Bus Drivers Go On Strike To Protest Low Pay

Bus drivers in the Jefferson Davis County went on strike Friday morning after the school board approved paying $25 an hour to emergency drivers as an incentive to help with driver shortage. The item was approved 4-1 at a recent board meeting. “I have zero problem with having anyone that is willing to drive our busses,” said District 2 School Board Member Bobby Wilson. “I do have a problem with $25 an hour. I would like to know why we are doubling the salary for certified personnel to drive versus the $12-$15 for our regular drivers.”

According to Superintendent Ike Haynes, the district is facing a severe labor shortage and his solution was to reach out to former bus drivers, coaches, teachers, etc. to help fill in the gaps. “There are several former drivers in the district that have CDLs,” said Superintendent Haynes. “The $25 an hour is simply an enticement in our time of need.”

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High Schoolers Walk Out Demanding Remote Learning During COVID Surge

Students at several high schools in New York City coordinated a walkout from classes on Tuesday to call for remote learning as they protest what they say are unsafe learning conditions inside school buildings as COVID cases surged just as the spring semester began last week.

A campaign mounted by students and activists across some of New York’s best-known high schools – including Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant – led to a walkout shortly before noon on Tuesday.

While precise numbers were not immediately available, organizers estimated hundreds of students participated, with about 400 students walking out at Brooklyn Tech alone.

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100 Ohio School Districts File A Lawsuit Against EdChoice Vouchers

On Tuesday, 100 Ohio public school districts and the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship Program under the provisions of the Ohio Constitution. EdChoice is Ohio’s rapidly growing, publicly funded school voucher program.

The *Cleveland Plain Dealer*‘s [Laura Hancock reported](https://www.cleveland.com/news/2022/01/100-school-districts-sue-ohio-over-private-school-vouchers-saying-they-unconstitutionally-take-money-from-public-ed.html): “A coalition of 100 school districts sued Ohio over private school vouchers Tuesday, saying that the hundreds of millions of public dollars funneled away from public schools have created an educational system that’s unconstitutional.”

The lead plaintiffs are Columbus City Schools, Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools, Richmond Heights Local School District, Lima City Schools, Barberton City Schools, Cleveland Heights parents on behalf of their minor sons—Malcolm McPherson and Fergus Donnelly, and the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding. The Cleveland law firm of Walter Haverfield is representing the plaintiffs.

In their lawsuit, [plaintiffs declare:](https://vouchershurtohio.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Final-Version-of-Complaint-03990616x9EF3B.pdf) “The EdChoice Scholarship Program poses an existential threat to Ohio’s public school system. Not only does this voucher program unconstitutionally usurp Ohio’s public tax dollars to subsidize private school tuitions, it does so by depleting Ohio’s foundation funding—the pool of money out of which the state funds Ohio’s public schools… The discrepancy in per pupil foundation funding is so great that some districts’ private school pupils receive, as a group, more in funding via EdChoice Vouchers than Ohio allocates in foundation funding for the entire public school districts where those students reside. This voucher program effectively cripples the public school districts’ resources, creates an ‘uncommon’, or private system of schools unconstitutionally funded by taxpayers, siphons hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds into private (and mostly religious) institutions, and discriminates against minority students by increasing segregation in Ohio’s public schools. Because private schools receiving EdChoice funding are not subject to Ohio’s Sunshine Laws or most other regulations applicable to public schools, these private facilities operate with impunity, exempt from public scrutiny despite the public funding that sustains them.”

The Ohio Legislature incorporated a new “Cupp-Patterson” Fair School Funding Plan into the current biennial budget last June, but plaintiffs charge that the simultaneous expansion of EdChoice vouchers in that same budget has blocked the phase-in and full funding of that school funding plan: “The Ohio Department of Education funds EdChoice Program Vouchers from the budget appropriation designated for public schools. Because public funds are finite, funding EdChoice Program Vouchers out of the foundation funding designated for public school districts inevitably depletes the resources designated by the legislature for educating Ohio’s public school students. H.B. 110 (the state budget bill) initially incorporated the salient features of the Cupp-Patterson Fair School Funding Plan, a bipartisan effort to fund Ohio’s public schools adequately and equitably as required by the Ohio Supreme Court in *DeRolph v. State*…. However, due to the ballooning effects of the EdChoice program, the enacted version of H.B. 110 funded only up to one-third of the increases required by the proposed Fair School Funding Plan over the next two fiscal years.”  “(T)he Fair School Funding Plan was not fully funded due to the ballooning costs of the EdChoice Program. Only 16.67% of the Fair School Funding Plan is being funded through Fiscal Year 2022 and 33% of the Fair School Funding Plan will be funded through Fiscal Year 2023, as specifically delineated in H.B. 110.  This means the General Assembly will meet only a fraction of its constitutional obligation, *by the standards it has adopted,* to provide a thorough and efficient system of common schools for Fiscal Year 2022.”

The new lawsuit charges that the Fair School Funding Plan had been formulated to address inadequate state funding of public schools over recent years: “Over the last decade, the formulas implemented by the General Assembly for funding Ohio’s public schools reflected the amount the General Assembly was willing to spend on public education, rather than the realistic cost of providing a thorough and efficient education to all of Ohio’s students. Due to budget freezes or minimal increases over the last decade, state funding to Ohio’s public school districts has not even kept pace with inflation since Fiscal Year 2011. Additionally, because the funding formula was frozen in Fiscal Year 2020-21 at the 2019 level, but vouchers and “community schools” (which is what Ohio calls charter schools) were funded by way of deductions from total school funding,  affected public school districts lost approximately $193 million in state funding during these formula freezes. In contrast, the per pupil EdChoice Program Voucher payments rose by 15% for a grade 1-8 voucher and by 25% for a grade 9-12 voucher for Fiscal Year 2022 alone.”

The lawsuit delineates the losses in public school funding for one of the plaintiff districts: “The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, for example, is expected to receive from the state of Ohio a total of approximately $5.6 million in foundation funding for Fiscal Year 2022 to educate the 5,000 students who attend its schools. The state of Ohio, however, will pay out over $11 million for private school tuition to the approximately 1,800 EdChoice Voucher recipients residing within the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District in Fiscal Year 2022. In other words, approximately twice as much public funding will be paid in Fiscal Year 2022 for private school tuition for CH-UH residents as the foundation funding allotted to the entire student body of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights District.”

The Complaint names five counts:

1. “Creation of one or more systems of uncommon schools in violation of the Ohio Constitution, Article VI, Section 2.”
2. “Failure to secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools in violation of the Ohio Constitution, Article VI, Section 2.”
3. “Segregation in violation of the thorough and efficient system of common schools as provided in Article VI, Section 2 of the Ohio Constitution.”
4. “Diversion of funding in violation of the “No Religious or Other Sect Shall Ever Have Any Exclusive Right To or Control Of, Any Part of the School Funds of the State” clause of Article VI.”
5. “Declaratory Judgement—Violation of Ohio Constitution, Article I, Section 2 (asserted by Malcolm McPherson and Fergus Donnelly only).” This section continues: “No compelling or legitimate state interest can account for this discriminatory treatment of Plaintiff Students in comparison with their private school counterparts. No valid government explanation can justify spending two to ten times more per pupil to subsidize private school tuition than the per-pupil amounts paid by the state to educate Ohio’s public school students… Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff Students are also entitled to permanent injunctive relief barring further EdChoice Program payments to subsidize private school tuition made from the state’s foundation school fund.”

At the [press conference where the lawsuit was announced](http://ohiocoalition.org/vouchers-hurt-ohio-and-ohio-ea-coalitionfile-lawsuit-against-private-school-voucher-program/), a member of the Richmond Heights Local School Board of Education, Nneka Jackson addressed the third count, that EdChoice Vouchers have illegally exacerbated racial segregation in Ohio’s public schools: “If someone tells you this is about helping poor minority children, hook them up to a lie detector test ASAP and stand back because the sparks are going to fly… About 40 percent of Richmond Heights residents are white. Before the EdChoice private school voucher program, about 26 percent of the students in the Richmond Heights School District were white and 74 percent were students of color. Today, after EDChoice, Richmond Heights is three percent white and 97 percent students of color. Private schools are allowed to discriminate, plain and simple, based on disability, disciplinary records, academic standing, religion and financial status. These are often proxies for race and other protected characteristics. Ohio is essentially engaged in state-sponsored discrimination in admissions and retention. You know who can’t do this? Public schools. Common schools.”

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Michigan Teachers Discuss Collective Action To Close Schools

Michigan teachers took part in an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon to organize collective action to close schools and stop the spread of COVID-19. The meeting, sponsored by the Michigan Educators Rank-and-File Safety Committee, included a large number of educators, parents and young people from Detroit and other Michigan school districts, as well as teachers from Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York. Also participating was a leader of the Educators Rank-and-File Safety Committee in the United Kingdom, where 218,000 new COVID-19 infections were recorded Tuesday.

The emergency meeting was held as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported that the state saw 61,235 new cases and 298 deaths between last Thursday and Monday.

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Bill Would Empower Parents To Remove Books From School Libraries

A bill proposed by a Republican state senator in Oklahoma would empower parents to have books that discuss gender identity removed from public school libraries—a measure that rights advocates warned could have life-threatening consequences for LGBTQ+ children across the state.

Under Senate Bill 1142, introduced earlier this month by state Sen. Rob Standridge, just one parent would have to object to a book that includes discussion of “sexual perversion, sex-based classifications, sexual identity, or gender identity” and other related themes in order to begin the process of removal.

Upon receiving a written request to remove a book, a school district would have 30 days to eliminate all copies of the material from circulation.

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Inside A Rural School District Suing State For More Equitable Funding

Panther Valley is a poor, rural district with more than 1,600 students from Carbon and Schuylkill Counties. Its elementary, intermediate, and junior/senior high schools serve four Pennsylvania towns: Summit Hill, Coaldale, Lansford, and Nesquehoning.

“It’s in the heart of what we used to refer to as the coal region of Pennsylvania,” said the district’s superintendent, David McAndrew.

As the country moved away from coal mining, residents lost work. Now, jobs are hard to come by.

Fifty-six percent of children in the district are classified as economically disadvantaged, though McAndrew believes the figure is closer to 70%.

“We have very few businesses,” McAndrew said. “The businesses we have, unfortunately, seem to be leaving us.”

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Tulalip Flag Soars At Every Marysville School District Campus

For the first time ever, the red, white and black colors of the Tulalip flag are soaring over every Marysville School District campus. Tulalip’s iconic orca was raised up at each elementary, middle school, high school, and even District headquarters during the week of November 17th. 

In each instance, the 3 foot by 5 foot cloth signifying the Tulalip Tribes as a sovereign nation was raised by a proud student representative and young Tulalip culture bearer.

“About a decade ago, my coworker Ricky Belmont and I started asking the schools we work at to fly the Tulalip Tribes flag out of recognition for the tribe being a sovereign nation and to honor the treaty lands that schools are built upon,” explained Matt Remle, Indian Education Program Coordinator for Marysville School District.

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School Bus Drivers In Nationwide Strikes Over Poor Pay And Covid Risk

Yellow school buses are part of the American streetscape, familiar to families across the US and an easily recognizable symbol the world over.

But the drivers of the vehicles that shuttle America’s children to and from school are now caught up in the wave of labor unrest sweeping across the US in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Strikes, walkouts, protests or sick-outs among school bus drivers have taken place this fall in many states including North Carolina, New Mexico, Maryland, Florida, Indiana, Georgia Pennsylvania and New York among others.

Some school districts have periodically closed schools due to bus driver shortages or changed school schedules to accommodate the shortage. Other districts have raised pay and offered sign-on bonuses to try to lure workers into vacant school bus driver positions.

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If You’re Afraid Kids Will Learn Racism Is Bad, Perhaps Public School Is Not For You

Some people are terrified that kids will learn about racism.

Especially white people.

Especially that white KIDS might learn about it.

How would that affect a white child’s self-esteem, they say.

Imagine learning that racism existed in the United States.

A country founded by white people.

(Taken from brown people.

Made largely profitable by the enslavement of black people.)

Wouldn’t that make white kids feel bad?

It’s a strange question.

First of all, wouldn’t it make the black and brown kids feel worse than the white kids?

After all, it was their ancestors who were brutalized and subjugated.

Second of all, what does history have to do with your feelings?

This isn’t aroma therapy or yoga. It’s the past.

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In A California Desert, Sheriff Deputies Settle Schoolyard Disputes

Barron Gardner, a high school history teacher in Southern California’s Antelope Valley, stared down Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies during an online meeting in April, trying to keep his composure.

Gardner, 41, had become a reluctant spokesperson for a growing movement, driven primarily by Black and Latino residents, to get LASD deputies off school campuses. His wife, who’s also a teacher, worried about the repercussions for their family. What if he lost his job? What if he became a target of discrimination or worse? After all, this valley at the western edge of the Mojave Desert, population roughly 500,000, has a long history of racial tension, including white supremacist attacks on Black community members.

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Cutting Food Waste: A Lesson In Climate Awareness And Environmental Literacy

Baltimore, MD – As a “farm to school specialist” in the Baltimore City public schools, Anne Rosenthal splits her time between an office and Great Kids Farm in Catonsville, a 33-acre plot of land, complete with forests, a stream, greenhouses and a barn with animals, owned and operated by the school district.

“A lot of students have never had the opportunity to plant a seed or a small plant, or harvest straight from plants and taste farm-fresh produce,” Rosenthal said.

When kids have that first experience of “picking a cherry tomato off the plant and putting it in their mouths,” she said, “they’re much more apt to be excited to see that cherry tomato on their school lunch tray.”

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A Network Of Military-Related Programs Is Spreading In Schools

Seventy-six years after the U.S. dropped atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I am reminded of my own mindset during the Cuban missile crisis when American President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev were threatening a nuclear confrontation. I remember feeling that my life would soon end, clearly embracing a comprehensible existential threat even at the age of 7.

I now understand the weapons of mass destruction deployed against the Japanese in 1945 as the two most horrible “singular event war crimes” ever committed by a state actor.

Coming from and living in the most militarized culture of scale in history, I work to promote non-military careers for youth most susceptible to military recruitment offers.

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Returning To ‘Normal’ In Education Is Not Good Enough

As a nation, we stand with bated breath — waiting for public schools to reopen and for “a return to normal” while ignoring that for many, normal is not only not good enough, it was also never really good.

Historical inequities and disparities in our public schools, as across all our public systems, operate along a constitutional fault line — an embedded caste system — that we need to find our way across. It is a fault line that is not only about race: class, identity and disabilities also block the path to equal educational opportunity for millions of students. Just like the right to vote in the 20th century, the lack of equal access to a quality education in the 21st century threatens to limit the future life choices for too many young people.

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At Schools Named For Robert E. Lee, Students Led The Way Toward Change

Gertrude “Trude” Lamb, 16, describes herself as a shy person. She never wanted to be the center of attention. But, in the summer of 2020, when Trude became the face of a movement to rename Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler, Texas, she was suddenly in a spotlight she’d never imagined.

A friend nudged her to join a local campaign and send a letter to the school board, but she wasn’t sure why. Trude, who emigrated from Ghana in 2014, wasn’t familiar with Lee or anything related to the Confederacy. So, she began to research.

“At school, they usually just teach the good part about somebody,” she says. “They don’t teach the bad part.”

A star athlete on her school’s varsity cross-country team, she’d penned a letter to school board members stating she’d no longer wear a jersey that bore the name of an enslaver.

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Governor Signs Law To Stop Teachers From Talking About Racism

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed one of his party’s top legislative priorities into law: a bill aimed at stopping teachers from talking about racism and any current events that may be contentious.

The legislation, supported by virtually every GOP state legislator, states that social studies teachers in public K-12 schools “may not be compelled” to talk about current events or public policy or social issues considered controversial. If they do talk about such things, they are required to present the issue “without giving deference to any one perspective.”

The law specifies all the things that social studies teachers aren’t allowed to talk about.

They can’t make it part of a course to talk about the concept that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.”

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