This analysis is published in partnership with TexasTribune.org.
During a pandemic, an economic recession and public protests against racial injustice and police violence, it’s hard to say what Texas voters will be thinking about in this year’s election. Here’s a candidate: reopening schools.
Public schools in Texas are getting ready to open. That might be the most important thing on the Texas political calendar this year.
In some districts, like Collin County’s Celina ISD, high school football players have already reported for the annual agony of August two-a-day workouts. Classes there and in some other districts start in a couple of weeks. Like other districts, they’ve tried to adjust to the pandemic. Parents can opt for virtual instruction if they’d rather not have their kids in schoolhouses. (Not every class will be offered virtually. One listed exception on Celina ISD’s website is welding, which ought to be a relief to the fire department.)
Elsewhere, plans for opening are more cautious. In the Fort Worth ISD and Hays CISD, for instance, virtual and in-person classes — parents’ choice — won’t start until after Labor Day.
Other districts are considering similar postponements, as they work on their preparations for online and in-person learning with a contagious disease in the air.
The Pandemic Is Breaking the Bonds Between Texas Families and Their Beloved Public Schools: Why Some Are Stepping Off the Reopening Roller Coaster and Unenrolling
The results of this statewide lab experiment with 5.5 million student subjects will come in quickly, as Texas educators and parents find out what’s safe for the kids they’re trying to educate during a pandemic.
Everybody wants it to work. If there is a reasonably safe way to put kids back in classes without risking their health or the health of families and school workers, it would be a huge break after the first discouraging months of the coronavirus.
It would be good for the students. It would free parents who have been unable to return to their workplaces because their kids have been at home. It would mark a big step in the direction of whatever is going to be normal after all of this.
And it would be a significant victory for politicians who have been responding to the pandemic and the recession — especially the ones on the November ballot.
The timing has put those candidates — incumbents, challengers and those seeking open seats — in the spotlight.
They’ll be judged, in part, by what happens to those students. And it will happen — good news, bad news or no news at all — as more voters turn their attention to the elections, the candidates and the issues.
The experience in schools will be a proxy for the coronavirus, the most tangible evidence yet of the national, state and local government responses to the pandemic.
It’s a variation on what happens when the economy is suffering, when people “vote their wallets.” Personal experience can trump ideology, party and other issues. Voters looking for change — in an economy, in a response to a pandemic, whatever — can be hard on incumbents or anyone they see as an obstacle to relief.
Safely getting Texas students back to school — virtually or actually — could be the best evidence between now and the election that official responses to the pandemic are working. There are other ways to measure the COVID-19 responses, if they appear in that same time frame, like development of a vaccine, or big drops in the alarming numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Those might happen. Public education will be in the mix no matter what. The schools open or they don’t. They stay open or they don’t. They’re safe or they’re not. Online learning is effective or disappointing, as is in-person learning in this environment. So many complications will affect public perception of what happens in the schools: education, health, transportation, food services, janitorial services, policing and so on.
It’s not just the kids. Public education is the largest employer in many Texas communities. Its biggest single source of funding is local property taxes, a singularly unpopular and politically charged way to raise money.
The obstacles to success are numerous. And for the political class, all of that is compounded by the timing of a big election that starts, with early voting, less than three months from now.
Ross Ramsey is executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
With Nation Focused on Reopening Schools, Biden’s Choice of Kamala Harris as Running Mate Could Renew Attention on Integration
Their heated exchange over school busing during a Democratic presidential debate last year was one of the more dramatic moments of the primary season. But now former vice president Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris share the ticket and could make education a more defining issue in their effort to unseat President Donald Trump.
The question is whether integration — or any other K-12 issue — can figure into the campaign while grappling with the coronavirus is dominating the education conversation in this country.
Between now and the election, Harris’s past record as a prosecutor, along with the education proposals she presented as a presidential candidate, will be closely examined as both supporters and opponents look for indications of how the candidates will address contentious issues including campus police, choice and improving school quality.
Being Biden’s running mate will “test her seriousness about the segregation issue” at a time when the pandemic has “radically exacerbated achievement gaps,” said Bruce Fuller, a University of California, Berkeley, sociologist whose recent research shows increasing racial isolation for children in preschool and elementary school. “Taking a potshot at Biden while trying to win over the left wing [was] in part a tactic, but that’s different than long-term work on an intractable issue.”
During that June 2019 debate, Harris alluded to Biden’s comments about finding common ground with U.S. “senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country” and personalized the event by talking about her experience as part of a school busing program.
Tyrone Howard, an education professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of the Black Male Institute, said he would like the campaign to focus on the quality of schools in Black and Latino neighborhoods, where most students are not selected for magnet schools and other integration programs.
As a former prosecutor and California attorney general, Harris doesn’t have a background in education. But during a National Education Association presidential candidate forum last summer, she promised to fully fund special education, nominate an education secretary with experience in public schools, and focus on ending gun violence. As a presidential candidate, she proposed to increase teacher pay by an average of $13,500 a year.
Harris’s tough position on truancy as San Francisco’s district attorney — which led to the arrests of some parents — also received attention during her run for the nomination.
“She’s going to have to backpedal a bit from her prosecutorial stance in the school domain,” Howard said, adding that “there’s got to be a softer, more sympathetic tone toward parents” hit hard by the pandemic.
Yumeka Rushing, chief strategy officer for the NAACP, added that parents and educators want to hear what the candidates will do to help schools recover from the pandemic.
“COVID-19 is crippling our education systems, and so is poor leadership and decision-making that puts politics before people,” she said. “States need more federal funding to meet the needs of education systems. Education systems need states to direct resources to schools. Schools need to focus on the supports kids need now to realize their potential — and those supports look different in crisis.”
Those interested in what a Biden administration would do on issues such as accountability and school choice, however, aren’t too impressed, and they view Harris as closely aligned with the teachers unions. “It’s hard to see much of a silver lining for education reformers,” said Mike Petrilli, president of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
As a prosecutor, Harris sued for-profit online charter chain K12 Inc. over false advertising and unfair business practices. During the primaries, she wasn’t as hard on charter schools as some of her opponents, but it’s unclear whether that topic will resurface.
Steve Zimmerman, former director of the Coalition of Public Independent Charter Schools and now the executive director of Academy of the City Charter School in Queens, New York, said Biden and Harris have nothing to gain by staking out an anti-charter position.
For them, “What comes first right now is winning the election and not finding new ways to divide the electorate,” he said.
‘The Kamala Harris of the present’
As she has called herself California’s “top cop,” Harris’s career as a prosecutor could play into the conversation over police in schools at a time when several major school districts have cut ties with law enforcement agencies and protests over racial discrimination and the murder of George Floyd continue in cities like Chicago and Portland.
Fuller notes that her background could appeal to the “center of the party,” but Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, said he doesn’t expect Biden-Harris to take a moderate position on those issues.
“There’s the Kamala Harris of the past and now the Kamala Harris of the present,” he said, adding that issues related to law enforcement, including school police, are especially polarized. The Republican ticket “is very strongly pro-police. The Biden-Harris ticket can be expected to lean more heavily to the other extreme.”
Enforcing Mask Mandates in Schools Becomes Sticking Point as Students Return to Campus While Pandemic Rages
The national spat over face masks — which have become a symbol of divisive partisanship in the pandemic era — has officially reached the schoolhouse gate. As some students return to in-person learning after months of campus closures, a viral photograph has turned a Georgia high school into the latest culture war battlefield.
The photo, which shows a crowded hallway and many students without face coverings, prompted outrage on social media, and several students say they were suspended. But the students told Buzzfeed News they got in trouble for using their cell phones to post pictures of the crammed campus on social media, not for refusing to wear a mask.
The incident highlights a difficult question that school administrators face as students return to school amid a slew of new health recommendations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages students and teachers to wear masks at school, and many states require them — but should schools discipline students who fail to follow public health mandates?
“There is no question that the photo does not look good,” Brian Otott, the superintendent of Georgia’s Paulding County School District, said in a letter. Although the district encourages students to wear masks on campus, it isn’t a requirement. “Wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them.”
The photos — and Otott’s refusal to enforce a mask policy — were met with derision by some on social media. Several Twitter users ridiculed the district for its stance on face masks while enforcing a dress code policy whereby students, and girls in particular, can be punished for wearing shirts without sleeves.
But Caroline Durham, the legal and policy director of the social justice group Georgia Appleseed, pushed back on instincts to punish children who refuse to wear masks. Students are more likely to fall behind if they’re excluded from school, she said, and suspending students is “one of the first steps of a child going down what they call the school-to-prison pipeline.”
4.5 Million Young People Nationwide Are Not Working or in School. How Cities Are Working to Get Them Back on Track — & Avoid the School-to-Prison Pipeline
“The question is, how do we deal with children who can’t weigh the risk of COVID [or] may not understand the significance of wearing masks?” she said. Rather than focusing energy on discipline, she said, schools should spend their time teaching students about the importance of safety precautions, especially at a time when the face mask debate is so fraught among adults. “If you suspend a child, if you expel a child for behavior they perhaps don’t fully understand, you’re impacting the education that they’re going to get at a time where things are already challenging.”
The issue is also unfolding outside Georgia as cities resume in-person instruction. In New York City, Chancellor Richard Carranza recently announced plans to send students home if they refuse to wear masks in class once in-person learning begins in September. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that New York schools could reopen for in-person learning in the fall.
“If you don’t cooperate, you have now elected for remote learning 100 percent until you are willing to follow the safety protocols,” Carranza said, according to Chalkbeat. Students who are sent home won’t be suspended and will be able to participate in remote learning, a district spokesperson told the news outlet, but it remains unclear how officials plan to confront children who refuse to leave. A Department of Education spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment.
In several Iowa cities, including Des Moines, education leaders have imposed their own rules on masks. But Iowa’s education department has declined to instate similar rules statewide because enforcing them could be difficult. In South Carolina, state officials issued a mask mandate for students but declined to impose disciplinary measures for students who don’t comply.
“We’re not putting it in the student conduct, disciplinary matrix,” a South Carolina Department of Education spokesman told The Greenville News. “We don’t want to see it be used to get law enforcement involved or anything of that nature. We’re really counting on people to take this on as a personal responsibility.”
After a summer in which school districts nationwide have reconsidered placing police in schools, officers said they don’t want to enforce mask mandates either. Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, said during the group’s national conference last week that enforcing mask rules lands outside the scope of officers’ duty.
“I believe this falls into the arena of the school administration to handle and that [school-based police] should be the responsible adults setting the good example,” he said during the virtual event. “I hope that’s the way that we’re all approaching it. That’s where we preach the issue of ‘don’t get involved in school discipline.’”
Police officers outside the school setting are also reluctant to enforce mask rules, according to a recent survey by Lexipol, a company that sells police policy manuals. Just 3 percent of officers who responded to the survey said they should issue fines to people who refuse to wear masks in public.
Cities have also had to grapple with how to enforce mask mandates. In Denver, for example, officials imposed steep fines for residents who refuse to follow public health guidelines. Children over the age of 3 are required to wear face masks in public spaces, and people who refuse could be fined up to $999 or jailed for up to 300 days.
However, the city has focused primarily on education about the importance of wearing face masks during the pandemic, and officials have said enforcement will be reserved for “truly egregious situations.”
President Donald Trump took action over the weekend to extend unemployment benefits, suspend payroll taxes, prevent evictions and freeze federal student loan payments. But his impatience with Democrats in negotiations over another pandemic relief bill leaves K-12 schools out for now.
“Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have chosen to hold this vital assistance hostage on behalf of very extreme partisan demands and the radical-left Democrats, and we just can’t do that,” the president said about the House speaker and the Senate minority leader in a press briefing Saturday.
K-12 policy analysts fear that because Trump’s orders addressed the major issues dividing Republicans and Democrats, there’s less urgency to pass another relief package.
“Passing something on unemployment has been the issue that has kept them negotiating,” said Danny Carlson, the director of policy and advocacy for the National Association of Elementary School Principals. “With that taken care of … funding for schools would be left on the cutting room floor.”
And Rep. Bobby Scott, R-Va., who chairs the House Committee on Education and Labor, said the president’s freeze on student loan payments doesn’t cover as many borrowers and wouldn’t last as long as the relief in the Democrats’ Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions — or HEROES — Act.
“Our education system is facing serious challenges that cannot be solved by an executive order,” he said in a statement. “The Trump administration’s failed response to this pandemic has already robbed students of all ages of the education and growth they deserve.”
Democrats also contend that the president’s move to defer payroll tax obligations hurts Social Security and, without congressional approval, might be illegal. Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank, suggested that Trump’s order that states pay $100 of a $400-a-week employment benefit could lead to teacher layoffs.
“The executive actions raise serious legal issues and may not withstand legal challenge,” he wrote. “Nor is it clear that the administration actually can implement them — in particular, that it can secure the funding and use the funds as the executive actions direct.”
Another major point of debate is that the Democrat’s’ $3 trillion HEROES Act, which the House passed in May, includes $900 billion in flexible funding for states and local governments to offset declines in tax revenue.
State education leaders and advocacy organizations have said that additional funding for state and local governments will help protect education budgets. Recent research confirms that during the Great Recession, there was a decline in the percentage of state funding going to education.
But Trump argues that funding for states is unrelated to the virus.
“What they really want is bailout money for states that are run by Democrat governors and mayors, and that have been run very badly for many, many years -— and many decades, in fact,” he said at the briefing.
The Senate Republicans’ $1 trillion Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools Act doesn’t include such funding. While it does propose $70 billion for K-12 schools, two-thirds of that amount would be contingent “on meeting certain opening requirements and other criteria.”
In a tweet, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, suggested that negotiations over another recovery bill should continue.
“Democrats should stop blocking common sense proposals to help students going back to school & college & parents going back to work who need child care,” he wrote.
DC Public Schools Is Latest District to Announce All-Virtual Start Despite Federal Pressure in Its Own Backyard to Reopen. 10 Things Families Need to Know
D.C. Public Schools’ 52,000 students will start the 2020-21 year entirely virtual, city officials announced early Thursday.
With the announcement, which came a day earlier than expected, DCPS is the latest school district to temporarily forgo in-person learning as COVID-19 cases this month increased in the region — despite pressure in its own backyard from the White House to reopen.
Nearby Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia and Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, two of the largest school districts in the country, made similar announcements earlier this month.
D.C. Public Schools Will Announce on Friday Whether It’ll Offer In-Person Learning. A Look at What’s Happening on the Ground as Decision Looms
Mayor Muriel Bowser indicated Thursday that the decision was informed not only by health data but also in wanting the support of staff and families. Many had vocally opposed starting the school year with any form of in-person learning. Although virtual learning in the spring wasn’t seamless, officials said it’ll be more robust and interactive this time around, with multiple hours of live instruction a day depending on grade level.
“[We want to] make sure that when we do have an in-person option that we can maximize the attendance of our teachers and our kids,” Bowser said.
Here are 10 things families should know about the decision:
1. Virtual learning will be in effect through Term 1
Students will be fully online from Aug. 31, the first day of school, through Nov. 6.
When pressed if that time frame will apply to every student — including those with more personalized needs, like students with disabilities — DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee said, “We will start the school year in an all-virtual posture. But we will continue to explore all pathways … that could be some form of in-person instruction.”
2. There will be ‘predictable’ class schedules for families
Virtual learning will include a mix of interactive lessons and independent learning time, with the amount of live daily instruction increasing depending on grade level. As of now, here’s how daily live instruction breaks down by grade:
- Pre-K: 30 minutes to an hour
- Grades K-2: 2 hours
- Grades 3-5: 2 to 3 hours
- Grades 6-12: 4 to 5 hours
Canvas will be the main platform for accessing curriculum materials, Ferebee said.
3. Many students still need laptops and Wi-Fi. Officials say they’re ‘committed’ to providing that
Forty-four percent of respondents in an ongoing tech survey, which has garnered more than 13,000 responses, said they have a student who does not have a device, such as a laptop. And 18 percent have a student without access to a hotspot or reliable Wi-Fi.
The district has 36,000 devices, many pre-enabled with Wi-Fi, to distribute next school year “based on the feedback we get from families through the survey,” Ferebee said.
Parents and Teachers Want Clarity on Technology Needs as D.C. Delays Reopening Plan by Two Weeks
4. Attendance will be taken daily
This was emphasized several times by officials. Ferebee said attendance will be “primarily done” by students logging in through Canvas. No further information was provided at that time.
5. Grading protocols will reflect DCPS’s approach in the spring
Elementary school children will receive a grade of 1, 2, 3 or 4. Middle and high schoolers can receive a grade of an A or a B; if the grade is below a B, students can either have the grade they received — like a C — reflected on their report card, or they can opt for a “Pass/Fail” designation.
Across grade levels, Ferebee emphasized that grading will weigh heavily on completion of practice materials and student engagement — not just assessments.
6. Summer bridge program, extra days planned to fill learning gaps
When asked how DCPS intends to recoup learning loss, Ferebee pointed to the district’s already-planned “summer bridge” program starting virtually Aug. 10 for grades 3, 6 and 9, which Ferebee has called key “transitional years where students need additional support.”
There are also extra instructional days sprinkled in throughout the 2020-21 year that were normally staff-only work days. The exact number wasn’t immediately clear.
Teachers will monitor students’ performance and understanding of materials with regular “check-ins” as well, Ferebee said.
74 Interview — D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee Talks COVID-19 Recovery Plans, With an Eye Toward Returning to In-Person Instruction
7. Special ed, English language services will continue
Learning from home could include “co-taught and/or small group or individual lessons with a special education teacher or ESL teacher,” according to Thursday’s presentation.
Ferebee noted that any students with an Individualized Education Program will have a “distance learning plan addendum” added, too.
8. There is new material to help students process recent events
Ferebee noted that on top of working this summer to make curriculum more “user-friendly” online, the district has also added some new material, including a “Living Through History” Cornerstone. Cornerstones are lessons that every DCPS student in every grade takes.
It will be “an opportunity for students to reflect on their experiences over the spring and the summer and use that as a learning opportunity,” he said.
Lessons From a Global Reckoning: D.C. Looks to Make 14-Year-Old Social Studies Standards More Inclusive as Cities Nationwide Grapple With Re-Engaging Students During COVID
9. Students will still get meals
Ferebee said the district is “positioned to continue to provide meals throughout the summer and school year, and add sites if we need to.”
DCPS’s website directs users here for information on where to find meal sites.
10. Charters do not have to follow DCPS’s decision
The city’s charter networks, serving nearly half of D.C.’s students, are not beholden to DCPS’s decision. But Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn said officials nonetheless “have full expectation that all charter schools will follow strict health guidance as DCPS is doing.”
“We have worked in a very, very collaborative way with charter [agencies] across the city,” Kihn said. He added that many charters will be making their announcement by week’s end.
LISTEN: What Does the Future of School Safety Look Like? New EWA Podcast Interviews 74’s Mark Keierleber About Efforts to Dismantle Campus Policing After George Floyd’s Death
Student activists have long decried the presence of police in schools, but their demands for campuses without cops had long fallen on deaf ears. That changed rapidly this summer after George Floyd died at the hands of a Minneapolis officer, prompting districts nationwide to sever their ties to local police departments.
As school districts nationwide reconsider the role officers play in classrooms, The 74’s Mark Keierleber joined EWA Radio, a podcast produced by the Education Writers Association, to discuss his reporting on school policing. Following Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis school board voted unanimously to terminate its contract with the city police department, and many other districts — from Denver to Oakland — quickly followed suit.
As school leaders in Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere face steep pressure to take similar action, Keierleber discusses racial disparities in student arrests and the lack of research supporting their ability to thwart mass school shootings and other campus crime. He also discusses what post-police schools could look like — pointing to a school district in suburban Minneapolis that ended its contracts with local police departments years ago. Instead of stationing cops on campus, the district employed a team of “student safety coaches,” who employ an approach centered on addressing students’ mental health needs and de-escalating conflict — rather than one centered on handcuffs and arrests.
Listen to the full conversation:
Archive — Read more of Mark Keierleber’s recent reporting on school policing:
Police-Free Schools?: This suburban Minneapolis district expelled its cops years ago
DACA Double Take: A Month After ‘Dreamers’ Cheered SCOTUS Decision, Trump Administration Considers Second Effort to End Program, Halting New Applications
The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it will not accept new applications to an Obama-era program that offers deportation relief and work permits to some 650,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as young children, laying the groundwork for a new round of political and legal fights over the fate of so-called “Dreamers.”
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced that his agency would “thoughtfully consider the future” of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, including whether it should be terminated. Instead of pulling the plug on the program immediately, the administration announced that it would conduct a “comprehensive review” while imposing a slew of new restrictions. Current recipients are allowed to renew their DACA status for one year, the agency announced. Under previous rules, recipients were required to renew every two years.
Whether the government would accept new DACA applications has been a major question since mid-June, when the Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s years-long effort to end it. The court didn’t rule on the merits of DACA or the Trump administration’s authority to terminate the program. However, in a ruling on procedural grounds, the court’s majority found that the administration’s justification for terminating the program was “arbitrary and capricious” and that officials failed to consider how ending DACA could affect its beneficiaries.
Education Groups Rejoice as Supreme Court Blocks Trump Efforts to End DACA Program — but Warn Decision Is Merely ‘First Step’
When the Trump administration announced plans to terminate DACA in 2017, officials argued that the Obama administration had acted outside its legal authority. That decision was quickly delayed by a series of legal hurdles as several federal judges ruled against the Trump administration, leaving much of the program intact as the issue weaved its way through the courts. Earlier this month, a federal judge in Maryland ordered the government to resume accepting new applications. An estimated 98,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each year, according to recent estimates from the Migration Policy Institute.
Though the move is likely to spur new court challenges, the administration argued that the Maryland court order doesn’t apply because it launched a new review of the program’s fate.
“As the Department continues looking at the policy and considers future action, the fact remains that Congress should act on this matter,” Wolf said in a statement. Though Wolf’s statement puts new pressure on lawmakers to tackle immigration reform, Congress has long failed to reach a compromise.
Earlier this month, Trump said he plans to sign “a very big bill” on immigration that would give DACA recipients a “road to citizenship,” though it remains unclear what steps he’ll take on the issue before the November election.
Immigrant-rights groups were quick to criticize Tuesday’s news. On Twitter, the National Immigration Law Center called the announcement “another cruel and divisive move that puts hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth back in limbo.” In a press release, the American Civil Liberties Union accused the administration of replacing DACA with a “skeleton program.”
Though DACA has been a divisive issue for years — and Trump made eliminating the program a staple in his bid for the White House — polls suggest overwhelming support for Dreamers. A recent Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 68 percent of Republicans — and 69 percent of voters who pulled the lever for Trump in 2016 — favor the immigration protections.
“Make no mistake, the vast popularity of the program, combined with a looming election, prevented Trump from immediately ending the program,” Andrea Flores, the ACLU’s deputy director of immigration policy, said in the release. But Tuesday’s announcement “makes his intentions clear: His next move is a complete end to the DACA program to destroy the lives of Dreamers once again.”
VIDEO: American Federation of Teachers Authorizes Educator ‘Safety Strikes’ If Schools Reopen This Fall Without Adequate Safety Measures
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten announced on Tuesday the union’s support for educator “safety strikes” across the country if schools reopen without adequate safety procedures.
Though she said that teacher strikes should be a “last resort,” Weingarten warned that “nothing is off the table” if public officials don’t do enough to ensure that students and educators have a safe return to classrooms after months of remote learning due to the pandemic. The potential strikes, which the country’s second-largest teachers union announced during its virtual national convention (see the 43-minute mark in the video below), offer a sharp rebuke to lawmakers, including President Donald Trump, who have pressured schools to fully reopen as the virus surges in states nationwide.
“We will fight on all fronts for the safety of our students and their educators,” Weingarten said. “But if the authorities don’t protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve,” the union will consider protests, lawsuits and strikes if necessary. The move was approved by the national union’s executive council, which said in a resolution that local or statewide strikes would be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The latest escalation comes just weeks before students in some regions are expecting to return to classrooms after months of distance education. The AFT resolution outlines that schools should reopen only if community infection rates fall below 5 percent and the transmission rate is less than 1 percent. The union also demanded “effective disease surveillance” and accommodations for school staff who are at “high risk for serious health problems or death” if they become infected.
Local unions have already taken measures against lawmakers seeking to reopen campus buildings. In Florida, where the virus has surged in recent weeks, the local union sued lawmakers over a school reopening plan that it accused of being “reckless and unsafe.” Under an executive order, all schools in the state are required to reopen their physical campuses in August.
Though most educators want schools to reopen if necessary safeguards are put into place, Weingarten said the union is “prepared to fight on all fronts for the safety of students and their educators” if its demands aren’t met.
Click here to read the AFT’s full resolution:
CDC’s New Guidance on Rapidly Reopening Schools Cites Concerns Over Trauma and Learning Loss and Points to Evidence That Children Are Less Likely to Transmit Coronavirus
With some districts beginning their virtual school years in a couple weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance, saying that in-person instruction is the best arrangement for most students this fall.
The revised guidance says that the risks of children transmitting the coronavirus are low — which district leaders already know — and so are the chances that they’ll pass the virus to school staff or family members.
Learning loss, the absence of opportunities for social-emotional development, and the potential for stress and trauma linked to quarantine are among the reasons students should be in school, the document says. The challenges of continuing school nutrition programs during school closures was another reason cited.
“School closure disrupts the delivery of in-person instruction and critical services to children and families, which has negative individual and societal ramifications,” the CDC concludes. “The best available evidence from countries that have opened schools indicates that COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children, at least in areas with low community transmission, and suggests that children are unlikely to be major drivers of the spread of the virus.”
President Donald Trump highlighted the agency’s latest position on Thursday while discussing his proposal to put $70 billion toward K-12 schools in the next federal relief package. After tweeting demands two weeks ago that schools reopen, he deferred to governors on Thursday, saying, “The decision should be made based on the data and the facts on the grounds in each community, but every district should be actively making preparations to open.”
Read the full guidance:
The School Choice Now Act: Senators Alexander and Scott Introduce Bill to Fund Emergency Scholarships Families Can Use Toward School Tuition or Homeschooling During the Pandemic
Two members of the Senate education committee, chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, introduced new legislation Wednesday that would provide federal aid to assist families in paying for private school or homeschooling during the pandemic.
The School Choice Now Act would use 10 percent of emergency education aid to offer one-time emergency funding for scholarship organizations approved by the state. These scholarships could then be used by families to go toward private school tuition or homeschooling expenses.
In a Wednesday statement, Alexander said: “Giving children more opportunity to choose their school is a real answer to inequality in America.
“All parents, regardless of income or circumstance, should be able to decide which school best meets their child’s needs, whether that school is public or private … the School Choice Now Act provides scholarships to students to have the opportunity to return to the private school they attended before the pandemic — and gives other students a new opportunity to attend private school.
“Children in all K-12 schools, public and private, have been affected by COVID-19 … Many schools are choosing not to reopen and many schools are failing to provide high-quality distance learning. The students who will suffer from this experience the most are the children from lower income families. This bill will give families more options for their children’s education at a time that school is more important than ever.”
See the full text of the legislation right here, or by clicking below. One notable excerpt from the bill, about how — and when — states must used any approved funds:
“By not later than 60 days after receiving an allotment under subsection, a State without a tax credit scholarship program shall use not less than 50 percent of the allotment to award subgrants to eligible scholarship-granting organizations in the State.
An eligible scholarship-granting organization that receives a subgrant under this subsection:
- “May reserve not more than 5 percent of the subgrant funds for public outreach, student and family support activities, and administrative expenses related to the subgrant.
- “Shall use not less than 95 percent of the subgrant funds to provide qualifying scholarships for qualified expenses only to individual elementary school and secondary school students who reside in the State in which the eligible scholarship-granting organization is recognized.
“A State shall return to the Secretary any amounts of the allotment received under this section that the State does not award as subgrants under subsection (d) by March 30, 2021, and the Secretary shall reallocate such funds to the remaining eligible States.”
Read the full bill by clicking below; also see Kevin Mahnken’s recent coverage of President Trump’s support for federal tax-credit scholarships.
- “May reserve not more than 5 percent of the subgrant funds for public outreach, student and family support activities, and administrative expenses related to the subgrant.
Pandemic-related financial hardships on families with young children are creating a “chain reaction” of negative effects at a time when many preschoolers are preparing to return to child care or enter school for the first time, according to new data from an ongoing study.
Specifically, parents who struggle more financially are reporting more behavior and emotional problems in their children.
Those are among the latest findings of a weekly survey of roughly 1,000 parents with young children — a research study capturing the turbulence in families brought on by the pandemic with results published almost as fast as mask requirements change.
Called Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development – Early Childhood, or RAPID-EC, the work is led by University of Oregon psychology professor Philip Fisher. The researchers began conducting the survey in early April, and since May they have published weekly highlights. Beginning in August, the survey will be conducted every two weeks.
“There really isn’t a scientific knowledge base of what families are likely to be experiencing in light of a global pandemic,” said Fisher. “We felt like we really needed data that could inform policy decisions.” The challenge, he added, was having a “high-frequency” survey that was also scientifically rigorous and “allows us to get a moving picture of overall well-being.”
With many young children now facing an uncertain beginning to the school year — perhaps starting a new preschool or kindergarten class via Zoom or with a packet of activities — the findings can help educators and program providers gain a better understanding of the conditions in which at-home learning is taking place.
“Policymakers need to hear what’s happening on the ground right now. The impact of the pandemic has been immediate; the data needs to be, too,” said Bethany Robertson, co-publisher and co-director of Parents Together, a parent-led organization that provides tips and resources to families but also works to make parents’ voices part of policy conversations.
Fisher’s team partnered with Parents Together to recruit families for the survey. The researchers aim for a sample of no fewer than 1,000 per week. And while parents have the option of participating more than once, Fisher found that a lot of the “repeat customers” tend to be more affluent and white. To capture more diversity, the researchers select a larger sample than needed and invite more diverse families to participate.
So what are some of the other major findings so far?
First, conflict has increased among all families in the sample, regardless of income. And more than half of the respondents answered that parent-child conflict is on the rise. Families in lower-income homes said financial relief, such as assistance with rent or other housing expenses, would make their situations better, while those in middle- and upper-income homes said they needed more social-emotional support.
In another recent post, parents or other caregivers in low-income homes, those with three or more children, and those who have a child with a disability are reporting higher levels of depression and anxiety.
Lower-income households and Black and Latino families are experiencing more financial hardship, such as lost income and difficulty covering expenses like housing, utilities and food, the results show. With many eviction bans imposed in the early days of the pandemic beginning to expire, researchers predict large increases in homelessness. The findings have implications for school attendance and students’ ability to use technology for learning.
“Once people can be evicted, we’re going to see a lot of families with young children out on the street,” Fisher said.
‘Mirroring the trends’
Each RAPID-EC post with new data includes recommendations for policymakers and suggested research articles. The project represents a new approach to conducting research. Rather than waiting to publish findings in an academic journal, the team is hoping to provide useful data to state and local leaders so they can respond more quickly to trends. The audience for the results includes officials in education departments, human service agencies and those in nonprofits that work with families. The researchers are also hoping to reach state legislators with their findings.
In fact, each new release often confirms top pandemic-related news stories of the day, said Joan Lombardi, who chairs the project’s national advisory team.
The project is “mirroring the trends, but it’s providing more than anecdotal information,” said Lombardi, who led child care and early-childhood development initiatives at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton and Obama administrations. She currently advises philanthropies focusing on early childhood.
Miriam Calderon, early learning system director with the Oregon Department of Education, said leaders have shifted from approaching the coronavirus as “an emergency that’s going to go away” to thinking about how to adapt early learning programs and other efforts for young children. “All of these services have to coexist with COVID for the foreseeable future,” she said.
The survey data, she said, have prompted her and others in the department’s early learning division to ask questions about services at the local level, such as whether families are still taking their children for regular checkups, vaccinations and developmental screenings. One of the survey’s national findings was that more than a quarter of families skipped a doctor’s visit for a healthy child this past spring.
David Mandell, the director of policy and research in the division, added that the results provide a valuable connection to parents as leaders grapple with what it would take to make them feel it’s safe enough to bring their children to school or a center.
‘Very basic needs’
The trends emerging in RAPID-EC echo other surveys of those working within school districts to respond to families’ and children’s basic needs. In a recent survey conducted by researchers at four universities, three-quarters of school social workers responded that at least half of the students in their schools need mental health services, more than 60 percent said at least half don’t have enough to eat, and more than 40 percent said at least half of the families in the schools they serve need support with staying in their homes.
“There has been much discussion pertaining to online delivery of instruction, services, and education,” the authors of the survey report wrote. “More needs to be focused on how the pandemic has affected the very basic needs for human existence in low-income schools that serve students of color.”
And Parents Together, which reaches families with a wider age range of children, released its own survey results last week showing that 45 percent of families are somewhat or very concerned about losing their homes, with more than half cutting back on other expenses, such as food and medicine, to cover rent or mortgage payments.
“When we first started calling for rent freezes a few months ago, this wasn’t a part of the national discussion,” Robertson said. “Now, as 23 million folks face possible eviction by the fall, we’re seeing some policymakers interested in what we can do to keep families in their homes.”
Last week, for example, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey extended the state’s eviction ban through the end of October. At the federal level, a bill passed in the House and legislation introduced in the Senate aim to extend eviction bans through early next year.
Evictions contribute to chronic absenteeism and occur at higher rates in lower-income neighborhoods where schools have higher percentages of nonwhite students, studies show. An analysis conducted in Richmond, Virginia, for example, noted that as housing prices in some areas of the city tilt upward, it can be harder for a family with a past eviction to get a lease.
The researchers wrote that as the demand for housing increases, evictions create instability not only for families but also for schools.
Back in Oregon, Calderon said the RAPID-EC data are also guiding Gov. Kate Brown’s new Healthy Early Learners Council, which is focused on reopening child care and early learning programs. Addressing “challenging behaviors” and preventing suspension and expulsion of young children will be one aspect of the council’s work.
With many programs and schools expected to be operating both in-person and remotely, Calderon said data on how the pandemic is affecting access to child care and family well-being will continue to be important. One finding in the data was that almost half of the respondents said they had lost the child care arrangement they had prior to the pandemic.
“I don’t think people acknowledge enough that public school is a form of child care,” she said. “When school is closed, someone in the family isn’t working.”
‘I Can’t Teach From a Coffin’: Across the Country, Teachers, Parents and Students Hit the Streets to Protest Reopening of Schools
With President Donald Trump threatening schools if they don’t fully reopen, COVID-19 ripping through states that rapidly lifted their lockdown restrictions and the new school year as little as a month away, teachers, parents and students from Florida to Missouri to Texas to Arizona and Michigan are taking to the streets to protest their districts’ plans for resuming in-person classes.
In Detroit, dozens of parent and teacher protesters blocked school buses from leaving to pick up students for summer school, which started July 13. On Wednesday, the activist group coordinating the protests, By Any Means Necessary, sued the district and the state, seeking to halt in-person instruction.
After visiting some schools as they welcomed students back, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti tweeted that he was confident the district had made the right decision. The protests did not deter the school board from a day later approving a fall reopening plan that would include in-person classes, an option a majority of parents surveyed said they would prefer if adequate precautions are taken.
In Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis stands by a June order mandating that schools return to in-person classes full time despite surging numbers of COVID-19 infections, protests have broken out in numerous districts.
‘We Are Being Asked to Do the Impossible’: As Pandemic Spikes in Several States, Parents Brace for Historically Chaotic Return to School
In St. Petersburg, teachers circled the Manatee County Public Schools headquarters in their cars, waving signs and honking horns. In a video posted to Facebook by NBC affiliate WFLA, a Jeep can be seen with an oversize, blue face mask draped across its front grille.
With school scheduled to start Aug. 10, the district has been considering allowing full-time in-person instruction for elementary grades and hybrid classes for older students. Teachers protest that it is too soon to do so safely.
Demonstrations also took place in Hillsborough County Public Schools, which includes Tampa. “I can’t teach from a coffin,” read one sign held by teachers protesting on foot and in masks.
“I don’t think there’s a safe way to do this,” a teacher said about reopening campuses soon. “I don’t know how they can ignore the data.” https://t.co/IUcRWQoohi
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) July 14, 2020
In the Tampa suburb of Dover, parents and activists from Black Lives Matter and the group People Over PACs used Facebook to coordinate a protest outside Strawberry Crest High School, with some people participating from inside their cars and others on sidewalks.
“This is part of a larger FIGHT CLUB! legal strategy to stop this dangerous and deadly back-to-school plan,” organizers posted on social media.
In Austin, Texas, teachers staged a sit-in outside the Texas capitol, demanding assurances and a rule prohibiting in-person instruction until a county’s infection rate is below 0.5 percent of the population. Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott had said schools should operate virtually for the first three weeks of the year but could lose state funding if they did not return to full-time in-person classes after that. Superintendents pushed back, with some saying they would delay the start of school to buy time.
With virus cases spiking throughout the state, Abbott announced Tuesday that schools can extend the time buildings are closed to students.
The teachers want classes to stay online until COVID-19 cases decrease. https://t.co/xly9l2lYiN
— WFAA (@wfaa) July 15, 2020
Another caravan-style protest and sit-in at the capitol are planned for Saturday.
Near Athens, Georgia, a group of teachers and parents protesting the Oconee County School District’s plan to reopen schools without a mandatory mask policy was met with a small counterprotest. A separate action was organized by University of Georgia faculty with children in the district.
In Arizona, protesters in cars ringed Tucson High School on Thursday morning. St. Louis teachers demonstrated silently outside school district headquarters Tuesday, demanding that instruction remain at a distance until there have been no new COVID-19 infections for 30 days.
New Study Does Not Find Stark Differences in How District, Charter and Private Schools Responded to COVID-19 Crisis
The nation’s K-12 schools reacted to the disruption of COVID-19 in broadly similar ways regardless of whether they were district, charter or private, according to new research released Monday.
In general, traditional public schools did not lag behind charters or private schools, except for a few days near the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis when they were somewhat slower to switch to online learning, according to the study by Tulane University’s National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH).
By May, overall scores in five performance areas measured by researchers were comparable for all school types, though private schools lagged significantly in both equity of access and breadth of service.
That finding is somewhat predictable, given that private schools tend to serve fewer students who might require supplementary services like school meals, and they are not subject to the same requirements as public schools when it comes to accommodating special education students or English language learners. On the three other measures (personalization and engagement, both inside and outside of class, as well as monitoring of academic progress), the three sectors are roughly on par with one another.
That coalescence among different school types defies the notion that public schools were particularly slow or inept in their transition to virtual instruction, said Douglas Harris, an economics professor at Tulane and the director of REACH.
Harris noted that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently “hammered traditional public schools and [made] allegations about a lack of response during the spring” that were “blatantly false.” In TV interviews this weekend addressing the Trump administration’s push for all schools to open full time this fall, DeVos argued that districts should follow “really good examples that have been used in the private sector.”
That argument “doesn’t seem very sensible given what we’re finding here,” said Harris. “The responses were actually very similar across sectors. Each sector was focused on different things, but the overall response is very similar.”
The study, conducted over the past few months, is part of an ongoing effort to chart how the American education system copes with an unprecedented public health catastrophe. The Institute for Education Sciences (IES), a research body within the U.S. Department of Education, helped fund the initiative with a $100,000 grant.
Categorizing the actions of thousands of schools over the most tumultuous few months in recent memory presented special logistical challenges. Harris said the unforgiving timeline and constant influx of new data made the study “the hardest project we’ve ever had to do.”
“We had to do it so fast — start to finish, in 17 weeks,” he told The 74. “A report like this would normally take two years, so we had to both maintain the standard that we would normally set for ourselves, but do it 10 times faster than we normally would.”
Ambitious Research Project — to Review How Every School in America Responded to COVID-19 — Aims to Deliver Its First Findings in Early July
The new report relies on analysis of the public websites of more than 3,500 public, private and public charter schools, a sample designed to be nationally representative across demographics, geography and school type. Harris and his co-authors spent the month of May collecting the information available on each site to develop a picture of how each school transitioned to virtual learning.
The comprehensiveness of each school’s response is scored based on five performance areas: personalization and engagement of online instruction (i.e., the use of live instruction and various online tools to conduct lessons), personalization outside of class (the frequency with which students and teachers interacted during events such as office hours and morning meetings), monitoring of data like online attendance and grades, continuity of non-academic services such as school meals and student counseling, and equity of access to populations like special education students and English language learners.
To score individual schools, authors made note of which websites mentioned learning plans for ELL students, for instance, and which carried on tracking attendance and grades even as school lockdowns continued. The data were entered into an index that generated scores, from 1-10, on each of the five domains.
Out of a possible score of 50, Harris and his team found that the average school’s score was a 9.0. That dismal finding inevitably reflects some degree of under-counting, he noted, given that not all schools keep meticulous track of how they are addressing the coronavirus crisis. Even with the limitations of publicly available data, however, the authors pointed to some important trends.
First, family demographics did not necessarily predict the quality of educational responses to the coronavirus, with one exception: The level of education of parents and other adults in a given neighborhood was correlated with higher performance scores. Harris called educational attainment “the main driver” in differential responses, though not a surprising one; schools could more readily bring their classrooms online, he said, if they could rely on highly educated parents at home to help them implement virtual lessons.
“All the things that parents with college degrees were doing before, they were doing it even more under the crisis,” Harris observed. “Having more time to spend with kids in their white-collar jobs, being able to be at home and have flexible hours and have economic security at the same time that other high-paying jobs don’t have. If you’re a construction worker or something like that, you might make a good income, but you can’t be at home and be a construction worker.”
Another noteworthy variable was internet access. Schools located in areas that rank in the top half of the country for home internet access scored almost two points higher than those in areas at the bottom half. That phenomenon argues in favor of expanding high-speed internet access, the authors conclude.
An Education System, Divided: How Internet Inequity Persisted Through 4 Presidents and Left Schools Unprepared for the Pandemic
One further variable highlighted in the report, though somewhat ambivalently, was geography. Higher index scores were measured in states in the Northeast and Midwest, while Southern states ranked lower.
No reason is offered in the report for the variations by region, though Harris noted in the interview that schools in the South often end their school years somewhat earlier than those in other regions, which may have presented them with less time to implement a comprehensive COVID strategy.
Government Watchdog Report Finds No Evidence for Controversial Claims That Reducing Student Suspensions Could Benefit School Shooters
A federal watchdog report released Thursday found no evidence to support a controversial theory — elevated by conservative lawmakers after the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida — that lax school discipline policies play a role in such attacks.
The Government Accountability Office report, which found “no empirical research” linking school discipline policies and preventing school shootings, offers new fodder for the controversy surrounding the decision by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to rescind Obama-era guidance that sought to reduce student suspensions amid “unexplained racial disparities” in student punishments. DeVos scrapped the discipline guidance after a White House commission report argued that they could have made schools less safe. The commission, which DeVos led, was formed in response to the 2018 mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and sought to prevent future carnage.
The GAO report landed as student activists nationwide demand less punitive approaches to maintaining order in classrooms, including the removal of police from schools. Though school shootings have long motivated demands for school-based police and strict discipline policies, critics have long decried racial disparities in student arrests and suspensions. This summer, those concerns — and outrage over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police — have led districts across the country to sever long-standing contracts with police departments and re-examine their discipline strategies.
Trump School Safety Commission Recommends Rejection of Obama-Era Discipline Reform, Encourages More Armed Staff and Physical Security
Discipline reforms in Broward County schools became a focal point after the Parkland shooting, when Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and conservative pundits accused district efforts to reduce suspensions — and the Obama-era guidance — of contributing to the shooting, arguing that lax school discipline allowed the alleged gunman to avoid sufficient police scrutiny. The suspect had been expelled from school prior to the shooting, and a state commission later concluded that the district discipline policy wasn’t relevant to the campus attack.
Though the watchdog report didn’t find evidence linking suspensions and other discipline approaches to the prevalence of school shootings, research is mixed on how these policies affect campus violence more broadly. The watchdog report doesn’t examine the link between campus police and school shootings in particular, but there’s no evidence to suggest that officers are effective in preventing such attacks, according to a literature review by the WestEd Justice and Prevention Research Center.
Because school shootings are statistically rare and the motives behind them vary considerably, it’s difficult for researchers to pinpoint how school discipline policies “affect an individual’s propensity toward violence,” the watchdog report noted.
The report defines school shootings broadly, focusing on events where “a gun is fired on school grounds, on a bus, during a school event, during school hours, or right before or after school.” As such, data could include events that go beyond the general public’s perception of a “school shooting.” Police officers were the shooters in roughly 4 percent of incidents, for example, including occasions when officers fired their guns due to a perceived campus threat and, in one incident, when a school-based officer died due to suicide. The methodology seeks to highlight incidents “where students or staff were at risk,” said report author Jacqueline Nowicki, director of the office’s education, workforce and income security team.
Despite the dearth of evidence linking discipline policies to school shootings, the GAO did identify several trends that could help educators respond proactively by crafting policies “that are more tailored to the types of shootings that are more likely to happen in their particular situation,” Nowicki said.
In the past decade, current or former students comprised roughly half of school shooters, according to the report, and campuses subjected to attacks varied widely in terms of the schools’ racial and socioeconomic makeups. Shootings were more frequent in urban schools with large shares of students of color and those from low-income households. Disputes, such as those stemming from gang violence, were the primary impetus behind these attacks. Students were less likely to be the perpetrators and incidents typically occurred outside the school building.
But suburban and rural districts with large shares of wealthier and white students suffered a larger share of suicides and “school-targeted shootings,” such as the one in Parkland, the GAO found. Such targeted shootings accounted for more than half of the 166 school-based fatalities between 2009 and 2019. In these schools, the perpetrators were more often students or former students.
Because of differing contexts, it’s “not enough to look at the frequency of occurrence, but to dig down a little bit and look at what types of shootings are happening in what types of schools,” Nowicki said. “That’s important because what you decide to do about it may be a little bit different.”
DeVos Holds ‘Listening Sessions’ on Student Discipline as GAO Report Confirms Widespread Racial Disparities
But conversations about school discipline don’t center entirely on school shootings, and the watchdog report certainly won’t settle the heated debate over how to best maintain classroom order. In its final report, the White House school safety commission argued that the Obama-era guidance “may have paradoxically contributed to making schools less safe.” The watchdog report doesn’t rule out that possibility.
Nothing in the report “contradicts the fact that the previous administration’s guidance robbed teachers of control of their classrooms,” Education Department spokeswoman Angela Morabito said in an email. “That guidance may have been well-intentioned, but it was dangerously flawed.”
However, it’s difficult to draw “bottom-line conclusions” about discipline approaches because research on their efficacy varies widely, the report noted. Evidence on a spectrum of interventions — including suspensions and teaching students to regulate behaviors through social-emotional learning — remains mixed.
WATCH: President Trump and First Lady Lead Tuesday’s ‘National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools’
The day after President Donald Trump tweeted “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” he joined Vice President Mike Pence, First Lady Melania Trump, Missouri Gov. Michael Parson and other officials at the White House Tuesday to lead a “dialogue on safely reopening America’s schools.” A few of the notable exchanges from the day:
- Highlighting falling coronavirus-related death rates, the president indicated Tuesday he would take a hard line against state or local leaders that keep schools closed this fall. “We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools,” he said. “The moms want it. The dads want it. The kids want it. It’s time to do it.”
- The roundtable featured a principal and a student from a California Catholic school. Reopening schools “means a lot to our emotional health and our mental health just to be out there with our friends,” said student Cameron Vaughn.
- Some speakers emphasized the extraordinary stress being endured by families after schools shuttered this past spring, as parents found themselves forced to suddenly juggle the simultaneous roles of employee, child care provider and educator. Jenny Beth Martin, a mother and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, said thousands of parents, along with 150 doctors, 240 nurses and 300 educators, signed on to a letter calling for the reopening of schools. “Reopening schools is going to stabilize our society,” she said. “I think it’s the number one, most important thing we can do to stabilize our society from top to bottom.”
Watch the full dialogue:
2 New Surveys Find Teachers Stressed by Shutdown, Unable to Contact Students and Feeling Their Confidence Drop
Two new surveys of teachers and school administrators confirm some of the worst fears about the switch to distance learning since the pandemic struck: The vast majority of teachers could not teach all the material they were supposed to, teacher confidence plummeted in schools without supportive working conditions, and fewer than half of teachers in high schools, high-poverty schools and schools serving a majority of children of color were able to contact their students.
In the latest survey of its American Educator Panels, the RAND Corp. found that just 12 percent of teachers said they ended the last school year having covered all or nearly all of the planned curriculum. The panels are nationally representative sets of teachers and school administrators canvassed regularly about a variety of topics. For this report, researchers relied on some 2,000 completed surveys, slightly more than half from teachers and the rest from administrators. Teachers in city or suburban schools were twice as likely to report having covered a full year’s material as those in towns or rural areas.
Teachers in schools where 75 percent or more of students are economically disadvantaged were much more likely to say they concentrated on reviewing past material than their counterparts at low-poverty or majority-white schools. Twenty-six percent of teachers surveyed at high-poverty schools reported teaching “all or almost all review,” while 28 percent said they “mostly” focused on reviewing past lessons. At low-poverty schools, by contrast, 19 percent reported teaching virtually all new material and 24 percent mostly new lessons.
One-fourth of principals surveyed said students’ lack of internet access was a major problem, while 62 percent said it was a minor obstacle. One-fifth of principals said they lacked access to high-quality materials, and 30 percent said they needed training on how to support teachers during distance learning.
Fifty-nine percent of teachers and 77 percent of principals said they were able to contact all or nearly all of their students and families during school closures, though this number varied considerably depending on school demographics. In elementary schools, 71 percent of teachers said they were able to contact all or nearly all of their students, versus 47.5 percent of secondary teachers. Educators were more likely to report being able to communicate with students and families in low-poverty and majority-white schools.
By far the largest need cited by teachers was strategies to keep students engaged and motivated during distance learning. Forty-five percent said it was a major need, and 39 percent called it a minor or moderate one. Nearly one-third said they did not receive adequate guidance to support students with mild to moderate disabilities.
New Poll Reveals Parents Want One-on-One Distance Learning Support From Teachers — but Aren’t Getting Much of It
A second survey, by Upbeat, a consulting firm that collects and analyzes data with an eye toward teacher retention, looked at educators’ experiences of teaching at home. Upbeat surveyed 7,200 teachers in nine states and found both high levels of stress and positive feelings about schools’ support for educators during the pandemic-related closures.
Overall, researchers found that the percentage of teachers who feel successful dropped from 96 percent to 73 percent during distance learning, but with wide variations depending on how supportive they perceived their schools to be. In schools seen as supportive, the percentage of teachers who felt successful after the shift to remote learning dropped from 99 percent to 93 percent. In unsupportive schools, it plummeted from 90 percent to 48 percent.
Mid-career teachers, who are most likely to have young children and aging parents, reported the most stress over balancing work with other responsibilities, with 51 percent saying that caretaking obligations made teaching difficult. Veteran teachers were three times as likely as early-career educators to report being uncomfortable with distance-learning technology.
Teachers surveyed by Upbeat estimated that 60 percent of their students regularly engaged in remote learning, with wide gaps depending on racial and socioeconomic status. In schools where fewer than 10 percent of students are Black, teachers reported that 72 percent of students regularly engaged in remote learning, versus 45 percent in schools where 50 percent or more are Black.
The report’s authors suggested that this range is likely the result of systemic inequities — including historically under-resourced schools — that have a disproportionate negative impact on communities of color and that have been compounded by COVID-19. Black and brown families have experienced worse health outcomes, much greater job loss and other factors during the pandemic that make remote learning far more difficult.
Disclosure: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides financial support to the RAND Corp.’s American Educator Panels and to The 74.
Monthly QuotED: 7 Notable Quotes That Made Education Headlines in June, From ‘Red Flag’ Laws to Reopening Schools — and a Supreme Court Reprieve for ‘Dreamers’
QuotED is a roundup of the most notable quotes behind America’s top education headlines — taken from our weekly EduClips, which spotlights headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts. Read previous EduClips installments here.
“Remote learning may be able to crack into students’ minds, but I think the pain of this reality is knowing that remotely reaching students’ hearts is not the same.” —Allison Tingwall, principal of Curie Metropolitan High School in Chicago. (Read at Chalkbeat)
“I was able to drive, live, work without fear. Without the constant fear that I’m going to get deported at any minute.” —Karen Reyes, an Austin, Texas, bilingual special education teacher, after the Supreme Court handed down its decision blocking the Trump administration’s effort to end DACA, the program that has allowed some 650,000 immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children — as Reyes was — to live and work without the threat of deportation. (Read at The74Million.org)
“There are 78 million parents with at least one child in their household under 18. That’s almost a third of the adult population. A parent’s ability to find and keep a job is inseparable from child care and schooling.” —Labor economist Ernie Tedeschi. (Read at NBC News)
“I’m doing 300 percent of the planning I usually do.” —Kaitlin Karpinski, leader of Rooted School in New Orleans, on planning for schools reopening in the fall. (Read at The74Million.org)
“This is my great worry. In a moment when we should be investing, we are going to be seeing cuts because Congress apparently feels no urgency … as schools are trying to get ready for what is arguably the most important beginning of a school year that will happen in a lifetime.” —Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, a Democrat. (Read at Education Week)
“I mean, it’s like it’s a lose-lose situation. You have parents that are demanding the schools to open. And then you have parents that are saying, we’re not going to send our kids to school. You have teachers that are saying, we’re not going to go back to work. Districts that are saying, with these budget cuts, we’re going to have to lay off teachers. … It’s just, this is unbelievable.” —Dan Domenech, executive director of the AASA, the school superintendents association. (Read at Politico)
“You can’t be doing this anymore, son.” —Judge Stephen Braslow of Suffolk County, New York, to a 17-year-old at Babylon Junior-Senior High School who allegedly made a homicidal threat on Snapchat. Under the state’s “red flag” law, the district’s superintendent was able to get a court order to search the boy’s home, where police confiscated two pellet guns. (Read at The 74 Million.org)
The Department of Education has made tweaks to its disputed campaign to compel states and districts to share emergency funding with private schools. A new rule issued on Thursday morning will allow districts more options in how they allocate federal relief funds, but it is still being contested by school groups who say that it hurts public school students.
Going forward, districts have one of two choices: They can distribute funds from the $2 trillion CARES Act to both public and private schools, depending on what percentage of a district’s students they enroll. Alternatively, they can share the one-off relief funding exclusively with low-income private school students, as many educators have requested — with the caveat that they can only use it to support low-income public schools as well.
The rule, which went into effect immediately even as the public has 30 days to pass comment and recommend changes, is the latest chapter in a controversy dating back to May. That month, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos put forth broader guidance recommending that local authorities disburse part of their federal relief moneys to provide “equitable services” to all students attending private schools within their district borders.
The move was received poorly by state and local officials, who said it deliberately deprived them of necessary aid in order to support private schools that enroll fewer disadvantaged students. Several state superintendents suggested they would ignore the guidance, and Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander disputed the secretary’s interpretation of the CARES Act.
DeVos responded by saying that the department would soon release a rule on the matter with the force of law, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns had already led many private schools to shut their doors. At present, 74 schools educating more than 9,500 students have closed permanently due to the crisis.
COVID Poses an ‘Existential Threat’ to Many Private Schools, but Congress Might Block DeVos’s Push for Relief
In a press release, DeVos reiterated her position that Congress intended for CARES Act funding to benefit “all American students, teachers, and families impacted by coronavirus,” adding that the law’s appropriation for colleges and universities flowed to public and private institutions alike.
“There is nothing in the law Congress passed that would allow districts to discriminate against children and teachers based on private school attendance and employment,” she wrote. “In this new rule, we recognized that CARES Act programs are not Title I programs. If a district chooses to limit the use of this funding to serve only low-income students, they must do so equitably for students in both public and private schools.”
The policy represents a wise balancing of interests, according to Neal McCluskey, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the libertarian Cato Institute.
“This rule may be the best compromise possible, finding the midpoint between what seemed to be the clear wording of the statute — money should be allocated according to poverty levels — with the clear intention of the statute: to provide broad education relief,” he wrote. “It probably won’t fully satisfy anyone, but that would be a sign it got things right.”
Others aren’t so certain. The rule has been touted as a victory for public school districts, in that they may now set aside aid for private schools based solely on what percentage of low-income students they enroll — rather than on the percentage of total students they enroll, as DeVos originally intended. But Scott Sargrad, vice president of K-12 education policy at the liberal Center for American Progress, said he was “not so sure it is actually a big win for states and districts, or that much of a concession.” If they limit CARES Act funding to low-income private school students, the rule states they must limit them to low-income public school students as well.
“It’s only if they restrict their uses of funds to Title I schools and students that they can then do what they have been asking for — and what is typical under Title I — which is to calculate equitable services based on low-income students in private schools,” he said.
Complicating matters is the fact that the decree has been advanced as an “interim final rule” — a seeming oxymoron that allows a public comment period to pass on new federal regulations even as they exist with the force of law.
Sargrad, who previously served in the Obama administration as a deputy assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, characterized the move as a notably “aggressive” approach to the federal rulemaking process. The new policy was likely to be contested, he added, whether in Congress or the courts.
“There will probably be some challenges here. It is an interpretation of the law that could be challenged, it’s not obviously the sole interpretation, and it does disadvantage students in public schools.”
Coronavirus Must-Reads for Parents & Schools: 94% of Superintendents Uncertain on Fall Classes, Health Concerns May Keep Teachers Away, Safety at Reopened Playgrounds & More
This is a special edition of EduClips, our recurring roundup of top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across 10 states typically attend class every day. See our full EduClips archive right here.
If you look up “First Day of School” on Wikipedia, you’ll be greeted with the following bit of conventional wisdom: “This is usually in August or September in the Northern Hemisphere.” That factoid is only one part of what has become a daunting equation for schools, districts and states as they stare down the enormous question of when (and whether) to reopen schools in the fall. A recent survey by the AASA, the national school superintendents association, reveals the second part. In the June 16 survey, the association said that 94 percent of superintendents said they weren’t ready to announce whether they’ll reopen or resume in-person instruction. Even with the necessary caveats — the poll was conducted between May and June, when reopening for the 2019-20 school year was still a possibility — the math is straightforward: Officials have mere weeks to make what will undoubtedly be the most important decision of their careers.
The stakes? “You don’t want to be the superintendent to open too quickly and somebody dies,” Kristi Wilson, superintendent of the Phoenix-area Buckeye Elementary School District, where schools reopen Aug. 5, bluntly told Politico. “Live with that! It’s just way too much to take on.” But the penalties for remaining closed are also severe. Experts recently announced that the economy entered a recession in February. No recovery can happen unless parents return to work, and that can’t happen if kids don’t return to school.
The bits and pieces of reopening plans that have already come to light only underscore the uncertainty. New York City, the nation’s largest school system, indicated that 20 percent of its teachers might have to work from home due to health concerns. As Chalkbeat noted, those 15,000 teachers represent more teachers than Houston’s entire public school system. And elsewhere, there has been considerable pushback. In Massachusetts, the governor’s plan to make children come to school with their own masks has come under fire for punishing low-income students and minorities. And in New Jersey, several district chiefs called the state’s guidelines for in-person summer programs “inappropriate.”
A large part of the problem is that districts have to foot the hefty price tag for new health and safety protocols at a time when they are already hemorrhaging from the recession. The AASA estimates that it will cost an average school district with 3,700 students $1.8 million to meet reopening guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including $448,000 for additional custodial staff. “I mean, it’s like it’s a lose-lose situation,” said Dan Domenech, who runs the AASA. “You have parents that are demanding the schools to open. And then you have parents that are saying, we’re not going to send our kids to school. You have teachers that are saying, we’re not going to go back to work. Districts that are saying, with these budget cuts, we’re going to have to lay off teachers. … It’s just, this is unbelievable.”
Equity — Pandemic High: How One of Chicago’s Largest Schools Rebuilt Itself for Cyberspace (Read at Chalkbeat)
Reopening Schools — The Socially Distanced School Day (Read at Education Week)
Black Lives Matter — High School Students and Alumni Are Using Social Media to Expose Racism (Read at The New York Times)
Immigration — A Border School for Asylum Seekers Goes Virtual (Read at The74Million.org)
Teachers — As Teacher Layoffs Loom, Should Schools Seek Private Donations? (Read at WGBH)
As COVID-19 Threatens Millions of Child Care ‘Slots,’ Families Face Deep Disruptions to Their Children’s Early Learning and Social Development and to Their Own Jobs (Read at The74Million.org)
‘Our Kids Had Been Forgotten’: Parents of Special Education Kids Hope for Summer School (Read at USA Today)
As Playgrounds Start to Reopen, Here’s How to Keep Kids Safe (Read at The New York Times)
Hundreds of Southern California Schools Vulnerable to Outbreaks Because of Vaccine Reluctance, Data Suggests (Read at The Mercury News)
20% of NYC Teachers Might Work From Home Because of Health Concerns, According to Education Department Estimates (Read at Chalkbeat New York)
A Teacher Ponders Risk of Returning to Work While Being Paid Less Than Unemployment (Read at NPR)
Teachers Need Opportunities to Heal Before the School Year Begins (Read at EdSource)
Could the Online, For-Profit College Industry be “A Winner in This Crisis”? (Read at The Hechinger Report)
Analysis: Just 1 in 3 Districts Required Teachers to Deliver Instruction This Spring. They Mustn’t Be Left on Their Own Again in the Fall (Read at The74Million.org)
Colleges Are Ditching Required Admission Tests Over COVID-19. Will They Ever Go Back? (Read at The Washington Post)
Charter Schools, Some With Billionaire Benefactors, Tap Coronavirus Relief (Read at The New York Times)
5 Radical Schooling Ideas for an Uncertain Fall, and Beyond (Read at NPR)
Meanwhile, Beyond the Pandemic…
DACA Teachers Across the Country Embrace SCOTUS Ruling Allowing Them to ‘Live, Work Without Fear’ (Read at The74Million.org)
The End of Police in Schools (Read at U.S. New & World Report)
A Black Teacher Questioned Eva Moskowitz’s Response to George Floyd’s Death. Now, Success Academy Is Facing Bigger Questions About Race (Read at Chalkbeat NY)
‘The Students Were the Danger’: In Racially Diverse Schools, Police Were More Likely to View Students as Threats, Study Shows (Read at The74Million.org)
Essays and Reflections
Bradford: Black Lives Matter and Black Education Matters Because Freedom Matters. Only When Black Folks Are Safe to Both Learn and Live Will America Be Free (Read at The74Million.org)
Analysis: For Foster Children in Texas, a State of Despair (Read at The Texas Tribune)
How the New York City School System Failed the Test of COVID-19 (Read at The Nation)
Fuck the Bread. The Bread Is Over. (Read at The Paris Review)
In the Face of American ‘Truth Decay,’ Polls Shed Light on How Much Families Are Hurting During COVID-19 (Read at The74Million.org)
“I was able to drive, live, work without fear. Without the constant fear that I’m going to get deported at any minute.” —Karen Reyes, an Austin, Texas, bilingual special education teacher, after the Supreme Court handed down its decision blocking the Trump administration’s effort to end DACA, the program that’s allowed some 650,000 immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children — as Reyes was — to live and work without the threat of deportation. (Read at The74Million.org)
“You don’t want to be the superintendent to open too quickly and somebody dies. Live with that! It’s just way too much to take on.” —Kristi Wilson, superintendent of the Phoenix-area Buckeye Elementary School District, where schools reopen Aug. 5. (Read at Politico)
“At a time when our kids and our communities need us most, we are having to make massive cuts. We must double down for those who have been most impacted by the COVID crisis if we are to deliver on the promise of education to create a more equitable society.” —Susana Cordova, the superintendent of Denver Public Schools. (Read at The New York Times)
“This is my great worry. In a moment when we should be investing, we are going to be seeing cuts because Congress apparently feels no urgency … as schools are trying to get ready for what is arguably the most important beginning of a school year that will happen in a lifetime.” —Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, a Democrat. (Read at Education Week)
“The concerns that the [school police] had by and large were about the students themselves. It wasn’t about protecting these innocent [youth] from dangers that could come from the outside — the students were the danger.” —Ben Fisher, an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Louisville, on research showing enormous gaps in how school police viewed threats at racially diverse and predominantly white schools. (Read at The74Million.org)
“Remote learning may be able to crack into students’ minds, but I think the pain of this reality is knowing that remotely reaching students’ hearts is not the same.” —Allison Tingwall, principal of Curie Metropolitan High School in Chicago. (Read at Chalkbeat)
Education Groups Rejoice as Supreme Court Blocks Trump Efforts to End DACA Program — but Warn Decision Is Merely ‘First Step’
Education groups cheered a Supreme Court opinion Thursday that blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to end a program that provides work authorization and deportation relief to some 650,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children.
The administration’s move to terminate the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program — in flux since 2017 — was “arbitrary and capricious,” the court’s majority ruled.
For Viridiana Carrizales, co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit ImmSchools, the news was a major shock. Her organization, which helps schools create safe classrooms for undocumented students and their families, had prepared for the worst.
“My heart is coming out of my chest right now,” she said in an interview, adding that her group never considered a victory in the nation’s top court, where conservative justices hold a majority. “Our community has always been on the defensive, always preparing for the attack, always defending ourselves. Honestly, this moment of victory is what our community needs right at this moment.”
Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said the court did not decide whether DACA or the decision to terminate it “are sound policies,” but whether the Department of Homeland Security under President Trump provided “a reasoned explanation” for its decision to end the program, as required by the Administrative Procedure Act. The department failed to follow administrative procedures and to adequately consider how ending DACA could affect its beneficiaries, often called “Dreamers,” the court ruled.
“That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner,” Roberts wrote.
Though the ruling doesn’t prevent Trump from trying again to end the program, experts said it’s unclear how the administration will proceed during an election year with a program that enjoys bipartisan support. Nearly three-quarters of Americans — including 54 percent of Republicans — support granting permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted earlier this month.
DACA’s future became uncertain in 2017, when the Trump administration announced a plan to phase out the program, which then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions called an “open-ended circumvention of immigration laws.” Then-President Barack Obama created DACA in 2012 through an executive order after Congress failed to pass similar legislation — a move Sessions called “an unconstitutional exercise of authority.”
DACA Teachers Across the Country Embrace SCOTUS Ruling Allowing Them to ‘Live, Work Without Fear’
The administration’s decision to terminate the program, which requires recipients to renew their applications every two years and does not provide a path to citizenship, ignited bitter debates on Capitol Hill. But lawmakers failed to pass legislation to save it as President Donald Trump demanded that any compromise include billions of dollars in federal money for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Several federal judges ruled against the Trump administration, leaving much of the program intact as the issue weaved its way through the legal system. Decisions from lower courts allowed those enrolled in the program to renew their two-year permits but barred first-time applications.
University of California President Janet Napolitano, whose lawsuit against the Trump administration propelled the issue to the high court, proclaimed on Thursday that “justice and the rule of law won the day.” As homeland security secretary during the Obama administration, Napolitano helped create DACA. The court’s opinion “is a victory for hundreds of thousands of young people who are making vital contributions to their families, schools, employers and the nation,” she said in a statement.
The 74 Interview: University of California President and Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on DACA, Title IX and the Value of College
The court ruled on narrow procedural grounds, but a separate opinion from Justice Sonia Sotomayor offered a blistering critique of Trump, arguing that the president’s inflammatory comments about immigrants “create the strong perception” that his administration’s efforts to end DACA were “contaminated by impermissible discriminatory animus.” Last year, the court rejected Trump’s stated reason for adding a question about citizenship to the census, with Roberts writing for the majority that the administration’s justification “appears to have been contrived.”
The court’s DACA decision — released amid the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests over policing — comes just months before voters decide whether to re-elect Trump. Over the course of his presidency, Trump has been inconsistent in his views of DACA recipients. In a 2017 tweet, Trump questioned whether anybody wanted to “throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs,” including those who serve in the military. But he struck a different tone when the court heard oral arguments in November, tweeting that recipients are “far from ‘angels,’” calling some “tough, hardened criminals.”
Reacting to Thursday’s news, Trump tweeted his frustration with the decision, asking, “Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?” In a landmark decision Monday, the court ruled that federal civil rights law protects gay and transgender employees from workplace discrimination.
“These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives,” he tweeted.
For Undocumented Students, Coronavirus Pandemic Brings Learning Disruptions — and Economic Panic — With Few Avenues for Help
Now, the court has left Trump in a bind, said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank. Though the ruling allows the administration to end DACA if it follows proper procedures, it has “always had that option,” she said. DACA recipients are “politically sympathetic,” she said, but Trump could come under intense pressure from his base to act. While acknowledging that “it’s very hard to predict what this administration will do,” she said it’s likely that it will wait until after the election to try again, if Trump is re-elected.
“I expect to see them drag their feet on the issue and probably try to distract from it over the next few months,” Pierce said.
Former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, said in a statement that the ruling was “made possible by the courage and resilience” of DACA recipients. If elected, he said, “I will immediately work to make it permanent by sending a bill to Congress on day one of my administration.”
‘A great first step’
Among education leaders who cheered the ruling was John King, who served as education security under Obama and is now president and CEO of The Education Trust. Efforts to end DACA were “cruel, destructive and threatened to sow further seeds of division during a time when our nation needs unity and hope,” he said in a statement. But the court’s opinion “strengthens our education system, our economy and the promise of the American Dream.”
But Roberto Gonzales, a Harvard University education professor, said the decision leaves thousands of high school students who have lacked protections over the past several years with uncertain futures. Since 2017, DACA recipients have been able to renew their status but newly eligible students were unable to apply. An estimated 98,000 undocumented students graduate from high school each year, according to the Migration Policy Institute. While the court has sent the issue back to the Trump administration, it didn’t say whether the government must reopen the application process to new applicants. Concern for undocumented students who have been unable to apply for DACA in the past few years could motivate Congress to act, Gonzales said.
As DACA Fate Remains in Limbo, Nearly 100K Undocumented Kids Graduate From High School Each Year, New Data Show
Writing in a dissent for the court’s four most conservative justices, Clarence Thomas said the majority opinion simply prolongs the legal fight over DACA’s fate and provides a “green light for future political battles to be fought in this Court rather than where they rightfully belong — the political branches.”
“Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: An effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision,” Thomas wrote. The court, he wrote, missed an opportunity to make clear that protections for Dreamers “must come from the legislative branch.”
For Carrizales of ImmSchools, the decision offered fuel to keep fighting for comprehensive immigration reform.
“This is definitely a great first step, but this is not a war that has been won,” she said. “We’re going to celebrate this victory, but we’ll continue to prepare and continue to advocate and organize to make sure that all of us are free.”