Bill to give parents tax money for private school tuition passes Senate, giving Jeff Landry a big win – By Patrick Wall,

A bill to give parents tax dollars to pay for private school passed the Louisiana Senate on Thursday, handing Gov. Jeff Landry a major victory and thwarting critics — including some Republicans — who balked at the plan’s possibly massive cost and its potential to destabilize the state’s public schools.

Senate Bill 313 passed 24-15 largely along party lines just before 7 p.m., but with four Republicans joining Democrats in opposing it. The heavily amended bill now heads to the House, where a similar measure easily passed last month.

The bill’s passage follows a last-minute push by Landry, who pressured reluctant senators to get behind his signature education proposal through television ads, town hall meetings and private conversations on the Senate floor Thursday. He was backed by influential conservative groups and GOP donors who have long sought to offer students an alternative to the public school system.

“It will put us on the first step to be able to transform education in this state,” Landry said Thursday during an event at a Catholic school where he argued that the state should pay for students to attend whatever school their parents choose, whether public or private. “Your money deserves to follow your child.”


Ohio bill would require school districts to create released time for religious instruction – By Meghan Henry, Ohio Capital Journal

Two Republican lawmakers are trying to strengthen an existing Ohio law by requiring — instead of just allowing — school districts to create a policy letting students to be excused from school to go to released time religious instruction.

State Reps. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, and Gary Click, R-Vickery, recently introduced House Bill 445 and it has had one hearing so far in the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee.

“The correlation between religious instruction, schools, and good government are embedded in our constitution,” Click said in his written testimony. “You will notice that HB 445 does not establish which religion but merely acknowledges the opportunity for religious instruction. This opportunity is open to all faiths.”

May vs. shall

Ohio law currently permits school district boards of education to make a policy to let students go to a released time course in religious instruction.

HB 445 would require school districts to create a policy and changing the wording of the existing law in the Ohio Revised Code from “may” to “shall.”

“While many schools have taken advantage of the permissive language of the law, some school boards have been less accommodating,” Click said. “Regardless of their intentions, their failure to implement a sound policy in this matter results in a denial of both the students’ and parents’ constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”


Alabama passes ‘first grade readiness’ law, would make some students test to start school – By Rebecca Griesbach,

The Alabama legislature passed a long awaited “first-grade readiness” bill Thursday, which would require students who did not complete kindergarten to take a test to enter the first grade.

If signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, HB113 will go into effect in July. Starting in the 2025-26 school year, some first graders would need to take a test to make sure they are ready for school.

Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, the bill’s sponsor, said the bill was nearly seven years in the making. She said she brought the legislation to ensure younger children are better prepared for first grade – and to reduce the number of students who might be at risk for retention later down the line.

“We needed a bill like this to try to help our kids so that we wouldn’t have to wait until the third grade to tell them they can’t read,” Warren told Wednesday after the Senate vote. “Kids need to have an earlier start to make sure we can introduce them to the educational system much earlier than we’ve been doing.”


California provides $1.3 billion more for community schools – By Lasherica Thorton, EdSource

The state board of education approved another round of funding – nearly $1.3 billion this time – for districts to implement community schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Wednesday in a media release.

Community schools meet the needs of students by becoming hubs with wraparound services.

The funding is a continued expansion of community schools across the state due to the California Community Schools Partnership Program; 288 school districts, county education offices and charters were awarded in the third cohort. In all, $4.1 billion has been allocated as part of the program – the nation’s largest investment in the community schools model, according to the media release.

Featured as a community school highlight in the announcement, Fresno Unified has used its funding for food and clothing pantries, family resource fairs and transportation solutions. For example, Fort Miller Middle School offers clothing, hygiene and snack closets; a backpack program; and washer and dryer use, EdSource reported. When the school received funding in the 2023-24 school year, staff planned for Fort Miller to also provide a van for students living miles away from the school, which is the lone junior high school in the Fresno High region, but missed the bus. The school has since implemented that idea, The Fresno Bee reported.