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The Rundown: Education News Recap

education news

The news cycle is busy. This past week alone, Indiana legislators killed House Bill 1134, which proposed giving parents more input into curriculum and instruction. The governor of Florida chastised a group of teenagers for wearing masks in a crowded indoor space. Lawmakers in nearly 20 states began pushing so-called “transparency” legislation that would require teachers to post all their instructional materials. 

Global unrest may be occupying most news headlines, but there are also considerable disturbances within this country, many of them in schools. For anyone who works in education, life in America is exemplifying an ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Teachers are leaving the profession in droves, and it’s not because of the pandemic – it’s because they are being systematically driven out. Keeping track of all the news can be a little mind-boggling, so here is a rundown of current events that should help with staying informed. While the news is painful, teachers believe in the power of knowledge. Shutting out the world around us isn’t a viable option right now.

Targeting Trans Kids

When the personal lives of students are held up to the media spotlight, teachers step in to provide moral support. In Texas, the rights of transgender minors have been consistently targeted in many ways over the past several months. In October, legislators passed a bill banning transgender students from playing for athletic teams for the gender in which they identify. More recently, the governor has requested that professionals (doctors and teachers, for example) report the parents of transgender minors to state authorities if they believe that a minor is receiving medical care related to gender assignment or transitioning. Contrary to Texas law, the governor’s letter asserts that transgender kids are victims of abuse. While people in Texas are fighting back (a judge recently blocked the state from investigating the parents of a transgender teen), the potential of these attacks is nothing short of frightening. As students and their families grapple with this new development, teachers nationwide must use this opportunity to show acceptance and love for all, and to engage in complex conversations about identity, freedom, and legal rights. 

Book Banning

At various tumultuous points in American history, book censorship crops up as a hot-button issue. While banning books is a sign that much is not well in the world around us, it can be hard for teachers to navigate the use of texts that are challenged for reasons that most frequently amount to ignorance. Aside from the much-publicized ban of Maus in Tennessee, several valuable books have been under fire for their ideas, such as Richard Wright’s Native Son and (ironically) Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. To remain grounded in practice, it’s important to remember that the same people who cut off student access to books are not the same people who know their educational worth. As an added advantage, nothing will make a book more appealing to students than hearing that adults have tried to block access to reading it. Playing up the forbidden nature of a text can really inspire students to read, so take advantage of the controversy!


When students were on Zoom, teachers became accustomed to being under the microscope for the duration of remote instruction. However, nobody imagined that anyone would want to maintain constant surveillance past the initial phase of the pandemic. Now, school systems in a number of states have either proposed or decided to monitor teachers in a variety of objectionable ways. Aside from the now infamous Virginia tip line requesting that anyone and everyone report teacher activity deemed objectionable, suggestions to either put a camera in classrooms or to collect all lesson plans far in advance of instruction for parental review are both untenable. The idea that teachers should be kept under scrutiny sends a message of ongoing distrust, which doesn’t exactly inspire teachers to feel appreciated. 

Limiting Speech

It is hard to speak freely. Now more than ever, this is a dangerous time to express much of an opinion about anything. For teachers, that is a significant limitation. When our job is to educate, that automatically comes with sharing ideas. If we are told to avoid or tiptoe around certain topics, from wars going on across the world to the state of climate change, that limits our ability to do our jobs. Lately, faulty assumptions about critical race theory have brought teacher speech even more into the spotlight in all the wrong ways. As this Washington Post article highlights, “In 13 states, new laws or directives govern how race can be taught in schools, in some cases creating reporting systems for complaints. The result, teachers and principals say, is a climate of fear around how to comply with rules they often do not understand.” Much of the legislation being passed uses vague language that makes it harder for teachers to know what is permitted, and what might cost them their jobs. 

It is tempting to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that all is business as usual, but that is far from realistic. Each day, the decisions that legislators or other governing bodies make about education trickle right into classrooms. The overarching message – that teachers lack expertise and are untrustworthy – has already resulted in a large number of educators leaving the profession, and more will follow at the close of this school year. With each new assault on the value systems that support teaching and learning, it becomes harder to stay focused on helping students. Ironically, children are the very people that legislative bodies claim to care about, and they stand to lose the most as instability continues in schools with a mass exodus of highly qualified teachers. 

Written by Miriam Plotinsky, Education World Contributing Writer

Miriam Plotinsky is an instructional specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, where she has taught and led for more than 20 years. She is the author of Teach More, Hover Less and is also a National Board-Certified Teacher with additional certification in administration and supervision. She can be reached at or via Twitter: @MirPloMCPS.

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