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Tennessee education department announces $2M for educator training programs

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Aspiring teachers attending seven universities across the state will be able to apply for limited full scholarships, thanks to a $2 million allocation by the Tennessee Department of Education through it’s Grow Your Own teacher education program.

Funded by Grow Your Own grants, university educator training programs partner with school districts to provide tuition-free education for aspiring teachers. Participants work as education assistants at placements in partner school districts, learning under qualified teacher mentors. The program was initiated with an eye to increasing access and removing barriers to the teaching profession.

“The Grow Your Own initiative will expand across the state and support hundreds of individuals to become teachers for free – while employed in our Tennessee school districts,” Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said. “Right now, it could not be more important to remove barriers to the teaching profession, and I am proud of the way our state is coming together to continue preparing great teachers in innovative ways.”

The $2 million investment will support teacher training and associated placements in 35 school districts across the state and enable 262 aspiring teachers to receive training, classroom experience and a teacher license at no cost.

The competitive grant awards will expand existing Grow Your Own programs at Austin Peay State University, Lipscomb University and the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus, and initiate programs at Lincoln Memorial University, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.

“UTC is thrilled to be selected as one of the Grow Your Own awardees and thankful to the Tennessee Department of Education for the award,” said School of Education Director Renee Murley, of the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

Between 1971 and 2017, the number of graduates earning bachelor’s degrees in education dropped by 51 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Tennessee

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Justice Department Sues Yale University Over Admissions Practices

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The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Thursday against Yale University, alleging the school violated federal civil-rights law by discriminating against Asian-American and white applicants in undergraduate admissions.

In the complaint, filed in federal district court in Connecticut, the Justice Department alleged that for the past few decades Yale’s “oversized, standardless, intentional use of race has subjected domestic, non-transfer applicants to Yale College to discrimination on the ground of race.”

The lawsuit marks an escalation of the Trump administration’s scrutiny of elite colleges over their policies on race and admissions. The Justice Department has also supported legal efforts to end affirmative action at Harvard University, and the Education Department last month said it would investigate racism at Princeton University.

Yale didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in 2017 that it would redirect resources toward probing and suing universities over their affirmative-action policies, part of a broader rightward shift the division has taken under President Trump. The division has made other sweeping changes to policy on civil-rights enforcement, police reform and other areas.

“All persons who apply for admission to colleges and universities should expect and know that they will be judged by their character, talents, and achievements and not the color of their skin,” said Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. “To do otherwise is to permit our institutions to foster stereotypes, bitterness, and division.”

The Justice Department began investigating Yale in 2018, based on a 2016 complaint filed with the Justice and Education Departments by a group of Asian-American organizations, led by the Asian American Coalition for Education.

The federal government threatened the suit back in August, when it issued the findings of a two-year review of Yale’s undergraduate admissions practices. At the time,

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Department for Education’s handling of pupil data ruled illegal

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The Department for Education broke the law in its mishandling of the national database containing details of every school pupil in England, the Information Commissioner’s Office has concluded in a highly critical report.

The report marks the second time in less than a year that the DfE has been publicly rebuked by the privacy watchdog for failing to adhere to data protection laws.

After an investigation triggered by complaints from groups including Liberty, the ICO found that the DfE had failed to comply with sections of the general data protection regulation (GDPR). It said there was “no clear picture of what data is held by the DfE” and that its handling of millions of pupil records “could result in multiple data breaches”.

Related: Department of Education criticised for secretly sharing children’s data

“The audit found that data protection was not being prioritised and this had severely impacted the DfE’s ability to comply with the UK’s data protection laws,” the ICO said.

The audit lists more than 130 recommendations for the DfE to improve its data safeguarding, with 32 classed as urgent and 57 as high priority by the watchdog.

Sam Grant, the policy and campaigns manager of Liberty, said: “This report displays a shocking failure of privacy protections, which is dangerous for our rights.

“The type of data collected by the DfE can reveal a huge amount of sensitive personal information about us, and often about children and young people. The government has routinely misused this data to enforce cruel and oppressive policies like the hostile environment. This cavalier attitude to our personal information puts people, including the most marginalised, at risk.”

According to the ICO,

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Oregon Department of Corrections weighs cutting ties with community colleges, moving education in-house

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The Oregon Department of Corrections is weighing ending its connections to community colleges across the state and proposing to move its education program in-house because of a budget shortfall.

The DOC currently contracts with six community colleges in Oregon to provide high school diploma equivalency services to inmates across its 14 facilities.

Department of Corrections communications manager Jennifer Black told Oregon Public Broadcasting that DOC is proposing the contracts be phased out and the agency hire back those positions as part of the DOC permanent budget going forward.

She said nearly 1,000 inmates were enrolled in the Adult Basic Skill Development program as of Sept. 30.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, contractors were unable to enter the institutions and ABS (Adult Basic Skills) programming could not be adapted and continued during operation modifications,” she said. “Converting contractor funding to DOC staff positions will allow the department to continue ABS programming during other disasters or operational restrictions.”

DOC director Colette Peters sent a letter about the situation this week to Cam Preus, executive director of the Oregon Community College Association.

ODOC was already experiencing a projected budget shortfall of $110 million before the pandemic, Peters wrote, which has resulted in $25 million in layoffs and other cost-cutting measures.

Peters said that DOC staff met with Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario to discuss the idea of the six colleges working together to create a proposal standardizing services.

“Treasure Valley was clear that such a proposal would not be forthcoming,” Peters wrote. “It was stated unequivocally during those meetings that the colleges are independent institutions and that the dynamics between colleges would not result in a unified proposal.”

DOC has now presented the community college association with requirements in order to continue the relationship. Those requirements include standardizing education programming hours across institutions,

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Lawmakers, superintendents blindsided by Tennessee Education Department learning loss projections

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Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn’s announcement of COVID-19-related learning loss projections for Tennessee students took state lawmakers and school superintendents by surprise.



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In a joint news conference with Gov. Bill Lee last week, Schwinn announced Tennessee students are expected to face learning loss of 50% in English and 65 % in math, stressing the importance of in-person learning. Projections were based on national research and early results of beginning-of-year student checkpoint assessments in Tennessee.

“This press release really caught a lot of us off guard,” Henry County Schools Superintendent Leah Watkins told The Center Square. “I feel like this was a smack in the face of my educators, of my team, who have given up summer break to have had to change everything they do to make it work for a dual environment – virtual and in person. It just feels like an affront to the work that my team does.”

Schwinn did not give superintendents notice of the learning loss announcement on a regular conference call Wednesday morning before the Wednesday afternoon news conference, Watkins said. Superintendents received the data report Thursday evening, after an outpouring of distress.

“I’ve had about 21 superintendents call me furious about the Wednesday release,” state Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, told The Center Square. “They feel betrayed.”

Schwinn apologized to superintendents for the lack of notice on a phone call Friday.

“It’s heartbreaking to see this with no preparation, no opportunity to look at the data to question the data before it’s released,” Watkins said.

Superintendents have raised concerns with the data underlying the department’s projections. When questioned about the source of the data, Schwinn said Wednesday projections were based on a national learning loss study, as well as Tennessee student data collected from the