EduClips: A Civics Test for Every Florida Student, a Board Election That Could Reshape Texas Education Policy & More School News You Missed This Week at America’s Top Districts

EduClips is a roundup of the week’s top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across 10 states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here.

FLORIDA — Florida to Pilot High School Civics Test This Year: Most high school seniors in Florida will be expected to take a 100-question civics test, which is similar to the one immigrants must pass to become citizens, reports Jeffrey Solochek for the Tampa Bay Times. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a “huge proponent of increased civics education,” in December called for the testing, and state education officials said the test will be ready for all schools to pilot this spring. Scores will not count toward students’ graduation eligibility or school accountability measures during the pilot period. (Read at Tampa Bay Times)

  • Civics Ed: Can Civics Education Allow Schools to Rediscover Their Democratic Purpose — and Help Rescue America From Decline? (Read at The 74)

TEXAS — Texas Primaries Set Up High-Stakes Test for GOP Hold on Education Board: Texas’s state Board of Education could see a “seismic political shakeup” this year, as two-thirds of its 15-member board are either leaving the board or facing opponents in either the primary election in March or the general in November. The board, currently dominated by Republicans, this year is expected to take up contentious issues including how schools should teach sex education, evolution and race, and the new members will have to choose textbooks that comply in 2021, Julie Chang reports for the Austin-American Statesman. The board makes decisions about curriculum, textbooks, charter applications and some education spending. (Read at the Austin-American Statesman)

GEORGIA — Kemp Backs Bill to Reduce Testing, Especially in High School: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced this week he will support a bill that would decrease the total number of required standardized tests from 24 to 19. Four of the five dropped tests would be from the high school requirements. State Superintendent Richard Woods and lawmakers from both parties joined Kemp for the announcement. Some educator advocacy groups helped write the bill, but not all teachers support it, reported Ty Tagami for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Read at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

CALIFORNIACalifornia May Pause Student Fitness Tests Due to Bullying: California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants his state to drop the fitness test portion of physical education classes in an effort to “protect children from body shaming, bullying and gender identity discrimination,” Mackenzie Mays reported in Politico this week. The test, which is required for fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders, includes a body mass index screening that offers only male or female options, as well as tasks to measure upper body strength, aerobic capacity and other physical traits. Under Newsom’s proposal, the test would be suspended for three years while the state education department consults experts about its purpose and administration. (Read at Politico)

ILLINOIS — To Address a Shortage of Bilingual Teachers, Illinois Legislators Propose Scholarship Bills: A state representative and a congressman from Chicago are pushing for legislation to encourage bilingual students to become educators. “State Rep. Aaron Ortiz and Illinois Congressman Jesús ‘Chuy’ García, both Democrats from Chicago, are backing bills that would expand financial aid for bilingual high school students who intend to go into teaching. Ortiz’s bill would establish a scholarship program in Illinois, while García’s bill would expand funding for federal scholarships,” reports Marie Fazio for Chalkbeat Chicago. (Read at Chalkbeat Chicago)

NATIONAL — Here’s What U.S. Schools Are Doing in Response to the Coronavirus: Several U.S. schools are taking steps to reduce the risk of the new coronavirus, including by canceling Chinese exchange programs because of the ongoing outbreak, Sunny Kim reports for CNBC. Other districts are tightening their policies around illness; the Chula Vista district in San Diego, for example, sent parents a letter asking them to keep children home for 24 hours after they recover from a fever of 100.4 degrees or more. A private boarding school in Tacoma, Washington, asked four students who recently visited China to live off campus for one week over concern about the illness. There have been at least 12 cases of the virus reported in the U.S. so far. (Read at CNBC)

NEW YORK — Birth Month Matters: NYC Students Born in November and December Are Classified with Learning Disabilities at Higher Rates: “A new analysis conducted by the Independent Budget Office … uncovered a strong correlation between being born later in the year and being classified as having a learning disability by New York City schools,” Chalkbeat’s Amy Zimmer reported this week. Part of the reason for the disparity could be that the city’s cutoff for kindergarten is Dec. 31, one of the latest in the nation. That means “roughly a third of public school students are expected to start kindergarten at age 4 — an early start that could have lasting impacts on students born late in the calendar year,” and experts said New York City’s rigorous curriculum could also be difficult for the youngest children. (Read at Chalkbeat New York)

  • More from New York City: NYC School System Failed to Consistently Conduct Lead Paint Inspections for Years, Records Reveal (Read at Gothamist)

NEVADA — Teacher Union’s Proposed Sales Tax Increase Would Raise Nearly $1 Billion Per Year, Legislative Analysts Say: The Clark County Education Association last month unveiled a proposal for “raising a portion of the state’s Local School Support Tax by 1.5 percentage points” to boost state and local revenue and increase funding for education. If the proposal gains enough signatures, the state legislature could consider it in 2021. The proposal is one of two offered by the union; the other is a “a gaming tax increase projected to bring in $652 million over a two-year budget cycle,” reported Riley Snyder and Michelle Rindels for The Nevada Independent. (Read at The Nevada Independent)

Noteworthy Opinion & Analysis

2020 ELECTION: How Bernie Sanders Became Teachers’ Favorite Candidate (Read at Huff Post)

TEACHER VOICE: The Problem With Education’s Latest Trend, Design Thinking (Read at Education Week)

BLACK HISTORY: Code Switch — Black Parents Take Control, Teachers Strike Back (Listen at NPR)

HIGHER ED: Is It Fair to Award Scholarships Based on the SAT? (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

RESEARCH: When Teachers Are Tough Graders, Students Learn More, Study Says (Read at Education Week)

What Else We’re Reading

POLITICS: Trump Uses State of the Union Address to Push for Tax-Credit Scholarships, Declaring No Child Should Be Forced to Attend ‘a Failing Government School’ (Read at The 74)

HEALTH: Teens Find a Big Loophole in the New Flavored Vaping Ban (Read at The New York Times)

RURAL ED: When the Bus Is the Schoolhouse (Read at The Hechinger Report)

SOLUTIONS: Colleges Enlist Anti-Dropout Agents: Mom and Dad (Read at EdSource)

KICKER: California Teacher Faces His Worst Fears to Inspire Students to Do the Same (Read at ABC7)

Quotes of the Week

“The next step forward in building an inclusive society is making sure that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Pass the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act — because no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing government school.” —President Donald Trump, during the 2020 State of the Union address (Read at The 74)

“The frivolous use of this dress code to prevent students from graduating is about exerting authority over and controlling black people. Black people should not, cannot change themselves to fit white norms.” —Andre Perry, on DeAndre Arnold, who is being barred from his high school graduation because of his dreadlocks (Read at The Hechinger Report)

“[A student] wrote that she had planned to end her life, but a story I told in class had changed her mind. The story was about how I find purpose in my students. I had no idea it would be such a purpose.” —David Upegui, a Rhode Island high school teacher, in a Tiny Teaching Story (Read at Education Week)

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