'A State’s antiestablishment interest does not justify enactments that exclude some members of the community'

Good morning. Kevin Mahnken leads the lineup today, with reporting on Tuesday’s big education ruling at the Supreme Court. Bekah McNeel has a memorable dispatch from Uvalde, Texas, about the surprising legacy of Robb Elementary prior to the school shooting last month. We also have a new essay penned by three current and former school chiefs about the fallout from Uvalde and the “reckless” safety policies now being discussed and embraced in a rush to further harden schools.

All that and more today at The 74:

Education Law

Supreme Court rules states can't bar religious schools from voucher programs

In a 6-3 decision that will allow private schools greater access to public funds, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Maine cannot bar parochial academies from a school choice program. The ruling is the latest in a series that has loosened restrictions on religious institutions receiving direct state support. “The law now leaves no room for states that wish to require a greater degree of separation between church and state than the Federal Constitution requires,” one law professor told The 74’s Kevin Mahnken.

  • Flashback — Oral Arguments: ‘Equal treatment, not special treatment’ (Read our December dispatch)
  • Next Up, Kennedy v. Bremerton Schools: Conservative justices appear to side with coach suspended for post-game prayers (Read more)


Before tragedy, Robb Elementary's legacy of advancing equal education in Uvalde

Despite its tragic final chapter, Robb Elementary’s legacy endures: When George Garza was a teacher at Robb Elementary school in the 1960s, his advocacy for Latino students sparked a movement in the tiny agricultural town. Decades of community struggle followed, but his son Ronnie, now a county commissioner said opportunities for students in Uvalde have improved because of what his father started at Robb. Teachers Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles continued that progress, fighting for the inclusion of special education students. Whatever becomes of the physical property where Robb Elementary now stands, Ronnie Garza said, isn’t what’s important. What’s important is the legacy of Robb Elementary — and the children who deserve an opportunity to learn. Bekah McNeel has today's memorable profile.

  • Arredondo: Experts question why Uvalde chief has not been placed on leave amid multiple probes (Read the full report)
  • Training & Readiness: Campus cops scrutinized after tragic missteps in Uvalde response (Read more)

School Safety

School chiefs' POV: Arming teachers, hardening schools 'reckless' priorities

New this morning, three current and former schools chiefs — former Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson, Cleveland schools CEO Eric S. Gordon and outgoing Philadelphia chief William R. Hite — are out with a new essay denouncing what they deem a litany of “unserious, uninformed and utterly reckless” solutions that have driven public conversation and local legislation following last month’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. While some elected leaders have put the focus on arming teachers and “hardening” schools, the trio of writers say there’s an array of popular, common-sense solutions that are also long overdue, from great mental health supports to gun safety reforms to emergency protocols. Read today’s full essay from Anderson, Gordon and Hite.

  • Armed Educators: Among experts’ safety concerns as Ohio teachers permitted to carry guns — Racial bias (Read more)


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In yet another March For Our Lives, fresh despair, but defiant hope in democracy

Like many, 74 contributor Conor Williams despaired after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last month, writing in a powerful column that it would not be the last time children and their teachers were slaughtered in school. Our inability to confront gun violence had doomed us to repeat such tragedies. In his latest, Williams casts about for reasons to hope and he finds it in the March For Our Lives activists who rallied in his hometown of Washington, D.C. June 11. “As I wrote after Uvalde, there are so many reasons for them to expect that nothing can be done … But they came anyway, reminding the rest of us that democracy isn’t something you have, or somewhere you live. It’s something that you and your neighbors choose to do.” Read his full reflection.

  • From May: As tragedies mount, we wring our hands and do nothing (Read more)


Some clues about what states will do when school COVID funding runs out

Public schools are facing massive enrollment declines, with at least 19 states losing 3% or more of their students compared with pre-pandemic levels. A huge influx of cash, combined with policies that base school funding on prior year enrollment counts, have largely protected districts’ bottom lines. But once federal relief funding expires in 2024, to what extent will state policymakers continue their hold-harmless policies? Contributor Aaron Garth Smith takes a look at some pre-pandemic trends that offer clues as to how this might play out.

Ed Tech

Making sure technology really works in the classroom

After five years of teaching middle school math, Katie Boody Adorno decided she wanted more say in finding — or creating — the ed tech tools used in her classroom, and she wanted students and families to be part of the process. So in 2013, she started Leanlab Education. The Kansas City-based nonprofit connects companies and schools so ed tech products can be measured and evaluated in real-life classrooms, and those insights can be reflected in the finished product. Leanlab then awards a Codesign Product Certification to signify that participating companies partnered with a school and implemented that feedback. "We want to give teachers and school administrators a quick way to understand if an ed tech product reflects the insights of educators, students and parents — the true end users in education — and was built for the realities of classroom environments," Adorno tells Tim Newcomb. Read his full report.

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