You’re reading NPR’s weekly roundup of education news.
‘We strike on Monday if no agreement is reached’
Los Angeles is bracing for a teacher strike on Monday, which could affect roughly 480,000 public school students.
On one side is the LA Unified School District. On the other side is United Teachers Los Angeles, a union of about 30,000 members who have been working without a contract for over a year now.
Negotiations continued this week between the union and leaders of the school district, but as of Saturday the two sides are still without a new labor agreement.
A possible breakthrough: On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a new budget proposal that included more funding for public education. After the governor’s announcement, LAUSD said it was willing to put more money toward the union’s demands. Those demands include smaller class sizes, and more nurses, librarians and counselors, among other things.
In event of a strike, the district says schools would remain open for the same hours, with the same before-and-after-school programs. It has also said that student learning will still take place, with plans to staff schools with administrators, volunteers and 400 newly hired substitute teachers.
New York City offers free glasses to kindergartners and first graders
In his State of the City speech, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced –among other things – a new initiative to provide prescription glasses to kindergartners and first graders who needed them. And the kids will be seeing in style. The mayor said the glasses would come from a partnership between the city and the company Warby Parker. The plans is to give out 33,000 new pairs of eyeglasses. Through a similar program, they city distributed almost 26,000 glasses throughout 224 community schools last year.
(Community schools are schools that offer social services to address out-of-school factors like poverty.)
Report finds that the government could do more to help hunger on college campuses
A new report from the Government Accountability Office reviewed 31 studies on the topic of food insecurity on college campuses. The report had two major findings: A third of college students don’t always have enough food to eat, and the federal government could be doing more to help. Since the federal government doesn’t collect data of food insecurity among college students, GAO used the 31 studies to make their conclusion.
According to the report, almost 2 million students in 2017, who were eligible for aid through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, didn’t receive benefits. One policy analyst who spoke to NPR described the SNAP program as “confusing and cumbersome” and “feels like a very large lift, not only for students to understand it but post-secondary institutions.”
Florida schools will install cameras with artificial intelligence
The Broward County School District plans on installing 116 new cameras throughout 36 schools. A spokesperson for the school district told the Sun Sentinel that the cameras would not have facial recognition software per se, only artificial intelligence that “recognizes the movements and characteristics of people and vehicles.”
The security plan would cost roughly $621,000, according to the Sun Sentinel. A large chunk of the money would come through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, which will need approval from the county first.
Has the presidential election increased school bullying?
Up until this point, the evidence has been anecdotal but new research finds that stories of increased bullying are confirmed by student surveys – at least in the state of Virginia.
Two researchers – Francis Huang of the University of Missouri, and Dewey Cornell of the University of Virginia – used data from school climate surveys taken by over 150,000 students across Virginia in 2015 and 2017.
They found that, in the 2017 responses, there were higher rates of bullying and certain types of teasing in areas where voters favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. In 2015, the data showed that there was no meaningful difference.
The researchers wanted to make it clear that their findings do not conclude that President Trump’s election caused an increase in bullying. Instead, they found a correlation between voter preference and bullying, and they observed teasing across one state.
Bad data skews national analysis on absenteeism
In an August report, Prince George’s County Public Schools reported that 80 percent of the district’s students were chronically absent. This week, we learned that’s not the case.
The number is actually closer to 29 percent. This changed Maryland’s ranking from number one state with most chronically absent students to number 10. Prince Georges County is also predominantly African American, so the correction changed national numbers for black student absence, from 29.1 percent to 19.6 percent.