Wednesday, March 11, 2020

U.S. senators press Betsy DeVos for answers on Education Department’s coronavirus response - The Washington Post

U.S. senators press Betsy DeVos for answers on Education Department’s coronavirus response - The Washington Post

Senators press Betsy DeVos on Education Department’s coronavirus response



A group of Democratic senators are pressing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to answer some key questions about her agency’s response to the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, especially about how it plans to help vulnerable students.
More than 20 senators sent a letter late Tuesday urging answers from the secretary about what the department is doing to help students affected by the outbreak of the virus. They asked 14 questions, to be answered by March 24, including about how the department plans to ensure that all students who are asked to study at home because they are sick or their schools have closed have the resources they need to continue learning.

On March 5, DeVos testified before senators to defend the Trump administration’s 2021 budget proposal for the Education Department, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) asked her what the department was doing to help students and schools deal with the crisis around the virus. At that time, Murray said the administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak “hasn’t inspired confidence.”
Here’s the text of the letter:
The Honorable Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202
Dear Secretary DeVos:
We write on the topic of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact it is having on schools across the country. Increasing numbers of K-12 schools and institutions of higher education (IHEs) are considering school closures in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. We urge the U.S. Department of Education (“Department”) to consider several serious issues related to school closure as it works with school districts, state education agencies, educators, and institutions of higher education, as well as with the President’s Task Force and public health officials.
On February 27, 2020, the Department announced it had launched an internal Coronavirus Task Force led by Mick Zais, Deputy Secretary of Education. On March 4, 2020, the Office for Civil Rights provided guidance about educational institutions’ responsibility to address bullying and harassment of students of Asian descent due to stereotypes related to COVID-19. On March 5, 2020, the Department provided guidance and flexibility to institutions of higher education impacted by COVID-19 to comply with Title IV of the Higher Education Act, but additional questions remain.[1] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also issued interim guidance for IHEs and for K-12 schools.[2]
We do not yet know the scale at which K-12 schools and IHEs across the country may need to close in order to help contain the spread of COVID-19, but we urge you to do everything you can to ensure you are continuing to prepare stakeholders for a variety of scenarios. To date, over a dozen countries have shut down schools nationwide, and the number grows each day.[3] As the virus continues to spread throughout the United States, many schools have closed, and it is becoming increasingly likely many more will choose to do so. For example, on March 6, the University of Washington announced it would cancel in-person classes and move to online classes for its 50,000 students beginning March 9 through the end of the winter quarter on March 20.[4] Seattle University and Northeastern University’s Seattle campus have also moved to online classes, as have Stanford University and Columbia University.[5] Some K-12 schools in Washington, New York, California, and Rhode Island have also temporarily closed.[6]
As schools prepare to make these difficult decisions, they are faced with many legal and practical uncertainties and are looking for clear guidance and direction from the Department.
We are especially concerned by the adverse impact of school closures on certain students and families. In K-12 schools, many families rely on the Federal School Lunch Program and may experience food insecurity if they can no longer access meals at school. Few school districts have experience providing wide-scale educational services online for all students, and not all families have access to home computers and high-speed internet to take advantage of such online options. Online learning cannot substitute for a number of services provided in the school setting, and it raises particular challenges to ensuring equity in access to education for all students.
COVID-19 also could severely impact many students in higher education, as well as federal loan borrowers. Students rely on their colleges for on-campus food and housing services. American students enrolled abroad in foreign colleges face barriers to continuing their education, whether online or at other colleges and universities in other countries and the United States. Depending on the spread of economic effects across the country, federal student loan borrowers affected by the impacts of COVID-19 may experience difficulty in repaying their loans. Finally, online education is not the best or preferred method of learning for many students, including students who may be the first in their families to go to college or come from low-income families. If IHEs move to providing education online, we urge the Department to prioritize and ensure students continue to receive a high-quality education, including live, face-to-face, synchronous instruction between students and faculty as much as possible.
We urge you to consider these issues and provide us, and the public, answers to the following questions by no later than March 24, 2020:
1. What communication has the Department had with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) about the school lunch program to ensure students in schools that have closed or will close continue to have access to meals?
2. What communication has the Department had with the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) about school-based health centers (SBHC) to ensure students and families who rely on health care services provided by SBHCs will continue to have access to such services in schools that have closed or will close?
3. Can the Department provide assistance to families without home computers or access to high-speed internet so they can take advantage of online educational options provided by either their school districts or IHEs if they need to?
4. What guidance will the Department provide about meeting the educational needs of students who need to stop attending school, including based on the recommendation of a doctor, because they are sick, due to school closure, or for other reasons?
5. If school districts and IHEs elect to provide online classes, they must ensure access is available for all students, including students with disabilities. What guidance is being provided to support school districts and IHEs in providing accessible instructional material, including ensuring websites are accessible, documents are compatible with screen readers, videos include closed captioning, students can participate in online video discussions, and, as applicable, accommodations for testing are provided remotely?
6. CDC guidance recommends IHEs ensure continuity of mental health services for students feeling overwhelmed with COVID-19 and associated events. What supports and assistance will the Department give to IHEs and school districts in providing remote services to all students?
7. While flexibility for colleges to use online education was addressed in the Department’s guidance, this guidance did not address issues of quality. How does the Department plan to monitor and ensure students receive regular and substantive interaction by their instructor(s) in higher education online programs?
a. What additional specific guidance is being provided to institutions on what “regular” and “substantive” interaction  CONTINUE READING: 
U.S. senators press Betsy DeVos for answers on Education Department’s coronavirus response - The Washington Post

The Case For And Against Closing Schools Over Coronavirus : NPR

The Case For And Against Closing Schools Over Coronavirus : NPR

When Should Schools Close For Coronavirus?





The spread of coronavirus has compelled hundreds of K-12 schools in the U.S. to close, affecting more than 750,000 students, according to an analysis by Education Week. And those numbers are certain to increase in the coming days, as concerned parents call for more school closures.
The growing health crisis presents school leaders with a painful choice. Closing schools — as has been done, so far, in China, Japan, Italy and elsewhere — is a proven measure that has been shown to slow the spread of disease and, in turn, save lives. But it also causes huge economic and social disruption, especially for children, millions of whom depend on the free and reduced-cost meals they get at school.
Public officials understandably don't want to close schools unless they absolutely have to, and many closures so far have been triggered by a known case of infection or exposure among staff or students. Yet research suggests the best time to close schools is before that happens.
"If you wait for the case to occur [in your school], you still have wound up closing the school, but now you've missed the opportunity to have the real benefit that would have accrued had you closed the school earlier," says Yale University sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis.
"It's sort of closing the barn door after the cow is gone."
Christakis' Yale lab normally studies how humans spread everything from ideas to behaviors to germs, but he says he's now all-in studying how coronavirus might spread. Aside from developing a vaccine and getting everyone to wash their hands thoroughly, closing schools is one of the most effective things a community can do to slow contagion, says Christakis, author of Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society. But timing matters. He points to studies of the 1918 Spanish flu, which suggest some cities may have saved lives by deciding to close schools earlier.
"Closing the schools before anyone in the schools is sick is a very difficult thing to do," Christakis acknowledges, "even though it's probably extremely beneficial and much CONTINUE READING: The Case For And Against Closing Schools Over Coronavirus : NPR

Another Study: Students Experience Academic Decline in Virtual Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog

Another Study: Students Experience Academic Decline in Virtual Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog

Another Study: Students Experience Academic Decline in Virtual Charter Schools


I have posted repeatedly here about the dismal academic results of virtual charter schools. Students have high attrition rates, low test scores, and low graduation rates.
This finding has been reported again and again. In 2015, CREDO at Stanford said that students lose almost a year of learning in math when they attend virtual charter schools. In many states, the virtual charters are the state’s lowest performing schools. Pennsylvania has many virtual charter schools, and none of them has ever met state benchmarks in reading and math.
The latest study comes from Indiana, as reported by Stephanie Wang in Chalkbeat.
Faced with low academic results at online schools across the country, supporters often defend virtual education because it provides a haven for struggling students.
But a new study in Indiana found that students fell further behind after transferring to virtual charter schools. The findings suggest that online schools post low outcomes not simply because the students they serve face challenges, but because of problems with how online learning works — and the shortfalls of not having a physical classroom.
The new research, to be published in the journal CONTINUE READING: Another Study: Students Experience Academic Decline in Virtual Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog

Virtual learning and Coronavirus poised to inflame inequality in schools

Virtual learning and Coronavirus poised to inflame inequality in schools

Coronavirus is poised to inflame inequality in schools
Schools are not ready to take education entirely online


The threat of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, is forcing educators across the country to think about what they’ll do if they have to close their schools for weeks or even months at a time. State and federal agencies have advised schools to create online learning plans to minimize the disruption to student learning. For some schools, that’s a small leap. Their students have internet connections at home, laptops they can work from, teachers who know how to design online lessons and a strong foundation of in-school blended learning experience.
But the fact is, these schools are rare. Most schools are completely unprepared – or, at best, woefully underprepared – for coronavirus and virtual learning.  Unequal internet access is just the tip of the iceberg of a massive equity crisis facing U.S. schools should coronavirus force education online.
“People think it’s about boxes and wires and that’s just the beginning,” said Beth Holland, digital equity and rural project director at the Consortium for School Networking, an industry association for tech directors across the country. CoSN members have been turning to each other for advice and support about how to approach coronavirus and virtual learning. But Holland is not optimistic. The data just don’t support optimism.


According to the latest survey data from the Pew Research Center, 73 percent of adults have broadband internet at home. But the differences based on income are striking. While 92 percent of adults from households earning $75,000 or more per year say they have broadband internet at home, just 56 percent of adults from CONTINUE READING: Virtual learning and Coronavirus poised to inflame inequality in schools

John Thompson: Oklahoma Trauma Summit provides hope, but teachers need funding

Oklahoma Trauma Summit provides hope, but teachers need funding

Oklahoma Trauma Summit provides hope, but teachers need funding


On Feb. 17, nearly 10,000 Oklahoma educators gathered in the Cox Convention Center to hear Dr. Bruce Perry’s keynote address at the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s 2020 Trauma Summit.
In his two-hour presentation, Perry, a psychiatrist, explained how children who face adversity at home can bring anxiety to school, where they disrupt class when feeling threatened, or shut down, losing opportunities to learn. Educators need to understand how to help these students regulate their emotions.
Perry discussed an approach he helped develop, called “The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics,” which emphasizes the therapeutic effect of small, accumulated positive experiences. Perry said, “Many of these moments are produced in school, where children have the opportunity to build relationships and develop a sense of regularity.” For instance, greeting a student in the hall, remembering her name, makes “a therapeutic moment.” And, “hundreds of these therapeutic moments can change a child whose life is wrought with dysfunction.”
Echoing Perry, Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said, “Having an understanding teacher, having a teacher equipped and ready to build that relationship, it can be done. And it can be done in small ways that have profound and big impacts on learning.”
It doesn’t take a brain scientist to understand that trusting and loving relationships are the key to education success, and I’m confident that the educators in attendance will benefit from the scientific background and professional development offered at the CONTINUE READING: Oklahoma Trauma Summit provides hope, but teachers need funding

Why Are Charter Schools Bad for Public Education

Why Are Charter Schools Bad for Public Education

Why Are Charter Schools Bad for Public Education


Many students believe that they need to manage all the tasks independently. It is definitely a sign that a student has become independent and ready to handle personal and professional problems on his/her own. However, this approach doesn’t always work. Sometimes, assistance is needed.

When there are too many homework assignments, a student cannot manage all that work alone. Consider that these kids have plenty of subjects to handle:
  • Mathematics tasks, plenty of them, and all of them require a lot of attention and time;
  • Chemistry assignments, huge tasks that require a lot of energy;
  • English tasks and assignments in many more subjects.

It is better when parents are around to provide the student with the needed assistance or to help to find a problem solver.

That’s why a helping hand is needed. It is better when parents are around to provide the student with the needed assistance or to help to find a problem solver. The role of a problem solver can take one of those service providers online, such as FastHomework.com.
On such websites, a student can get ehelp with all the academic issues. Such helper doesn’t work for free, hence, some financial help from parents will be needed, again. However, you can be sure that there, you can get any help with your “can someone help me with my math task?” request whenever you need it.

Efficient Help with Homework Is Available

Consider though that sites like FastHomework.com have their specifics, too. In most cases, you shall not count on any tutoring services. If you want a tutorial, you should consider a private tutor CONTINUE READING: Why Are Charter Schools Bad for Public Education

It's Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day... A VERY BUSY DAY | The latest news and resources in education since 2007

Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day... | The latest news and resources in education since 2007



It's Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day... 
A VERY BUSY DAY 
 The latest news and resources in education since 2007

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Today’s Resources – & There Are Many Of Them – For Teaching Online If Schools Are Closed

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Very Impressive Interactive On Selma From Teaching Tolerance

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Video Interview With Authors Of “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You” PLUS Free Teaching Guide

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No Surprise – Another Study Finds “Active Learning” Is More Effective Than Lectures

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Even More New Resources To Help With Online Teaching

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