During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of children—at least one in five—have missed critical vaccinations that keep them healthy and our communities free from disease.
Students without these vaccinations may not be eligible to return to in-person learning in the fall. Even worse, losing herd immunity could put millions of unvaccinated children and adults at risk for deadly or debilitating diseases such as measles, whooping cough and polio.
This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
Biden Administration Forges Ahead on School Reopening/Vaccines for Teachers as Secretary of Education Cardona Takes Office
On Tuesday evening Miguel Cardona was sworn in as the nation’s new Secretary of Education. The Senate voted 64-33 to confirm Cardona, a former public school teacher, principal and state superintendent. Cardona assumes the Education Department’s top job as the debate around how to safely reopen schools has grown increasingly bitter. President Biden in response is now walking a political tightrope, reassuring teachers they should be prioritized for the vaccine while recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that vaccinations should not be a prerequisite for reopening schools. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last month that vaccinating all teachers against COVID-19 before reopening schools is “non-workable,” Cardona wasted no time, diving into the debate over school reopening—with a USA Today op-ed posting as his swearing-in ceremony concluded. In the article, Cardona reaffirmed his commitment to safely reopening schools, announcing that he will convene a “national summit on safe school reopening” later this month.
AACTE Board member Kimberly White-Smith, dean, LaFetra College of Education at University of La Verne, is among the featured education leaders presenting at the “Speaking Up for Public Schools” livestream discussion on Tuesday, February 23 at 2:00 p.m.
Each year Public Schools Week brings together Learning First Alliance members, educators, parents, business and community leaders, and many others across the country to show the strength—and potential—of our nation’s public schools and our students’ futures. Even now, public schools are making connections each day with their students, families and broader communities.
We will celebrate Public Schools Week 2021, Feb. 22-26, virtually. On Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. EST the Learning First Alliance and its members will host a discussion on what has been learned and how public schools can move forward from the Covid-19 pandemic. The event will spotlight social-emotional learning and how the educators are meeting student needs as well as future needs. The show can be viewed on LFA’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Deeper Dive: Understanding the Preventative and Responsive Trends in Campus Safety
For decades, students, teachers, and parents have lived with the reality of campus violence, particularly gun violence. It is clear that meaningful action is needed to keep our schools safe, and to prevent violence from occurring in the first place. Educators have a special responsibility to lead on this issue. Across the country educators are joining community and political leaders in search of a multi-faceted approach to intervene, prevent, and respond to school-based violence.
During the 2020 Annual Meeting, a panel for explored this topic during the “School Safety Matters” Deeper Dive session, beginning with a national overview of the state of gun violence on school and college campuses. The presenters discussed policy levers used to address this violence and acquainted attendees with the tools and strategies being used to prevent and respond to school-based gun violence. Moderator Ben Erwin of the Education Commission of the States (ECS) facilitated the discussion between his ECS colleague, Zeke Perez, Amanda Fitzgerald from the American School Counselor Association and Elizabeth Brown, principal of Forest High School in Ocala, FL.
This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE
Congress Delivers a Big Christmas Present – and On Time!
Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate came together to have bipartisan votes in both bodies to pass two packages of funding bills, which will keep all of the federal government running. President Trump has indicated that he will sign the bills today, thus preventing another government shutdown.
Some key points about the education portion of the bill:
- It adds $1.3 billion in spending for education over FY 2019.
- The Department of Education’s budget now totals $72.8 Billion.
- Virtually no program received a cut in funding and many received substantial increases.
- The largest increases went to Title I ($450 million) and IDEA Part B ($400 million).
- Related programs in HHS received large increases as well, for example Head Start has a $500 million increase.
- A new Social Emotional Learning initiative received $123 million.
- Many minority serving institutions in higher education received considerable increases including an $11 million increase for HBCU graduate institutions.
- For the first time in years funding for research on gun violence prevention is provided at $25 million (for CDC and NIH).
New Education Doctorate Focused on Social-Emotional Learning Is One of the First of Its Kind
Kindergarten teacher and doctoral student Kimberly Atkinson directs her students in a stretching exercise with belly breathing to help them reset their bodies and minds for learning.
Ed Prep Matters features the “Revolutionizing Education” column to spotlight the many ways AACTE, member institutions, and partners are pioneering leading-edge research, models, strategies and programs that focus on the three core values outlined in the current AACTE strategic plan: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Quality and Impact; and Inquiry and Innovation.
This article originally appeared in The 74 and is reprinted with permission.
Seven years ago, Michael P. Alfano was sitting in his office at Southern Connecticut State University when a faculty member ran into the room in tears. That was how he first learned about the deadly school shooting 20 miles away at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 26 people—including a student in his graduate education program, first-grade teacher Victoria Soto—were killed.
The tragedy sparked a reckoning in Alfano—and educators across the country—who questioned whether school systems had failed to support individuals who acted out so violently. For Alfano, part of preventing a shooting, bullying, or any other form of violence in schools meant addressing childhood trauma, helping students understand and manage emotions, and training educators in this work.
This Opinion article by Renée A. Middleton, a past AACTE president and dean of the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education at Ohio University, originally appeared in the Columbus Dispatch and is reprinted with permission.
Hate crimes are on the rise in the United States. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the United States last year saw the third-highest number of anti-Semitic incidents since 1979. There were 1,879 reported anti-Semitic acts—a 48% increase from 2016 and a 99% increase from 2015. Ohio, meanwhile, ranked third in the nation in hate crimes in general in 2016, according to the FBI. Columbus has more than doubled the number of reported hate crimes in Cincinnati and Cleveland combined.
These troubling numbers come against the backdrop of a humanitarian crisis at the southern border. Refugees are being separated from their families, detained against their will and are not being treated with dignity and respect. The majority of these refugees are children, who are powerless in every sense of the word.
Our nation and the entire world are changing rapidly. With the rise of threats to our children’s safety like depression, lack of mental health resources, familial disruptions, and school violence and shootings, it is imperative that we equip teachers and school personnel with the tools they need to recognize and respond to all students, in all classrooms.
In today’s schools, students are suffering from a variety of issues; one that arises too often is mental health. Unfortunately, it is not always apparent what these students are experiencing. Depression is rampant. Emotional stress stems from a variety of external factors including depression, divorce, social media anxiety, lost friendships, bullying or simply feeling out of touch with others. It is imperative, now more than ever, that our teachers are prepared to notice when students are experiencing these types of trauma. Trauma informed practices allow teachers to be trained well beyond the obvious clues and prepares them to be aware of early, less apparent warning signs, so they can successfully and swiftly intervene to help a student in need.
During the month of October, AACTE has addressed the importance of school safety in its recent Thought Leadership series. AACTE Dean in Residence Leslie T. Fenwick took time to share in this video how she led a new approach at Howard University to prepare teacher candidates for ensuring safe learning environments in classrooms. In 2010, Howard’s College of Education innovated its undergraduate elementary education program by focusing on ways to better meet the safety needs of local students in its Washington D.C. community.
To evaluate the impact of the new program, “Teacher Talks” were convened with faculty members and novice teachers who were recent graduates of Howard’s College of Education. The graduates shared case studies about their students during the meetings and stories about how many of their children were exposed to violence either in their home or community, oftentimes with a relative being shot. The graduates also reported that their training in human development, with an asset lens, and the knowledge base they received from courses outside of the college of education helped them to reach their students individually as a teacher or connect them to resources in their community.
As educators, protecting and nurturing the health and well-being of our nation’s most precious investment—our youth—is always top of mind. Safeguarding their welfare and creating supportive learning ecosystems should be national priorities. Unfortunately, no one piece of legislation, no one initiative, no one activist, or caring teacher can bring that umbrella of safety to every student, everywhere, all the time. What we need to be talking about openly and often across the nation is prevention: training, learning, and preparing. This begins at the federal level with funding to equip our state and local leaders with the tools necessary to create and foster a safe and balanced learning environment for all students.
There are classrooms and schools in this country where teachers are armed with weapons. It is a dark reality, and one that AACTE does not support. Federal funds should not be used to arm teachers. Funds should instead be used to incentivize building learning communities through supportive training in social and emotional learning, and to prepare profession-ready teachers. Federal money
Around the country, regulators and legislators are demonstrating that they understand the urgent need to promote school safety. The 2019 state legislative session was an active one on the subject. Hundreds of bills were introduced covering every aspect of the matter from prevention to response. Join me as I present a wide-ranging overview and analysis of some of the most noteworthy school safety bills introduced over the year, with a particular focus on legislation impacting student and teacher mental health, in an upcoming State of the States webinar.
We encourage you to register in advance for the member-exclusive State of the States webinar, which will take place Thursday, October 31 from 11 a.m. to noon ET.
There will be time at the end of the webinar for questions and answers. The webinar will be recorded and posted on the website for future viewing.
For questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
America is a country of immigrants. Through each wave of immigration, our public schools incorporate immigrant children into the fabric of our country. Our public schools serve as a cultural incubator to aid and nurture acceptance of diversity. Our local classrooms should be a microcosm of a global demographic. We, as educators, need to harness that belief for our teachers and the students they teach and guide.
How do America’s immigration challenges impact schools?
The challenge is that there are undocumented students entering U.S. schools, colleges, and universities who were not given the option to decide for themselves whether they wanted to come to this country. They have been incorporated into society, but are affected by current practices that impact their safety and security. It is projected that by the year 2040, one in every three children in the United States will grow up in an immigrant household (Suárez-Orozco, Suárez-Orozco, & Todorova, 2008). It begs the question: How do we work with those students?
Educators, school support staff, and service providers are often the first individuals in whom a student and/or family confides and reveals that they are undocumented. Recent efforts to identify undocumented parents and children in the United States challenge public schools in their efforts to meet the needs of all children residing within their school districts. Public schools are often embroiled in politically and legally sensitive situations, in which they must balance their responsibilities to serve immigrant and undocumented children, while meeting the expectations of local authorities to identify undocumented individuals.
What role do educators play in supporting immigrant children and their families?
This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide update information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
Congress is heading out of town—the House leaving today for a six-week recess and the Senate leaving at the end of next week. With the amazing budget deal headed for the finish line, September promises to be full of appropriations bills, including the education funding bill we’ve all been waiting for.
Unbelievable: Congress and the White House Make a Deal on 2 Year Budget Caps and Debt Ceiling
In a stunning proactive bipartisan move, the Congress and the White House have agreed to a two-year budget deal. This frees up all lawmakers and the president to focus on the 2020 elections without the threat of a government shutdown. Key features of the deal include the following:
The Education Commission of the States (ECS) recently released a report regarding college campus safety policies, based on its research gathered from statutes in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Though it does not include postsecondary board or institutional policies, the 50-State Comparison: Postsecondary Campus Safety report provides an overview of relevant laws in each state. However, this resource does not reflect on how these laws may interact with other state or federal policies.
Key takeaways from the report include the news that 22 states have codified a campus sexual assault policy; five states have defined affirmative consent; and 22 states have written into statute a prohibition for individuals to carry firearms on public college or university campuses.
This resource reviews state statutes that explicitly address sexual misconduct on college campuses or off-campus incidents that involve at least one student. It also examines state statutes that explicitly allow or prohibit guns on college campuses and those states in which statute allows guns in locked vehicles on college campuses. Follow this link to download and review this important report.
For questions about this announcement or other offerings by ECS, please email me at email@example.com.
The members of the Learning First Alliance (LFA) will host Public Schools Week, March 25-29, 2019, to show the great things happening every day in public schools–and show the potential for greater things.
This second annual event encourages school leaders to invite community members, lawmakers, parents and others to visit and see the wide array of programs and high-quality opportunities offered, honor students’ accomplishments and see the joys and challenges of teaching and learning in public schools.
“Public education is the foundation for students’ success, the growth of communities, and our nation’s future,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, executive director of the National PTA and 2018-19 chair of the Learning First Alliance, a coalition of 12 national education organizations representing more than 10 million parents, teachers, administrators, specialists, school board members and teacher educators. “Public schools educate 90 percent of our nation’s students and are providing talented professionals for jobs in the corporate and public sectors as well as the military. It’s vitally important that we have a strong system of public schools across the United States.”