Commentary: The Other Back to School Story

Back to school stories this year will focus, naturally, on the Covid-19 pandemic’s toll on students and families and on remedying these difficulties.

But another story is being shortchanged: it’s about how parents sought new options for their children like homeschooling, small learning pods, and micro-schools, with civic entrepreneurs and their partners creating new organizations or expanding existing ones to meet this demand.

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Kentucky Lawmakers Override Governor, Ditch School Mask Mandate

Group of young students at table, reading and wearing masks

Kentucky’s Republican legislature overrode the state’s Democratic governor late Thursday and repealed a statewide public school mask mandate.

The move, reported by the Louisville Courier Journal, came on the final day of a special session called by Gov. Andy Beshear. The mask mandate was repealed as cases in the state increased for the 10th straight week, and as over 30% of Kentucky’s new cases Thursday were in people 18 and younger, according to state data.

The legislature last month moved to significantly limit Beshear’s pandemic-related power, an action that was upheld by multiple judges in the state.

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Commentary: Vaccine Mandates and Bribery Are Headed for K-12 Schools

Young girl getting COVID vaccination

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than 680 U.S. public and private colleges require students to get a coronavirus vaccine. This is a non-negotiable mandate for students to maintain enrollment status.

The vaccination edicts come even as the coronavirus has an extremely low mortality rate among college-aged students — CDC data attributes only 2.8 percent of coronavirus deaths to those under age 45. Regardless of this reality, those favoring mandated vaccines argue that schools already require students to provide proof of other vaccinations.

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Science on Mask Usage Indicates Scant Benefit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended that all schools require mask-wearing indoors by teachers and students, vaccinated or unvaccinated against COVID-19. 

And many school districts are adopting that requirement, to the dismay of many parents.

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Columbia Medical School Will Teach Students How to ‘Disrupt Racism’ and Confront Microaggressions

Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health entrance

Columbia University has developed new programming to help black and Hispanic medical students “disrupt racism” and confront microaggressions they could face.

A medical school professor, who is also the diversity director, said that the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota has made the situation worse at the New York institution.

Professor Jean Alves-Bradford said in a news release that “it’s been very difficult for students in general, but especially for students underrepresented in medicine.”

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Clemson School Administrators Used COVID Caps and Fake RSVPs to Suppress Turnout at Conservative Event

Assortment of conservative buttons with a "Get Involved" Turning Point USA fillout

During the height of the pandemic, two college administrators from Clemson University used phony ticket reservations to suppress attendance at a conservative student event and bragged about it on Facebook.

The conservative group Turning Point USA’s local chapter hosted speakers Tomi Lahren, Brandon Tatum, and Graham Allen for an event on the South Carolina campus in April 2020.

The event was limited in capacity because of COVID-19, and people had to reserve tickets from a smaller pool in advance.

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Utah House Passes Bill to Ban Critical Race Theory in Public Schools

Students in class, listening to the teacher at the front of the room

Utah is one of many states in America considering banning critical race theory in public schools.

Republican State Representative Steve Christiansen sponsored a bill that takes direct aim at critical race theory concepts being taught in public education. The bill passed the Utah House and is awaiting the signature of the Speaker to move onto the state Senate.

That bill, HR901, calls on the Utah Board of Education for a re-evaluation of guidelines to weed out critical race theory in publicly funded classrooms.

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St. Paul Schools Committee Calls for End to School Suspensions After Examining ‘Racial Inequities’

Seven Indigenous students from AIMS middle school participated in the "This is Me: Indigenous in 2020" art exhibition exploring self portraiture in representational, symbolic and abstract work. The exhibition has been located in the Minneapolis U.S. District Court House since November 2020.

St. Paul Public Schools’ Equity Committee recently called for an end to school suspensions among other recommendations as a way to tackle inequities in the district.

The Equity Committee in the St. Paul Public School District was created in 2019 and is led by Superintendent Joe Gothard. The committee meets monthly to identify and examine “racial inequities” and equity disparities, as well as craft recommendations for the school board at large.

During a June 15 St. Paul Public School Board meeting, the Equity Committee brought forward a list of recommendations, including ending the use of suspensions in the district.

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Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Teaching Critical Race Theory in Schools

Young girl in pink long sleeve writing

A new poll shows that the majority of American voters are deeply opposed to having critical race theory (CRT) principles being taught in schools.

The survey, conducted by Competitive Edge Research for Parents Defending Education, also shows that people overwhelmingly prefer Capitalism to Socialism (61.8% to 31.4%), frown upon “cancel culture,” (62.7% to 10.6%) and believe the United States is headed “on the wrong track” (60.7% to 32.8%).

Additionally, more respondents had a negative opinion of Black Lives Matter, than had a positive opinion (48.1% to 44.4%).

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LA Teachers Union Agrees to Reopen Second Largest School District

United Teachers Los Angeles and Los Angeles city officials have come to a tentative agreement, creating a path for the nation’s second-largest school district to reopen.

Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District would return to in-person classes in mid-April under the tentative agreement struck Tuesday evening, according to city and union officials, The New York Times reported. The Los Angeles school board and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) members still need to ratify the agreement.

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Fauci Says Not All Teachers Need to Be Vaccinated to Open Schools

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday said not all teachers need to be vaccinated in order for schools to reopen, The New York Post reports.

“It’s not [the case] that you can’t open a school unless all the teachers are vaccinated. That would be optimal, if you could do that,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week”.

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Data: Schools Aren’t COVID-19 Super-Spreaders

Some new evidence is showing Elementary and high schools do not appear to be super spreaders of COVID-19, according to new data.

The New York Post reports, Brown University economics Professor Emily Oster and data scientists at the technology company Qualtrics collected data on COVID-19 in schools. The data collected on almost 200,000 kids in 47 states from the last two weeks of September revealed an infection rate of 0.13 percent among students and 0.24 percent among staff.

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As European Schools Stay Open Amid Rising Cases, Many U.S. Schools Remain Shuttered

Leaders in Western Europe remain committed to continuing in-person instruction for young students — in some cases relaxing restrictions like face mask requirements and social distancing rules — even as caseloads throughout the region continue to explode. 

It’s a sharp contrast from many school districts in the United States, including some of the largest and most populous, where governmental authorities and teachers’ unions continue to insist that children be barred from face-to-face instruction, that any in-person learning be accompanied by strict distancing and face covering rules, and that even modest upticks in coronavirus cases should necessitate a complete shutdown of face-to-face learning.

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Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Report: All Schools Safe to Reopen

The latest report from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reveals that all schools are safe to reopen for in-person learning models, according to county case numbers. The MDH released this information as part of an updated report published every Thursday. 
Many elementary and high schools are scheduled to begin their fall semesters in several weeks’ time. Schools are required to submit their learning model plans to families the week before their start date. Models reflect one of three options: in-person learning, distance learning, or a hybrid of the two. All models are subject to change throughout the semester, depending on county case levels.

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Guidance for Masks in Schools Varies Widely Across US States

School districts that plan to reopen classrooms in the fall are wrestling with whether to require teachers and students to wear face masks — an issue that has divided urban and rural schools and yielded widely varying guidance.

The divide has also taken on political dimensions in Iowa, among other places, where Democratic-leaning cities like Des Moines and Iowa City have required masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus, while smaller, more conservative communities have left the decision to parents.

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Majority of Minnesota Parents Say They Are Comfortable Sending Children Back to School in Fall

A survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Education found that the majority of parents would feel comfortable sending their children back to school this fall.

Between June 15 and July 6, the agency collected more than 130,000 responses to the informal survey, which was offered in English, Hmong, Spanish, and Somali. A total of 64 percent of respondents said they would feel comfortable sending their children back to school in September. Of that 64 percent, 94 percent said they would send their children back to school full time.

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Jason Lewis Says Parents Should Be Refunded for Property Taxes If Schools Don’t Reopen

Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis said parents should be refunded for property tax payments and tuition if schools aren’t allowed to reopen in the fall.

“The more we learn about COVID, the more it becomes apparent that we have done a huge disservice to our children in the way we have handled this virus. Research has proven that COVID presents minimal risks to young people. But what isn’t minimal is the toll this prolonged lockdown and social isolation has on our kids’ social, mental, and physical well-being,” Lewis said in a statement released Wednesday.

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Commentary: Now That School Security is a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry, is There a Better Way to Protect Children?

by Kerry McDonald   U.S. taxpayers spend nearly $700 billion each year on K-12 public schooling and that eye-popping sum shows no sign of slowing. In fact, as more non-academic programs get adopted in schools across the country, the price-tag for mass schooling continues to swell even as achievement lags.…

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Half of Young Americans Believe US is ‘Racist’ and ‘Sexist,’ Survey Finds

by Troy Worden   A basic knowledge of civics and belief in American exceptionalism are in startling decline among younger Americans, a new report suggests. About half of those surveyed under age 38 said they view the United States as a “sexist” or “racist” nation. More than 4 out of…

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Commentary: How School Choice is Lifting Up Puerto Rico’s Children After Hurricane Maria

by Jude Schwalbach   Thirteen months ago on Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria slammed the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, devastating homes and infrastructure and leading to loss of life across the island. The storm greatly exacerbated the problems of a school system already in crisis: Puerto Rican fourth- and…

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Williamson County House 61 Voters Almost Unanimously Support School Resource Officers in Every Tennessee School

security at schools

A new poll conducted among likely GOP voters in the Nashville suburbs of Brentwood and Franklin by Triton Polling shows that voter concerns about traffic congestion, illegal immigration and rising crime are at the top of the list. Recent school shootings have also resulted in over 90% of the Republican…

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Christian Parent Furious After School Instructs Children To Write Out Their Submission To Allah

Classroom Islam

by Joshua Gill   A West Virginia school has come under fire for instructing junior high students to write the Islamic profession of faith ostensibly to practice calligraphy. Rich Penkoski, a Christian parent and founder of online ministry Warriors for Christ, raised alarms over a packet on Islam his daughter’s seventh…

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