Lawmakers grill education commissioner on state’s response to reopening schools


Students across Tennessee are returning to school this week as many districts reopen. Not all students will return to the classroom though, some like Metro Nashville Public Schools students will learn virtually instead.

Nashville Tennessean

Lawmakers on Tuesday grilled Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn while hearing from educators about the state’s response to reopening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schwinn along with Sara Morrison, executive director of the State Board of Education and seven superintendents from across the state, appeared before the Tennessee House Education Committee for its annual summer study session, with higher education officials slated to appear Wednesday.

Schwinn, who has faced some vocal critics from conservative activists ahead of this week’s hearing, started off explaining the Tennessee Department of Education’s response and the support it provided to school districts when schools closed this spring and in anticipation of reopening this fall. She then fielded questions from lawmakers

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Don’t let reopening debates distract from what’s most important in education: Parents

Stakeholders are fighting over what’s going to be best for children and their education this fall, whether it’s home-schooling pods, normal classrooms, online schooling, or something else. But these conversations ignore what’s most important: Empowering parents or guardians and getting them engaged.

a person standing in front of a building

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Rather than any particular education model, research shows students need relationships, positive parental or guardian relationships, in particular, to develop well. No matter which educational option families choose, studies show that positive parental involvement drives student success academically, physically, and socially. Luckily, these relationships can happen no matter the educational setting. In fact, when given options, parents tend to be more actively involved in their child’s learning.


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Parents who listen and provide support and guidance, as opposed to those who rely solely on schools, raise well-adjusted children. Parents should make their involvement apparent because students succeed when they feel their parents

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Gov. Murphy dedicates $100M for in-person reopening

CLOSE staff writers Charlie Stile and Ashley Balcerzak discuss the revised budget Gov. Murphy unveiled Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.

School districts that plan to reopen their classrooms this year can draw on a $100 million pot of cash to help keep their students safe from coronavirus, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday.

The money comes from the state’s slice of federal stimulus funds, of which another $60 million will help bridge the digital divide for students who can’t effectively learn remotely because of technical challenges. Murphy announced the funding from the football field at Somerville High School, one day after taking the field at Rutgers University’s SHI Stadium to announce his budget proposal for the shortened fiscal year that begins in October.

“These are not just wise investments in our community, they are absolutely necessary investments in our future,” Murphy said from the end zone at Somerville. “We know

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Teachers unions clash with governments over coronavirus school reopening plans

This time, the strike was averted. The government agreed to delay reopening and to add a framework for relocating teachers and student from schools that could not meet precautionary criteria, Maluleke said.

From picket lines to Zoom calls and even jail cells, the pandemic has thrust teachers unions to the forefront of the debate over education during the coronavirus pandemic. How to safely reopen schools has become a central question, with school closures affecting well over a billion students, according to the United Nations, in addition to economies and daily life for working families.

Around the world, there has been “a lot of brinkmanship” with governments, said David Edwards, the general secretary of Education International, a Brussels-based international federation of teachers unions. “Teachers unions are trying to find a way to get their kids safely back to school.”

During the pandemic, most near-strikes never came to pass, Edwards said. When

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Hillsborough drops school reopening plan under state pressure

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school officials were up against a deadline.

State officials had instructed them to revise their reopening plan, or lose millions in funding. The School Board’s vote to start the year with four weeks of virtual lessons to lessen the chance of coronavirus infections didn’t meet state expectations. Plus thousands of teachers and more than 200,000 students were in limbo.

So on Thursday, superintendent Addison Davis announced a new timetable: The school year will begin Aug. 24 with all-virtual instruction. Then, for those who choose it, in-person school will begin a week later.

“Everyone has been frustrated, let’s just be very clear,” Davis said at a news conference after explaining some of the mechanics of the new arrangement. But, he added, “we’re here for children and we’re also here to protect the working conditions of adults.”

The decision ends weeks of uncertainty, as some in the community

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New York withholds millions in funding as schools struggle with reopening | Govt-and-politics

Robert Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, said Wednesday that payments to schools during the quieter summer months amount to about $1 billion. Over the full school year, it will end up totaling about $27 billion – and the big flow of cash from Albany to the districts is set to come at the end of September.

Still, the recent drip, drip, drip of cuts so far from Albany are, Lowry said, “alarming as an indication of what could be in store for schools.”

Further, schools don’t know if the cuts so far will be temporary or permanent. They also don’t know if the cuts will be made across-the-board, which could have far more devastating impacts on less wealthy and poorer school districts in urban and rural areas, or be done on some kind of wealth-based need formula.

Lowry said school superintendents and other

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After Thursday Selloff And In-Line Jobs Report, Eyes On Tech Sector, “Reopening” Stocks

Right on the money.

That’s how you can sum up today’s payrolls report from the Department of Labor, which showed job growth of 1.4 million in August.  While down from around 1.7 million in July, the headline figure was exactly in line with Wall Street’s estimates. 

The data appeared to provide some early support to the major indices. Maybe some of yesterday’s heavy selling reflected people worrying about a possible bad number. Growth of 1.4 million is strong by historic standards and suggests the economy continues to recover from the crisis, but there’s definitely been a slide over the last few months. Growth was more than 4 million in June. 

What’s really surprising is the unemployment rate falling from double digits all the way down to 8.4%, something few if anyone had expected. An increase in government hiring for census workers might have played into that. Also, the number of

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Funding for school facility improvements a requirement for safe reopening

Elizabeth Beardsley is the senior policy counsel at the U.S. Green Building Council. Scott Brown is president of the National Council on School Facilities. Mary Filardo is chair of the 21st Century School Fund, [Re]Build America’s School Infrastructure Coalition. David Terry is executive director of the National Association of State Energy Officials.

Before the pandemic, the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated a stunning 41% of America’s school districts needed to replace or update heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in at least half of their schools  representing 36,000 schools nationwide.

During the coronavirus pandemic, these building systems have become essential in helping to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, yet the focus has been on masks, cleaning, spacing of desks and other steps. School facilities also require attention, and right now, they are not ready to welcome back students, teachers and staff.

Public health experts from the Centers for

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Emergency Funding Sought For Hamden’s School Reopening Plan

HAMDEN, CT — Hamden’s legislative delegation is urging the state Department of Education to provide the town with more than $780,000 in federal funding to help the district with reopening costs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a joint letter to Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, state Senate President Martin Looney and representatives Michael D’Agostino, Robyn Porter and Josh Elliot are requesting $784,521 in federal CARES Act funding to help cover the cost of additional buses and bus monitors that will be needed to ensure social distancing in the district’s reopening plan.

The Hamden Board of Education recently voted to delay the reopening of schools until Sept. 15 due to concerns over staffing shortages. The district had been scheduled to open on Sept. 8.

Hamden’s transportation cost estimates have increased significantly since the district submitted its original request to the state Department of Education in July. Since then, the district has

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