Weekly NewsBrief 4/26/21 - 5/2/21
Here are 2 ideas for reopening, and a source for many more – By Matt Zalaznick, District Administration
Superintendents can find innovative ideas for reopening safely on a new, online hub that spotlights innovative initiatives from districts around the country.
The U.S. Department of Education is launching the Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse as part of President Joe Biden’s call to reopen schools, the agency said.
“There is no substitute for in-person learning and the clearinghouse will be an invaluable resource as we continue the safe return to in-person instruction,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
The clearinghouse’s resources target the needs of students in three main areas:
1. Safe and healthy environments: District approaches to prevention and mitigation strategies to sustain in-person operations.
2. Supports for students: Strategies to meet students’ academic, social, emotional, mental health, and other needs, including providing access to food, counselors and college planning.
3. Teacher and staff well-being: Initiatives that address skills, trauma and other mental-health needs among educators, such as providing access to childcare and professional development for educators.
Louisiana lawmakers plan $1,000 pay raises for K-12 teachers – By Melinda DeSlatte, American Press
Louisiana lawmakers intend to give K-12 public school teachers a $1,000 pay raise next year, more than double the amount proposed by Gov. John Bel Edwards, the leader of the Senate Education Committee said Thursday.
Sen. Cleo Fields, a Baton Rouge Democrat, said legislative leaders plan to include that salary hike in next year's budget, along with a $500 increase for support staff such as cafeteria workers and bus drivers. Louisiana remains well behind the Southern average for its education salaries.
Fields said the agreement was reached with Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, along with the heads of the House and Senate budget committees, all Republicans. Edwards had proposed $400 teacher raises and $200 for support workers, though the Democratic governor had said he hoped that could be increased if more money became available.
Governor John Bel Edwards
Mental health, equity should be schools’ focus as students return, report says – By Carolyn Jones, EdSource
To help students readjust to life after the pandemic, schools should use their Covid-relief funding windfall to imbue mental health, equity and relationships into every aspect of the school day, according to a sweeping new report released Thursday.
“This is the biggest infusion of money into schools that many of us will see in our lifetimes. We’re hoping educators take advantage of this moment to not go back to the way we were,” said Christopher J. Nellum, interim executive director of the Education Trust-West, an Oakland nonprofit that advocates for equity in schools and one of more than a dozen groups that contributed to the report. “We should take a moment to explore what we can do that’s exciting and innovative.”
The report, “Reimagine and Rebuild: Restarting school with equity at the center,” was co-published by Policy Analysis for California Education and an array of other groups, including the California PTA, the California Teachers Association, Association for California School Administrators and numerous social justice and youth advocacy groups.
California schools will receive more than $35.7 billion in state and federal pandemic funding over the next few months, which they can use to can pay for services like mental health counseling and tutoring for students. Although most of the funding is not permanent, schools can invest the money in some one-time ventures that could have lasting impacts, such as partnerships with mental health and community groups, said Heather Hough, executive director of PACE.
Flush with cash, Tennessee makes modest recurring education investments in newly approved budget – by Marta Aldrich, Chalkbeat
Tennessee lawmakers on Thursday approved a $42.6 billion budget that allocates state funding toward a 4% pay raise for teachers, shores up the pension plan for educators, and creates a $250 million endowment to bolster student mental health services.
The spending plan also sets aside $141 million for learning recovery programs like summer camps and after-school tutoring to help lagging students catch up from the pandemic. And, because next year’s funding for education is based on this year’s enrollment, it includes extra money to ensure schools aren’t penalized for students who didn’t show up during the pandemic.
The final document — described as “fiscally conservative” by Republicans and a “missed opportunity” by Democrats — passed along party lines under a GOP supermajority. It now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Bill Lee, who promised teachers in January that he would increase funding toward their salaries.
While adding tens of millions more to Tennessee’s $5 billion-plus budget for K-12 education, the investments aren’t likely to significantly change Tennessee’s national ranking for student funding. Tennessee is 46th based on the latest data from the National Education Association.