Weekly NewsBrief 1/18/21 - 1/24/21
In inaugural address, Biden says it is possible to teach children ‘in safe schools’ – By Louis Freedberg, EdSource
While President Joseph Biden spent most of his inaugural address pleading for unity, he also touched on an issue of deep importance to many American families: getting children back to school during the pandemic.
“We can teach our children in safe schools,” Biden said in his address. He was alluding to his pledge to make it possible for most elementary school children to return to school for in-person instruction at least by the end of his first 100 days in office.
It was the only direct reference in his address to his expansive education agenda.
Just how many children could return to their classrooms, and when, could be affected by what happens to the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan Biden proposed last week in which he called for $130 billion in additional funds for schools to spend on costs related to reopening. What will happen to the plan is uncertain. Much will depend on his ability to get Senate Republicans to back it, unless Democrats are able to approve at least portions of it through a process called budget reconciliation, which requires only a majority vote in the Senate.
Biden repeals Trump executive orders covering schools – By Charles Hendrix, District Administration
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Jan. 20 rescinding a number of Trump administration executive orders on regulations and guidance.
The move repeals Executive Order 13891, “Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents,” issued by former President Trump in 2019.
The Biden administration also issued memos that call for a review of federal agencies’ regulatory process, including the U.S. Department of Education, as well as a freeze on regulations issued during the waning days of the Trump administration.
The Biden administration’s executive actions are intended to reverse so-called “midnight regulations” from the Trump administration as well as reform and “modernize” the regulatory process. “It is the policy of my Administration to use available tools to confront the urgent challenges facing the nation, including the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, economic recovery, racial justice, and climate change,” according to Biden’s executive order. “This order revokes harmful policies and directives that threaten to frustrate the federal government’s ability to confront these problems and empowers agencies to use appropriate regulatory tools to achieve these goals.”
What One District Did to Prevent Students From Failing – By J. David Goodman, The New York Times
Madison Hermosillo started her sophomore year at Roosevelt High School alone in her room, bewildered and quickly falling behind.
Set among cotton fields and oil derricks outside Lubbock, Texas, her school was open for in-person classes. But coronavirus cases were rampant, and her mother decided to keep her home.
Madison, who is 16, muddled through remote assignments in geometry, chemistry and world geography. Soon, she was failing in every class but gym.
“My mom would tell me to go do it, and I would just go in my room and watch TikTok on my phone,” she said.
She was not the only one. By the end of the first grading period in September, 77 percent of the district’s remote high school students were failing at least one class. Those who opted to attend in person, by contrast, were mostly passing.
Similarly, about 30 percent of the youngest students, particularly in first and second grades, were not meeting grade-level expectations on a reading assessment administered at the start of the school year — roughly double the number from previous years, Delynn Wheeler, the elementary school principal, said.