Tageducation

Virginia education agency proposes policies to clarify approaches to transgender students in public schools

The Virginia Department of Education proposed new policies on September 16, 2022, that aim to provide guidance to the state’s public schools on the Youngkin administration’s preferred approaches to transgender students. 

The new policies depart from former Democratic Governor Ralph Northam’s administration guidelines, which encouraged schools to let students use names and pronouns aligning with their gender identity without formal documentation. Titled 2022 Model Policies On The Privacy, Dignity, And Respect For All Students And Parents In Virginia’s Public Schools, the new education policy mandate the following approaches:

  • Transgender students must use the bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their assigned sex at birth
  • The legal name and sex of a student cannot be changed even with written instruction from a parent or student unless official legal documentation or a court order is presented
  • Teachers and school officials are only allowed to refer to a student by the pronouns associated with their sex at birth
  • Teachers are not required to use a student’s preferred name regardless of written instruction if they believe doing so would violate their constitutionally protected rights

The Virginia Department of Education stated that the policy “reaffirms the rights of parents to determine how their children will be raised and educated. Empowering parents is not only a fundamental right, but it is essential to improving outcomes for all children in Virginia.”

In response to the policy proposal, Mike Mullin, a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates, tweeted, “Trans kids deserve to learn and thrive in an environment free of bullying, intimidation, and fear. That means being addressed as who they are and supported for who they will be. Especially from their teachers and their administrators.”

The general public will be allowed to comment on the proposed policy using the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall website. 

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Hillsborough County School Board approves sex education curriculum for seventh, eighth, and ninth grade

The Hillsborough County School Board in Florida approved new sex education curriculum for seventh, eighth, and ninth-grade students on September 20, 2022. The curriculum has been the subject of debate as parents and teachers have spoken publicly in favor of and in opposition to the proposed materials. The curriculum aims to provide “consistent and medically accurate information when it comes to reproductive health and disease prevention.”  

Local district school boards are responsible for developing curriculum and instructional materials for educators in the district to follow. Parents who oppose the sex education curriculum can opt their children out of the included lessons.    

Erin Maloney, Hillsborough County School District Director of Media and Public Relations, said, “The curriculum for the 2022-2023 school year was developed in accordance with new legislation, Board policy, and state standards.” Maloney continued, “Our district promotes abstinence as the first expected standard while also teaching them about healthy decision-making skills. Our curriculum fosters communication with parents and guardians to help continue the conversation at home,” according to Bay News 9

Parents and grandparents with the Protect our Children Project and Moms for Liberty have opposed the curriculum. A member of the group, Terry Kemple, said, “When these kids are presented particularly with sexual concepts that they’re not familiar with, they’re not going to ask their buddies because their buddies will laugh at them, what they’re gonna do is go online, then they’re going to find information that their parents certainly would not want them finding. So bringing these concepts in at this stage of a kids development is inappropriate,” according to Bay News 9

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Pilot program for New York City’s Asian American and Pacific Islander history curriculum launches for the 2022-2023 school year

A pilot program of New York City’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) history curriculum was launched in select schools in September 2022. The New York City Department of Education announced in May 2022 that it had developed the curriculum, titled the Hidden Voices Project, in partnership with the Museum of the City of New York. The new curriculum will be widely implemented throughout the city in 2024 for all grades. 

The curriculum aims to teach students to “learn about and honor the innumerable people, often ‘hidden’ from the traditional historical record, who have shaped and continue to shape our history and identity.” K-12 curriculum guides for the Hidden Voices Project are available on the NYC Department of Education website to assist teachers with implementing the new area of instruction. 

David Banks, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, said, “We want each child to be heard and seen for who they are, to feel deep in their bones that they are respected and important,” according to Chalkbeat New York.  

State Sen. John Liu (D) has introduced legislation that, if passed, would require all New York public schools to include Asian American history in K-12 curriculum.  

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Virginia Board of Education postpones public hearings for proposed history curriculum standards

The Virginia Board of Education has announced that they will delay voting on new statewide history curriculum standards, following opposition from the Youngkin administration regarding some of the proposed changes. The proposed changes that have received pushback from Gov. Youngkin (R) include removing “references to George Washington as ‘the father of our country’ and James Madison as the ‘father of the Constitution’” and using the word succession instead of secession. A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Education has said that those changes were made in error.   

The state board is responsible for updating the state’s curriculum standards every seven years. The board establishes required curriculum standards that local districts must adhere to. 

In response to the board’s decision to delay the public hearings and vote on the standards, Gov. Youngkin said, “I was pleased that the State Board of Education stepped back, granted additional time for further review before these most important history curriculum standards are released for public comment. We’re doing our work. That’s why Virginians granted us the license to lead last year. We are in fact going to do the work and make sure that we have the best history curriculum in the nation,” according to ABC 7 News

Atif Qarni (D), Virginia’s former Secretary of Education, spoke about the delay in voting on the proposed changes. Qarni contended, “I would just really encourage the board when they meet in September to go ahead and pass them. I realized they were technical edits, which I’m really surprised because we’ve had eight months under the Youngkin administration to get these rolled out. I was disappointed the governor took that [SOL errors] and politicized that even though it’s his Department of Ed, which made those technical edits and how to spell secession versus succession,” according to ABC 7 News.

The board was set to vote on the new history curriculum standards in August but announced that they will delay the vote until the fall. Public hearings on the new standards will begin in September. 

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Voters in St. Louis, Missouri, approve two ballot measures on Aug. 2

On August 2, voters in St. Louis, Missouri, approved two ballot measures—Proposition F and Proposition S.

St. Louis Proposition F amended the city’s charter to increase the maximum fine for violations of ordinances regarding environmental conditions, such as dumping waste and debris and prohibited refuse, from $500 to $1,000. With all precincts reporting, the vote was 85.03% to 14.97%. A 60% supermajority vote was required to approve Proposition F. In March, the St. Louis City Council voted 27-0 to place the measure on the ballot.

St. Louis Public Schools Proposition S authorized the Board of Education to issue $160 million in general obligation bonds for school renovations, repairs, and upgrades. With all precincts reporting, the vote was 86.87% to 13.13%. A four-sevenths (57.14%) vote was needed to approve the ballot measure. 

Superintendent Kelvin Adams said the bond revenue would cover about half of the district’s needed fixes. “We’re only going to touch the surface of this,” said Adams, “We know for a fact that there are more needs than the dollars will support, but this gets us moving in the right direction.” Voters last approved a bond for St. Louis Public Schools in 2010.

Since 2018, voters in St. Louis, and jurisdictions that include St. Louis, have decided on 18 local ballot measures, approving 15 (83%) and rejecting three (17%). Before August 2, the last citywide election in St. Louis was on April 5, 2022, when voters approved two ballot measures – an initiative addressing redistricting and conflict of interest policies and a capital improvements bond measure.   

St. Louis also held citywide primaries on August 2, including for the offices of the collector of revenue, license collector, and recorder of deeds.



Federal judge blocks Biden administration guidance on transgender students

A federal judge from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee on July 15, 2022, struck down a Department of Education order that aims to protect transgender students and workers from discrimination. 

The Biden administration released the challenged guidance in response to recent legislation passed by states that aim to bar transgender students from participating on school sports teams and using bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity. The guidance states transgender students are protected under Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex at federally funded schools. It also claims that transgender workers are protected under Title VII, which bars employers from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex, and/or national origin. The department in June issued a proposed rule seeking to codify parts of the guidance. 

Tennesse and 19 other Republican-led states brought a lawsuit against the federal government last August, asserting the Department of Education overreached its executive authority by issuing the order. The states claim in part that the department’s guidance infringes on state power in violation of the Tenth Amendment.

Judge Charles Atchley, a Trump appointee, ruled the department overreached its authority in order to penalize states for their recent legislation. In a preliminary injunction, Judge Atchley wrote, “[T]he harm alleged by plaintiff States is already occurring – their sovereign power to enforce their own legal code is hampered by the issuance of defendants’ guidance and they face substantial pressure to change their state laws as a result.”

In response to the ruling, Joni Madison, the Human Rights Campaign’s interim president, said, “Nothing in this decision can stop schools from treating students consistent with their gender identity. And nothing in this decision eliminates schools’ obligations under Title IX or students’ or parents’ abilities to bring lawsuits in federal court.” 

Additional reading:

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee

Charles Atchley



Idaho voters will decide on an initiative to increase the state’s income and corporate tax rates for education funding in November

On July 22, the Idaho secretary of state announced that an initiative that would increase income tax and corporate tax rates to provide additional education funding had submitted the required number of signatures for the November ballot. 

Reclaim Idaho, the campaign behind the initiative, filed 95,269 signatures on May 2. In Idaho, the number of signatures required to qualify an initiated state statute for the ballot is 64,945, which is equal to 6% of the registered voters at the time of the state’s last general election. Idaho also has a distribution requirement that requires signatures from 6% of registered voters in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts. The secretary of state reported that Reclaim Idaho’s petition met the requirements in at least 19 legislative districts.

The initiative would amend state statute to increase the tax on income above $250,000 for individuals, trusts, and estates and above $500,000 for couples filing jointly to $16,097 plus 10.925%. The tax bracket would not be adjusted for inflation until 2025. The initiative would also increase the corporate income tax from 6% to 8%. The new tax brackets and tax rates would take effect on January 1, 2023.

The initiative would also establish the Quality Education Fund. Revenues from the increased taxes would be deposited into the fund. The initiative states that the funds should be appropriated by the state board of education. It would prohibit funds from being appropriated to pay the salaries of superintendents, principals, or other administrators. The initiative requires that the funds be distributed to public school districts and charter schools according to their share of the state’s average daily attendance during the previous school year.

Reclaim Idaho said, “Idaho voters will now have a chance to boost K-12 funding by $323 million a year in order to strengthen programs & secure better pay for teachers & support staff–all without a penny of new taxes for anyone making under $250,000 a year or any married couple making under $500,000 a year. Vote Yes on Prop 1!”

Reclaim Idaho previously sponsored an approved 2018 ballot initiative, Proposition 2, which expanded Medicaid eligibility.

The initiative is opposed by State Sen. Steven Thayn (R), who said the initiative is “based on a false assumption that money will improve education.”

Idaho voters will also be deciding on a constitutional amendment put on the ballot by the state legislature that would allow the president pro tempore of the state Senate and the speaker of the state House to convene a special session of the state legislature upon receiving a joint written request from 60% of the members of each chamber. Idaho is one of 14 states where only the governor can order a special session.

In Idaho, a total of 65 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2020. Forty-eight (73.84%) ballot measures were approved, and 17 (26.15%) ballot measures were defeated.

Additional reading:

Idaho 2022 ballot measures



Voters in St. Louis, Missouri, will decide on two ballot measures on August 2

On August 2, voters in St. Louis, Missouri, will decide on two ballot measures – Proposition F and Proposition S.

St. Louis Proposition F would amend the city’s charter to increase the maximum fine for violations of ordinances regarding environmental conditions, such as dumping waste and debris and prohibited refuse, from $500 to $1,000. On March 11, 2022, the St. Louis City Council voted 27-0 to place Proposition F on the ballot.

St. Louis Public Schools Proposition S would authorize the Board of Education to issue $160 million in general obligation bonds for school renovations, repairs, and upgrades. Superintendent Kelvin Adams said the bond revenue would cover about half of the district’s needed fixes. “We’re only going to touch the surface of this,” said Adams, “We know for a fact that there are more needs than the dollars will support, but this gets us moving in the right direction.” Voters last approved a bond for St. Louis Public Schools in 2010.

Since 2018, voters in St. Louis, and jurisdictions that include St. Louis, have decided on 16 local ballot measures, approving 13 (81%) and rejecting three (19%). During the last citywide election in St. Louis on April 5, 2022, voters approved two ballot measures – an initiative addressing redistricting and conflict of interest policies and a capital improvements bond measure.   

St. Louis is also holding citywide primaries on August 2, including for the offices of the collector of revenue, license collector, and recorder of deeds.



Maryland parents oppose state health education framework

Some Maryland parents, according to The Washington Post, have expressed opposition to a state health education framework that outlines how educators should teach students about mental and emotional health; substance abuse prevention; family life and human sexuality; safety and violence prevention; healthy eating; and disease prevention and control. Parents argue that the standards for family life and human sexuality education are not age-appropriate and that parents should be allowed to offer input on how their children are taught certain topics. 

The Maryland State Board of Education adopted the framework in 2019 and school districts have recently begun discussing how to implement the family life and human sexuality lessons in their schools. The framework states that students in pre-kindergarten through third grade should be taught about what the framework considers to be healthy relationships and gender identity, such as recognizing that there is “a range of ways people identify and express their gender” and “that there are different types of families.” The framework permits parents to opt their children out of the family life and human sexuality standards beginning in fourth grade. 

A Carroll County resident said at a school board meeting in April, “The government has no right to attempt to replace parents or their decisions regarding what their children learn,” according to the Post.

Brad Young, the president of the Frederick County school board said, “[The school board’s] job is to set policy for the school system, listen to the community, and adopt [the curriculum]. And if they would let that process work, I think in the end, people would be fine with the outcome,” according to the Post

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Florida Department of Education aims to avoid critical race theory and social justice in social studies textbooks

Florida’s Department of Education issued guidance to textbook publishers informing them on the instructional materials that can and cannot be included in K-12 social studies textbooks. The guidance notes that “Critical Race Theory, Social Justice, Culturally Responsive Teaching, Social and Emotional Learning, and any other unsolicited theories that may lead to student indoctrination are prohibited.” The specifications also state that “instructional materials should not attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students to a viewpoint inconsistent with Florida standards.”  

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said, “We’re working to make sure that the purpose of the school system is to educate our kids, not to indoctrinate our kids. And that’s what parents want to see. So, we are doing more than anybody on education across the board,” according to Miami Herald.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) opposed the guidance and said, “Gov. DeSantis is bringing a brand of authoritarianism to Florida that Putin, Maduro or Castro would applaud,” according to Politico

The deadline for textbook publishers to submit their social studies proposals to the Florida Department of Education is June 10, 2022. 

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