Schools

Unequal Education: Pandemic Widens Race, Class Gaps in U.S. Schools | Top News

YORK, Pa. (Reuters) – Natalie Cruz, 12, missed math and language arts instruction one recent morning because the school’s virtual interface would not load. Carlos, her 8-year-old brother, sat beside her at the kitchen table, studying with last year’s workbooks because the district had yet to supply him with a PC, weeks after instruction started online.

Across town, Zachary and Zeno Lentz, 5 and 9, were at their high-performing elementary schools, where they attend in-person on Tuesdays and Fridays. They learn remotely the other three days, assisted by their college-educated mother, a social worker who can do her job from home.

The Cruz and Lentz children are separated by just a few miles in York, Pennsylvania. But they are a world apart in educational opportunities, a gap education experts say has widened amid the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic.     

Belen Cruz, a single mother and nurse, is most worried about

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The News launches Education Lab to deepen coverage of our schools and explore solutions to persistent challenges

Rarely has there been a more critical time to provide in-depth coverage of our schools.

A global health crisis and social justice movement have brought the deep inequities and challenges that have long plagued education to the forefront of community conversations.

Finding solutions to those issues that help lead to better outcomes for all children is critical to the future of North Texas.

That’s why The Dallas Morning News is launching the new Education Lab, a community-funded journalism initiative aimed at not only expanding our coverage of the most pressing issues in education but also deepening the conversations we have with students, parents and educators.

The Education Lab will build on The News’ longstanding commitment to quality journalism. We will report on pressing issues such as how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting students’ access to opportunities; how well schools are preparing tomorrow’s workforce; and how state funding challenges are affecting

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It’s an old-growth forest. It’s also home to a Washington school’s first foray into outdoor learning amid COVID-19.

Think of what you see and hear in the woods. Bird song. Spiderwebs. Branches framing the sky.

This particular forest is in Port Townsend. It’s an old-growth plot called the Quimper Lost Wilderness. Many of the trees here are more than 170 years old. 

It’s also the site of a local private school’s new outdoor classroom. No desks, no smartboards. Instead, the school will bring in local botanists, poets and historians to teach students about the land’s first people and its role as a habitat for plants and animals. Says Emily Gohn, the school’s head: Class is in session, rain or shine. 

At a time when thousands of children and their teachers are reinventing school on screens, places like Swan School are experimenting with the polar opposite: bringing school to nature. Gohn and a handful of other Washington school leaders are trying their hand at outdoor schooling, a concept that

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Student newspaper at University of Kansas students slams school’s reopening plans, demands remote learning

After one week of in-person classes, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill closed its doors to stop uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. Four hotspots surfaced in student housing and a fraternity on that campus.

Make no mistake. A similar story will likely play out at the University of Kansas if it follows through on plans to bring students back to classes in person starting Monday. Already this week, other schools, such as Michigan State University and the University of Notre Dame, suspended in-person learning because of COVID-19 outbreaks.

KU hasn’t been honest in its approach to bringing students back. When the Kansan asked about the University’s testing plans, officials declined to answer for months and implemented a saliva testing system three weeks before the start of fall classes.

When the Kansan asked a routine question about how much money was left in KU’s reserves, we were told this information

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Schools weigh outdoor learning as education crisis solution during coronavirus

Children sitting under a shade tree learning their ABCs and multiplication tables might sound like a scene from a long-lost era, but it also might be the answer for some school systems desperately seeking ways to resume operations.

With school buildings shuttered and complaints surging about the shortcomings of online instruction, some administrators are going back to the future by taking advantage of balmy fall climates and the relative safety of the great outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Utah, teachers at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education are selecting spots that offer plentiful shade and good Wi-Fi access for students returning to the physical classroom next month.

In Bend, Oregon, preschool children at Bend Forest School will forge ahead with another year — with boots, mittens and scarfs at the ready — to learn and play in the woods. Bend is one of hundreds of “forest schools” across

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When is it safe to open schools? States have varying answers

As schools across the U.S. decide whether to reopen this fall, many are left wondering how to know if it’s safe. Public health experts say virus rates in the community should be low, but there’s little agreement on a specific threshold or even a measurement.

The federal government has largely left it to state and local governments to decide when it’s safe to bring students back to the classroom. The result is a patchwork of policies that vary widely by state and county. Minnesota, for example, suggests fully in-person classes if a county’s two-week case rate is no higher than 10 per 10,000 people. In Pennsylvania, it’s considered safe if a county’s positive virus tests average lower than 5% for a week.

The uncertainty has become a source of tension among school leaders who say they are being pressured to reopen without clear guidelines on how to do it safely.

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Judge weighs legal arguments in lawsuit by teachers union over opening Florida schools

As thousands of children return to classrooms throughout Florida, local school officials, teachers and doctors spent Wednesday picking apart a state mandate requiring schools to resume in-person instruction this month amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have no business opening schools by a certain deadline, and certainly not by Aug. 31,” Orlando pediatrician Annette Nielsen said during a daylong video hearing in a legal challenge to an emergency order by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran requiring schools to reopen five days a week in August. “We’re simply not ready. We don’t have the things in place to open.”

The Florida Education Association statewide teachers union last month filed a lawsuit alleging that Corcoran’s July 6 order violates the state Constitution, which guarantees Floridians the right to “safe” and “secure” public schools. The Orange County teachers union filed a similar legal complaint, and Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson consolidated the cases.

School

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Reopening Florida Schools Is Likened to Military Operation

Staff at MacFarlane Park Elementary work on safety and distancing procedures ahead of students returning for in-person instruction, in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 17, 2020. (Octavio Jones/The New York Times)
Staff at MacFarlane Park Elementary work on safety and distancing procedures ahead of students returning for in-person instruction, in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 17, 2020. (Octavio Jones/The New York Times)

MIAMI — Of all the ways to describe the fraught decision to reopen schools during a pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a former Navy prosecutor, chose an especially dramatic example when he compared the commitment of teachers and administrators to the resolve of Navy SEALs given the mission to go after Osama bin Laden.

“Just as the SEALs surmounted obstacles to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, so, too, would the Martin County school system find a way to provide parents with a meaningful choice of in-person instruction or continued distance learning — all in, all the time,” he said, citing the leader of a local school district.

He meant for the line to be inspirational. But perhaps unintentionally, DeSantis

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Iowa governor’s push to reopen schools descends into chaos

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An aggressive push by Iowa’s pro-Trump governor to reopen schools amid a worsening coronavirus outbreak has descended into chaos, with some districts and teachers rebelling and experts calling the scientific benchmarks used by the state arbitrary and unsafe.

The clash in the Midwest has illustrated in condensed form the tension between science and politics — and between economic concerns and health fears — that has characterized the nation’s response to the outbreak from the White House on down. The virus has devastated the U.S. economy and killed over 170,000 Americans.

“We’re about to see a tragedy occur in the state. And there’s not a lot we can do about it. That’s frightening,” said Sara Anne Willette of Ames, a parent and former math tutor who runs a website tracking state infection data.

At issue is Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ mandate in July that districts offer

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How one school’s identity crisis reflects a growing problem among public universities

This article about higher education in Ohio was produced in partnership with The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. This is part 5 of the Colleges in Crisis series.

Given current circumstances, Richard Vedder, an economics professor emeritus at Ohio University, is teaching his fall course, “Economic History of Europe,” for a salary of $1. Plus, a parking sticker.

“It will take a little bit of burden off the university,” said Vedder, a national expert on higher education finances. His career — he began teaching at O.U. in 1965 — spans the robust rise of public higher education and, now, its shakiest chapter.

The coronavirus crisis has hurt colleges everywhere. But for schools like O.U. — nonflagship public campuses in Ohio and across the Midwest that were already struggling — it has hastened a reckoning. The campuses have become heavily reliant on

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