Discussing Race in PK-12 Classrooms, Why It’s an Essential Skill

In this session, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education take a look back at the central historic systemic inequities that have created an environment in which a majority of educators are ill-prepared and unwilling to name and discuss race and racism in classrooms. From that historical perspective, we look at its effects on discipline and special education systems, both of which maintain systemic inequities and exacerbate racial discrimination for students with intersectional identities.

As Reopenings Move Forward, so do Plans to Maintain Online Learning Options

Districts have invested millions of dollars during the pandemic to deliver distance learning to students. Now that the infrastructure is in place, stakeholders realize it would be wasteful to throw out the lessons learned from the emergency transition and not take advantage of what works as an additional option for families to choose. While many students report missing their friends, teachers and extracurricular activities during pandemic shutdowns, others say they enjoy working at their own pace without the distractions of the physical classroom. The virtual learning infrastructure put in place to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis also creates a built-in “school choice” option many districts previously didn’t have the funds to offer.

4 K-12 professional development trends to watch in 2021

Integrating technology into the classroom has been the overwhelming focus of teacher professional development in recent years. EAB K-12 Strategic Research Director Ben Court estimates nearly 70% of professional learning programs have centered around that topic, compared to 30% on instruction methods. “Teachers still have a lot of opportunities to become more comfortable or use advanced methods, but other key areas are rising to the top for professional learning,” said Court, who specializes in K-12 leadership development, planning and strategy. “It’s time to flip the ratio to focus more on instruction.”

Attention to K-12 cybersecurity grows in nearly 100 bills introduced in 2020

A new report from the Consortium for School Networking analyzes trends in K-12 provisions in the close to 100 cybersecurity bills introduced in 27 states in 2020. Of the cybersecurity proposals, 10 pieces of legislation were passed into law in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Virginia. Those addressing risks in K-12 in particular focused on cybersecurity instruction for students, technical assistance to schools, and investments for improvement in technology and professional development.

Eliminating Microaggressions Key to Creating a more Equitable School Culture

Creating a more equitable school culture that embraces anti-racism requires identifying and eliminating microaggressions aimed at people of color, administrator and consultant Jessica Huang writes for Edutopia. Microaggressions are defined as “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to individuals because of their group membership,” in some cases where the people making the comments are otherwise well-intentioned and unaware of their impact. To build a culture that eliminates racism, school leaders should explicitly lay out expectations and values and clearly define microaggressions, Huang writes, adding that school leaders can then implement a shared vision and language emphasizing the school’s anti-racism position.

A year into COVID-19, School Leaders are still Adapting as Uncertainty Persists

Nearly a year out from when the coronavirus pandemic initially disrupted K-12, school leaders are still grappling with daily decisions centered around how to best educate students — and how to do so safely. In a year like no other, there is no playbook, no historical references and no hard data on best practices. To assess the state of the situation, the National Association of Elementary School Principals surveyed principals in March, July and December to ask about coronavirus safety protocols, attendance issues, learning loss and more.

12M US Students Remain Disconnected in Digital Divide

Though efforts to close the digital divide during the pandemic reduced the number of K-12 students without broadband service by 20% to 40%, as many as 12 million students remain disconnected, according to a report by Common Sense, Boston Consulting Group and the Southern Education Foundation. However, the efforts to close the gap did reduce the number of students without access to e-learning devices by 40% to 60%. The report suggests it will take $6 billion to $11 billion to close the divide the first year and another $4 billion to $8 billion annually after that.

Report: K-12 Schools Saw 66% Jump in Overall Safety Incidents in Fall

K-12 schools saw a 66% jump in the number of overall safety incidents during the first three months of the 2020-21 school year when compared to the same time last school year, according to a report from Gaggle, a security management system used by districts to monitor student activity, that pulled data from 4.5 million students and 3 billion items within school accounts. Specifically, the increases were spread across four kinds of incidents: suicide and self-harm (83%), violence toward others (63%), nudity and sexual content (135%), and drugs and alcohol (59%).

Connecting with Students isn’t Political, it’s Good Teaching

Young people deserve to have rich, multicultural experiences like these that bridge divides and build empathy and understanding. And more students will, thanks to the Culturally Responsive Teacher and Leader Standards approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. These standards will require colleges of education to prepare future teachers to serve all students, giving them the tools to understand and connect with students from different backgrounds.

CDC Investigation: Educators ‘Central’ to In-Person Coronavirus Transmission at Schools

Teachers played a significant role in in-school transmission of the coronavirus, according to the results of an investigation by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention published Monday – the latest findings in the controversial school reopening debate that come as school staff demand prioritization for the COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC investigation tracked coronavirus transmission in schools in Cobb County, Georgia, from December through January and identified nine clusters of COVID-19 cases involving 13 educators and 32 students at six elementary schools. 

Rural Libraries to the Rescue: As the Pandemic Weighs Down Reading Scores, the Rural Library Fellowship Aims to ‘Activate’ Local Institutions Around Third Grade Literacy

Nationwide, at least sixteen states and Washington D.C. require schools hold back most students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Research shows if students are not reading at grade level by third grade, they are less likely to graduate high school. The Rural Library Fellowship comes at a time when test scores show many students have lost ground in reading and more are reading below grade level than last year due to the pandemic. Educators say many children have lacked access to books at school this year due to pandemic-related protocols. Some libraries across the country have tried to innovate during the pandemic, offering mobile libraries, outdoor story times and mailing books to children at home. 

How School Districts Are Keeping Diverse Teacher Recruitment at the Top of Their Agenda

Like countless other school systems across the nation, Florida’s Palm Beach County school district is facing multiple challenges this year: budget cuts, accelerated teacher retirements, a shortage of substitute teachers, and complex health regulations, to name a few.

Eroding Opportunity: COVID-19’s Toll on Student Access to Well-Prepared and Diverse Teachers

For decades, U.S. schools have struggled to provide all students with access to well-prepared and experienced teachers who reflect the rich ethnic and racial diversity of the country. Reports have repeatedly documented that students of color and other historically underserved students are disproportionately taught by new, underprepared, and inexperienced teachers—an inequity that is substantially responsible for persistent achievement gaps between students of color and their white peers.

CapitolCast: Illinois’ Teacher Shortage

A new survey of Illinois school districts shows a large and persistent teacher shortage that is getting worse in many parts of the state. The Capitol News Illinois team takes a close look at the numbers statewide and in some particular regions.  On Sunday, Capitol News Illinois and newspapers across the state will publish a series of reports on the shortage and its effects in various regions of the state.

Personalized Learning in a Post–COVID-19 World

The education sector has been hit hard by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The traditional school model was turned on its head in 2020, and millions of students, parents, and teachers have experienced home learning for the first time. This crisis has revealed the strengths and weaknesses in our readiness for a shift to a true digital learning setting in most schools and districts. Some places transitioned easily to teaching and learning online because they slowly had been moving toward a personalized learning environment for years.