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COVID-19 Raises Multiple Education Policy Questions

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.

How Will the Senate Respond to the House Passed $3 Trillion HEROES Act?

Last week the House passed its follow up to the $2 trillion CARES Act by adopting the HEROES Act— the next COVID-19 relief bill. The Senate does not appear to be in a hurry to act and has clearly articulated different priorities from those in the HEROES Act.

Educators and their congressional allies are weighing in for a strong infusion of cash for education in the next bill.  In the House, Reps. Tlaib (D-MI), Hayes (D-CT) and Pressley (D-MA) are circulating a letter to their colleagues that requests $305 billion be targeted to K-12 education in the next COVID-19 bill.  In comparison, the HEROES Act targets $58 billion to K-12 education. Many education organizations are supporting their request, including the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and AASA: The School Superintendents Association.

On the higher education side, almost 80 education organizations have requested that the maximum for the Pell Grant be doubled, anticipating that students will be facing unprecedented struggles when starting the new academic year and beyond.

Amidst School Closures, University of Washington Welcomes New Cohort of Aspiring Secondary Teachers

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

This article original appeared on the University of Washington website and is reprinted with permission.

 For future teachers, the beginning of their preparation program is marked by trepidation in the best of times. Even as teacher candidates learn the skills of effective teaching, how to attend to the overall wellbeing of students and much more, many are getting their first real experience leading a classroom.

When the COVID-19 pandemic precipitated the closing of all schools across Washington state in early March, that trepidation became even more acute for teacher candidates starting their studies in the University of Washington College of Education’s Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP) later that month.

STEP Director Anne Beitlers said the first priority for the program was creating a sense of community.

Join Graduate Together Celebration to Honor Class of 2020

Graduate Together

While the coronavirus is prompting cancelation of graduation ceremonies across the nation, AACTE joins the GraduateTogether2020 celebration to honor the more than three million high school seniors in America with the recognition they deserve. AACTE invites members to tune into the one-hour primetime special, GRADUATE TOGETHER: AMERICA HONORS THE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020 , on Saturday, May 16—via television, social media, and streaming platforms—to pay tribute to high school seniors, their extraordinary teachers, and their families.

The primetime special, developed by XQ Institute in partnership with The LeBron James Family Foundation and The Entertainment Industry Foundation, is a rally of all Americans around a message of hope and unity.

The partnering organizations are inviting you to get involved and spread the word about about how students, teachers, and families can get involved;

Drs. Xu and Cormier Awarded COVID-19 Rapid Research Grants

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

Yaoying Xu, Ph.D. & Dwayne Ray Cormier, Ph.D.

This article originally appeared on the Virginia Commonwealth School of Education website and is reprinted with permission.

Two VCU School of Education faculty members have been awarded COVID-19 rapid research grants by the university to help better understand this new pandemic and to combat it.

Dwayne Ray Cormier, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Foundations of Education and visiting iCubed scholar, and Yaoying Xu, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education, received news of their awards in April.

Cormier’s study will explore pandemic preparedness and response within PreK-12 public school systems located within the Greater Richmond area during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“The study is exploratory and will use sociological and cultural theoretical frameworks together with a concept mapping methodology to analyze data yielded from focus groups across the PreK-12 school systems,” said Cormier.

Will Voucher Initiatives Prevail?

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.

Senate to Reconvene May 4 as House Stays Home—Mostly

Congress has been on recess for a month leaving a scant few Members in town to hold down the fort. This week both the House and Senate announced they would return full force on May 4, but only a day later, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) retracted the announcement for the House saying the Capitol physician advised against it. Members are still regrouping from the whiplash announcement and retraction—assessing the political fallout—but relieved about the health risks had they returned. 

Sen. McConnell (R-KY), Senate Majority Leader, has not backed down despite push back from several Senators, and the full Senate is scheduled to be in town May 4. They will likely be in town until May 22, recessing for Memorial Day. Many unanswered questions remain.  Will staff be required to report to work? Will social distancing be enforced? What are the cleaning procedures for office spaces and the Capitol? Will masks and gloves be worn? We shall see.

Beware the Solution That Is Not About the Problem: Reflections on Education and the COVID-19 Shock

Empty classroom

A horizontal image of an empty primary school classroom. The setting is typically British.

In the last few weeks U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has put forward three initiatives intended to privatize the provision of public education. Given her long known and widely declared conviction that vouchers and related schemes to deliver public dollars into private hands are the panacea for all that ails education, this is not surprising. Watching her leap into the breach caused by the COVID-19 emergency is troubling, though not unexpected.

In her book, Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007), Naomi Kline describes the phenomenon of a crisis precipitating the redistribution of public dollars into the waiting hands of private players who offer a seemingly undeniable remedy. Years earlier, economist Milton Friedman popularized the notion that only a crisis produces real change, enabling reforms that were not previously thought possible. “When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable,” wrote Friedman in Capitalism and Freedom (1962, ix). Kline’s research led her to coin the term “disaster capitalism,” which she describes as “orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities.” (6)

Lunch and Learn with AACTE and CEEDAR: Ed Prep Programs and Local Education Agency Partnerships

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

Lunch and Learn Sign,

AACTE members across the country are seeking novel ways to approach clinical practice, observation hours, and practicum expectations for their teacher candidates in order to address the nation’s need for an excellent teaching workforce in our PK-12 schools during COVID-19. AACTE and CEEDAR will co-host a second Lunch and Learn focused on strategies for leveraging partnerships in innovative ways to facilitate new opportunities to learn May 1, 2020, 1:00-1:30 p.m. ET.

Education leaders from Ohio, including our AACTE Board Member and associate dean of Bowling Green State University (BGSU), Mary Murray, will provide examples of educator preparation faculty and district partnerships that are adapting instructional modalities for students with the help of teacher candidates. From early childhood to secondary content areas, including special education, candidates are supporting their district partners through the development of lessons, online tutoring, supporting parents in their navigation of distance learning, and direct instruction online.

Join us to learn how you might apply these practices in your own context. Register now for Just-in-Time Strategies for Leveraging EPP-LEA Partnerships.

When will Educators Receive COVID Relief Funding?

CARES Act

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.

Implementation of the $2 Trillion CARES Act: Where Do We Stand?

It’s hard to keep track of the swirl of information about federal efforts to address the pandemic in the education space. Here is my best shot at a high-level summary of where things stand:

  • It’s been three weeks since the $2 trillion third package of funding (COVID-3 or the CARES Act) became law
  • The bill includes the following and distribution to date is as noted:
    • $13.5 billion for elementary and secondary education
      • No announced process or timeline for distribution yet
    • $14.25 billion for higher education
      • $6.3 billion is being distributed to IHE’s for students who need emergency financial aid and have expenses related to the pandemic
    • $3 billion for a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund
      • fund now available for distribution

Updates: Department of Ed and Other Federal Agencies on COVID-19 Resources for Education

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

As the United States responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, federal agencies connected to the education and care of our nation’s higher education and PK-12 students are releasing information and guidance for taking action, as well as flexibilities and waivers offered.

The U.S. Department of Education offered a phone call to K-12 stakeholder on Friday March 20, 2020, with officials from the Department, the CDC, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Department has posted a readout of the call, with links to resources on servicing students with disabilities, student loan relief, student privacy, and more.

Main Links for COVID-19 Information

U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service

Centers for Disease Control

KDP Offers Professional Development on Education for Sustainable Development

In response to many requests, Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), an AACTE affiliate member, is offering faculty to participate in free professional development related to education for sustainable development (ESD). The Online Global Forum on ESD is designed to meet the needs of teacher educators who work with preservice and in-service teachers of primary and secondary schools. The Forum focuses on educational themes (e.g., systems thinking, pedagogy, and assessment) and teaching about current threats to global sustainability (e.g., climate change and social inequity).

Each unit includes an overview of the theme, usually in short videos, online discussions, and thought activities, as well as a live discussion with ESD experts. Videos and discussions will include practical topics, such as how to integrate sustainability into existing teacher preparation courses and good practices. 

To join the Forum, please visit our website. There is no cost to participate!

Faye Snodgress is the executive director of Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education.

The President Recommends Big Cuts for Education: Will the Congress Agree?

A pair of scissors representing cuts in education concept

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.

Bad News for Education in President Trump’s FY 2021 Budget Proposal

The FY 2021 appropriations process was officially launched with the release of the President’s budget proposal on Monday. The budget is thematically similar to previous Trump budgets, in that it calls for big spending cuts all around and proposes federal support for private schools in the form of a tax credit for donations to scholarship programs (called “Education Freedom Scholarships”). The proposal represents an overall 7.8% cut ($5.6 Billion) to the Department of Education.  Key features of the proposal include the following:

Elementary and Secondary Education

  • Twenty-nine K-12 grant programs will be consolidated into a single block grant (“Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant”) designed to provide maximum flexibility for state and local systems at $19.4 Billion – a $4.7 Billion cut from current spending.
  • The prized charter school grant program is consolidated into the block grant.
  • The big winner in the budget proposal is Career and Technical Education which is slated for $763 million increase.
  • Education Freedom Scholarships (tax credits for private schools) would cost $46 Billion over 10 years.
  • All IDEA programs are level funded; however, Part B of IDEA receives a $100 million increase.

AACTE Supports Global CoSN Program to Drive K-12 Innovation

AACTE has partnered with CoSN (The Consortium for School Networking) to provide school leaders with high-quality information on emerging issues and technology trends for K-12 innovation, as a member of the advisory board. Recently, the international advisory board, about 100 education leaders, identified 15 key Hurdles, Accelerators, and Tech Enablers for schools to leverage in 2020 in order to drive innovation in K-12 education.

The next generation of teachers and leaders are being prepared at AACTE member institutions. In collaboration with our K-12 school district colleagues, educator preparation programs can leverage technology that supports the learning and social emotional growth of all our students. 

Together AACTE and CoSN are committed to advancing progressive practices in the field and addressing challenges and opportunities such as data privacy & ownership, social emotional learning, and tools for privacy & safety online.

CoSN will issue its insights and findings from the advisory board in two individual free briefs. These publications, along with an implementation toolkit, will be released throughout 2020 to spur ongoing discussions and visibility that analyze the top Hurdles, Accelerators and Technology Enablers in K-12 education. This project is part of CoSN’s EdTechNext initiative, extending their long-standing work surrounding emerging technologies.

The Little Makerspace that Could

Student in maker space using two 3-D printer penThe Maker Movement has been gaining momentum over the past 14 years with the publication of MAKE magazine in 2005 and the first Maker Faire sponsored by John Dougherty. The book titled Invent to Learn, 2nd Ed.  (2019) has become what is known as the Maker’s Movement Bible. Written by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager, the book goes into detail about how teachers and students can let loose their creativity in a myriad of ways if they are provided with space and materials to do so. 

There have always been “makers” who used their hands, brains, and hearts to invent and produce the things that people use for work and play. Classrooms have long been known as places where students could be caught making things on any given day. Why the hype about maker spaces, then?

Perhaps it has to do with the disconnect that appears to have occurred due to the technology revolution that has moved learning through exploring with material objects to learning from screens. On our small campus in Northeast Ohio, we have seen a constant move toward emptying the library of books and journals in favor of digital texts. Getting a hard copy of a textbook from publishing companies is becoming more of a challenge as well. Students on all levels rely more on Google than library stacks to conduct their research. It may be that the pendulum, as it always does, is beginning to swing the other way, and humans are craving the need to get back to hands-on learning that can leave printing ink on your hands, and clay under your finger nails.

2019 Nation’s Report Card Shows Growing Disparity between High and Low Achievers in Math and Reading

2019 Nation's Report CardThe recent release of the 2019 Nation’s Report Cards for mathematics and reading in grades 4 and 8 illustrates a growing disparity in achievement between the highest and lowest achieving students. The results show the divergence is happening across the nation, across states, and for student groups by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), widely known as the Nation’s Report Card, provides data from the nation, states/jurisdictions, and urban school districts that volunteer to participate in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA).  Approximately 296,900 fourth- and eighth-grade students across the nation participated in the 2019 mathematics assessment and nearly 294,000 fourth- and eighth-grade students across the nation participated in the 2019 reading assessment.  Results are available for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools, as well as for the 27 participating large urban districts.

Avatar Lab at KSU Provides a World of Scenarios for Teachers of the Future

Child Interacting with avatars as educators observe.

This article and photo originally appeared in Cobb Life Magazine and are reprinted with permission.

Teachers encounter all sorts of situations when they’re instructing students in the classroom, and the Bagwell College of Education at Kennesaw State University is taking an animated approach to preparing teacher candidates for scenarios they will experience as educators.

Bagwell has a new laboratory where KSU students and faculty utilize mixed-reality technology to interact with avatars of children and adults, simulating a variety of situations and challenges teachers can encounter. The student avatars each have their own unique personalities, and the scenarios have low, medium and high settings requiring varying levels of problem-solving.

“The lab’s capabilities are endless for providing purposeful practice for teacher candidates before they ever step foot in a classroom,” said Kate Zimmer, interim chair of the Department of Inclusive Education and an associate professor of special education.

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