Road Crew Gets Failing Grade After Misspelling ‘School’ In School Crossing

DORAL, Fla. (AP) — A road crew in Florida should get an “F″ for spelling.

A motorist on Thursday spotted the error, realizing that workers in Doral had made a mistake when painting the word “school” at a pedestrian crossing in the road. Instead of S-C-H-O-O-L, it was spelled S-C-O-H-O-L.

WPLG brought it to the city’s attention, and the city tweeted that the private contractor has now corrected its work. It’s not clear how long the mistake was there in plain sight.

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UNC Coach Resigns Amid Allegations Of ‘Racially Insensitive’ Remarks, Injured Players

Sylvia Hatchell, one of the winningest head coaches in women’s college basketball, resigned Thursday after 33 years at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, for allegedly threatening her players with racist remarks and forcing some to play while seriously injured.

A group of six parents and one other person with knowledge of the university’s investigation told The Washington Post earlier this month that Hatchell said her players would be “hanged with nooses in trees” at an upcoming game if they did not improve. 

Three players said they felt pressure from Hatchell to play through injuries, the Post reported. One later discovered she needed shoulder surgery, another learned she had torn a tendon in her knee, and a third suspected she had a concussion. The group also told the Post that the coach led her team in a “war chant” to “honor” an assistant coach’s Native American ancestry.

Hatchell and her staff were placed on paid leave earlier this month while the university looked into the matter.

After a more than two-week investigation that included 28 interviews, a UNC official said in a statement that the school “found issues that led us to conclude that the program needed to be taken in a new direction,” according to the Greensboro News & Record.

“It is in the best interests of our University and student-athletes for us to do so,’’ Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham continued in the statement. “Coach Hatchell agrees, and she offered her resignation today. I accepted it.”

The university’s investigation determined that Hatchell had made “racially insensitive” remarks, and that she wielded “undue influence” in players’ medical decisions. While the parents who spoke to the Post differed on Hatchell’s exact wording, they insisted their daughters heard her say “noose” and “tree.”

Cunningham continued: “We appreciate her 33 years of service to Carolina and to the community, and we wish her the best. Our focus now is on conducting a search for a new head coach who will build on our great Carolina traditions and promote a culture of excellence.”

Hatchell’s attorney, Wade Smith, said in a statement to the Post that “Coach Hatchell has always cared deeply for her players, and their well-being is extremely important to her. And, to repeat, she does not have a racist bone in her body.” He previously told the paper that his client did not use the word “noose” and that she was talking about the players being “hung out to dry.”

In a statement to CNN, Hatchell said she is grateful for having had her “dream job.”

“Now, I will turn my attention to supporting the University in different ways. I will continue to raise money for the Lineberger Cancer Center, to establish a ministry of exercise and recovery for cancer patients and to push for equal facilities and treatment for women’s athletics,” Hatchell said.

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George Mason University Doesn’t Care That Its Students Oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s Hire

FAIRFAX, Va. ― George Mason University president Angel Cabrera told students Tuesday night that he knows they’re upset about the school hiring Supreme Court justice and alleged sexual assaulter Brett Kavanaugh for a teaching gig. But too bad.

“Even if the outcome is painful, what’s at stake is very, very important for the integrity of the university,” Cabrera said to audible gasps from students in the audience during a two-hour town hall on Kavanaugh’s hire and sexual violence in general on campus.

“Oh, my God,” one female student said aloud.

“Why?” asked another, to no one in particular.

GMU’s student government organized the event, along with student group Mason for Survivors, after the school gave Kavanaugh a three-year contract to teach a summer course at its England campus. The town hall comes after protests, an ad campaign and a student-led petition with more than 10,000 signatures opposing Kavanaugh’s hire. He was confirmed to the Supreme Court in October after an ugly, painful, weekslong Senate fight over Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that he sexually assaulted her in high school.

Mason for Survivors, a student group that advocates for sexual assault survivors, set up a table at a university town hall protesting Brett Kavanaugh’s teaching job at the school.

Dozens of students came out for Tuesday’s town hall, where Cabrera and other school officials took precleared questions from students. The first hour was closed to the public as students shared personal stories of being sexually assaulted. Once the event was open to the public, school officials defended their decision to hire Kavanaugh ― even as none of them seemed to want to take direct responsibility for doing it.

Provost S. David Wu said it was the law school’s choice to hire Kavanaugh, and he saw “no reason for university administrators to override” their decision. Cabrera agreed, emphasizing the need to protect the law school’s ability to hire who it wants. Alison Price, senior associate dean of GMU’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, said she would ensure going forward that faculty would thoughtfully consider a hire’s “implications to all students.”

Students were somewhere between baffled and outraged that none of their school’s leaders saw a problem with giving Kavanaugh a job.

“In hiring Kavanaugh, to what extent did you consider the mental health of the survivors on campus and how that might affect them and their education?” asked one male student, as the room filled with the sound of students snapping their fingers in support.

“Even if in this particular case the outcome is one that you deeply disagree with, the process by which these decisions are made and the reason why we are so firm in defending them is actually essential to the way a university like ours operates,” Cabrera said to sighs in the audience.

David Hamlette, a 19-year-old sophomore, went rogue and shouted out a question that hadn’t been precleared. He asked the school administrators how many of them had kids, and when six out of seven of them raised their hands, he asked how many would feel comfortable with someone facing sexual assault allegations being in close proximity to their children on a campus.

In an incredibly awkward moment, only one of them, Price, raised her hand. Wu half-heartedly raised his hand after a few seconds. But even Cabrera kept his hand down as students began buzzing. Rose Pascarell, GMU’s vice president for university life, jumped in to say the question was “complicated” because she would be comfortable with her son on a campus that had a strong focus on sexual violence prevention.

Only one raised her hand! This was so awkward!

Only one raised her hand! This was so awkward!

“I don’t know if I have to keep this professional, but that was like, dumb,” Hamlette later told HuffPost. “Do you feel comfortable having your daughter around an alleged assaulter? I don’t have children and the answer is no. It shouldn’t have been a complicated question.”

It wasn’t just current GMU students in attendance. Sarah Fishkind, a 17-year-old high school senior in Maryland, told the school administrators that GMU had been one of her top three choices for college until the school hired Kavanaugh.

She shared a story about a boy in elementary school blocking her from leaving his room until she took her clothes off, and said part of what helped her get past the fear and humiliation from the incident was her mom telling her she believed her. She said she’s not sure GMU officials understand the connection between stories like hers and their decision to hire Kavanaugh.

“How could Kavanaugh possibly be hired despite Ford’s allegations? Why is the college student that recorded women in the bathroom still on this campus?” asked Fishkind, referring to a disturbing February incident on campus. “A blatantly obvious response by GMU [would be one] that states that first they do not believe Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony and second do not care about the safety of their students.”

She continued: “The beautiful George Mason University is one of my top choices, but do I want to risk my safety and disregard my core values? I can attend one of my other top choices. When I was 10 my mother believed me. Now I need George Mason to believe me.”

Sarah Fishkind, 17, said George Mason University's decision to hire Brett Kavanaugh is factoring "a lot" into her decision on

Sarah Fishkind, 17, said George Mason University’s decision to hire Brett Kavanaugh is factoring “a lot” into her decision on whether to go to school here.

Students applauded Fishkind when she was done, and Cabrera told her “it would be an honor” to have her at GMU.

But Fishkind told HuffPost later that Kavanaugh’s hire is factoring into her college choice “a lot,” and said GMU students she’s been talking to this week have been telling her not to come to the university.

“They said sometimes they wish they weren’t here,” she said, “and at the same time, they don’t feel like they’re being heard.”

HuffPost asked Cabrera after the event if he saw any possibility of revisiting the school’s contract with Kavanaugh if students continue to protest and say his association with the school feels inappropriate or makes them revisit their own sexual trauma.

“No,” he said. “It’s done.”

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Hostile, Divisive Political Climate Ensnaring U.S. Schools

Political debate in the United States has deteriorated over the past two decades, as reasoned, well-informed dialogue has been eclipsed by hyperpartisanship, name-calling, even paranoia.  But can anyone reasonably deny that the political climate today is debased beyond a point unimaginable perhaps even five years ago?

Unfortunately, this hostility and incivility has seeped into our schools.  Rigorous classroom debate is one thing; verbal attacks designed to incite and divide is something else altogether, presenting educators with a new set of formidable challenges.

That’s the conclusion of a new survey of high school principals conducted by the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access (IDEA) at UCLA.

“The flow of the nation’s harsh political rhetoric does not stop at the school house gate, but instead, propelled by misinformation and social media, is fueling anger, fear and division that is negatively impacting students, schools and learning,” the report says.

Although the report is called “School and Society in the Age of Trump,” the intent, explains lead author John Rogers, professor of education at UCLA and the director of IDEA, is not to suggest President Trump singlehandedly took a wrecking ball to the nation’s political discourse.

Nonetheless, “the Trump administration has dramatically expanded the practice of demonizing opponents, as well as uses of invectives and violent political metaphors,” Rogers says.

A majority of the 550 principals surveyed are seeing an unmistakable increase in incivility over the past few years:

  • Nine in ten principals report that incivility and contentiousness in the broader political environment has “considerably affected their school community.”
  • Hostile exchanges outside of class, demeaning or hateful remarks over political viewpoints are increasing.
  • Most disturbingly, 8 in 10 report that their students have made derogatory remarks about other racial or ethnic groups, including immigrants. Very often, students will echo Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, with “Build the Wall!” being a particularly popular chant.

As a high school principal in California noted, “students are more and more willing to say outrageously racist, homophobic, ‘whatever-phobic’ things, believing it is their ‘right’ to do so. In the past, when this occurred, there would be a certain acknowledgement and perhaps shame I could elicit through discussion—an ability to see that hate speech is wrong. That is less and less true now.”

Source: “School and Society in the Age of Trump,” The Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, UCLA

Truth Decay

The UCLA survey also focuses on how the steady flow of false information – usually via social media platforms – has corrupted critical thinking and exacerbated political tensions and divisions in schools. Over the past few years, “students struggle to discern fact from opinion, identify quality sources, or participate in inclusive and diverse deliberations on social issues,” the report said.

While this trend long predates the 2016 election, Rogers says, Trump’s relentless campaign to discredit traditional information sources has had an impact.

“President Trump’s rhetoric often obfuscates the public’s understanding of important issues and erodes commitment to the ideal that policy deliberations should be grounded in verifiable facts,” says Roger, who cites Politifact’s 2016 finding that 70% of Trump’s statements were “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire” lies.

In addition, Trump’s constant bellowing of “Fake News!” and “Corrupt Media!” further erodes the public’s trust in traditional, reliable information sources.

According to the UCLA survey, a large majority of principals reported an increase in students making at best dubious claims based on unreliable media sources, and rejecting outright the sources their teachers were using in the classroom.

The report also takes a look at how schools have been struggling to address greater societal challenges, such as gun violence, immigration enforcement, and the opioid crisis.

Trump’s “frequent public threats” to expand deportations, as well as his intention to exploit the immigration issue in 2020, has heightened the fear and anxiety of millions of students with undocumented family members.  Two-thirds of the principals surveyed said enforcement policies and demagogic rhetoric – now adopted by an increasing number of lawmakers and politicians – “have harmed student well being and learning.”

‘There’s Nothing Wrong With Disagreement’

Escalating political tensions, says Rogers, caught many schools a little off-guard, leaving them unprepared for the fallout.

The report offers a set of recommendations that can help stifle tensions and build and protect a healthier school climate.  School climate standards, for example, should emphasize “care, connectedness, and civility,” and be supported by a network of trained educators.

Rogers cautions that some district administrators pressure principals to enforce neutrality in the classroom. While this may sound practical on the surface, taking such a step can silence civil discussions.

“The most effective principals we studied create democratic cultures within their schools, inviting teachers and students to share their ideas and grapple together across lines of difference,” Rogers explained.

In one of the testimonials in the report, a principal in Connecticut pointed out that political differences between students, if handled carefully, can be used to promote engagement and trust in the classroom:

I try to be really real with kids. I try not to shy away from important topics. I tell teachers that their job is to facilitate dialogue and learning; I don’t want any sort of dialogue to be smashed. I don’t want them to feel like when discussions about the election come up that they need to shut them down so as to avoid any sort of hurt feelings or disagreement. I want teachers to have the attitude of ‘there’s nothing wrong with disagreement.’ We need to be able to foster and model how to properly do this for our kids.

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Mumps Cases At Indiana University More Than Double In A Week Amid Outbreak

As the nation grapples with a measles outbreak, the number of mumps cases at Indiana University has more than doubled since last week, school officials said, with similar outbreaks occurring at Temple University and Penn State University.

As of Thursday morning, there are 17 mumps cases at the Bloomington campus, up from seven last week. More than half of the cases have been linked to a single fraternity, which is where the disease is believed to have originated back in February, a school official said.

“We feel confident about where a lot of this is coming from which has helped us deal with it,” university spokesman Chuck Carney told HuffPost. “It’s not sweeping broadly around the campus.”

The university’s students are required to have two MMR vaccines ― for measles, mumps and rubella ― by their second semester at the school. There is an exemption for religious reasons.

There were 17 known mumps cases at Indiana University in Bloomington on Thursday, a school official said.

Of the 16 cases known on Wednesday, Carney said 14 of them had received two doses of the MMR vaccine. One of them had received just one dose, and the other had not had one because of a religious exemption.

A health clinic was recently held at the fraternity where the outbreak is believed to have originated and 58 percent of its members received a third MMR vaccine during it, Carney said.

“What that does is it provides them with a boost of immunity for about a month so it helps them stave off the illness if they are exposed,” he said.

The university is working to inform students about the disease’s spread and things they can do to avoid infection, which Carney said is “simply practicing good hygiene.” That includes washing hands frequently, not sharing drinks and sneezing in the crook of one’s arm and not their hands.

“The basic things that you would do to avoid any illness,” he said.

Temple University in Philadelphia had been dealing with a similar outbreak. As of Thursday, there are 155 cases associated with the Temple University outbreak. Twelve of them are from surrounding counties, while the other 143 are in Philadelphia, the city’s Department of Public Health said in an email.

A line of mostly students wait to enter a vaccination clinic amid a mumps outbreak on the Temple University campus in Philade

A line of mostly students wait to enter a vaccination clinic amid a mumps outbreak on the Temple University campus in Philadelphia on March 27.

The university on Tuesday said that the number of active cases at the school is now fewer than 10. During the outbreak’s peak in early March, there were 46 cases at the school, according to the university, which said it had issued more than 6,000 doses of the MMR vaccine.

Penn State University has also been dealing with several mumps cases.

Since the start of April, the University Park school said in a release last week that there have been three mumps cases confirmed and two more suspected. Those numbers were current as of Thursday, a university spokesperson told HuffPost in an email. Local station WJAC-TV reported that the state’s Department of Health considers this an outbreak.

Mumps spreads by direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets from the mouth, nose or throat. This can happen from an infected person sneezing, coughing, talking, kissing or by sharing cups, water bottles or eating utensils. It can also spread from touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands and then someone else touching it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“An infected person can likely spread mumps from a few days before their salivary glands begin to swell to up to five days after the swelling begins,” the CDC’s website states. “A person with mumps should limit their contact with others during this time. For example, stay home from school and do not attend social events.”

Health officials have urged the public to receive the MMR vaccine. Some people who are vaccinated can still contract mumps if exposed, but its symptoms will be milder, the CDC said.

This has been updated with information from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

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For ESPs, Being the Best for Students Requires Continuous Learning

Andrea Beeman (left), Matthew Powell, and Kimberly Scott-Hayden have helped implement the ESP Professional Growth Continuum.
(PHOTO: Andrea Kane)

It’s common knowledge amongst educators that professional development for education support professionals (ESPs) is largely non-existent or irrelevant, if offered at all. Whether five or 20 years on the job, ESPs receive limited access to career learning opportunities unless they provide it themselves.

“Everyone thinks professional development is for teachers only,” says Matthew Powell, custodial supervisor at Central Elementary School in Mayfield, Ky. “But ESPs also need the opportunity to learn and grow in their careers.”

After working for 12 years as a special education paraeducator, Powell returned to college to complete a bachelor’s degree in educational studies. To meet expenses during this time, he worked as a school custodian on the night shift.

As a member of NEA’s ESP Careers Committee, Powell is working alongside ESPs and teachers from across the country to increase professional learning opportunities for school support professionals. Already, the committee has led to the development of new universal standards that provide a pathway for professional growth for ESPs throughout their careers.

These universal standards are outlined in the ESP Professional Growth Continuum (PGC).

“At the end of the day, if ESPs increase their skills and knowledge, it’s students who ultimately win,” says Powell, recently named the 2019 NEA ESP of the Year.

The PGC provides the first ever career continuum for ESPs grounded in eight universal standards within three levels of practice: Foundational, Proficient, and Advanced/Mastery. This landmark resource describes applicable standards and levels of practice across all NEA ESP job categories.

Participants can choose to work independently or join a group, known as a professional learning community. Several NEA affiliates across the country are working with members and other education leaders to develop student-centered learning opportunities aligned with the PGC to support ESPs in their professional practice.

“It goes back to wanting to be the best we can be for our students,” says Powell, who helps implement PGC standards for custodian and maintenance service workers at Grave County Schools. “The PGC gives us that opportunity.”

Local Successes

In New Jersey, Kimberly Scott-Hayden led the development of trainings for East Orange Maintenance Association (EOMA) members using PGC standards. The program started after Scott-Hayden approached Dr. Kevin West, East Orange School District Superintendent.

“Before anything, you need to effectively communicate a message, a perception, or a theory,” says Scott-Hayden, who first enticed Dr. West with an idea about training ESPs to communicate more effectively at work.

In East Orange, EOMA’s original 32 members were the first to join the training sessions. Scott-Hayden and Dr. West decided to begin with this question: How can I grow professionally to become more culturally aware and effective in communicating with students and colleagues?

Scott-Hayden and the team found that discussing culturally sensitive issues can be difficult. Still, they asked participants how they collaborate with members from culturally diverse groups, how they evaluate their ability to recognize reactions in individuals different from themselves, and how they address the consequences of inequities based on identity or group membership.

“Understanding the culture of your community gives you a better sense of your students,” says Andrea Beeman, a paraeducator who serves with Powell and Scott-Hayden on the NEA board and ESP Careers Committee.

Once educators saw the passion of Scott-Hayden and her team, the New Jersey program quickly expanded across East Orange. The team was awarded one of NEA’s Great Public Schools Fund Grants for $90,000 over three years starting in the 2018-2019 school year. She says she could not have predicted the spike in membership after the grant was issued, which reached 370 members to now include teacher assistants, paraprofessionals, and security guards along with the original maintenance workers.

Members of the ESP Careers Committee met in March at the NEA ESP Conference in Las Vegas, Nev.                 (PHOTO: Andrea Kane)

“Just based on the work they are seeing, people have said, ‘I’m buying into this.’ It builds capacity,” says Scott-Hayden. “It gives you an opportunity to show your district that you are an important stakeholder in your career development. You can use PGC to bargain, as leverage to increase your salary, or for career advancement. It will cultivate leaders.”

In Ohio, Beeman says trainings aligned to the PGC will help close the achievement gap.

“In order to do my job effectively, I have to know a student’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and aspirations, hopes and dreams,” says Beeman, who works at Maple Heights High School in Maple Heights.

Along with opportunities for professional growth offered by PGC is the chance to better connect with students, Beeman explains. She says students want to know a few things, such as: Will you help me, do you care about me, and do you see me as an individual.

“Responding to that begins with gaining a clear understanding of a student’s racial and cultural background,” Beeman says. “My focus is to meet my students where they are and on their terms.”

How the PGC Works

While the continuum provides a career path toward personal and professional growth, it is not meant to be linear or hierarchical. The model is fluid so ESPs can build their professional capacity in one or more standards. Participants might be “proficient” in one standard and “advanced” in another based on how skills compliment on-the-job experiences and training.

NEA offers an opportunity for members to conduct a PGC self-assessment and strengthen their knowledge and skills through NEA micro-credentials, which are short, competency-based recognitions that allow educators to demonstrate mastery in a particular area. Micro-credentials are available for each of the eight universal standards outlined in the PGC. By completing micro-credentials, ESPs can learn how to use the standards to reflect on current levels of skills and knowledge and map out opportunities to grow in their professional practice.

“As educators progress through the levels of practice, increased knowledge and skill levels are going to help them when they engage in difficult cultural conversations with students,” Beeman adds.

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Kamala Harris Says She Regrets That Parents Were Arrested Under Her Truancy Law

Sen. Kamala Harris said Wednesday that she regrets that some California prosecutors “criminalized the parents” of truant children using a controversial 2011 law she helped pass when she was the district attorney of San Francisco.

“My regret is that I have now heard stories where in some jurisdictions, DAs have now criminalized the parents,” Harris said in an interview with “Pod Save America.”

“And I regret that that has happened and the thought that anything that I did could have led to that,” she added.

This is the latest instance of Harris grappling with critiques of her prosecutorial record since launching her 2020 bid for the presidency.

Truancy — which refers to unexcused school absences — was one of Harris’ signature issues while she was the San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general. 

The law in question imposes fines and jail time on parents of children in kindergarten through eighth grade who have missed 10 percent of school days or more without a valid excuse. 

Harris championed the law in the state legislature after she successfully reduced truancy in San Francisco by threatening to prosecute parents under a more dated law.

Harris’ remarks also come after HuffPost profiled an Orange County mother who was arrested and vigorously prosecuted under the 2011 law. Orange County’s district attorney touted the woman’s arrest as part of a gang prevention effort; in reality, her 11-year-old daughter was missing school because of chronic illness.

Many observers also questioned whether Harris’ push to address truancy through the criminal justice system inherently punished low-income and struggling families. She has previously framed truancy as “a parent issue” that stems from parental “neglect.”

Harris has always said her goal in involving prosecutors in the truancy process was not to punish parents but to give schools more leverage to bring them to the table. 

When she was district attorney of San Francisco, she noted, her office never jailed any parents. 

“I realized that the system was failing these kids, not putting the services in place to keep them in school, to make it easier for parents to do what parents naturally wanted to do around parenting their children,” she said in the interview. “And so I put a spotlight on it.”

“As a result of doing that, we ended up increasing attendance by over 30% because we actually required the system then to kick in and do the services that they were required to do and sometimes had available, but they weren’t doing outreach with the parents,” she continued. “And so that was the whole purpose.”

If any parents who were punished as a result of the law she later helped pass, that was an “unintended consequence,” Harris said.

Read the full HuffPost investigation here

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Anti-Vaxxers Sue New York City Health Department Over Vaccine Mandate

New York law requires every student entering or attending public, private or parochial school to receive a cocktail of immunizations, though medical and religious exemptions are allowed.

Many Orthodox Jews believe vaccinations run counter to Jewish or Talmudic law, leading to low vaccination rates in some communities, despite some rabbis who warn it’s a mistaken belief with potentially dire consequences.

A mounting measles outbreak in the Williamsburg area prompted New York health officials to issue the mandate on April 9 requiring all people who live or work within ZIP codes 11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249 to receive the MMR vaccine if they haven’t already.

As of Monday, there were at least 267 confirmed measles cases in Williamsburg since September ― 39 of which were reported in the past week. New York health officials say Jewish yeshivas and day care centers are of particular concern.

At least one day care center in Williamsburg has been shut down since the mandate went into effect last week for failing to provide vaccination records for students and staff to the health department. More than 20 yeshivas and day care centers have received citations for violating the order.

In their lawsuit, the parents argue the city’s response to the measles outbreak has been “irrational” and that it doesn’t pose a clear danger to public health.

One to two children out of every 1,000 who contract the disease die from it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We try always to respect religious rights, religious customs, but when it comes to public health, when we see a problem emerge, we have to deal with it aggressively,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said last week. “We are absolutely certain this is an appropriate use of our emergency powers.”

Failure to comply with the April 9 order is a misdemeanor that could result in various penalties, including criminal fines or imprisonment, officials warned.

In their lawsuit, the parents of unvaccinated children say the mandate is causing “irreparable harm” and complained that they’re being “treated like pariahs.”

“Parents, whose religious beliefs are being disregarded, risk becoming criminals if they simply do nothing,” according to the lawsuit. “Parents who know their children’s health status better than anyone else are being threatened with the forced vaccination of their children against their wills.”

The order, issued by New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, remains in effect until a New York City Board of Health meeting scheduled for Wednesday when it will be decided whether to continue or rescind the mandate.

Measles cases in the U.S. are at the second-highest level in 25 years, with the number expected to rise, according to figures released by the CDC on Monday.

The virus was nearly eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but the CDC reports a growing number of unvaccinated communities is causing outbreaks to rise again.

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Barbering Behind Bars: Using A Community Cornerstone For Criminal Justice Reform

Inside the Mecklenburg County Detention Center’s walls sit five brand-new chairs between two pillars decorated like barber poles.

The county opened a barber school on April 1 for teenagers in pretrial detention at the jail in Charlotte, North Carolina. The school, called Ausie’s Barber School, is the first of its kind in the state’s jail system.

“I’m real excited about this program; it’s been a long time coming,” instructor Jeff Broadie told HuffPost. “We’re looking to have a grand time.”

The five incarcerated 16- and 17-year-old boys in the county’s barber program — who call themselves the “Fab Five,” Broadie said — spend four to five days a week learning how to cut hair, apply relaxers, do facials and master the art of grooming. Broadie, who owns multiple barber schools outside the jail, said he makes sure the teens learn theory and classroom work before they can start working on each other.

“You’ve got to know hair,” he said. “It’s more than just cutting.”

The students will rack up as many hours as they can before eventually applying to take the state exam to become licensed barbers, ready to work. North Carolina requires barber school students to complete 1,528 hours of course instruction before taking the exam.

Detention centers and prisons throughout the country have begun establishing beauty and barber schools as part of their educational training. A 2013 study showed that allowing incarcerated people to participate in academic and vocational programming reduces recidivism, or being incarcerated again, by 40%.

Just because somebody went to prison doesn’t mean they’re irredeemable.
Kenyatta Leal, The Last Mile

Kenyatta Leal knows a little bit about that statistic. Leal spent about two dozen years in California’s prison system before he was released in 2013. During his time in San Quentin State Prison, he participated in a program called The Last Mile that brought businesses from the community into the facility to help teach corporate skills to incarcerated people. Now he works at the nonprofit to help continue its mission.

“Just because somebody went to prison doesn’t mean they’re irredeemable,” he said. “We all have redeemable qualities, and if we’re able to provide people with a framework for change and a support system and real-life opportunities that anyone could do … we would be better off as a society.”

The Mecklenburg program also works with the community to pay for continuing barber school education if students do not finish by the time they leave the detention center.

“What we love about this is, once they have gotten their situation disclosed, if they’re going to return to the community, they can continue at any barber school in this city and we’ll pay for it,” said sheriff’s spokeswoman Tonya Rivens, whose grandfather Ausie Rivens, the first black barber in Cornelius, North Carolina, inspired the name of the detention center’s barber school.

Sheriff Garry McFadden said a group he helped create called Cops and Barbers, rather than the county, will help pay for continuing education at an outside local barber school. The nonprofit works to bridge the gap between law enforcement and communities of color, citing barber shops as safe havens and vital institutions in those communities.

“Even if you do not have the money to complete barber school, we’re coming up with initiatives to pay for your tuition,” McFadden said. “We will get with the brothers at [the barber schools], we’ll put you in the barber schools, we will pay for your tuition.”

Incarcerated teens who get transferred into adult prisons can make sure their schooling doesn’t end at the detention center. Tonya Rivens said young people going into the prison system can get on the waitlist for a location with a school. The only prison — rather than jail — in North Carolina to have a barber school is Harnett Correctional Institution in Harnett County.

Similar to Mecklenburg, the youth detention center in Cook County, home to Chicago, opened its own barber school in 2017 called S.T.A.R. — which stands for Standing Tall Against Recidivism — Barber College. That program has room for eight students at a time, and the hours they earn at the detention center count at a traditional barber school.

“For me, it’s like a fresh start, and do something different, like I can help other people out doing it,” participant Damarco, 18, told ABC 7 when the program opened.

The barber schools are seen as an important tool in helping incarcerated people move forward in their lives and prepare to reenter their communities. A 2016 U.S. Sentencing Commission study said that incarcerated people released from federal prison before turning 21 had a roughly 68% rearrest rateand those without a high school diploma were more likely to be rearrested than those with high school or college degrees.

The statistics make a case for education programs in prisons and detention centers in the U.S., a country that leads the world in incarceration, according to the International Centre for Prison Studies.

Rivens said local officials expect the barber school program to be even more successful than everyday education programs at the detention center.

“These soft-serving certificates … it does not get them a job when they get out,” she said. “Now you’re teaching them a trade that would be very prosperous along the lines of sustaining a living, because [a barber shop] is an institution in our community, and people until the end of time will always need a haircut.”

Broadie, the instructor, said the biggest consideration for him is building a connection with the boys and “keeping them focused,” as barber schools and shops are also considered places of mentorship.

“If I can reach them, then I can teach them,” he said. “By being in a program like this where there’s a father figure or a big brother figure, our jobs are to help them build character, be responsible and work together as a team. All that plays a part in helping them be successful.”

To help make sure students he mentors continue on the right track when they return to their communities, Broadie said he will keep an eye on them for about a year after they get their licenses.

If I can reach them, then I can teach them.
Jeff Broadie, barber school instructor

People who were formerly incarcerated often face an array of difficulties when reentering the community, according to a 2014 report on U.S. mass incarceration trends. They often deal with lower wages, denial of jobs and food stamps, and require support and encouragement from the community.

“When I was their age, I didn’t think I was gonna live past 25,” Leal said of the incarcerated teens. “I was looking at what was happening around me, my reality where I lived at. So in my mind, I needed to live it up right now while I had a chance. And I think that a lot of young people experience the same things.”

Ann Jacobs is the director of the Prisoner Reentry Institute at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Jacobs previously told HuffPost that reentry can be successful if a recently released person meets six basic life needs: livelihood, residence, family, health, criminal justice compliance and social connections. While those needs can show up in different ways depending on the person’s situation, continuing one’s education at a barber school and eventually making a living as a licensed barber helps secure some of those life needs.

“When you have a person who learns a trade and is able to develop this skill, building one’s self-efficacy and tapping into that human resiliency that we all have … it’s amazing,” Leal said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do in terms of reducing recidivism and breaking down the prison industrial complex, but it’s going to take this kind of work to do it. Because if we’re going to sit around and wait for the state to do it, it’s never going to happen.”

McFadden said that Mecklenburg’s barber school program helps restore dignity to incarcerated people who can often feel dehumanized in prison and detention. He hopes more detention centers implement similar programs and team up with the community.

“We want them to duplicate it. We want to reduce crime nationwide,” the sheriff said. “It’s true criminal justice reform, and that’s what we want.”

The ribbon-cutting for the Mecklenburg County Detention Center’s new barber school.

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Preschool At D.C. Synagogue Accused Of Enabling ‘Systemic’ Child Sexual Abuse

A preschool at a prominent Jewish synagogue in Washington, D.C., enabled sexual abuse against numerous children for years, a new lawsuit filed Monday alleges.

The families of eight children previously enrolled at Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Edlavitch Tyser Early Childhood Center say the preschool and its leader, Deborah “DJ” Schneider Jensen, failed to protect students from a child sexual predator over a two-year period, according to the complaint.

The families allege Jordan Silverman, a teacher at the preschool, subjected numerous children, including their own, to “regular and systemic” sexual abuse beginning in March 2016. The lawsuit alleges the children were between ages 2 and 4 at the time of the abuse.

The 74-count complaint alleges the abuse, perpetrated against both male and female children, included the most “grievous, demeaning and damaging forms of sexual abuse.”

“Mr. Silverman categorically denies engaging in any inappropriate or illegal contact with children at Washington Hebrew Congregation,” his attorney, Shawn Sukumar, told HuffPost. He declined to comment further. Silverman has not been charged with a crime.

Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia confirmed to CNN that an investigation into alleged sexual abuse of children at the school is currently ongoing. 

Jensen, head of schools for Washington Hebrew Congregation, hired Silverman to teach at the preschool despite having no professional background in teaching or child care, the complaint alleges. Previously, he worked for 20 years as a photographer in Vermont, before moving to Bethesda, Maryland, according to the lawsuit.

Silverman was often alone with the preschoolers, the lawsuit alleges, even though child development centers in Washington are required to enforce a “two-deep policy,” which requires two adults to be present at all times if one or more children are present.

The policy is “the number one deterrent of children being abused in an institutional setting,” Michael Dolce, the attorney representing the families, told HuffPost. “It’s a very effective way to guard against the unknown abuser.”

But Silverman was “allowed and encouraged” by school administrators to be alone with individual or small groups of children on an almost daily basis, according to the lawsuit.

Dolce would not describe specific aspects of the alleged abuse, citing the ongoing police investigation.

“Each child has required mental health professional intervention,” Dolce told HuffPost. “It’s just been incredibly difficult for the children involved.”

Parents and teachers reported concerns related to Silverman’s behavior as early as one month after he was hired, but Jensen took no action, the lawsuit alleges. 

Jensen “ignored, rejected and purposefully silenced repeated warnings and expressions of concern, from parents and teachers alike, that Jordan Silverman might be engaged in inappropriate conduct towards children,” the complaint states.

The complaint continues: “The children who were abused are left to suffer with profound, grievous and debilitating mental health harm, with expected life-long and developmental adverse impact.”

Jensen remained head of schools for the synagogue as of Monday, though she has announced plans to leave at the end of the school year. Silverman was placed on administrative leave in August 2018 after a young child accused him of sexual abuse, according to a press release issued by Dolce’s law firm. 

Washington Hebrew Congregation said in a statement that “child safety has always been our top priority,” indicating that it reported the allegations to the police after the August 2018 complaint.

“Although there has not been any arrest, these allegations are very troubling,” the synagogue said in its statement. “As a faith community, Washington Hebrew has supported and will continue to support its entire community as individuals grapple with how these allegations affect them and their families.”

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New Mexico Gets Rid of A-F School Grading System

For the past several years, students at Dulce Elementary School, on the Jicarilla Apache Nation reservation in New Mexico, faced the threat of school closure. The only elementary school in the district, if it closed students would have to rise before dawn for a long bus ride over bumpy, dusty roads to the closest schools, more than 30 or 40 miles away.

But rather than punishing the students and their tribal community by closing the only elementary school for miles, New Mexico’s new governor and secretary of education will amend the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), scrap the A-F school grading system and replace the policy of labeling schools as ‘failing’ in favor of actually supporting schools in need and celebrating successes of schools doing well or making progress.

This is ESSA done right, says NEA–New Mexico Vice President Mary Parr-Sanchez.

“The proposed changes to New Mexico’s ESSA plan will ensure that the state and local school districts are measuring things that are important and highlight what is good about a school as well as what needs improvement,” Parr-Sanchez says. “Before, the state ESSA plan merely highlighted shortcomings of schools, with no offer of how to support.

All three schools in the Dulce Independent Public School District on the Jicarilla Apache Nation will finally receive the funding they so desperately need, have applied for, and have been denied under the punitive measures of the previous education secretary, which focused on test scores. Now the district will receive support on things like family engagement and attendance and the emphasis on test scores will be reduced.

Don’t Flunk Schools, Support Them

Beyond the Apache reservation, support will extend throughout the state to the many schools who need assistance. Last year, more than two thirds of the New Mexico’s schools received Ds or Fs; in Santa Fe, 56 percent of schools received the lowest grades.

NEA-New Mexico and other public education advocates called for legislators to recognize that slapping bad grades on a school and threatening them with closure or privatization was not the solution; students at these schools needed better supports.

The new governor, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, ran on making big revisions to the ESSA plan put in place by her predecessor. Those included getting rid of teacher evaluation through test scores, the A through F system for grading schools, and PARCC tests.

NEA-New Mexico members overwhelmingly supported Grisham in the election and from “Day One,” says Parr-Sanchez, “Grisham has worked to change the bad and harmful practices of her predecessor. From Day One, she ended PARCC testing and the grading and labeling of schools in need,” Sanchez says. “This is why elections are so important for educators.”

Accountability to Come Through New Indicators

The shift does not mean that “there are no consequences for underperformance,” said Karen Trujillo, New Mexico’s new secretary of education. “With high levels of support must come high levels of accountability.”

The state is planning to launch a “New Mexico Spotlight Dashboard” in fall 2019, will celebrate the success of the highest performing schools, identify schools that the department will support with federal grant money, and provide families with an opportunity to learn more about their local schools.

Michelle Lujan Grisham

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (center)

“We believe that when schools struggle academically, the system is failing the school, not the other way around,” says education secretary Trujillo.

Based on indicators of academic performance and school climate rather than test score data alone, the New Mexico Education Department will collaborate with districts, schools, and communities to determine what resources are needed to support schools on their path to student success.

Trujillo says the dashboard will give more nuanced information about schools not offered with a simple A-F grade.

Recognizing that there is much more to a school’s story than test scores, the proposed amendments shift points for elementary and middle schools from test scores to educational climate. For high schools, the amendments increase the points for improvements in graduation rates to emphasize an improvement-oriented approach.

“This shift in philosophy will allow the education department to allocate federal resources where they can make the most impact and help every student succeed,” says Trujillo.

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Substitute Teacher Fired After Bullets Fall Out Of Pockets In Pre-K Class

A substitute teacher in Massachusetts may have shot his career ambitions in the foot after bullets fell out of his pockets during a class.

The unidentified teacher was covering a pre-kindergarten classroom on Thursday at Elmwood Street School in Millbury when the bullets fell on the classroom floor.

Another teacher overheard the bullets hitting the floor and notified the principal, according to local station WHDH-TV.

Millbury Police Chief Donald Desorcy said the teacher claimed he had been shooting the day before.

“So apparently he was wearing the same clothing two days in a row,” he told the station. “He claims he had left magazines in his pocket.”

The Millbury Police Department suspended the teacher’s license to carry firearms. Officers later seized six handguns, 12 shotguns and rifles, and ammunition from the teacher’s home.

Although it is not illegal to bring ammunition on school grounds, Desorcy told Boston TV station WFXT that the teacher will face charges of improperly securing his guns at home.

“To me, that’s just not sound judgment, an individual not thinking clearly or have a strong concept of gun ownership or gun responsibility,” Desorcy said.

Superintendent Gregory B. Myers later confirmed to media outlets that the substitute teacher had been fired, according to the Worcester Telegram.

“That kind of an oversight, even if you legitimately forget that you have something like that in your pocket, is not going to be tolerated,” Myers told WHDH-TV, adding that he’s also reached out to parents to let them know the school is safe.

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Muslim Student Attacked In Possible Bias Incident At New Jersey School

A New Jersey school district has vowed to review its policy toward school fights after a Muslim student and her alleged attacker were both disciplined for an altercation on school grounds last week. 

Middlesex County authorities announced charges of simple assault, harassment, cyber harassment and disorderly conduct Thursday against a student accused of fighting with another student at East Brunswick High School on Wednesday. 

The altercation began as an argument over a seat in a common area and escalated quickly, according to the school. The charged student attempted to pull off her Muslim classmate’s hijab during the fight, The Associated Press reports.

The alleged attacker also posted an “inflammatory” statement on Snapchat, the town’s mayor, Brad Cohen, said in a statement. That post helped investigators identify the altercation as a “bias incident,” although it did not rise to the level of a hate crime, reported.

“It truly saddens me that we are even having this discussion, especially given the circumstances that occurred in New Zealand such a short time ago. Bias, in any form, is unacceptable in this community and it is simply NOT who we are or what we stand for,” Cohen said.

A family member of the alleged attacker told Pix 11 on Thursday that the teen is a “good kid” and “not racist.” 

East Brunswick’s board of education has a “zero tolerance” policy toward fighting in schools. Administrators are able to discipline both parties involved in a physical altercation ― even if one of them was fighting in self-defense. There may be a different outcome if a student who is attacked backs away and calls on school officials to intervene instead of engaging in the fight, superintendent Victor Valeski said.

Both of the students involved in this fight were suspended, Valeski confirmed to HuffPost. The Muslim student has already returned to class, he said.

A third student who recorded the fight and posted it on social media was also disciplined for violating a school policy that prohibits students from posting unauthorized photographs of classmates and staff, according to Valeski.

Some East Brunswick High School students were upset that their Muslim classmate was suspended for the fight. Thousands of people signed an online petition calling for changes to school district policy.

“She’s really nice, everyone loves her,” Gabrielle Goins, an East Brunswick High School student told CBS New York about the Muslim student. “Why is someone suspended if she’s defending herself?”

In this case, school officials used security footage to determine that there was indeed a fight, Valeski said. But since the investigation is ongoing, he said he couldn’t confirm whether the Muslim student was fighting in self-defense.

James Sues, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told HuffPost that the Muslim student’s family is “somewhat satisfied” with how the school and the police have handled the incident. Sues said he has spoken to the student’s family but that CAIR-NJ is not representing them in a legal capacity.

The school has erased the suspension from the Muslim student’s record, Sues told HuffPost. Valeski was unable to confirm this, telling HuffPost that he couldn’t share specific information regarding student matters.

Sues said he hopes “students that are attacked and take steps to defend themselves are not suspended for that.”

Cohen, the town’s mayor, said in his statement that the alleged attacker had received a “far worse” punishment than the other student.

On Thursday, a board of education meeting attracted dozens of community members who expressed frustration about the incident. The board and Valeski announced a “comprehensive review” of the zero tolerance policy and its future applications on Friday.

“The Board and Dr. Valeski share the community’s collective desire to foster an environment throughout our Township and our schools that promotes unity and inclusion and celebrates East Brunswick’s extraordinary diversity,” the board of education said in its statement.  

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Morehouse College To Begin Taking Transgender Men Next Year

The country’s only all-male historically black college will begin admitting transgender men next year, marking a major shift for the school at a time when higher education institutions around the nation are adopting more welcoming policies toward LGBT students.

Leaders of Morehouse College told The Associated Press that its board of trustees approved the policy on Saturday.

Transgender men will be allowed to enroll in the school for the first time in 2020. Students who identify as women but were born male cannot enroll, however, and anyone who transitions from male to female will not be automatically eligible to receive a degree from the institution.

Morehouse officials hailed the move as an important step toward a more inclusive campus while affirming its mission to educate and develop men.

“I think Morehouse having the courage to speak to issues of masculinity in today’s environment is important,” Morehouse College President David Thomas told The Associated Press. “For 152 years, the world has, in some way, seen Morehouse as the West Point of black male development.”

The policy also states that Morehouse “will continue to use masculine pronouns” which it calls “the language of brotherhood.”

Morehouse is an iconic college that counts the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., filmmaker Spike Lee and former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson as its alumni. It bills itself as the “college of choice for black men” that has instilled leadership skills in generations of African American men.

More than 1,000 colleges and universities nationwide have adopted some form of a transgender policy, including about two dozen historically black colleges. An increasing number of schools are updating admissions guidelines to ensure transgender students have a welcoming experience, said Human Rights Campaign spokeswoman Sarah McBride.

“Young people are incredibly supportive of LGBT equality, including transgender equality,” McBride said. “Schools are responding in kind. In many ways, our college campuses look like the country we’ll have in 10 or 15 years. There are a lot of reasons for hope.”

Morehouse becomes the first standalone all-male college in the country to adopt a transgender policy. Nationwide, there are only two other all-male colleges, Wabash College in Indiana and Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. Minnesota’s St. John’s University, which enrolls only men but shares a co-ed academic program with the College of St. Benedict, also has a transgender policy.

Morehouse has had challenges around LGBT issues, most notably the 2002 attack of a 19-year-old student accused of beating a fellow student with a baseball bat who he mistakenly thought was making a sexual advance.

Gregory Love’s skull was fractured in the beating. Aaron Price was found guilty of assault and initially sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The incident was widely seen as reflective of a larger and pervasive attitude toward the LGBT community among African Americans.

Thomas acknowledged that historically black colleges and universities — mainly established after the Civil War with the help of religious institutions like the Baptist and Methodist churches — face added challenges in addressing issues of gender and sexuality because of opposition in black churches.

“I can’t speak for all HBCUs, but we know in the black church there has largely been silence on this issue,” Thomas said. “I can imagine there may be people who would say, ‘Why would you even raise this?’ I say to those people we live in an era now where silence on these issues is actually not helpful. For us, as a school for men, it’s important for us to set clear expectations about what that means. That’s what we’re trying to do with this policy.”

In 2009, the college updated its dress code, in part to address a handful of students who were wearing women’s clothing on campus. The following year, Morehouse held its first Gay Pride. Morehouse offered its first LGBT course in 2013 and has a scholars program named for civil and gay rights icon Bayard Rustin.

Spelman College, an all-woman HBCU next door to Morehouse, adopted a transgender policy in 2017, and the first transgender woman graduated in 2018.

Other HBCUs with transgender policies include Tuskegee University, Howard University, Florida A&M University, Southern University in Louisiana, North Carolina Central University and Morgan State University in Maryland.

Titi Naomi Tukes — a 2017 graduate of Morehouse who enrolled as a cisgender man in 2013 but now identifies as transgender nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them/their — said they disapproved of the policy, which they learned about in an alumni email on Saturday. Tukes said the policy is hostile and exclusionary toward transgender women and nonbinary students, and could put transitioning students in an unsafe environment if they have to leave the college.

Titi Naomi Tukes — a 2017 graduate of Morehouse who enrolled as a cisgender man in 2013 but now identifies as transgender nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them/their — said they disapproved of the policy, which they learned about in an alumni email on Saturday. Tukes said the policy is hostile and exclusionary toward transgender women and nonbinary students, and could put transitioning students in an unsafe environment if they have to leave the college.

“You can’t control how someone feels in their body,” said Tukes, now a management consultant working in New York who added they are willing to offer input on how the policy is implemented. “The college fails at addressing and understanding the gender journey that one undergoes during their college experience, spiritually, emotionally, physically and psychologically.”

Whack is The Associated Press’ national writer on race and ethnicity. Follow her work on Twitter at

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School Districts Finding More and More Homeless Students

 As homeless education coordinator for Billings Public Schools, Sue Runkle frequently gives presentations to help raise awareness about the district’s homeless student population. Even after 18 years in this role, she still occasionally encounters a familiar puzzled look from participants.

“Some people will still ask me, ‘Wait — we have homeless students in Billings?’”

Five-hundred and three in the 2017-18 school year, to be exact, and 414 so far this year. These numbers can be an eye-opener, Runkle explains, because the homeless population in Billings is not on the street, huddled under a bridge, or waiting outside a soup kitchen.

“They’re invisible,” Runkle says. “Students and their families are living in shelters, motels, or doubling up with other families. They’re still homeless. Many people don’t understand that.”

Homeless children, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act,  are those who “lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” McKinney-Vento was passed by Congress in 1987 to “ensure that each homeless youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education…as provided to other children.”

The number of students identified as homeless is on the rise across Montana. The increase has been particularly sharp in rural areas, where homeless students have previously been undercounted, and therefore not receiving the services and support they need.

According to new federal data, during the 2016-17 school year, 1.36 million public school students in the United States were homeless, a 70 percent increase since 2008. Furthermore, the national average graduation rate for homeless students is just 64 percent, significantly lower than the 77.6 percent rate for low-income students who are not homeless, and the 84.1 percent for all students. 

Education Leads Home, a national campaign focused on education and homeless youth, recently dug into graduation data from 26 states. It found that the gap between homeless students and all students in some states is over 35 percentage points in some states, and the gap between low-income and homeless students is over 20 percentage points. 

 “These gaps reflect the significant educational challenges — above and beyond poverty — that homeless students face,” said Erin Ingram, senior policy advisor at Civic, an Education Leads Home partner. “We can and must do more to remove these barriers. Students cannot afford to miss out on the critical first step of a high school diploma due to homelessness. “

Urgent Need to Identify

Higher numbers of homeless students and lower graduation rates is never welcome news. As Education Leads Home suggests in the summary of its report, however, reporting this increase could be a sign that some states are taking steps to confront the issue.

Improving systems of identification is a positive trend, although it “also points to a growing challenge for schools, and the need for increased supports for homeless students across the country,” the report said. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed by Congress in 2016 to replace No Child Left Behind, includes provisions designed to protect and support homeless students (see graphic below). The law also requires states to disaggregate and report graduation rates for homeless students.

The number of students identified as homeless in Billings has dipped slightly this year. As some in the community still wonder aloud about the existence of the problem, Runkle is vigilant about contextualizing any statistical noise, particularly as the definition of student homelessness is refined.

“I’m skeptical that we’ve had a real decline,” Runkle says. “I’m seeing just as many homeless and at-risk kids this year than in the past.”

Ensuring that homeless students are not undercounted can be a steep challenge, particularly in populous states. In 2018, one-quarter of California’s school districts did not report a single homeless student in a state that has seen a 20 percent increase over the past four years. Such flagrant underreporting means nearly 2,700 schools in California are not providing the services and supports to which homeless students are entitled. In February, state lawmakers announced an audit to investigate this gap.

Homeless Education and the Every Student Succeeds Act (NEA Center for Great Public Schools) Click to Enlarge.

“Student homelessness is not an issue that will simply go away if we pretend it isn’t happening,” said Assemblymember David Chiu, who co-sponsored the legislation. “If students experiencing homelessness are not being identified, they are not getting access to the services they need to be successful.”

Coming to grips with the problem also requires a better understanding of the many factors that drive student homelessness.

“Homelessness among students is more than a housing problem; its causes are complex, and cannot be remedied by housing alone,”  explains Barbara Duffield, executive director of SchoolHouse Connection.

Sue Runkle says increasing substance abuse among teens has exacerbated the problem in Billings.

School leaders in the Delavan-Darien district in Wisconsin, about 60 miles southwest of Milwaukee, blame “economic realities” — specifically lack of affordable housing — for the increasing numbers of homeless students. Between 2011-2016, student homelessness skyrocketed by almost 800 percent.

“When families’ basic needs and students’ basic needs aren’t being met, school is not the top priority,” Lisa McKay, a social worker at Delavan-Darien High School, told The Gazette. “It’s getting those basic needs met—that food, that shelter, the clothing piece—before we can even focus on attending at school.”

‘We Can’t Teach Them If They’re Not Here’

After the homeless education liaison position in Billings was created in 2001 (following the reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Act), Runkle worked out of one school, Washington Elementary, with roughly 50 homeless students Her responsibilities expanded in the second year to incorporate the entire district, which now serves 16,000 students.

Runkle works directly with students and their families, connecting them with area resources. (In 2014, she was named the 2014 outstanding advocate by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.) She is quick to underline, however, that schools cannot tackle this problem alone.

Sue Runkle (photo: Larry Mayer/Billings Gazette)

“They need to be a part of a network of community partners, service organizations, faith-based organizations,” she says. “Everyone has to come to the table. We rely on one another to provide services for these families.”

Collaboration with families and other stakeholders is a pillar of the community schools model, which, in addition to offering substantive academic programs, draws upon networks to support students before, during, and after school and on the weekends.

Homeless students are among the two-thirds of the  economically disadvantaged students who attend Walt Whitman Middle School, a community school in Fairfax County, Virginia.

“Community schools are plugged into the resource pool to help these families, to connect them to the services they need,” says Karisa Gearheart, a social worker at Walt Whitman.

Families in the area know that Walt Whitman is there to support them and that makes it easier, adds principal Craig Herring. “Parents aren’t as afraid to talk about [homelessness] as much. Community schools make supporting families a regular, ongoing conversation.”

For a homeless student, the importance of a supportive school environment, whatever form it takes, cannot be overstated.

“We have to help keep these students in the classroom, in the school they are familiar with,” says Sue Runkle. “We can’t teach them if they’re not there and school is the only stable place that they know. The best way out of homeless will always be education.”

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Georgetown Students Vote To Give Reparations To Descendants Of Slaves Sold To Fund School

Students at Georgetown University have voted overwhelmingly to create a fund to provide reparations to descendants of 272 slaves sold to fund the school in the 19th century, a major step in becoming one of the first major U.S. institutions to provide financial restitution for a role in slavery.

More than two-thirds of undergraduate students approved the measure in online voting, which ended Thursday night, according to Georgetown’s student newspaper The Hoya. The report added that 58% of undergraduates participated, “the highest turnout in recorded student government electoral history.” 

The measure was spearheaded by student activists, including some who are descendants of the 272 slaves known as the GU272 that Jesuit priests in Maryland sold in 1838 to rescue the school from bankruptcy. It would add a student fee of $27.20 per semester to provide reparations.

Georgetown administrators have said the student referendum is nonbinding, and the school’s 39-member board of directors would have to vote on the measure, according to the Hoya.

If Georgetown’s board approves, the university, in Washington, D.C., would be one of the first major U.S. institutions to create a fund for slavery reparations. The issue is gaining national attention, including in the 2020 presidential race, with some candidates calling for national studies.

Todd Olson, Georgetown’s vice president for student affairs, acknowledged the results of the vote in a statement Friday, but did not indicate where officials stand on implementing the reparations fund.

“The university values the engagement of our students and appreciates that 3,845 students made their voices heard in yesterday’s election,” Olson said. “Our students are contributing to an important national conversation and we share their commitment to addressing Georgetown’s history with slavery.”

Critics of the reparations fund have argued that it should not be current students’ responsibility to atone for the school’s past, and oppose a mandatory fee.

“A more just solution to the question of reparative justice would leave navigating the morality and personal circumstances to each individual student,” Georgetown freshmen Rizana Tatlock and Henry Dai wrote this week in an editorial for the Hoya. “For example, an opt-in or opt-out fee each year would be a reasonable way to leave the choice in the hands of the students.”

Like many American institutions in recent years, Georgetown has been grappling with its role in slavery. In 2015, school officials created a working group to evaluate how to address the school’s legacy.

In the years since, Georgetown has issued a formal apology to the descendants of the 272 slaves, announced a policy to give them priority in admissions and renamed two campus buildings, including one in honor of Isaac Hawkins, the first person listed in the 1838 sale.

Nationally, the issue of reparations has been gaining momentum. In 2014, journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a widely circulated article in The Atlantic called “The Case for Reparations,” spotlighting the issue.

Multiple 2020 Democratic presidential contenders have expressed support, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who this week announced legislation to study the issueSens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also have called for consideration of the issue.

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Arizona Repeals Homophobic AIDS Education Law

Arizona just repealed a nearly 30-year-old law that prohibits schools from conducting education on HIV and AIDS that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle.”

The Arizona House and Senate voted on Wednesday and Thursday to advance Senate Bill 1346, which amends an existing law regarding AIDS instruction by repealing homophobic provisions, including that no course study may present “homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style.”

Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) swiftly signed the bipartisan bill after the Senate’s 19-10 vote on Thursday, calling it a “common sense solution.”

“I was proud to be a part of a positive effort to change Arizona law in order to make all students feel more welcomed in Arizona’s classrooms,” Arizona state Rep. T.J. Shope (R) said in a statement on Thursday.

The 1991 law, which also prohibited HIV and AIDS instruction that “suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex,” was challenged in a lawsuit filed last month on behalf of LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Arizona.

The suit alleged the law discriminated against LGBTQ youth and “communicates to teachers and students that there is something so undesirable, shameful, or controversial about ‘homosexuality’ that any positive portrayals of LGBTQ people or same-sex relationships must be explicitly barred.”

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Tuesday refused to join the lawsuit, which named the state’s Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman as defendants.

Hoffman had previously expressed her opposition to the law, and on Thursday applauded the repeal.

“After nearly three decades of this law placing stigma on our #LGBTQ community, the repeal sends a signal to every student, teacher, and family in Arizona that they are welcome in our schools – regardless of who they are and who they love,” Hoffman wrote in a Twitter thread.

Arizona was one of seven states with anti-LGBT curriculum laws.

According to Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ legal advocacy group, these so-called  “no promo homo” laws are state or local statutes “that restrict or prohibit the discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) issues in the classroom.”

“Some of these laws affirmatively require schools to portray LGBT people in a negative light, or prohibit schools from portraying LGBT people in a positive light. Others prohibit even the discussion of LGBT people in certain curriculum,” Lambda Legal states on its website.

Such laws currently exist in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

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9 Awesome Apps For Kids On The Autism Spectrum

Technology has the power to unlock learning for kids of all ages and stages. And sometimes exploring and learning on a device first is less intimidating than trying out new skills with real people. Check out these apps that help kids with autism or other developmental issues with communication, organization and even social-awareness skills and watch the video to learn more about how to choose media and tech products for kids with learning differences.

This ingenious app helps kids with special needs, social challenges, anxiety or anger issues learn self-awareness as they begin to identify when they “need a break” and practice calming down.

For kids who like a little humor, this series of videos and questions offers a unique approach to learning about social skills. When used with an adult or with a group of kids who can interact around the content, the learning potential will expand and have even more impact.

With its simple, multisensory interface, this app has great potential for use with kids with developmental or learning disabilities, anxiety or attention issues and language, hearing or processing difficulties.​

By creating social stories, kids can work with expectations and practice before events actually happen. The special features are particularly helpful for kids who may need to see themselves encountering situations, such as a visit to the dentist, in storybook form before encountering them in real life.

Though this social-emotional skill builder is designed for young kids, older kids who struggle with social situations and empathy also might find it helpful. Best used with a parent or teacher, this app provides built-in discussion questions to help guide kids so they can take their learning offscreen.

This mind-mapping tool is especially helpful for kids who have problems with organization and visual memory. Kids can insert words, images and their own drawings and then connect to other related Popplets to create an interactive outline of related ideas.

This extraordinary communication aid is great for kids who have basic to severe speech challenges. Kids can learn how to effectively convey wants, needs, feelings, opinions, social manners and more.

Through video and a comprehensive, step-by-step process, kids can learn about expected vs. unexpected behaviors in a variety of everyday situations. Because the videos include real kids and the app offers practical tips, users will be able to identify with and apply what they learn.

This excellent animated app boosts kids’ social-awareness skills. Kids can learn to identify how their peers are feeling, develop coping strategies, recognize the importance of eye contact, and learn a host of core social skills needed to function in daily life.

For more great learning tools for kids with special needs and learning differences, check out our Learning Difficulties and Special Needs guide.

Angela Zimmerman, Common Sense Media, Senior Manager of Editorial Partnerships, contributed to this article.

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I Trusted God To Help Me Pay Back My Student Loans. Spoiler Alert: He Didn’t.

As a child, I accompanied my mother to every worship service our church offered each week. There were four, starting on Sunday morning with a formal program, complete with Bible verse reciting and a brass plate to pick up monetary offerings. By Friday night’s prayer meeting, folks like my mom were just looking for a safe space to pray out loud and commune with the Holy Spirit.

To say my mom is a devout Christian is an understatement. She entrusted me, her only child, in God’s hands so completely that she didn’t bother taking me to a pediatrician for regular checkups.

When I came down with chicken pox (I was probably 4 or 5, as I hadn’t started kindergarten yet), she prayed and asked God to heal me quickly. And, of course, we still went to church — scabs and all.

The way my mother believed in God’s ability to take care of her and her loved ones wasn’t lost on me. She talked about him like he was her invisible best friend. Once, I came home from riding my bike with friends to find her sitting outside in our backyard. I felt sad that she was by herself, and told her so.

“You don’t have to worry about me,” she replied, smiling. “God’s always with me.”

As I grew older, I began to believe in God with the same kind of fervor. It’s one of the most significant lessons I learned growing up in a Christian household: That no matter what I do, God is looking out for me. If I just have enough faith, he will be there with me in everything.

It’s a belief that’s touched every important decision of my life: from what college I attended and who I chose to date to decisions around my career. It’s also why I decided to go back to graduate school, even though I couldn’t afford it.

In 2009, the newspaper industry was brutalized by the recession, and my company filed for bankruptcy. This was the first place I worked after graduating from college: I’d taken a leap of faith just three years earlier to move to North Carolina for a part-time copy editor position, intending to find another part-time gig to help pay the bills. Within days of starting work at that newspaper, I was offered a full-time position with benefits.

As my mother pointed out, God provided a way.

So, when newspapers started shutting down left and right, and my boss admitted even he was looking at other options, I convinced myself that I needed a backup plan for work. Maybe I can teach if this journalism thing doesn’t work out, I thought, albeit naively, at the time. I borrowed the maximum amount federal lenders offered me to use toward pursuing my master’s.

On some level, I knew how irresponsible I was being, especially since I didn’t have any kind of guarantee that I’d be able to earn enough money to pay the loans back. But owing tens of thousands of dollars didn’t scare me then like it does now. Instead of facing reality — how financially successful could I really be as an English professor without a terminal degree? — I told myself that, as my mom put it, God would provide a way.

One of the most profound messages from the biblical story of Jesus dying on the cross is that suffering yields reward: He sacrificed his life to take on our sins so that those who believe in him can have everlasting life in heaven.

In other words, good things come to those who believe.

Although my application of that timeless lesson was muddied by my own selfishness, I believed God would help me figure out how to take care of this new financial burden. By the time I graduated with a Master of Arts in English, I had accumulated more than $60,000 in student debt.

I was too swayed by my mother’s lifelong devotion to her faith. She never hesitated to trust in God for both the big things and the small — especially when it came to me. When I was sick with a cold, she put her hands on my back and prayed. When my face started breaking out during my teen years, she added “clear skin” to her list of things to pray about. She even once told me she knew I was going to be successful in life because not only did she talk to God about me every single day, but she donated money to the church’s building fund in my name.

If my mom could have that kind of unwavering belief that everything in my life would turn out OK, I thought I should, too. No matter what the circumstances.

And I did, for a while. Shortly after graduating, I was promoted to editor of the newspaper at which I’d started my career. With the position’s increased salary and some part-time work teaching freshman English at a community college, I earned enough money to cover my household bills and make my monthly student loan payments.

But in 2015, for a few different reasons having to do with my work life and family, I took another leap of faith and decided to quit my full-time job to freelance.

“It’ll all work out later,” I told myself again.

Three years down the road, however, I’m starting to wonder if it really will. Today, I barely make enough money to cover groceries, child care and my credit card debt. If it weren’t for my partner, I don’t know where I’d be.

Meanwhile, I haven’t made a single payment on my student loan debt since I left my staff position, and the amount I owe increases with interest each month. The good thing is that I haven’t incurred any penalties because I’m on an income-based repayment plan.

I find myself scrolling Indeed again. Should I try to fit in a part-time bartending gig or return to teaching adjunct between my freelance writing, being a mom, and managing the care of my elderly dogs? Every month, the weight of my debt grows heavier.

My faith has also faltered. I hardly ever go to church anymore. When my mom asks why, I tell her it’s because I have a kid now, and I don’t want to stick her in child care when she can barely talk. It’s easier to say that than the truth: that I’m just not sure what I believe anymore.

It’s not just that God hasn’t shown up for me like I expected. So many of my political beliefs as an adult contradict the religious ideas drilled into me as a kid. For instance, I don’t believe that God would shun a person because of who they love. “Homosexuality is a sin” rhetoric makes me want to run as far away from religion as possible.

Despite my waning connection with organized religion, there’s still a part of me that clings to the hope that God will take care of me and my family. And, sometimes anyway, I wonder if my lack of faith has anything to do with my current financial struggles.

I do hope to one day find my way back to a personal relationship with God ― the one who made me feel safe and protected all those years. For now, though, my Sunday mornings are reserved for working. I’ve got bills to pay.

Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on HuffPost? Find out what we’re looking for here and send us a pitch!

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‘A Deal is a Deal’: Sacramento Educators Go on Strike

The #RedForEd wave hits Sacramento. Today, April 11, more than 2,800 Sacramento educators are on strike to protest the Sacramento City Unified School District’s (SCUSD) bad faith bargaining and to support a fair settlement that includes additional resources, such as art and music, smaller class sizes, more school nurses, and psychologists. The contract also includes an 11 percent increase in teacher salaries.

“[The strike] grows out of frustration of the failure of the superintendent to honor a contract that he signed more than a year ago, and the continued treatment of our contract [as] optional, [instead of] something that’s binding on both parties,” David Fisher, a second-grade teacher and president of the  Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA), said in an interview.

The superintendent is Jorge Aguilar, whose refusal to honor the contract has led to the city’s first strike in nearly 30 years. SCTA members voted by 92.3 percent to protest the unlawful, unfair labor practices by superintendent and the school board.

In November 2017, after more than a year of bargaining, SCTA and the district settled and signed a bargaining contract with a commitment to reprioritize resources toward students and classrooms. Since then, the district has committed 31 unfair labor practices. Now, the district is back tracking on the mutually agreed upon contract that meets the needs of students.

Thousands of educators, students, and parents will hit the picket lines to demand that SCUSD keep its promise to lower class sizes and increase student services—and to act lawfully and remedy its illegal actions that are hurting nearly 50,000 Sacramento public school students.

Sacramento’s Kara Synhorst, an English teacher of nearly 20 years, captured the sentiments of many educators in a video posted to Facebook: “I’m offended and insulted at the way teachers are being portrayed…My union has offered ways for the district to save money…If anyone is refusing to come to the table, it’s Mr. Aguilar and the district. We have a contract. Don’t ask us to negotiate a new one when you won’t even implement the last one—because [as] my students already know: A deal is a deal.” Synhorst was speaking directly to Aguilar.

The local argues that instead of honoring the contract, the district mismanaged funds and is now $35 million in the red. A state takeover threat looms over the district, too. But this wasn’t always the case.

The district was in the best financial position in its history up until 2017, when the contract was being bargained. Discussions centered on how the reduced costs in the district’s healthcare plan would generate more money. The plan was to negotiate further down the road and apply those savings toward schools.

Instead, the district went on a “spending spree, adding more than $6 million in vacation buyouts for top administrators,” explains David Fisher. This resulted in deficit spending for the first time in years.

In an interview with Education Week, Fisher said, “This really feels like a betrayal…If a district can just throw up their hands and say, ‘Yeah, we know we agreed, but now our budget situation has changed, so we’re not going to do it anymore,’ that sets a terrible precedent for what districts can do when they sign agreements.”

The strike is currently scheduled to last for one day.

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Kentucky Gov. Demands Names Of Teachers Protesting Pension Crisis

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s (R) administration is demanding that some of the state’s school districts hand over lists of teachers who allegedly participated in “sickouts” to protest legislation they believe would harm their already imperiled pension fund.

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet issued a subpoena to Jefferson County Public Schools, the massive district surrounding Louisville, on Wednesday. 

Representatives for at least two other districts, Bullitt County Public Schools and Oldham County Schools, confirmed with the Courier-Journal, a Kentucky newspaper, that they also received subpoenas.

In addition to names, the Bevin administration is requesting to see any doctor’s notes submitted by the teachers and copies of the schools’ sick leave policy, along with other documentation.

The demand largely mirrors that of Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, who asked Jefferson County and nine other districts for lists of participating teachers last month; Jefferson handed over its list on March 25. Lewis said he would not take further action if the protests stopped.

But the governor’s move heightens the tension between his administration and the state’s teachers, who led massive protests last year over pension concerns. (They succeeded in securing a hike for public education spending.)

KY 120 United, a group that formed last year, has said it specifically opposes House Bill 525, which would change the way the pension board is set up.

Teaching jobs in Kentucky are not eligible for social security benefits upon retirement. Instead, Kentucky teachers rely on a pension fund that is currently facing a huge funding crisis due largely to risky management decisions. 

“If this well dries up, we have nothing,” one retired Jefferson County teacher, Lauri Wade, told the Courier-Journal during last year’s protests. 

Educators staged the coordinated protests six times in a two-week period, according to WDRB, a local news station. Due to a lack of enough substitutes, some of the districts were forced to close during the sickouts.

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Principal Dies After Donating Bone Marrow To Someone He Never Met

A New Jersey high school is mourning the loss of its principal, who died from complications suffered while donating bone marrow to someone he never met.

Westfield High School Principal Derrick Nelson, 44, died Sunday after he lapsed into a coma during the donation procedure in February, according to His bone marrow went to a 14-year-old boy in France. 

“He couldn’t speak” as he was lying in a hospital bed after the procedure,” his father, 81-year-old Willie Nelson, said. “His eyes were open and he realized who [family members] were. But he couldn’t move. He never spoke again.”

Derrick Nelson couldn’t go under general anesthesia for the procedure because of sleep apnea, which makes sedation extremely dangerous, according to Inside Edition.

Nor were doctors able to draw blood from his arms either because he carried the trait for the sickle cell anemia blood disorder.

Instead, they put Nelson under local anesthesia and extracted cells from his bone marrow and sent them to the boy in France.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most serious risk associated with donating bone marrow stems from the use and effects of anesthesia during surgery.

Nelson had served as Westfield High’s principal since February 2017. Before that, he was the vice principal of Westfield Junior High School. He also had been a member of the Army Reserve for more than 20 years, according to CBS New York.

Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle was among those mourning his death.

“He lived his life with daily acts of selflessness and kindness, so it’s a tremendous loss and people are reeling from it,” Brindle told reporters. “He just lived a life of service above self, and I think there is a lesson that we’re all going to take away from his untimely passing that hopefully we can apply to our own lives.”

Besides his father, Nelson is survived by his mother, Juanita, his fiancé, Sheronda, and the couple’s 6-year-old daughter, according to

A funeral will be held later at St. John’s Baptist Church in Scotch Plains. 

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How To Tell Relatives, Teachers, Babysitters — Even Your Spouse — Your Screen Time Rules

You wouldn’t send your kid to a sleepover without telling other parents about your kid’s allergies or bedtime bugaboos. Why not use the same logic with screen time rules?

We know it’s hard to do. It can feel like you’re being judgmental or don’t trust the other person to take good care of your child. But if you have strong preferences about what and when your child consumes media, you need to speak up even when you’re not around to supervise. Each situation calls for a different strategy. (And don’t forget to empower kids to talk to caregivers about what they are and aren’t comfortable watching, playing, or reading.)

Here are 10 ways to express your wishes to babysitters, friends and relatives.

Daycare or after-school program

  • Assess the situation: If you have a choice of daycare or after-school programs, ask the director about his or her stance on media use before you sign up. Say: “Do kids ever watch TV or play video games during the day?” But if you find out after the fact that your kids are consuming more media than you’d like ― or you don’t like what they’re watching or playing ― it’s time for a talk.

  • Be respectful but clear: Ask: “What’s your policy on TV/movie/etc. use when the kids are in your care?”

  • Find a solution that works for you: Try something like: “I’m not comfortable with my kids watching that much TV. What alternatives can we come up with?” If you still don’t get what you want, you can band together with other parents to present a unified front … or change caregivers.

The babysitter

  • Check in: Your kids might love the teenage babysitter who brings candy and lets them play on her iPhone, but when it comes to your house and your kids, it’s important to speak up for what you expect. Besides, if she wants more babysitting gigs, it’s helpful for her to know where you stand on everything from bedtime to posting pictures of your kids online.

  • Be specific about what is and isn’t OK: “I don’t want them watching any TV at all, but they can play 30 minutes of video games before dinner.” Or prepare them for the challenges you think they’ll face: “My daughter will probably ask you to read Goosebumps before bed, but please ask her to choose a different book instead. I don’t want her to have nightmares.”

  • Consider putting a checklist of do’s and don’ts on the fridge.


  • Be clear: Uncle Bob may love your kids but have no clue that Red Dead Redemption isn’t your idea of age-appropriate gaming. And how about the aunt whose taste in books leans toward the romantic? Help relatives (and yourself) by speaking up about your media rules. Say: “We’re only watching G-rated movies in our house right now.” Or: “I liked the book you got for Danny last year. He’s probably ready for the next in the series.”

  • Do damage control: If your sister tries to be cheeky and buys your daughter a “How to Flirt” book, explain to your daughter that you’ll have to keep it until she’s older, even if she gives you the stink eye.

Your spouse

  • Stay flexible: You may have had a great plan for how and when your toddler could watch TV or play with the iPad, but as she gets older, new choices open up.

  • Compromise: You have to agree on some basics so you can present a united front to the kids. Often one parent is more lax, and this can really irk the more restrictive partner. Hopefully you can work out something you both can live with. Just make sure to have this conversation behind closed doors. Try: “I’d like to start eating dinner at the table instead of in front of the TV. How do you feel about that?”

  • Fix mistakes: If one spouse breaks the agreement, hash out the issue after the kids are in bed. “We agreed the kids weren’t ready for PG-13 movies. I’m upset that you took them to see Alita: Battle Angel after we’d made that agreement. How can we talk to the kids about this change to our rules?”

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Art (and Art Teachers) Have Power

Allison Richo

“What are you going to do with that?” It’s a question college students and newly minted college graduates often hear from family and friends. For Allison Richo, who finished college in the 1980s, the that” was an art degree.

Today, she holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., and for the last 25 years has helped high school students in Prince Georges County, Md., see the world through artistic eyes.

“It’s been the best thing ever,” says Richo, who once owned an architectural design business with two friends.

When the business folded, Richo started to substitute teach.

“I did so well as an art teacher, I got a call [to return] and that started my career.”

Multiple Hats

It’s been nonstop for Richo, who teaches at Oxon Hill High School. Despite her love of art, and her long list of personal awards and recognitions, her attention is squarely centered on her students. So much so that she takes on a mammoth amount of responsibility: visual arts chairperson, interactive media and production coordinator, and academy and national art society sponsor. She also teaches five prep classes that include AP Drawing Studio, AP 2-D Design Studio, Basic Design, Drawing and Painting, and Art 1. Richo also earned National Board Certified status while battling a health crisis.

From your shoes to your cell phone, everything is connected to the arts.” – Allison Richo, art teacher

“I know it’s a lot, but I’m determined to give my students the best art education I can. If that means taking on more than what I need to, then I’ll do it.”

Richo is unafraid when it comes to looking directly at societal challenges, and bringing them into her classroom. Her students have examined issues like the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man who was killed by police in Ferguson Mo., during August of 2014, and the Louisiana communities that were neglected following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The discussions help to fuel installation pieces the students create afterward.

By connecting art with everyday life, Richo helps her students understand art’s relevance. “From your shoes to your cell phone, everything is connected to the arts.”

Otherwise, students think it’s like it’s being in kindergarten, ‘Oh, we’re
just drawing and coloring.’ No. There’s more to it than that.”

The More

Art isn’t just painting a pretty picture and learning fundamental skills, explains Richo. Art builds character and critical thinking skills, and because of the giving that creativity requires, art also teaches empathy.

While Richo wants her students to achieve mastery and evolve in their technique, she also wants them to use their art to give back to their community.

To achieve this sense of selfless generosity, Oxon Hill High School students have participated in The Memory Project, which invites young artists around the world to create portraits as special gifts for children facing challenges in countries like Haiti, Syria, and Madagascar.

“Art teachers have so much power. We have the tools to equip students with the skills they need to go out into the real world and be successful and it’s up to [us] tp help them get there.”

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Stanford University Expels Student With Fake Sailing Credentials Tied To Bribery Scandal

Stanford University kicked out a student last week who is tied to the recent nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.

On April 2, the university said it had rescinded admission and vacated academic credits for the unnamed student after finding false information on their application. The student had “fabricated sailing credentials,” according to The Stanford Daily, the university’s student paper.

Stanford said the student was one of three associated with a $770,000 donation to the university’s sailing program from Rick Singer’s fake charity, Key Worldwide Foundation. Two of the students were not admitted to Stanford. The foundation donated $500,000 to the sailing program on behalf of this third student, per the San Francisco Chronicle.

Stanford fired its former head sailing coach, who pleaded guilty to charges in the case, but the student in question had not received any recommendation from the coach on their application and had no affiliation with the sailing program once on campus, per the university. The school said it received the donation several months after admitting the student.

Last month, the FBI charged dozens of people in an elite college admission scheme in which wealthy parents ― including celebrities Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman ― allegedly paid bribes to ensure that their children were accepted to schools such as Stanford, Yale and the University of Southern California. Parents allegedly paid to fraudulently change their children’s exam scores or have their children admitted as student-athletes even if they didn’t play the sport in question.

Huffman and more than a dozen others pleaded guilty on Monday to the charges brought against them in the case.

Stanford said it is taking steps to prevent future admissions fraud, including by reviewing every Stanford applicant involved in athletic recruitment. The university said it received no other donations from Singer’s foundation.

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Michelle Wolf Jokes: I’m ‘A Little Proud’ Of Felicity Huffman And Lori Loughlin

Michelle Wolf poked fun at the celebrities who have been arrested in the college admissions bribery scandal at Variety’s annual Power of Women luncheon event in New York on Friday.

The comedian joked she was “a little proud” of “Full House” star Lori Loughlin and “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman, who are among dozens of people alleged to have paid bribes to secure prestigious school spots for their children.

“It’s nice to have women running schemes where enough money is involved that it flags the FBI,” said Wolf. “That’s power.”

Wolf also roasted President Donald Trump:

She poked fun at former Vice President Joe Biden:

CNN and Fox News drew her ire:

Wolf suggested that “female assholes should get a chance, too.”

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was made fun of:

There was a message to white women about equality:

And on the red carpet, Wolf ridiculed Trump for not attending the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner for the third year in a row. Trump announced Friday he would instead hold a political rally on Apr. 27.

“I think he doesn’t have a big enough spine to attend,” said Wolf. “If a president can’t take someone making fun of them, I don’t really care about them.”

Wolf faced a backlash from conservatives after hosting the dinner in 2018, when she joked about White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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Public Education ‘Ground Zero’ in Radical Right’s Assault on Democracy, Says Historian

Nancy MacLean is an American historian and the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University, where she teaches courses on modern U.S. history and the history of social movements. NEA Today caught up with MacLean for an in-depth conversation of her recent book Democracy in Chains, in which she details the decades-long effort of the radical right-wing to undermine U.S. democracy by establishing footholds in government, think tanks, media, the courts, and academia. The privatization of public education is a priority of this “stealth” campaign. In the book, MacLean introduces the reader to an important but overlooked player.

While many of us are familiar with Charles and David Koch—the Koch brothers—you introduce us to a new figure: James Buchanan, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1986. Who was he and how did you discover him?

Nancy MacLean: James McGill Buchanan supplied the ideas that the Koch network has weaponized to achieve an agenda they know the people do not want: what amounts to a stealth plan to change our country.

I came across him when researching the State of Virginia’s fight against the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. This “massive resistance” mandated tax-funded vouchers for private schools and also the closure of any public school that planned to desegregate. Even after the forced closures left 10,000 white children school-less throughout the fall of 1958 and the courts ruled them unconstitutional, Buchanan wanted to keep the fight going. He urged, in essence, the privatization of public schools, which would have put them beyond reach of the courts.

Why, I wondered, would a believer in freeing markets with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, be allying, in effect, with the most arch segregationists? I learned that the contest over Brown v. Board shaped Buchanan’s career. He arrived in Virginia in 1956, just as its conservative leaders were goading southern states to fight the ruling. Like them, he saw Brown not through the lens of equal protection of the law for all citizens, but rather as another wave in a rising tide of unwarranted federal interference in the affairs of the states going back to the New Deal. In his view, all this violated individual liberty, private property rights, and states’ rights.  Given a center to run at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, he made it his life’s work to understand how the other side became so powerful and, then, to devise a strategy for breaking down the liberal state they had created.

Buchanan and Charles Koch shared the same libertarian political views and espoused the same vision of what the United States should look like—specifically when it came to economic liberty. What defines the economic liberty worldview of Buchanan and Koch? Why should their views make the rest of us so nervous?

NM: Those who subscribe to this philosophy believe that government should have only three roles: to provide for the national defense, ensure the rule of law, and guarantee social order (in short: armies, courts, and police).

Anything that impinges on the liberty of the propertied is suspect in their view, whether taxation for public schools or regulation of corporations—even to address a problem as urgent as climate change.

Only a tiny minority of Americans holds these extreme beliefs (polls find 2-4 percent at most) but because we have allowed such vast wealth to concentrate in the hands of the top one percent, Charles Koch and his fellow donors are able to drive changes they never would be able to without the vast infrastructure of organizations they can fund.

This infrastructure is huge. It includes dozens of ostensibly separate national bodies such as the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the Federalist Society; over 150 state-level organizations whose work is aligned through the State Policy Network; organizing enterprises including Americans for Prosperity, Concerned Veterans for America, the LIBRE Initiative, and Generation Opportunity; and university-based centers of allied faculty—with George Mason University’s Mercatus Center as the best-funded flagship, but many more developing.

Some 400 colleges and universities are now getting money from the Charles Koch Foundation. There’s a great organization called UnKoch My Campus that is fighting this corruption of academic integrity, together with faculty, student, and community allies. NEA members should be aware of them as allies, because the Koch network recently announced that transforming K-12 education will be a top priority going forward. No doubt they will use their university centers to push for privatization.

There are a few issues that particularly raise the ire of libertarians, including public education and unions. Why do they disdain public education so much? Why was breaking the power of unions a central element of libertarians’ playbook?

NM:  In fact, the first thing that brought Koch and Buchanan together, half a century ago, was their shared hostility toward public education—because it was public. The term libertarians use is “government schools.”

In their new order, parents will have to pay out of pocket the cost of their children’s schooling just as they pay for their food and shelter. That’s what the insiders mean by “personal responsibility.” And by attacking teachers’ unions and directing tax monies toward for-profit companies, they get closer to that goal without having to spell it out to the voters. They shift power away from the public and toward corporations that will then lobby to preserve their new sources of profit.

James Buchanan in 2010 (photo: Atlas Network)

Buchanan grew up in rural Tennessee, attended public schools and went to a local teachers’ college. Why did he have such animus towards public goods and America’s existing social contract when he was a direct beneficiary of them?

NM: I I think the answer lies in the right-wing populism Buchanan imbibed as a young white man in a bitter and propertied family. He came to identify with corporations as “producers” and view claimants on government assistance as “parasites” (the root of today’s “makers and takers” talk). This toxic way of seeing came from southern white elites who had to turn ordinary whites against their black fellow citizens to win, and it prepared him to perceive later experiences in patterned ways.

In Buchanan’s own telling, he had a formative experience in the Navy in World War II when he watched Northeasterners from Ivy League schools be promoted while he was passed over because he came from the South and attended Middle Tennessee State Teachers’ college. He knew he was as smart, if not smarter, than they, but believed he was seen as one of “the great unwashed,” in the words of this proud “country boy.”

I suspect that’s why the Brown ruling so upset him and changed the course of his life’s work. He saw the same kind of Northerners he disliked from that military experience now telling southern states what to do. Not just that, but imposing rulings that required communities to spend money on improvements that taxpayers like himself would have to pay for, whether they wanted to or not. He had no children himself and resented those who expected others to pay for teaching theirs.

We forget today how much southern segregationists argued in terms of tax burdens. Just like today’s defenders of local financing, they said why should blacks enjoy the same quality of schooling as whites if they weren’t paying the same amount in taxes? Never, of course, admitting the impossible vicious cycle they kept in place, where poor schooling meant poor job prospects and inability to pay higher taxes.

What role did Buchanan play in furthering Charles Koch’s goals?

NM: Koch was a CEO who in the late 1960s began to devour political-economic theory based on the notion that free-reign capitalism (what others might call Dickensian capitalism) would justly reward the smart and hardworking, and rightly punish those who failed to take responsibility for themselves or had lesser ability. It’s a kind of economic Social Darwinism. He believed then and believes now that the market is the wisest and fairest form of governance.

But before long Koch came to realize that if the majority of Americans ever truly understood the full implications of his vision, they would never support it.  Indeed, they would actively oppose it.

We have to always remember that the architects of this plan are doing what they’re doing in the stealth manner they are because they are afraid of the majority, of the people getting wise to what they’re up to and stopping them.”

So, Koch went in search of an operational strategy—what he called a “technology” —that could get around this big hurdle. He funded hundreds of thinkers until he discovered that technology in Buchanan’s thought. From Buchanan, Koch learned that for the agenda to succeed, it had to be put in place in small incremental steps, mutually reinforcing changes of the rules that govern our nation.

Koch’s team used Buchanan’s ideas to devise a roadmap for a radical transformation that could be carried out largely below the radar of the people, yet legally. The plan was (and is) to act on so many fronts at once, in what insiders call a “big bang” of “interrelated plays,” that others outside the movement would not realize the quiet revolution underway until it was too late to undo it. Examples include what we have seen in the 30 states now dominated by Republican elected officials who have been bent to the will of the Koch donor network: a battery of new laws to undermine unions, suppress the votes of those most likely to support active government, apply unprecedented gerrymandering to mispresent the will of the remaining voters, undermine other strong liberal lobbies such as Planned Parenthood, use privatization to alter power relations, alter the state courts, and more.

How do believers in a democracy for and by the people respond to a billionaire funded movement?

NM: We have to always remember that the architects of this plan are doing what they’re doing in the stealth manner they are because they are afraid of the majority, of the people getting wise to what they’re up to and stopping them. And I am seeing signs of that happening.

Nancy MacLean, author of “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.”

All over the country, I’m seeing a deepening awareness that we are at a pivotal moment, an all-hands-on-deck emergency for the future of government of, by and for the people. I’ve been impressed by the passion out there to protect democracy—and renew it to meet today’s needs.  That awareness crosses sectors, from union members to environmentalists, from feminists to civil-rights activists, from good government groups to senior citizens who worked hard to build a fairer world and don’t want to see it ruined for their grandchildren.

You can see it in the Red for Ed teachers’ mobilizations and the recent strikes to defend public education, in Black Lives Matter, in the Women’s March, in the thousands of Indivisible groups built since 2016, among the Parkland students and their March for Our Lives organizing. This spring, I am working as an Innovation Fellow with PolicyLink to help think through how to stop the Koch juggernaut and fix the chronic problems of our democracy that enabled it to get this far so that we can finally achieve racial and economic equity and environmental and social sustainability.

You mention that “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” In the world that we live in—one of “fake news” and extreme partisan polarization—does shedding light on these radical right activists’ actions matter? What actions should we take to stop them from taking over our democracy?

NM: It absolutely matters. It’s vital to inform and engage as many people as we can.

But for greatest impact, the work should be done as organizers would do it, working outward in concentric circles, starting with those most likely to get the need and become engaged. There’s no point now in trying to persuade those who are trapped in the right’s bubble of deliberate misinformation.

Instead, each of us can inventory those we know through our unions, schools, friendship networks, faith congregations, and community organizations and talk with those most likely to become active, maybe even get them in reading groups to discuss what’s happening and what seems most important to work on where they are, with their particular talents and passions and resources. When widening circles engage, the right’s unity will start to crack.

But again, the first step is becoming informed. And when people do, they will realize the right amassed its power through state-level work, so that’s an excellent place to start rebuilding collective power, launching popular education efforts, and working for democracy reforms.

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Texas Teacher Put On Leave After Alleged Ties To White Nationalist Group Exposed

A teacher in Texas has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into his alleged ties to a white nationalist group, school officials confirmed to HuffPost Thursday.

Stephen Arnquist, who teaches Japanese at Skyline High School in Dallas, will remain on leave “pending the outcome of an investigation” into comments Arnquist allegedly posted online, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Independent School District said in a statement.

Earlier Thursday, anonymous anti-fascist activists from an Oregon-based group called Eugene Antifa posted an article alleging that Arnquist is a member of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa.

Identity Evropa, whose members attended and helped organize the deadly 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is listed as an extremist organization by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center

Identity Evropa members have long used the messaging app Discord to communicate with each other. Last month, the independent media collective Unicorn Riot obtained those communications and published them online. (Using those Discord messages, HuffPost previously identified seven members of the U.S. military connected to Identity Evropa. All are now under investigation by their respective military branches.)  

Stephen Arnquist, who teaches Japanese at Skyline High School in Dallas, has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into his alleged ties to a white nationalist group, school officials confirmed.

An Identity Evropa member going by the name of “Stephen – TX” posted 28 times in the Discord group. He stated that he “lived in Japan for 7 years” and that he is now “a high school Japanese teacher in the ghetto.”

“The school is 40% Black, 60% Hispanic school,” wrote Stephen-TX. “The school was was 90% white back in the 70s. Walking down the hall by the auditorium looking at the band, choir, etc, photos year by year, it’s… it’s not fun.”

According to publicly available data, 99 percent of students at Skyline High School are nonwhite.

Stephen-TX described his students as “somewhat higher tier blacks and Hispanics,” but added that “they’re still unimpressive compared to mostly white classes I observed in neighboring districts.”

Messages posted by "Stephen-TX" in Identity Evropa's server on Discord. 

Messages posted by “Stephen-TX” in Identity Evropa’s server on Discord. 

In December 2018, shortly after he appeared to have joined Identity Evropa, Stephen-TX posted the results of his 23andMe DNA test. The results showed that he was of mostly British and Scandinavian ancestry.

On the neo-Nazi website Stormfront, a commenter by the name of “Arnquist” introduced himself to other racists on the site as an “American of mostly British and Swedish ancestry.”

Elsewhere online, Arnquist appears to have been a frequent commenter on the white supremacist web forum The Right Stuff, where he posted under his full name.

Activists with Eugene Antifa also uncovered a blog Arnquist allegedly maintained on Blogger, where in 2014 he wrote about taking the “red pill,” a term frequently used by the so-called alt-right to describe an awakening to racist and fascist beliefs. 

Identity Evropa is a deeply racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic group. Its members participated in the torchlight march on the eve of the deadly “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, chanting “Jews will not replace us!” 

Arnquist did not respond to a HuffPost request for comment on his alleged membership in the group. 

Robyn Harris, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Independent School District, told HuffPost in a statement that Arnquist has taught at Skyline High School since August 2018. 

The district, Harris said, is “committed to providing high-quality instruction in every class.”  

“We proudly embrace the diversity of our students and value the families we serve,” she added. “Together, we believe every student can grow, succeed and achieve.”

This is not the first time that a teacher has been accused of being a white nationalist.

Last year, a HuffPost investigation exposed a middle school teacher in Florida as the host of a white nationalist podcast.

Earlier in 2018, a Catholic substitute teacher in Maryland was fired after it was revealed that he worked for a white nationalist think tank and had attended the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

And in 2017, the principal of a Louisiana charter school was fired after footage surfaced showing him wearing jewelry associated with white nationalism. He had also appeared on white nationalist podcasts.

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Congress Approves National Award Program for ESPs

After the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act (H.R. 276) by a vote of 387-19 in February, the Senate quickly followed suit with its own unanimous approval in March.

“This recognition is way overdue,” said Debby Chandler, president of the National Council for Education Support Professionals (NCESP), which works within the National Education Association (NEA) to represent the interests and issues of education support professionals (ESP).

It has taken more than a decade of seemingly endless meetings between elected officials in Washington, political appointees from two different presidential administrations, and numerous NEA staff, board members, lobbyists, ESPs and other activists for the bill to get this close to becoming law.

“The voices of our board members and activists who contacted Congressional members in the first few months of this year made the difference,” said Marc Egan, NEA director of government relations. “We had worked behind the scenes and knew we had a moment to try to capitalize on.”

Popularly known as the RISE Act, the bill has been sent to the president for review.

“Lobbying for a bill like this is one of those moments where you realize how fortunate you are to work on behalf of educators nationwide,” Egan said. “Over the many years we fought for this bill, I would say to members of Congress, ‘This is as much of a mom-and-apple-pie bill that you can find.’”

“After many years by educators of advocating for such a national award, Congress is right to recognize the unsung and often unseen heroes of the education professions – education support professionals and classified school employees.” – NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.

The legislation provides recognition by the federal government for the outstanding contributions of ESPs to the nation’s public schools and the students they serve. If signed by the president, the legislation will direct the Secretary of Education to establish a national award program recognizing the excellence exhibited by these public school educators in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

Similar to the National Teacher of the Year award program, governors from each state will work with educators, associations, and other stakeholders on identifying nominees for final selection by the education secretary.

“Schools simply cannot run without us,” said Chandler, who is an NEA board member and a secretary at John R. Rogers High School in Spokane, Wash. “We ignite the love of learning while providing essential services to the whole student.”

There are almost 3 million school support professionals in our nation’s public schools, colleges, and universities. They comprise one-third of the public education workforce.

“Although they seldom seek the spotlight, this national award will increase awareness of the important roles we play,” said Matthew Powell, the 2019 NEA ESP of the Year, and a custodial supervisor at Central Elementary School in Mayfield, Ky. Since 1992, NEA has recognized these educators annually with its ESP of the Year award. The award program will continue for NEA members even if the RISE Act is enacted.

Alfonso Salais teaches Spanish in the International Baccalaureate Program at Lansing Eastern High School in Lansing, Mich. He is a member of the NEA ESP Careers Committee and son of an ESP.

“My mom has been in the food and child nutrition service for over 35 years,” he said. “The level of expertise, dedication, and skills that she brings to her school district is second to none.”

Salais acknowledges that when most people think about educators, they have teachers in mind.

“This paradigm needs to change and broaden while highlighting all the important people at a school who play a critical role in the growth and development of children,” he said. “A bill like this will highlight the work of education’s unsung heroes — ESPs.”

Like his mother and family, Salais notes that ESPs “live in the same communities where they work, attend the same places of worship, and shop in the same grocery stores as their students and their families. They are an invaluable resource even outside of school.”

Of NEA’s 3 million members, almost 500,000 are ESPs represented in the following nine career groups:

  • Clerical services
  • Custodial and maintenance services
  • Food services
  • Health and student services
  • Paraeducators
  • Security services
  • Skilled trade services
  • Technical services
  • Transportation services

“In all these capacities and services, we give hope, build bridges, heal and mend broken hearts, build self-esteem and nurture students,” said Chandler. “Passage of the RISE Act will spotlight the important work ESPs do to make a difference in the lives of students.”

For more information about ESPs, visit:

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Teacher Shortage is ‘Real and Growing, and Worse than We Thought’

 While the teacher shortage is being felt across many states and school districts, its impact is not shared equally along socioeconomic lines, according to a new paper by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

Probably the most critical resource denied to many students is an experienced, full-certified teacher –  a deficit that is “much more acute problem in high-poverty schools,” said EPI Economist Emma García. “These shortages threaten students’ ability to learn and reduce teachers’ effectiveness, and high teacher turnover consumes economic resources that could be better deployed elsewhere.”

The study, co-authored by García and EPI research associate Elaine Weiss, is the first in a series  examining the “perfect storm” in the teacher labor market – the causes, the consequences and potential remedies. “The teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought,” they write.

As the U.S. economy slowly recovered from the Great Recession and school budgets began to improve, districts began to look for teachers. They soon found that filling positions was more difficult than they had anticipated. Too many districts have struggled ever since. Finding qualified teachers in mathematics, science and special education has been a particular challenge.

The Leaning Policy Institute (LPI), who has sounded the alarm about the teacher shortage in a number of reports, defines a shortage as “the inability to staff school at current wages with individuals qualified to teach in the fields required.”

As García and Weiss note, not all current teachers meet the education, experience, and certification requirements associated with being a highly qualified teacher.

“We argue that, when issues such as teacher quality and the unequal distribution of highly qualified teachers across schools serving different concentrations of low-income students are taken into consideration, the teacher shortage problem is much more severe than previously thought,” the EPI report said.

The shortages are especially severe in California. In 2017, LPI found that two-thirds of principals in high-poverty schools left positions vacant or hired less-qualified teachers. Less than half of their counterparts in schools with fewer lower-income students did so.

In Illinois, of the 1,006 unfilled teacher positions in the state, 74 percent are in majority-minority school districts while 81 percent are in districts where the majority of students are low-income. Ninety percent of vacancies are in underfunded school districts.

Students in high-poverty schools are more likely than their counterparts in low-poverty schools to have teachers who have less experience, fewer credentials, and lack the educational background in the subject matter they are teaching. (See chart below.) These teachers are also more likely to leave the profession.

how bad is the teacher shortage?

Source: Economic Policy Institute (Click to Enlarge)

The EPI paper also finds that the established link between strong credentials and retention weakens in high-poverty schools, as attrition drains these schools of qualified teachers at a greater rate. Richard Ingersoll of the University of Pennsylvania estimates that half of all teacher turnover occurs in 25 percent of public schools, predominantly in high-poverty urban and rural areas.

“There is no sign that the large shortage of credentialed teachers—overall, and especially in high-poverty schools—will go away,” García and Weiss write. Progress can be achieved only when the problem and its complexities are evaluated properly. This begins by understanding that the shortage is driven by several critical factors, including the teacher pay gap, stress and demoralization, and a scarcity of effective professional development, training and mentoring.

EPI will be take an in-depth look at these challenges – and potential solutions – in upcoming papers.

“In light of the harms the teacher shortage creates, as well as its size and projected trend, it is critical to understand the nature of the problem and the complexity of the teacher labor market,” said Weiss. “While most people understand teaching is a difficult job, our goal is to provide the attention that we have historically failed to in order to understand and fix the problems contributing to the shortage.”

What Happens When a Teacher Leaves Mid-Year?
teachers leaving mid-yearU.S. teachers leave the profession at higher rates than other countries, but the debate and discussion over teacher attrition – reflected in research and in the media – focuses on educators exiting the profession before the beginning of a school year, based on the assumption that’s when turnover occurs. Little is known about teachers leaving mid-year.

A Growing Recruitment Strategy for a Diverse Teacher Workforce

grow your own teachers“How do we help those who should be in classrooms working with students who look like them, sound like them, and will connect with them?” asks NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. An answer may rest within grow-your-own programs, which recruit local community members and help them become teachers, creating a workforce that’s reflective of the full diversity of the student population.

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