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LA Teacher Strike Scheduled For Monday; New College Hunger Findings

Teachers in the nation's second-largest school district will go on strike on Monday if there's no settlement of its long-running contract dispute.
Damian Dovarganes
Teachers in the nation's second-largest school district will go on strike on Monday if there's no settlement of its long-running contract dispute.

Updated Saturday at 1:14 p.m. ET.

You're reading NPR's weekly roundup of education news.

'On Monday we will be ready to strike'

Los Angeles is bracing for a teacher strike, which could affect roughly 480,000 public school students.

On one side is the LA Unified School District; on the other, United Teachers Los Angeles, a union of more than 30,000 members who have been working without a contract for over a year.

On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a new budget proposal that included more funding for public education. After the Democratic governor's announcement, LAUSD increased its offer. But on Friday, the union said it wasn't enough. It's holding out for smaller class sizes, and more nurses, librarians and counselors, among other things.

With no negotiations planned for the weekend, a Monday strike looks likely.

In event of a strike, the district saysschools would remain open for the same hours, with the same before- and after-school programs. It has also said that student learning will still take place, with plans to staff schools with administrators, volunteers and400 newly hired substitute teachers.

New York City offers free glasses to kindergartners and first graders

In his State of the City speech, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced –among other things – a new initiative to provide prescription glasses to kindergartners and first graders who needed them. And the kids will be seeing in style. The mayor said the glasses would come from a partnership between the city and the company Warby Parker. The plans is to give out 33,000 new pairs of eyeglasses. Through a similarprogram, they city distributed almost 26,000 glasses throughout 224 community schools last year.

(Community schools are schools that offer social services to address out-of-school factors like poverty.)

Report finds that the government could do more to help hunger on college campuses

Anew report from the Government Accountability Office reviewed 31 studies on the topic of food insecurity on college campuses. The report had two major findings: A third of college students don't always have enough food to eat, and the federal government could be doing more to help. Since the federal government doesn't collect data of food insecurity among college students, GAO used the 31 studies to make their conclusion.

According to the report, almost 2 million students in 2017, who were eligible for aid through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, didn't receive benefits. One policy analystwho spoke to NPR described the SNAP program as "confusing and cumbersome" and "feels like a very large lift, not only for students to understand it but post-secondary institutions."

Florida schools will install cameras with artificial intelligence

The Broward County School District plans on installing 116 new cameras throughout 36 schools. A spokesperson for the school district told theSun Sentinel that the cameras would not have facial recognition software per se, only artificial intelligence that "recognizes the movements and characteristics of people and vehicles."

The security plan would cost roughly $621,000, according to the Sun Sentinel. A large chunk of the money would come through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, which will need approval from the county first.

Has the presidential election increased school bullying?

Up until this point, the evidence has been anecdotal butnew research finds that stories of increased bullying are confirmed by student surveys – at least in the state of Virginia.

Two researchers – Francis Huang of the University of Missouri, and Dewey Cornell of the University of Virginia – used data from school climate surveys taken by over 150,000 students across Virginia in 2015 and 2017.

They found that, in the 2017 responses, there were higher rates of bullying and certain types of teasing in areas where voters favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. In 2015, the data showed that there was no meaningful difference.

The researchers wanted to make it clear that their findings do not conclude that President Trump's election caused an increase in bullying. Instead, they found a correlation between voter preference and bullying, and they observed teasing across one state.

Bad data skews national analysis on absenteeism

In an August report, Prince George's County Public Schools reported that 80 percent of the district's students were chronically absent. This week, we learned that's not the case.

The number is actually closer to 29 percent. This changed Maryland's ranking from number one state with most chronically absent students to number 10. Prince Georges County is also predominantly African American, so the correctionchanged national numbers for black student absence, from 29.1 percent to 19.6 percent.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jeffrey Pierre is an editor and producer on the Education Desk, where helps the team manage workflows, coordinate member station coverage, social media and the NPR Ed newsletter. Before the Education Desk, he was a producer and director on Morning Edition and the Up First podcast.