President Trump Proposes Education Budget (February 10, 2020)

President Trump’s FY 2021request was released on February 10, 2020. The proposal calls for block granting K-12 education funds and a separate and reformed federal student aid. Trump’s budget request for the U.S. Department of Education is touted by his administration as a transformative, student-first budget that prioritizes improving student achievement, reducing the outsized federal role in education, and returning control over education decisions to state and local leaders, teachers, parents, and students.

The budget calls for consolidating nearly all existing K-12 formula and competitive grant programs into one block grant to ctates, called the Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged (ESED) Block Grant. Funds would be allocated using the same formulas as the Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies program. The budget also builds on the multi-year Federal Student Aid (FSA) reform project U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos launched in 2018.

K-12 public education skeptics are leery of the use of terms used in the USDE such as increased “freedom”, “disadvantaged”, “reducing the federal role.” A reduced fereral role is seen by some as a means to reduce federal spending, which is already inadequate with regard to the federal role in funding special education.

To view details of the full budget request, click here.

Federal Court Cases Could Have Major Impact on U.S. Public Education in 2020 (December 26, 2019)

As we head into 2020, a number of compelling federal court cases could have a significant and lasting influence on K-12 US public education. One of those cases is Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board. In this case, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its Virginia chapter filed a lawsuit in 2015 against the Gloucester County (VA) School board after it enacted policies barring Gavin Grimm, a transgender male, from accessing bathrooms aligned with his gender identity claiming the bathroom policy is unconstitutional and that it violates Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools. In 2017, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to be reconsidered after the Trump administration rescinded the USDE’s Obama-era guidance protecting transgender students’ rights under Title IX, which allowed transgender students to access bathrooms and facilities of their choice.

For the other critical cases involving K-12 public schools, including the DACA program and the right to an education, go to the original Education Dive article by clicking here.

Secret Service Releases Long-awaited School Shooting Study (November 10, 2019)

On Thursday, November 7, 2019, The U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center released the results of a study on 41 school shootings (grades K-12) from 2008 to 2017 in the US. The study showed that most students who committed deadly school attacks for that 10-year span displayed behavior that concerned others but were unreported, had disciplinary issues, and were victims of bullying. Attackers were also influenced by and/or emulated previous school shootings.

Previously, the Secret Service published a best practices guide based on some of its research. In addition, the center has scheduled almost 40 training sessions for groups of up to 2,000. Another 7,500 people have already been trained. The training is free.

The study was aimed at determining effective means for training school personnel and law enforcement entities in identifying students who may be at risk of planning attacks and how to effectively intervene prior to an opportunity to attack. The study also showed that attacks usually occurred during school hours and happened in one location (e.g., cafeteria, bathroom or classroom). Attackers were mainly male, but seven were female. 63% of the attackers were white, 15% were black, 5% were Hispanic, 2% were American Indian or Alaska Native, 10% were of two or more races, and 5% were undetermined. Guns were the weapon most commonly used, and most weapons came from the home of the attacker.

Most attackers were young adults, but some were middle schoolers. Many attackers were absent from school before the attack, many due to a school suspension. Many felt they were mistreated by others and over 75% attacked after having problems with someone at school. Some attackers were looking to become famous. A significant number of attackers were suicidal. Most attackers were fixated on violence, watched it online, played games featuring violence, and/or read books and publications that depicted violence.

Click here to see the study.

US Supreme Court is Hearing Important Title VII Arguments (October 8, 2019)

On October 8, 2019, the US Supreme Court began hearing arguments as to whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sex, also covers sexual orientation and transgender status. Schools are watching things closely for two reasons. One reason is that they are employers and will have to adhere to whatever the Court decides in that regard, The second reason is that the decision of the Court will be of great influence with regard to other cases that touch on similar issues involving gender identity and sexual orientation.

US House Passes Bill to Track School Shootings (September 27, 2019)

On September 18, 2019, the US House Education Committee passed the School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act, which is legislation that would require the federal government to track the demographics and motivations of school shooters and the demographics of their victims.  The proposed legislation also officially defines a school shooting as an incident “during which one or more individuals were injured or killed by a firearm; and that occurred … in, or on the grounds of, a school, even if before or after school hours; while the victim was traveling to or from a regular session at school; or while the victim was attending or traveling to or from an official school sponsored event.” The definition would exclude accidental shootings.

The law would also require the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) to collect information about a school’s safety protocols if a shooting occurs there, from its emergency response plans to its building design. The bill would further require the feds to track the type of firearms used in school shootings, how they were obtained, and whether the school where a shooting occurred had armed educators. 

Since the start of 2018, Education Week has maintained a tracker of school shootings. To date for 2019, we have counted 18 school shootings, resulting in three people killed and 34 injured.