K-12 Education

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued a letter to chief state school officers on Monday announcing the Department of Education’s new state plan template for ESSA implementation. The consolidated state plan designed to replace the original template requests materials deemed “absolutely necessary” by the new administration.

A brand new research study from Columbia University finds that parents who receive text message alerts regarding their child’s missed assignments, grades, and class absences saw significant reductions in course failures and increased class attendance.

This research brief, the first in a two-part series on physical activity in schools, provides a general overview of physical activity legislation in the states. The second brief in this series will discuss the different arguments regarding how recess and physical educa- tion should be structured.

Over the last 30 years, obesity has tripled among children and youth ages 6-19 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy eating and regular exercise play a crucial role in preventing obesity. But state leaders increasingly are focused on addressing obesity and promoting physical activity in schools through policies such as mandatory recess.

The Supreme Court will not decide—at least not this term—whether transgender students have a right to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity due to changes in position on this issue from the Obama to Trump administration.

Title IX prohibits school districts that receive federal funds from discriminating “on the basis of sex.” A Title IX regulation states if school districts maintain separate bathrooms (locker rooms, showers, etc.) “on the basis of sex” they must provide comparable facilities for the other sex.

In a 2015 letter the Department of Education (DOE) interpreted the Title IX regulation to mean that if schools provide for separate boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, transgender students must be allowed to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity. DOE and the Department of Justice reaffirmed this stance in a May 2016 “Dear Colleague” letter.

CSG Midwest
Starting with the next school year, K-12 officials in Michigan will be required to consider certain factors before suspending or expelling students, under a set of new laws that aim to reduce the number of students who are removed from school. 
“Public education is a great way to improve people’s lives, but that requires them to be in school,” says Rep. Adam Zemke, who was part of a bipartisan group of legislators that led efforts to pass the bills (HB 5618-5621 and HB 5693-5695) late last year. 

In Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools the Supreme Court held unanimously that if a student’s complaint against a school seeks relief for a denial of a free appropriate public education it must first be brought under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), instead of under other statutes that might also be violated.

Napoleon Community Schools prohibited a kindergartener with cerebral palsy from bringing a service dog to school. The district noted the student had a one-on-one human aid who was able to provide the same assistance as the dog.

The fate of the most controversial case the Supreme Court has agreed to decide this term is uncertain now that the Department of Education (DOE) has issued a “Dear Colleague” letter withdrawing a previous letter requiring school districts to allow transgender students to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity.

Title IX prohibits school districts that receive federal funds from discriminating “on the basis of sex.” A Title IX regulation states if school districts maintain separate bathrooms (locker rooms, showers, etc.) “on the basis of sex” they must provide comparable facilities for the other sex. In a 2015 letter DOE interpreted the Title IX regulation to mean that if schools provide for separate boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, transgender students must be allowed to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity. The new “Dear Colleague” letter takes no position on whether the term “sex” in Title IX includes gender identity.

Growing teacher shortages across states continue to worsen, just as student enrollment is projected to increase by 3 million over the next 10 years, according to the Learning Policy Institute. Elaine Wynn, president of the Nevada State Board of Education, described the situation in her state as a human resource crisis. “We’re all going to sink,” Wynn told the Las Vegas Sun. “This is horrific.”

This Week in Education: 5 Things to Know

1.Secretary Designate Betsy DeVos approved by Senate HELP Committee

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on Tuesday morning approved Betsy DeVos’s nomination to lead the US Department of Education.

DeVos was confirmed 12-11 along party lines. Her nomination will now go to the Senate floor, where she’ll need only need a simple majority to be confirmed.

CSG Midwest
K-12 education consistently makes up the largest share of state general fund spending each year, hovering between 34 percent and 36 percent since 1996, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. In fiscal year 2015, more than $260 billion went to elementary and secondary education. Although no two states distribute education dollars exactly the same way, the vast majority of funding formulas are built around a “foundation” or “base” amount of funding that is the minimum each student receives. 

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