccinated, you not only put your child at risk but other children in the community, particularly those who have an underlying illness or require a treatment that does not permit them to get vaccinated themselves,” he told The 74 last month. “And the way we protect those children is by having all the other children vaccinated so the measles virus can’t find them. We call that putting a cocoon of protection around those frail children.”


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  • The Week Ahead in Education Politics: Trump to Propose Ed Department Budget Cuts, Enforcing Equity in Special Ed, Cybersecurity Careers & More

    By Carolyn Phenicie | March 9, 2019

    THIS WEEK IN EDUCATION POLITICS publishes most Saturdays. (See previous editions here.) You can get the preview delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter; for rolling updates on federal education policy, follow Carolyn Phenicie on Twitter @cphenicie.

    INBOX: BUDGET — The Trump administration will release the first of two waves of budget documents this week, reportedly to contain large-scale proposals, with specific policy details coming next week.

    Overall, the Trump administration will seek to increase defense spending while cutting non-defense programs by 5 percent, representing “one of the largest spending reductions in history,” Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in an op-ed last month.

    Cuts to the Education Department, included in the broad non-defense discretionary bucket, would not be new for the administration. For the past two years, Trump has sought massive cuts to K-12 spending, including eliminating afterschool programs and teacher training grants, while at the same time proposing new school choice programs.

    The White House also may use the budget release to unveil new executive orders for higher education, including one that would make federal research dollars contingent on, in Trump’s words, protecting free speech, Inside Higher Ed reported.

    Presidential budget proposals, particularly Trump’s, are largely symbolic and usually don’t become law. The Democratic majority in the House makes it even less likely.

    ICYMI: SPECIAL ED — A federal court in Washington, D.C. last week ruled that the Education Department cannot delay implementation of the Obama-era “Equity in IDEA” rule that required states to ensure that children of a particular race are not over-identified for inclusion in special education, nor disciplined differently.

    2020 WATCH: Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper is the latest to join the Democratic field. (Check out his conversation with The 74 at a governors’ education event last year.) Washington Gov. Jay Inslee also declared his candidacy last week; Inslee opposed charter schools but has not stood in the way of laws that let them survive in the midst of legal battles.

    TUESDAY: CHILD NUTRITION — A House Education and Labor subcommittee holds a hearing on federal child nutrition programs and “growing a healthy next generation.” The federal law authorizing those programs, including school breakfast and lunch and summer meals programs, has been due for reauthorization since 2015.

    TUESDAY: PTA — The Parent Teacher Association holds its annual legislative conference Tuesday through Thursday, with a focus on federal policy and school finance, special education, school safety, and student data and outcomes.

    TUESDAY: FAFSA SIMPLIFICATION — The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds a hearing on simplifying the FAFSA. Both Sen. Lamar Alexander, the committee chair, and Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat, have discussed their priorities for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.

    TUESDAY: FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES — A House Appropriations subcommittee examines oversight of for-profit colleges. The Education Department’s inspector general has warned Congress about the department’s efforts to roll back regulations on those schools, and the issue is sure to be the subject of contentious debates when it comes to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.

    TUESDAY: NET NEUTRALITY — A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing on a legislation to restore net neutrality rules, which Democrats are calling the Save the Internet Act. Education groups have raised concerns that the FCC’s 2017 decision to end the rules could lead to higher prices and slower service for internet in schools.

    WEDNESDAY: INDIAN EDUCATION — The Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds a hearing to examine the status of programs for Native Americans included on the Government Accountability Office’s 2017 “high-risk list.” One was the Bureau of Indian Education, specifically its mismanagement of spending and facilities. The agency remains on the 2019 high-risk list and has “partially met” all the GAO’s criteria for assessing risk.

    WEDNESDAY: COLLEGE COSTS — The House Education and Labor Committee holds a hearing on college costs and “student-centered reforms to bring education within reach.” Committee leaders announced last month that they will hold five bipartisan hearings as Congress works to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

    WEDNESDAY: HHS BUDGET — A House Appropriations subcommittee examines the Department of Health and Human Services’ fiscal 2020 budget request. Among the department’s responsibilities are the Head Start preschool program for low-income children and care of migrant children on the southern border.

    WEDNESDAY: CYBERSECURITY & CTE — The Brookings Center for Technology Innovation hosts a discussion on cybersecurity education, including presentations by Rep. Glenn Thompson, Republican of Pennsylvania, and Rep. James Langevin, Democrat of Rhode Island, the co-chairs of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus.

    THURSDAY: MEMBER DAY — The House Education and Labor Committee holds a “member day” at which any lawmaker may come and talk about his or her priorities for education and labor issues.

    FRIDAY: FREE COLLEGE — Centrist Democratic think tank Third Way hosts a panel discussion to “dig beneath the headlines” on free college, specifically details like which students benefit the most.


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  • EduClips: From Contaminants at Hawaii Schools to the Lone Star State’s ‘Broken’ Education Fund, School News You Missed This Week From America’s 15 Biggest Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | March 8, 2019

    EduClips is a roundup of the week’s top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here.

    Broward County — One Year After Parkland Shootings, Fort Lauderdale Schools Opt Not to Fire Superintendent Runcie: One year after a deadly school shooting forever changed the nation’s sixth-largest district, the Broward County School Board voted against firing Superintendent Robert Runcie. The 6-3 decision dealt with Runcie’s performance beyond the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High that killed 17 and wounded 17 more on Feb. 14, 2018. That performance — including improvements in academic and disciplinary measures for minority students — was highlighted by 90 public speakers, all but of five of whom voiced support for Runcie. Many speakers — mayors, activists, community leaders, school principals, and parents — noted a racial and socioeconomic element to the debate over Runcie’s career. The arguments of the parents from Parkland, a mostly affluent and white area, were juxtaposed with those of the African-American community and central Broward County. (Read at the Miami Herald)

    New York City — District Hits Cap on Charter Schools, Limiting Sector’s Growth: The city marked a pivotal moment for its charter sector, approving the last seven schools that can open under a state-approved cap. The move likely ends the sector’s growth for now. The Board of Trustees for the State University of New York approved 13 applications — seven that should be allowed to open immediately, and six with “pre-approval” to open if the legislature raises the cap in the future. Charter advocates have been lobbying lawmakers to raise the cap — but with the state legislature now controlled fully by Democrats, that possibility seems dim. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Houston — Chronicle Investigation Calls State School Fund ‘Broken’: It was called a “sacred trust.” Over 165 years ago, Texas invested $2 million and the state’s “most abundant and precious resource” — its land — to create the Texas Permanent School Fund to forever support public education. That trust, dedicated to K-12 schools, is now valued at $44 billion, bigger than even Harvard University’s endowment. But a four-part series in the Houston Chronicle describes that fund as “broken.” The fund has failed to match the performance of peer endowments, missing out on as much as $12 billion in growth and amassing a risky asset allocation, according to a yearlong investigation. Outside fund managers — some of them with professional or personal relationships with Texas School Land Board members, who govern a portion of the fund — have charged the endowment at least $1 billion in fees during the past decade, records show. And, critically, the fund is sending less money to schools than it did decades ago. Last year, the fund distributed only 2.8 percent of its value — roughly half the share paid out by many endowments. (Read at The Houston Chronicle)

    Los Angeles — Union Favorite Emerges as Likely Winner of Pivotal School Board Seat: Jackie Goldberg, a union-backed candidate, easily outpaced nine others on a ballot in a special election for the Los Angeles Board of Education, thanks in large part to public support cultivated during a six-day teachers’ strike in January. It is a dramatic reversal in the district, where just last year, the power of the local teachers union seemed to be waning and board members who supported charter schools were in control. If elected, the 74-year-old veteran public official could shift the balance of power on the board. While she didn’t quite get the majority needed to win, Goldberg claimed 48 percent of the vote, making her the strong favorite in a May 14 runoff against a second-place finisher who trailed her by 35 percentage points. (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    Hawaii — Contaminants Found in Soil Surrounding 18 Schools: Elevated levels of contaminants such as lead, arsenic, and chlordane were found in the soil surrounding 18 Hawaii schools, leading the state Department of Education and Department of Health to implement environmental hazard management at each of the facilities. A $587,235 study of 23 schools found that 17 had elevated lead levels in the surrounding soils, six had elevated levels of organochlorine pesticides, and five had elevated levels of arsenic. Five schools did not have elevated levels of the toxins. Officials said they were not surprised by the findings because lead paint was used on the sides of buildings, arsenic as an herbicide, and chlordane to fight termites. Diana Felton, a state toxicologist, said the biggest concern is for small children who are likely to put their hands in their mouths and are more sensitive to the effects of the chemicals. But based on the current amounts, Felton said, the department does not see this as a “potential significant health risk.” (Read at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald)

    Philadelphia — In Shift, School Board Denies New Charter School Applications: In a vote that seemed to signal a shift from the policies of the old School Reform Commission, the Philadelphia school board unanimously denied three new charter school applications. Members of the board, appointed by Mayor Jim Kenney as the city took back control of its schools from the state, said the applicants failed to demonstrate they could fulfill their promises. But the board also indicated it was looking more broadly at the role of the city’s 87 charter schools, which enroll about 70,000 students — about one-third of the district’s public school population. The state-controlled commission, which governed the Philadelphia system for 17 years, was generally seen as supportive of charters. It approved three last year. (Read at the Philadelphia Inquirer)

    Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

    CIVICS EDUCATION —Pondiscio: Video of Students Confronting Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Green New Deal Offers a Sad Lesson in Using Kids as Political Props (Read at

    FREE SPEECH —How to handle a kid who won’t say the Pledge of Allegiance: First, don’t tell him to leave America (Read at USA Today)

    ARTS EDUCATION —Using Arts Education to Help Other Lessons Stick (Read at The New York Times)

    SCHOOL CHOICE — The Trump Administration’s Bold New School-Choice Plan (Read at National Review)

    PUBERTY —Let’s Stop Ignoring the Truths of Puberty. We’re Making It Even More Awkward (Read at The New York Times)

    Quotes of the Week

    “[The superintendent] came to me in a panic because he had been accosted by prominent, wealthy alumni of the school who were Mr. Trump’s friends. … He said, ‘You need to go grab that record and deliver it to me because I need to deliver it to them.’” —Evan Jones, former headmaster of the New York Military Academy, on attempts to conceal the high school academic records of President Donald Trump. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “The Supreme Court, in a way, allowed this to happen. It went the wrong way, and now they have the chance to fix it.” —John Yoo, law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, on a new federal lawsuit challenging New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to diversify eight of the city’s specialized high schools. (Read at

    “As a teen, I feel the industry is really targeting us, with a lot of edibles in candy and fruit flavors. It’s really scary to me.” —Carson Ezell, a student at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, on a state plan to legalize recreational marijuana. (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    “I hate to say it, but many of us are avoiding the real facts that this is about privilege. All communities have had to deal with the death of a child, whether it be a school building or across the street in the school or in a nearby park. Never have we called upon the firing of the mayor, police chief, county commissioners, yet alone a superintendent.” —Darryl Holsendolph, a member of the NAACP and 100 Black Men of South Florida, after unsuccessful attempts to fire Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie following last year’s deadly shootings at a Parkland high school. (Read at the Miami Herald)

    “Without a cap lift in Albany, today will be remembered as the day when progress in providing this city’s students the great public education that they deserve was arbitrarily halted.” —James Merriman, CEO of the NYC Charter School Center, after the last charter schools in the district were approved under a state-imposed cap. (Read at Chalkbeat)


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  • Report: Teacher Protests Fueled School Funding Surge in States Hit Hard by Recession

    By Mark Keierleber | March 6, 2019

    Last year’s wave of teacher protests contributed to school funding increases in states where lawmakers had made deep cuts to education spending during the recession, according to a new report. Despite the gains, however, school funding in those states lags behind pre-recession levels.

    Teacher activism contributed to school funding hikes last year in Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, according to a report released Wednesday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank. During the most recent recession, lawmakers in each of the states made substantial cuts to “formula” education funding, the primary source of state revenue for schools that accounts for an average of 47 percent of total school revenue.

    Despite the new spending, however, researchers found that state formula funding remains below 2008 levels in each of the states. In Oklahoma, for example, lawmakers increased per-student formula funding by 19 percent following last year’s teacher walkout. However, state formula education funding remains 15 percent below 2008 levels.

    While the bulk of new money in Oklahoma went to raising teacher salaries, little went to fund general school operations, said David Blatt, executive director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a Tulsa-based think tank.

    “Our lawmakers still have important work to do, and our teachers, parents, school officials, and community leaders will need to remain engaged to make sure they do it,” Blatt said on a call with reporters.

    Between 2008 and 2017, lawmakers in 12 states cut state funding by more than 8 percent. Teacher protests broke out in five of those states last year, and in four, lawmakers have since allocated more money to schools. In Kentucky, one state that experienced a protest over teacher pensions, state formula funding remained relatively flat. In Arizona, North Carolina, and West Virginia, lawmakers increased funding last year by 3 to 9 percent per student.

    Despite the gains, lawmakers failed to provide new education spending in a way that’s sustainable in future years, said Michael Leachman, the Center’s senior director of state fiscal research. For example, in North Carolina, lawmakers increased school funding without raising new revenue to pay for it. Such strategies, Leachman said, put states at risk of future cuts.

    Several states that didn’t experience teacher protests also boosted education funding last year after making significant cuts during the recession, but researchers found that those hikes were generally more modest.

    Much of the recent activism has focused on educator salaries, which were strained by recession-era budget cuts. After adjusting for inflation, average teacher salaries dropped in 42 states between 2010 and 2017.

    On a national level, school funding since the recession has shifted away from states and toward local governments. Relying on the most recent Census Bureau data, from 2016, researchers found that average state funding was down $166 per student while local state funding was up by $161 per student. That year, schools in a majority of states received more in total state and local funding per student than they did before the recession, after adjusting for inflation.

    While increases in local funding can help absorb the effects of state cuts, a heavier reliance on local governments raises equity concerns, Leachman said. That’s because the bulk of local school funding is generated through property taxes.

    “Property wealth is highly unequal across school districts,” Leachman said. “It’s much easier to raise money for schools in Silicon Valley than it is to do so in a poorer community like Compton.”


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