The bad news about CARES Act funding for schools is that there’s not nearly enough of it. For some school districts, there’s very little. More federal aid may be coming, but we don’t know when or how much.
The good news: In Indiana, at least, public school districts won’t need to worry about Betsy DeVos diverting their anticipated funding to private schools.
DeVos, the U.S. secretary of education, may still succeed in her scheme to use the act to boost funding for even the wealthiest private schools. But the Indiana Department of Education will make up any funds that are lost to public schools.
It’s hard to imagine a worse dilemma than the one school boards and administrators are facing: how to reopen schools in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emotions are running high, and opinions are polarized. Officials want to make decisions based on data, but the data keep changing, with infections rising in much of the country, including Indiana.
There’s a lot at stake, and the decision-makers deserve our patience and respect. I hope most schools can reopen with both full-time, face-to-face instruction and an online alternative for people who choose it. But for some, it won’t happen.
Indiana has a teacher diversity problem. This has been an issue for a long time; and even though some school districts have been trying to hire more teachers of color, change comes slowly if at all.
Data from the Indiana Department of Education are discouraging, showing most students are missing out on the experience of learning from diverse teachers.
- Over 93% of Indiana teachers are white. That compares with 66.4% of students in public and charter schools who are white.
- Fewer than 4% of teachers are Black, compared with 12.7% of students.
- Only 1.7% of teachers are Hispanic, compared with 12.8% of students.
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that teachers in Catholic schools fall under the “ministerial exception” to anti-discrimination laws, potentially stripping protection from thousands of church employees.
Supreme Court Building
The ruling could be a legal setback for counselors and a teacher at Indianapolis high schools who sued the local archdiocese after losing their jobs for being in same-sex marriages, although it’s too early to know for sure.
In a 7-2 decision, the court ruled that two California elementary-school teachers performed “vital religious duties” even though they were lay teachers who were primarily responsible for teaching general academic subjects.
One hundred sixty-eight years ago today, Frederick Douglass delivered one of the most powerful and important speeches in U.S. history.
Frederick Douglass (National Park Service image).
Titled “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”, it drew on the language and moral fervor of the Old Testament prophets to expose the contradictions between the American ideal of liberty and the institution of slavery.
“What Douglass crafted and delivered on July 5 was nothing less than the rhetorical masterpiece of American abolitionism,” historian David Blight writes in his 2018 biography of Douglass.
Blight describes the speech as a symphony in three movements. In the first, the abolitionist, who had escaped slavery only 14 years earlier, praises America’s founders and celebrates its independence.
It’s bad enough that the Supreme Court took a wrecking ball Tuesday to the constitutions of 38 U.S. states. What’s truly discouraging is that it did so while vastly oversimplifying American history.
Supreme Court Building, West Pediment
The court ruled, in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, that Montana couldn’t bar religious schools from participating in a “neo-voucher” program that provided state funding for scholarships to religious K-12 schools. In a 5-4 decision, the conservative majority ruled that barring religious schools was discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.
The majority opinion — and especially concurring opinions by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas — framed the decision as a blow against anti-Catholic bias enshrined in state constitutions via 19th century “Blaine amendments.” But that view papers over complex history, said Steven K. Green, a legal scholar at Willamette University and a leading expert on church-state issues.