Republican leaders in Texas are proposing to use billions of dollars in COVID relief funding for a voter-pleasing tax cut — and it’s all thanks to President Joe Biden and the Democrats in Washington. The plans are still in flux, but bills working their way through the state Legislature would have the effect of using about a fifth of the $16 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars to help lower the property tax burden in Texas.    (15) view article arw

The Florida Board of Education on Thursday voted to sanction eight school districts that have instituted Covid-19 mask mandates without giving parents the ability to opt their students out.  In doing so, the state board said that school districts in Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Duval, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties were not in compliance and directly violating a Florida Department of Health emergency rule.  As a penalty, Florida Board of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has requested that funds for each district be withheld "in an amount equal to 1/12 of all school board members' salaries," in addition to withholding any amount equal to federal grant funds awarded to those districts by President Joe Biden's administration. view article arw

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post uses her awesome journalistic skills to try to figure out what Governor Ron DeSantis means when he says he intends to “end standardized testing.” I was confused by his statement, confused by his explanation, and remain uncertain about what he intends to do. Neither he nor the State Superintendent Richard Corcoran are educators. One suspects that they have political motives. view article arw

North Carolina school boards will have to vote monthly if they want to continue requiring face masks, under a new law signed Monday by Governor Roy Cooper. Cooper announced Monday he had signed a wide-ranging coronavirus bill for schools that touches on things such as graduation requirements, grading of schools, driving privileges for students and use of remote instruction. The new law also ensures that those school boards that mandate masking have to continue approving the requirement each month. The requirement comes as 104 of the state’s 115 school districts have opted to require masking, as of Aug. 31. In the past month, 51 school districts reversed their decision to go mask optional due to the surge in COVID-19 cases from the delta variant. view article arw

Florida’s Board of Education said on Friday that two school districts would lose some state funding if they did not reverse mask mandates within two days, a move that ignored President Biden’s vow to take action against governors opposing mandatory masking. A sixth school district on Friday defied a masking mandate ban imposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), and after the board’s threats were made public, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the Biden administration would “assist any district facing repercussions” for imposing mask mandates recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It is deeply troubling to see state leaders putting politics ahead of the health and safety of our students, and that instead of supporting our educators for doing the right thing, state leaders are trying to punish them,” Cardona said in a statement. view article arw

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott may soon be fighting a war on two fronts — with local officials and the federal government — to stave off mandatory COVID-19 prevention efforts after the Biden administration announced Wednesday it was going after states like Texas that try to ban universal masking at schools. Saying that the federal government will not “sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators from protecting our children,” Biden said he will use the U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights enforcement authority to deter states from blocking mask mandates in classrooms. “I'm directing the Secretary of Education, an educator himself, to take additional steps to protect our children,” Biden said. “This includes using all of his oversight authorities and legal action, if appropriate, against governors trying to block and intimidate local school officials.” “If you aren’t going to fight COVID-19, at least get out of the way of everyone else who’s trying,” Biden added. view article arw

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday upped the pressure on the growing number of public school districts defying a state ban on mask mandates as they try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Republican created a $163 million school grant program using federal virus relief funds he controls, but schools that have mask mandates or have to close because of COVID-19 outbreaks won't be eligible for the additional $1,800 per student. “Safety recommendations are welcomed and encouraged — mandates that place more stress on students and families aren’t,” Ducey said in a statement. “These grants acknowledge efforts by schools and educators that are following state laws and keeping their classroom doors open for Arizona’s students.” view article arw

Florida education officials on Friday morning will consider a proposed emergency rule that would free up school vouchers for families who want to transfer their kids out of public schools that impose rules on masking. But many of the proposal’s details remain foggy. The proposed rule says parents would be allowed to apply for a Hope scholarship — whose legislative intent was to allow students who are being bullied to transfer schools — when a “school district’s COVID-19 health protocols, including masking, pose a health or educational danger to their child.” “The agency finds that the potential for student learning loss and educational disruption with schools starting next week, created an immediate danger to the public health, safety and welfare of students and requires emergency action,” the rule states. view article arw

There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It's the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility. Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, says in an article in the Washington Post, "Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture; a disjunction between Americans' rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism."  view article arw

A Mississippi school district has been ordered to desegregate its schools after what the Justice Department called a five-decade-long legal battle. The Cleveland School District, about two hours northwest of Jackson, was told that it must consolidate its schools in order to provide real desegregation for students in the city of about 12,000. view article arw