How are educators responding to the killing of George Floyd and the racism it exposes?
As education jobs dwindle because of the economy, will Congress step in to help?
Will Sec. DeVos succeed in her continued effort to push public funds into private schools?
This has been a traumatic week in our nation coming face to face with the rampant and violent racism we all must confront and change. I am working on a blog to share about my thoughts and my actions, and that will come soon. Each of us has a role to play, especially as educators. This is the time to dig deep and step up.
Educators are responding to the killing of George Floyd and the racism it highlights by stepping up with a variety of initiatives and a renewed sense of urgency. Both the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Public Schools have cut their ties with the Minneapolis Police Department. The Minnesota School Board voted 9-1 to terminate the contract with the police department. This means that the 14 resources officers currently in schools will no longer be there. The School Board is working to come up with alternative plans for how to handle potential law breaking in schools.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is urging school leaders to address racial disparities in discipline policies and the use of resource officers in response to the George Floyd killing and subsequent events. NASSP wrote "It calls on us to lead conversations with all students and stakeholders that will build culturally responsive schools...We echo the frustrations of peaceful protesters and the urgency for justice felt by all citizens of conscience. But we are not helpless to effect change. Far from it." The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 400 other organizations, including both teachers' unions, issued a letter calling on Congress to pass police reform legislation. They urge changes in areas including the use of force, policy accountability, racial profiling, militarization, data collection and training.
Many organizations have issued statements responding to the crisis, including the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE), the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education and Learning Policy Institute (see links below.) AACTE CEO Lynn Gangone wrote:
"Collectively, we must disrupt these inequities by increasing and maintaining a diverse workforce, preventing the school-to prison pipeline, and encouraging white colleagues to align with their peers of color as allies and accomplices in speaking and acting against systemic and institutional racism. The responsibility to create change is on the shoulders of white allies. It has been on the backs of the Black community for far too long."https://www.kare11.com/
Four witnesses testified virtually to the Senate HELP Committee on Thursday addressing the re-opening of colleges and universities in the midst of the pandemic. Witnesses were:
Congress is keeping an eye on the implementation of the CARES Act as it prepares to construct the next COVID-19 relief package, which was initiated by the House as it passed the HEROES Act last month. Implementation of the CARES Act has generated a number of controversies in both higher education and K-12 education. Most prominent is Sec. DeVos's focus on expanding federal funds for private schools through guidance she released. The National Coalition for Public Education led a letter from 50 civil rights, education and disability organizations urging congressional leaders to pass legislation rescinding the guidance. In addition, they urge that any further COVID-19 relief legislation prevent such targeting of funds to private schools. Undeterred, Sec. DeVos announced she will be issuing regulations on the topic in coming weeks. Meanwhile some states are following the guidance and others are not.
Issues emerging to be addressed in the next COVID-19 package include liability waivers for higher education and businesses, waivers of maintenance of effort provisions in IDEA and increases in funds for education. The American Council on Education sent a letter urging Congress to shield institutions of higher education from liability that may arise as a result of the pandemic. This request echoes the request made by businesses as they begin to open up. This week a coalition of consumer advocacy groups pushed back arguing that such provisions would make it harder for students or workers who get sick from the virus to sue. The letter notes that "immunity from legal liability could empower the worst actors in the higher education sector to gamble with students' lives." Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate HELP Committee, has indicated that limiting legal liability for colleges and businesses would be a top priority in the next COVID relief bill.
Last week over 100 House Democratic lawmakers urged that the next COVID relief bill include $305 billion for K-12 education in the state stabilization fund. The amount was based on estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. They note that if there is a 25% reduction in state funding for schools, more than 580,000 education jobs will be eliminated. In the HEROES Act, passed by the House last month, only $90 billion was included for education, $58 billion of which was for local schools. One leader of the letter is Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT), the 2016 National Teacher of the Year. "Cuts to public education result in educator layoffs, with a disproportionate impact on students of color in low-wealth communities. It is unacceptable to mortgage the future of our children to balance budgets after a national crisis," she wrote.
A number of education organizations have weighed in urging a waiver of the IDEA maintenance of effort provision for local school districts in the next COVID relief bill. The request is supported by AASA, CASE, NASDE and others.
A disturbing analysis from the Education Policy Institute concludes that job losses in April in education eclipse those from the great recession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, as of April, state and local government jobs fell by 981,000, with most losses in local government. Most local government losses were in education, with 468,800 jobs lost in local public school employment. Furthermore, half of the job losses in K-12 public education between March and April were among special education teachers, tutors and teaching assistants.
While school districts are losing teachers, the prospects for the preparation of new teachers appears to be shrinking as well. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) reported on a survey of its members which indicates a shrinking supply of new teachers. The survey found that 23% of respondents expect a decline in continuing education student enrollment of more than 10%. Forty percent expect such a decline in new students.
Education advocates will highlight these losses and their implications for student learning as they urge increased financial investment in education in the next COVID-19 relief bill due to be considered by the Senate in coming weeks.
EPI analysis: https://www.epi.org/blog/
AACTE survey results: https://edprepmatters.net/
The pandemic has thrown the congressional schedule into disarray, as it has with most everything else. The House had initially announced a goal of passing all 12 FY 2021 funding bills by the end of June. That is now modified with the new goal of passing all bills by the end of July. Subcommittee and full committee markups are expected to take place the week of July 6 with floor votes as soon as the weeks of July 20 and 27. The Senate is looking to mark up several funding bills at the end of June and the remainder after the July 4th recess. Most education observers continue to predict a Continuing Resolution come September 30 when the fiscal year ends.6. New Resources for Educators
Tell your Members of Congress to increase education funding for immediate pandemic relief costs and for the coming year.Email that will be sent to your Members of Congress:
Click here to send the following message to your Members of Congress - feel free to add a personal example of why education funding matters to you.
Take good care of yourself -- and use your perch to do what you are called to do! See you on twitter @janewestdc
Until next week,