Weekly NewsBrief 9/20/21 - 9/26/21
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, education chief tout student gains during state-funded summer school – By Meghan Mangrum, The Tenessean
Tennessee education officials and lawmakers are celebrating the learning gains made by students who attended state-funded summer learning programs aimed at combatting pandemic-related learning loss this summer.
About 120,300 Tennessee elementary and middle school students participated in such a program in their school district, according to the Tennessee Department of Education.
The programs were one part of the state's efforts funded by a $160 million investment as part of legislation passed during a special legislative session focused on education in January.
Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn and department officials reviewed the inaugural year of the new summer programs with lawmakers during a joint meeting of the House Education Committees summer study session Wednesday.
Still hiring: Teacher vacancies up as year begins, limiting recovery plans – By Matt Barnum, Chalkbeat
Unprecedented shortages of bus drivers and substitutes. A coronavirus variant that has quarantined swaths of students and staff. Pressure to help students readjust and catch up.
As schools face this battery of challenges, they’re short another key resource: teachers.
In 18 of 20 large U.S. school districts that provided data to Chalkbeat, the number of teacher vacancies was up this year — often way up. In Los Angeles, the district started the year short 500 teachers, a figure that stood around 100 for the last two years. In Memphis-area schools, more than 200 teaching positions were unfilled as the year began, a five-year high.
The share of empty teaching positions is often only 2 or 3%. But the numbers mean thousands of students started the school year without full-time teachers or extra help schools had hoped to provide — a worrying sign for schools trying to help students recover from the pandemic.
State Board Of Education Revives Effort To Require Suicide Prevention Education – By Tennessee Jane Watson, Wyoming Public Media
Wyoming has the highest suicide rate in the nation, at more than twice the national average, and nationally, suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents. Advocates say suicide prevention education is a way to address the problem.
A bill to require suicide prevention education in schools died during the last legislative session, but the issue is now before the Wyoming State Board of Education, which is recommending suicide prevention awareness be added to the state health curriculum for grades six through twelve.
The state health standards are currently under review, and during a recent public comment period, 64 percent of respondents mentioned a need for suicide prevention education, according to a presentation made by the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) to the state board.
In response board chairman Ryan Fuhrman told the WDE he wants the standards to provide robust guidance for Wyoming educators. "I think the key is warning signs and what to do; both in yourself and in others," said Fuhrman. "With our kids coming out of school with that hopefully we can start to turn this tide."
LAUSD and Teachers Have Agreed On A 'Continuity Of Learning Plan' – By Kyle Stokes, Laist.com
LAUSD and its teachers union have agreed on a "continuity of learning plan" for students and teachers who are sent home to quarantine because of COVID.
The deal — which still requires school board and full-union approval — involves a 5% salary raise and a virtual live-streaming agreement.
This agreement means that L.A. Unified School District teachers, for the first time since the pandemic began, will be required by their contract to provide simultaneous instruction. That involves streaming the same lesson to students quarantining at home that they're also delivering to students in the classroom.
The deal keeps in place LAUSD's weekly COVID testing for all students and staff through at least the end of the first semester.