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Texas schools won’t lose funding for attendance drops during the pandemic – By Brian Lopez, The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency announced Tuesday that public school districts may not lose funding because of low attendance rates caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Texas, schools are funded based on the number of students enrolled and the daily attendance on campus. Currently, schools receive a base allotment of $6,160 per student each year. The pandemic disrupted not only learning, but also enrollment, as some school districts reported lower figures than in non-COVID years.

The average daily attendance is calculated by the sum of children present divided by days of instruction that schools are required to give. Texas schools have to be open for a minimum of 75,600 minutes over a school year, which includes recess and lunch.

But, because of the pandemic, children were absent and attendance rates dipped. To help public schools, the state will allow school districts to throw away low attendance day rates as a way to help their averages and not lose funding.

“Providing this adjustment to the 2021-22 school year will ensure school systems have the funding they need to retain the best and brightest teachers and provide quality education to all public school students across Texas,” Abbott said in a statement.

 

House panel OKs major overhaul of Arizona K-12 funding – By Bob Christie, AP News

A major overhaul of large parts of Arizona’s K-12 school funding formula backed by a school choice group and the Republican leader of the House Education Committee got last-minute approval in the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

The party-line vote on the newly-revealed proposal drew major opposition from some school funding experts, some school districts and minority Democrats, who said rolling out large changes to the system that funds education for 1.1 million public school students at the last minute is a recipe for disaster.

Public charter schools would be major winners, while traditional district schools would see a mixed bag of funding increases and cuts, depending on their current funding situation.

The proposal was introduced as a “strike-everything” amendment to unrelated legislation, a maneuver often used for last-minute proposals that avoids multiple steps and public hearings.

The proposal from Republican Rep. Michelle Udall, who chairs the education committee and is running for Superintendent of Public Instruction, would eliminate the current results-based funding system that allocates extra money to district schools whose students perform well on standardized tests.

 

Should schools invest in the metaverse? – By Anna Merod, K-12 Dive

Pondering the potential of the metaverse in educational spaces, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a psychology professor at Temple University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution,  imagines infinite possibilities for learning opportunities.

“It will enable us to visit places we’ve never visited before,” Hirsh-Pasek said. “To learn French while we’re sitting in a French cafe. To go visit places in South Africa that we might have only heard about or seen on a Google map. Imagine if you could jump into the Google map. Imagine if you could go back and forth on a timeline and now really go back to the future.”

That’s the promise of the metaverse, she said. But the technology is not 100% there yet, she added. 

Hirsh-Pasek co-authored a Brookings Institution report on education and the metaverse in February that defines the metaverse as a “third space” combining the virtual and living worlds.

 

Lawmakers weigh bills to offer suicide prevention training as mental health issues rise – By Tessa Weinberg, Missouri Independent

With mental health issues on the rise nationwide, Missouri lawmakers are weighing bills that would provide pharmacists and teachers with more training to recognize the signs of suicide.

bill sponsored by Rep. Adam Schwadron, R-St. Charles, heard Monday in the House Health and Mental Health Policy Committee, would allow suicide awareness and prevention to be an option pharmacists can choose as part of their required continuing education.

Meanwhile, a bill passed out of the committee last week and sponsored by Rep. Ann Kelley, R-Lamar, would similarly allow suicide prevention training to count toward teachers’ professional development and also require that the new Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number, 988, be printed on student ID cards issued to students in 7th to 12th grade.

“With my religion, if you save one life, it’s as if you save the world,” said Schwadron, who is Jewish. “So if this legislation will help save one life then it would be worth it.”