The Oakland Ed Week in Review 4/13/24-4/19/24

It’s time for the Oakland Ed Week in Review! 

We’re back with our roundup of education news from around The Town, the Bay Area, state, and nation for your weekend reading. This is a Dirk favorite and one of the last blogs he published for Great School Voices. 

Here’s what’s been going on:

Here in Oakland |  Attorney General Rob Bonta intervenes to ensure equitable decision-making in school closures, while Franklin Elementary’s students in the Financial Literacy for Kids program receive notice. (Stay tuned for more GSV coverage on this score!)  The public library undergoes renovations. Former OUSD students donate to Fruitvale Elementary’s library. Bomb threats disrupt Bay Area schools. The Oakland REACH launches a math tutoring program where Liberator Fellowships offer paid opportunities for math and literacy tutors. Oakland students participate in the Battle of the Books. Reach University leaders receive recognition for addressing teacher shortages. The #BlackTeacherProject hosts workshops on addressing racial slurs in schools while Oakland Promise awards scholarships.

In the Greater Bay Area |  The Antioch Unified School District Board President has called for the resignation of the Superintendent. Meanwhile, in Dublin, California, the completion of Emerald High School, the first new high school in Alameda County in 50 years, at a cost of nearly $400 million. Berkeley Unified Superintendent Enikia Ford Morthel’s upcoming testimony before a U.S. House committee on antisemitism reflects national concerns and local controversies.

Throughout the State of California |  Proposed legislation seeks to eliminate the California Teaching Performance Assessment (CalTPA), while a report reveals stagnant Black student enrollment in the state’s colleges and universities. Amid budget concerns, hundreds of California teachers face job uncertainty as layoff notices surge, and legal challenges arise over a ballot measure proposal requiring school staff to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender. The passing of Senate Bill (SB) 1248, known as Yahushua’s Law, aims to protect students from extreme weather conditions at school. Meanwhile, Sacramento State University offers guaranteed admission to Elk Grove Unified graduating seniors, and over 10,000 high school students in Santa Clara County pre-register to vote. LAUSD’s opening of Sun King Apartments addresses rising student homelessness,and a commentary underscores the importance of teacher diversity in improving student outcomes.

Across the Nation |  Efforts to address gender and racial disparities in STEM fields continue, with initiatives like the National STEM Festival striving to overcome barriers faced by women of color. The importance of STEM education is underscored by organizations like XQ Institute and Beyond100K, which advocate for inclusive and rigorous high school STEM programs. However, educators worldwide face challenges outside the classroom, such as behavioral issues and lack of family support, impacting student success. Rhode Island College’s successful reading program transformation highlights the potential for evidence-based approaches to improve literacy rates and academic outcomes. Despite increased spending on state preschool programs supported by federal COVID aid, concerns about sustainability and equitable access persist. The redesign of the FAFSA aims to simplify the financial aid process, but rollout complications raise concerns about timely aid distribution. In Chicago, the Teachers Union advocates for contract demands that prioritize student and community needs, while data from several states reveal ongoing challenges with teacher shortages. Ideological divisions over library books result in clashes between red and blue states. Meanwhile, the Biden administration expands Title IX protections for LGBTQ students and sexual assault victims. The Missouri Legislature’s passage of a comprehensive education bill sparks debate over charter school expansion and public education funding.

What did we miss?  Hit us up in the comments below:


AG Bonta Says Oakland School Leaders Should Comply with State Laws to Avoid ‘Disparate Harm’ When Closing or Merging Schools

What’s Happening: California Attorney General Rob Bonta has addressed a letter to the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Board of Education, emphasizing the district’s responsibility to adhere to state education and civil rights laws when considering school closures, mergers, or consolidations in 2025-2026. This directive aims to prevent potential “disparate harm,” such as segregation and discrimination, to students and families.

Why It Matters: The letter underscores the importance of equitable decision-making in education and highlights the potential negative impacts of school closures on vulnerable student populations. Attorney General Bonta’s intervention seeks to ensure that OUSD’s actions align with legal requirements and prioritize the well-being of all students.

Key Details: The DOJ investigated OUSD’s 2022 school closures, highlighting concerns of disproportionate impact on Black and low-income students. Attorney General Bonta recommends community engagement and equity assessments for future decisions.

Notable Quote: Attorney General Bonta emphasized, “The bottom line is that discrimination in any form will not be tolerated.” 

By Post News Group Staff

This Bay Area elementary school is teaching kids an invaluable life skill: How to handle money

What’s Happening: Franklin Elementary School in Oakland is implementing a financial literacy program to equip students with essential money management skills. Led by dedicated educators and supported by community organizations, the program aims to instill financial responsibility and entrepreneurship in students from an early age.

Why It Matters: Financial literacy is a crucial life skill often overlooked in traditional education curriculums. By introducing financial concepts and practical skills at the elementary level, students like Mecca and Johan are empowered to make informed financial decisions and develop entrepreneurial mindsets.

Notable Quote: “It’s time for us to change those numbers.” – This quote from Val Chapman underscores the urgency of addressing the racial wealth gap through financial education. By providing equitable access to financial literacy education, schools can play a pivotal role in bridging economic disparities and empowering underserved communities.

By Jill Tucker for SF Chronicle

Oakland Public Library closing for 6 months

What’s Happening: The Oakland Public Library’s Main Branch, including the Oakland History Center, is closing from May to November for critical repairs and upgrades.

Why It Matters: The closure raises concerns about access to essential library services and the impact on the community, emphasizing the need for infrastructure investment in public institutions.

Notable Quote: “I hope that they make it better… Sometimes it helps just to close things out for a little bit, just to help it grow and make it better than it was before.” – Panama Vance, a patron of the Oakland Public Library 

Zac Sos for FOX2 KTVU

Related News Article: The Oakland Main Library branch will close for at least five months – by Azucena Rasilla for The Oaklandside

OUSD Wraps Up California Library Week and Celebrates Big Donation to the Library at Fruitvale Elementary from Former OUSD Students

What’s Happening: Former OUSD students organized a fundraiser in honor of their former teacher, Jan Mendelsohn-Shapiro, and raised $8,750 to support the school’s library.

Why It Matters: This donation will greatly benefit the students at Fruitvale Elementary by enhancing their access to a diverse range of books and resources.

Notable Quote: “It means everything… all the help is welcome, especially with the books. It’s important, because we need everybody,” expressed Principal Nick Easter.

OUSD Newsroom

Bay Area schools receive bizarre bomb threat via email

What’s Happening: Several Bay Area schools received a disturbing email threatening bomb detonations unless demands related to Russian prisoners and US jails were met.

Why It Matters: The incident underscores the vulnerability of educational institutions to threats and the challenges administrators face in assessing and responding to such situations while ensuring the safety of students and staff.

By KTVU Staff

Additional Coverage: Bay Area schools respond to bomb threats that were deemed not credible – Aly Brown Bay City News

After Literacy Wins, Oakland REACH’s Parent ‘Liberators’ Take on Math Tutoring

What’s Happening: The Oakland REACH and Oakland Unified School District collaborate on a promising math tutoring program, aiming to boost student success in elementary math education.

Why It Matters: The initiative seeks to address longstanding disparities in math proficiency, particularly among Black, Hispanic, and low-income students, with hopes to bridge the gap widened by the pandemic.

Notable Quote: “We need to do the work of building the confidence and awareness they need to feel like math is something in my ancestry.” – Lakisha Young, founder of the Oakland REACH.

By Jo Napolitano for The 74

In related news: The REACH is opening its Paid Summer Liberator Fellowship

What’s Happening: The Oakland Reach is offering a paid Math or Literacy Liberator Fellowship for community members to support student success through tutoring. Fellows will receive subject-specific training, leadership development, and support for onboarding into paid tutoring positions in OUSD. 

Why It Matters: Too many Oakland students cannot read and do math! The Fellowship addresses critical needs in math and literacy education while offering valuable training and support to individuals passionate about making a difference in their community.

Important Info: Interested applicants, regardless of experience, can Apply Online for the Fellowship, with applications reviewed on a rolling basis. Interviews commence in May, and the deadline for consideration is looming.  

More information and the application is available here 

Reading rivalry: Oakland students face off in OUSD’s first Battle of the Books

What’s Happening: Oakland students engage in the district’s inaugural Battle of the Books, showcasing their literary prowess in a thrilling competition between public and private elementary schools.

Why It Matters: The event not only fosters a love for reading and literacy skills among students but also promotes camaraderie and community building across diverse schools.

Notable Quote: “It’s to build community and to know that there are other kids who are really into reading books.” – Jeff Chang, Teacher Librarian at Redwood Heights Elementary School

By Ashley McBride for The Oaklandside

Teacher Mentoring Program Receives James Irvine Leadership Award

What’s Happening: Leaders at Oakland-based Reach University have been awarded the prestigious James Irvine Leadership Award for their remarkable efforts in addressing California’s teacher shortage through innovative curriculum and credential programs.

Why It Matters: The grant of $350,000 awarded to each organization will further support their mission of fostering diverse and qualified teaching professionals.

Notable Quote: “To be recognized for this work so publicly, has given me more strength to keep [fighting] because it’s a lot of work… It’s an acknowledgement of the work that I’ve put in and it’s an acknowledgement that teachers matter, that education matters,” expressed awardee Héctor Camacho Jr.

By Magaly Muñoz for Oakland Post | Post News Group

#Black Teacher Project – Addressing the Use of the N-Word in Schools’ workshop series

What’s Happening: The #blackteacherproject is hosting a three-part workshop series aiming to address the use of the N-word in schools, challenging the silence and fostering critical discussions among Black teachers. Select applicants will receive a $400 stipend.

Why It Matters: The workshop offers a vital platform for Black educators to confront the historical and present-day impact of the N-word in classrooms, promoting dialogue and action for cultural sensitivity and inclusivity.

For more info click here; for the application, click here.

Volunteer for the 2024 Oakland Promise Awards Ceremony

What’s Happening: Oakland Promise is awarding 1,100 scholarships totaling $4.2M to Oakland’s high school graduating class of 2024 and is calling for volunteers to help host an awards ceremony and celebration for the students and their families.

Why It Matters: The event provides an opportunity to recognize and support the academic achievements of Oakland’s graduating seniors, fostering a sense of community and encouragement for their future endeavors.

For more info, schedule & signup, click here

The Bay Area

Antioch school official calls for superintendent resignation after KNTV worker bullying report

What’s Happening: Antioch Unified School District Board President calls for Superintendent’s resignation following an NBC Bay Area investigation into allegations of bullying and favoritism.

Why It Matters: The call for resignation highlights concerns about ethical leadership and accountability within the district, shedding light on the challenges faced by employees and the need for transparency and action.

Notable Quote: “I am disappointed by the majority of my colleagues’ refusal to prioritize our staff and students… I’m sorry that we have not done more to help address this and create the district we really want for our community.” – Antonio Hernandez, Antioch Unified School District Board President

By Sean Myers, Candice Nguyen and Alex Bozovic for NBC Bay Area News 

Related Investigative News ArticleAntioch Unified boss ‘bully’ put worker’s desk on roof, employees say

Berkeley superintendent will testify before Congress on antisemitism

What’s Happening: Berkeley Unified Superintendent Enikia Ford Morthel will testify before a U.S. House committee on antisemitism, amid heightened tensions over the Israel-Palestine conflict in schools.

Why It Matters: This marks the first Congressional hearings focused on K-12 schools’ handling of antisemitism since recent conflict events.

Notable Quote: “We strive every day to ensure that our classrooms are respectful, humanizing, and joyful places for all our students…” – Statement from Berkeley Unified School District.

By Ally Markovich for The Berkeleyside

California’s fastest-growing city has built a $400 million school. Here’s a look inside…

What’s Happening: Dublin, California, has built a new high school, Emerald High, at a cost of nearly $400 million, making it the first new high school in Alameda County in 50 years with state-of-the-art facilities and amenities.

Why It Matters: Emerald High School symbolizes both progress and disparities in public education infrastructure. While it represents a significant investment in education and serves as a model for modern school facilities, it also underscores the unequal distribution of resources, with some schools lacking basic necessities.

Notable Quote: “We’re really building the school to last for the next century,” Principal Francis Rojas said. 

By Jill Tucker for The SF Chronicle

No D’s and F’s? No extra credit? Will Bay Area schools’ switch to equity grading help or harm students?

What’s Happening: Dublin Unified’s shift to equity grading sparks controversy as it removes D’s and F’s, alters grading scales, and eliminates extra credit, prompting concerns about student preparation and fairness.

Why It Matters: The move reflects a national trend toward equitable grading practices, aiming to address inequities and better measure student understanding, yet it stirs debate about its impact on college readiness and academic standards.

Notable Quote:  “Almost all kids in California graduate high school but only about half who graduate are eligible to apply to UC or CSU schools,” said Alix Gallagher, director of strategic partnerships for Policy Analysis for California Education. “In California, grades are the sole determinant … Grades are a gatekeeper for kids.”

By Molly Gibbs for East Bay Times

High profile for-profit Bay Area coding school BloomTech hit by feds for allegedly tricking students

What’s Happening: BloomTech, a prominent Bay Area coding school, faces federal sanctions for allegedly misleading students about loan costs and job-placement rates, prompting scrutiny of its income-share agreements.

Why It Matters: The case highlights concerns over for-profit vocational schools and their practices, shedding light on issues of student debt, job prospects, and consumer protection in the education sector.

Notable Quote: “BloomTech falsely claimed its ‘income share’ agreements were not loans … In fact, the agreements are loans with an average finance charge of $4,000,” said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

By Ethan Baron for East Bay Times

Students get a taste of AI at The Tech Interactive

What’s Happening: The Tech Interactive in San Jose hosts National AI Literacy Day, engaging over 1,100 students, teachers, and experts in discussions and exhibits about artificial intelligence.

Why It Matters: With AI increasingly shaping our world, events like this foster crucial understanding among youth and educators, preparing them for the AI-driven future.

Notable Quote: “It’s really important for education to think about the skills students need to be successful and have access to AI.” – Esmerelda Tovar, Tech’s computer science education manager.

By Sal Pizarro for East Bay Times

The State of California

California moves a step closer to eliminating one of the state’s last teacher assessments

What’s Happening: Legislation in California aims to eliminate the California Teaching Performance Assessment (CalTPA), one of the last tests teachers must pass to earn credentials, sparking debate over teacher preparation standards and the impact on aspiring educators.

Why It Matters: The proposed removal of the CalTPA, which requires teachers to demonstrate their competence through video clips and written reflections, is seen as a move to streamline the credentialing process and attract more individuals to the teaching profession, but critics argue it may lower standards and disproportionately affect schools serving low-income students.

Notable Quote: “The current iteration of the TPA has been proven to be ineffective at preparing educators for the realities of the classroom,” said Mandy Redfern from the California Teachers Association.

By Diana Lambert for Ed Source

Report: Black Enrollment at Calif. Colleges and Universities Remains Low and Flat

What’s Happening: Despite significant demographic changes in California over the past two decades, the report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) reveals that Black student enrollment in the state’s colleges and universities has remained stagnant, with minimal growth observed compared to other ethnic groups.

Why It Matters: The lack of substantial progress in Black enrollment raises concerns about persistent inequalities and barriers to higher education access, highlighting ongoing challenges in ensuring equitable representation and opportunities for all students.

Notable quote: “All school districts and their leadership have a legal obligation to protect vulnerable children and their communities from disparate harm when making school closure decisions.” – Attorney General Rob Bonta..

By California Black Media via Post News Group

Anxious California teachers with pink slips await word on jobs next school year

What’s Happening: Hundreds of California teachers face job uncertainty as layoff notices surge amid budget concerns and declining enrollment.

Why It Matters: Layoff notices create stress for teachers, disrupt school systems, and contribute to the state’s ongoing teacher shortage crisis.

By Diana Lambert for Ed Source

California Court to Weigh In on Fight Over Transgender Ballot Measure Proposal Language

What’s Happening: A California ballot measure proposal requiring school staff to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender faces legal challenges over alleged misleading language released by the state’s attorney general, Rob Bonta.

Why It Matters: The case underscores the ongoing national debate surrounding parental rights, LGBTQ+ student rights, and the role of schools in addressing gender identity issues, with potential implications for similar measures nationwide.

Notable Quote: “The proposed ballot measure and similar proposals at the school district level have left children she works with scared that ‘their very being is going to be legislated out of existence,'” said Kathie Moehlig.

By Sophie Austin for Associated Press

Yahushua’s Law: Senate Advances Bill to Protect Students from Extreme Weather

What’s Happening: The California Senate Education Committee has passed Senate Bill (SB) 1248, also known as Yahushua’s Law, in memory of 12-year-old Yahushua Robinson, who tragically died from a heat-related illness during a physical education class in 2023. This bill aims to prevent similar incidents by establishing comprehensive guidelines for schools to ensure student safety during extreme weather conditions.

Why It Matters: Yahushua’s Law represents a significant step towards safeguarding students from the dangers of extreme weather while at school. Authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado and co-authored by Assemblymember Akilah Weber, M.D., the bill mandates safety measures such as monitoring weather forecasts, postponing outdoor activities during hazardous conditions, and providing adequate hydration and shade for students.

Notable Quote: “No student should ever lose their life on campus to extreme weather when we can take steps to protect them by preparing statewide plans to minimize exposure to the most harmful elements of exposure,” said Senator Melissa Hurtado.

By California Black Media via Post News Group 

Sacramento State will offer ‘guaranteed admission’ to Elk Grove Unified graduating seniors

What’s Happening: High school seniors in the Elk Grove Unified School District are now guaranteed admission to Sacramento State University through a new pilot program aimed at supporting students who may be uncertain about their college eligibility.

Why It Matters: This initiative offers a clear pathway to higher education for students in the district, particularly those who may face barriers to college access. By providing guaranteed admission, Sacramento State is promoting accessibility and equity in higher education, ultimately empowering more students to pursue their academic and career goals.

Notable Quote: “Sacramento State is creating innovative initiatives to make sure students graduating from high school have a direct pathway to higher education. I’m excited about this partnership with the Elk Grove school district and look forward to serving all of the students in the Sacramento region.” – President Luke Wood.

By Marcus D. Smith for The Sacramento Bee

Preparing Santa Clara County’s high school students for active citizenship

What’s Happening: Over 10,000 high school students in Santa Clara County have pre-registered to vote, demonstrating a surge of interest and commitment to democratic engagement among young people in the region.

Why It Matters: Preregistering to vote empowers eligible 16- and 17-year-olds, ensuring they are automatically registered once they turn 18. This proactive approach streamlines the registration process and fosters a sense of civic responsibility from an early age.

By Mary Ann Dewan for San Jose Spotlight

LAUSD opens housing complex to combat rising student homelessness

What’s Happening: A 26-unit housing complex called Sun King Apartments has been opened in the San Fernando Valley, just half a mile from Fernangeles Elementary School. This project, completed in partnership between LAUSD, Many Mansions, and Housing Works, aims to address the rising issue of student homelessness in the district.

Why It Matters: With a 19% increase in student homelessness reported by LA Unified from the previous school year, providing stable housing for families has become crucial. The complex offers not only housing but also direct services for students, including tutoring, school supplies, and family gatherings, aiming to support their academic success and overall well-being.

Notable Quote: “Knowing that we will have a permanent home, we were able to start thinking about what the future truly holds for us.” – This quote from Annika, a homeless mother benefiting from the housing complex.

By Katie VanArnam for LA School Report

BLACK STUDENT SUCCESS | Teacher diversity is an investment in students worth making & keeping

What’s Happening: The commentary emphasizes the importance of teacher diversity in improving student outcomes, particularly for students of color, and highlights initiatives taken by school districts like Los Angeles Unified and Emery Unified to prioritize diversity in their workforce.

Why It Matters: Teacher diversity has been shown to positively impact student achievement and well-being, yet achieving and maintaining diversity in the teaching profession requires intentional efforts and investment from school districts and policymakers. 

Notable Quote: “Fiscal uncertainties can undermine progress and change if our leaders don’t uphold their commitments and maintain their courage… Our state and district leaders can’t stop investing and prioritizing teacher diversity now.”

By Laura McGowan-Robinson | EdSource Commentaries

Across The Nation

Women of color still lag behind in STEM jobs, despite efforts to change

What’s Happening: Despite initiatives like the National STEM Festival, women of color still face significant barriers in STEM fields, as highlighted by disparities in representation and experiences like impostor syndrome.

Why It Matters: The underrepresentation of women of color in STEM not only perpetuates inequality but also hinders innovation & diversity in these critical fields, impacting both individual careers & broader societal progress.

Notable quote:  “I feel like I wasn’t wanted. I didn’t feel comfortable… Do I belong here?” – Kara Branch’s candid reflection on her experience with impostor syndrome.

By Marisa Peñaloza for NPR

There’s Already a Solution to the STEM Crisis: It’s in High Schools

What’s Happening: Despite the growing importance of STEM fields in addressing global challenges, American high schools face persistent challenges in preparing students for STEM careers, with less than half of students graduating ready for college or career. Organizations like XQ Institute and Beyond100K are working to address these issues by promoting joy, rigor, and belonging in STEM education.

Why It Matters: STEM education is crucial for equipping students with the skills needed to tackle complex problems in areas such as climate change and technology. However, barriers such as outdated education systems and lack of inclusivity hinder many students from pursuing STEM careers.

Notable quote: “Ensuring that STEM education in high school is inclusive, relevant, engaging, and rigorous will help every learner achieve their dreams — and ours — in a changing world that will depend on their ideas.” – Michele Cahill.

By Michele Cahill, Anne Mackinnon & Talia Milgrom-Elcott for The 74 

Student challenges outside the classroom pose biggest obstacle for educators worldwide

What’s Happening: Educators worldwide cite challenges outside the classroom, such as behavioral issues and lack of family support, as the main obstacles to student success, with U.S. teachers emphasizing managing student behaviors and mental health.

Why It Matters: The survey highlights the significant impact of non-academic factors on student outcomes, underscores the importance of addressing behavioral and mental health needs to support student success and emphasizes the role of educators in navigating these challenges and the need for support at all levels.

Notable Quote: “We must do all we can to ensure educators around the world feel supported at every level, so they can help students overcome these obstacles and succeed.” – Simon Allen, CEO of McGraw Hill.

By Kara Arundel for K-12 Dive

How Rhode Island College Went to the Head of the Class on Reading Instruction

What’s Happening: Rhode Island College’s reading program underwent a remarkable transformation from an “F” to an “A+” by embracing science-based methods and fostering collaboration between general & special education.

Why It Matters: By aligning their curriculum with the needs of dyslexic students and implementing tiered support systems, Rhode Island College is equipping teachers to address early reading problems effectively, potentially improving literacy rates and academic outcomes.

Notable Quote: “The philosophy of the elementary department changed from ‘my course’ to ‘our scope and sequence.'” – Associate Professor Cara McDermott-Fasy.

By Julia Steiny for The 74million

Half of new state spending on preschool was backed by COVID aid last year, new report finds

What’s Happening: A report reveals that half of the new spending on state preschool programs last year was supported by federal COVID aid, contributing to increased enrollment but raising concerns about sustainability.

Why It Matters: While COVID aid has boosted access to preschool and helped fill budget gaps, states face uncertainty about maintaining these investments once federal funding expires, risking regression in efforts to provide high-quality preschool education.

Notable Quote: “It’s important to make sure that they all do, so we don’t move backwards… the nation remains very far away from providing a high-quality preschool education to every child at age 4, much less at age 3.” – Steven Barnett.

By Kalyn Belsha for Chalkbeat

There’s a lot happening with the FAFSA. Here’s what to know now.

What’s Happening: The FAFSA, essential for college financial aid, underwent a redesign promising easier navigation and increased assistance for low- and moderate-income students, but rollout complications, including technical glitches and processing errors, persist.

Why It Matters: The FAFSA’s redesign aimed to streamline the financial aid process, potentially offering more assistance to students in need, yet ongoing challenges with accessibility and accuracy raise concerns about timely aid distribution and enrollment decisions for colleges and students alike.

By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for The Washington Post

Chicago Teachers Union reveals some key contract demands

What’s Happening: Chicago Teachers Union announces key demands for the upcoming contract negotiation, including raising paraprofessionals’ salary floor, expanding dual language programs, and implementing more Sustainable Community Schools.

Why It Matters: Amidst shifting dynamics and a desire for transparency, the CTU aims to involve the public in bargaining sessions.

Notable Quote: “When I say that this contract is about the common good, I am saying that in the front yard of this city, we will be inviting families to participate, our students to participate… building the greatest school district on Earth.” – Stacy Davis Gates.

By Reema Amin for Chalkbeat

What data from 4 states says about teacher shortages

What’s Happening: Data from Illinois, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin underscores the persistent challenge of teacher shortages, with alarming rates of teacher turnover and unfilled positions.

Why It Matters: The shortage of teachers in these states reflects a broader national trend, impacting the quality of education and student outcomes.

Notable Quote: “Almost 30% of leaders said their districts’ initiatives to place student teachers in classrooms and improve working conditions were effective in bolstering recruitment and retention.” 

By Anna Merod for K-12 Dive

Red states threaten librarians with prison — as blue states work to protect them

What’s Happening: A nationwide clash over library books unfolds as red states propose restrictive measures threatening librarians with fines and jail time for providing certain materials, while blue states introduce bills to protect librarians and preserve access to diverse literature.

Why It Matters: As book challenges surge and ideological divisions deepen, the fate of library access reflects broader debates about censorship, education, and cultural representation in America.  Concerns about the chilling effect of restrictive legislation on librarians underscore the potential consequences of laws targeting the dissemination of certain books, raising questions about freedom of expression and the future of librarianship.

Notable quote: “It’s going to be hard where you could go to jail for doing your job.”

By Hannah Natanson & Anumita Kaur for The Washington Post

IN RELATED COVERAGE  Book Bans Continue to Surge in Public Schools

What’s Happening: A surge in book bans in public schools across the United States, driven by conservative groups and new legislation, prompts concerns about censorship and access to diverse literature, with Florida leading in the number of removals and an emerging movement opposing the bans.

Why It Matters: The escalation of book removals reflects broader debates about free speech, education, and cultural representation, raising questions about the balance between protecting students and restricting access to certain content.

Notable quote:  “In nearly every case that’s come forward, judges have been finding that these laws are unconstitutional.” – Jonathan Friedman.

By Alexandra Alter for The New York Times

Biden administration adds Title IX protections for LGBTQ students, assault victims

What’s Happening: The Biden administration introduces updated Title IX regulations, expanding protections for LGBTQ students and revising procedures for addressing sexual assault allegations in schools.

Why It Matters: These changes mark a significant shift from the Trump-era policies, aiming to create safer and more inclusive educational environments while addressing concerns about due process and survivors’ rights.

Notable quote: “Our nation’s educational institutions should be places where we not only accept differences, but celebrate them.” – U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

By Tovia Smith for NPR

Missouri Legislature Sends Charter Expansion to Governor’s Desk

What’s Happening: Missouri’s Legislature narrowly passed a comprehensive education bill expanding private school scholarships and allowing charter schools in Boone County, despite Democratic opposition.

Why It Matters: The bill, estimated to cost $468 million, combines investments in rural schools with the MOScholars program but faces criticism for its expense and charter school provisions, raising concerns about the impact on public education funding and local school districts.

By Annelise Hanshaw for The 74

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