K-12 DIGEST: Daily Briefing – Dec. 1, 2021

Supporters of a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's school funding rally on the steps of the Capitol Building in Harrisburg Nov. 12, the first day of trial in the historic case.

Former top Pa. education official testifies that school funding is a ‘root cause’ of achievement gaps

Matthew Stem, who until June served as Pennsylvania’s deputy secretary of K-12 education, said the department considered the lack of resources a “fundamental root cause” of disparities in academic performance between students. And without additional funding, he said, “it’s very, very unlikely that Pennsylvania will be able to close the achievement gaps we’ve seen for decades, particularly for schools with high percentages of students in poverty.”

Maddie Hanna – Philadelphia Inquirer

Iowa State Board of Education passes proposed rule changes on to Legislature

The State Board of Education will not ask the 2022 Legislature to ease educational requirements for school psychologists, as the State Department of Education previously proposed.

The SDE recommended allowing schools to hire psychologists who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, rather than a master’s as is currently required. This happened after SDE facilitated a work group of educators, legislators and stakeholders in educator prep programs, according to Tracie Bent, the State Board’s chief planning and policy officer.

Blake Jones – Idaho Ed News

Investing in their child’s future college education tops some parents’ holiday gift list

Nearly half of parents (45%) may ask family and friends this year to contribute to a 529 college savings plan for their kids, according to a survey from the College Savings Foundation. That compares with 84% of parents who would welcome such contributions in lieu of traditional presents, research from Fidelity Investments shows.

“It’s a smart gift,” said Mary Morris, CEO of Virginia529, a state agency. “And 529 programs have made it easier to do.”

Sarah O’Brien – MSNBC

Kentucky Board of Education sets corporal punishment safeguards in new regulation

Previous attempts to ban the practice, which Education Commissioner Jason Glass called “barbaric” and “trauma-inducing” during Wednesday’s board meeting, have failed in the Kentucky General Assembly. Because corporal punishment in schools is codified in state law, the Kentucky Board of Education cannot outright ban the practice by administrative regulation.

Kevin Wheatley – WDRB

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