Building the 3.0 High School: How Summit Basecamp Schools Pairs Teaching With Technology

The documentary Most Likely to Succeed, released in 2015, focuses on the educational revolution of High Tech High, a charter school in San Diego that was established in 2000 and has since expanded to 13 schools, including those for elementary and middle school students.

An early indicator of High Tech High’s potential was the school receiving a grant from the NewSchools Venture Fund.

Larry Rosenstock, the founder, has created a truly unique vision for education. The classrooms do not adhere to traditional subjects, teachers have annual contracts, and there are no bells to signal the beginning and end of periods. The entire learning experience is project-based, with the aim of developing important skills such as collaboration, time management, resourcefulness, and resilience. In essence, High Tech schools are a pioneering example of student-directed learning, predating the adoption of similar approaches by other schools. The documentary is highly recommended, and visiting one of Rosenstock’s schools is worthwhile.

Although there are now numerous school models that have caught up to and even surpassed High Tech High in terms of promising visions for education, some of these models may be easier to replicate. Many of these schools receive support from Next Generation Learning Challenges, which is funded by the Gates Foundation and focuses on next-generation philanthropy.

To provide insight into the future direction of charter schools, my book The Founders: Inside the Revolution to Invent (and Reinvent) America’s Best Charter Schools profiles four charter schools that qualify as next-generation schools. More information about these schools can be found on The Founders microsite. In this text, I will specifically discuss Rhode Island’s Blackstone Valley Prep.

Blackstone Valley Prep in Rhode Island may seem like an unusual place to catch a glimpse of the future of education when you observe a 15-year-old student working on a laptop in a converted parish school.

However, this moment represents the culmination of various factors. Firstly, Blackstone Valley Prep is already recognized for its success in attracting a diverse student body, including both middle-class and underprivileged students. Secondly, the school received a significant grant from Next Generation Learning Challenges to explore innovative approaches to high school education. Lastly, one of the most forward-thinking charter groups in the country, Summit Public Schools in California, contributed their Summit Basecamp software to the program. The software, developed with the assistance of top code writers from Facebook, offers personalized learning opportunities. Blackstone was chosen as one of the early adopters of this learning program, and although it is relatively new, it shows great promise.

The story comes together with Ray Varone, the 15-year-old student, proudly demonstrating the Basecamp program. As anyone from a certain generation who has witnessed a teenager showcasing software can attest, the initial reaction is usually, "Wait, slow down! Show me that again!"

Blackstone’s charter high school represents the cutting edge of the search for the next version of high school, referred to as Version 3.0. This school will lead us into the future of education, but where is it, and what does it look like?

Locating such a school should not be a difficult task. For the past few years, some of the brightest minds in technology and the most influential foundations in the United States have collaborated with the White House to address one of the most challenging issues in education: high school is boring.

Yes, this is not news to anyone with first-hand experience. However, the situation has only worsened over time.

While efforts to improve elementary and middle schools have shown results in test scores, the same cannot be said for high schools. High school is where many students drop out, particularly in ninth grade when they first encounter it. Obtaining a high school diploma often proves to be of little value when students attempt college placement tests. The situation has become so dire that movies are being made about it.

While it is true that there are private and affluent suburban schools where the quest to gain admission to prestigious colleges creates immense pressure, these cases are exceptions that attract significant media attention.

For the majority of high school students, the problem lies on the other end of the intensity spectrum. Low-income and minority students, who now make up approximately half of the student population in the nation, either do not attend college, quickly become ineligible for credit-bearing courses, or drop out before completion.

So, what do these brilliant innovators in high-tech school reform have in mind? There are a few places across the country where one can catch a glimpse of their ideas, and Blackstone is one of them.

In simpler terms, charter schools that focused heavily on their unique culture and significantly improved K-12 education discovered that once their students moved beyond the boundaries of that intense classroom culture, they struggled to thrive independently. To put it briefly, they lacked resilience and determination. This research prompted many impactful changes in charter schools, with KIPP leading the way. The charters concluded that a complete shift to personalized learning was necessary in order to develop the necessary independent learning skills that would guide students through their college journey, which can often be a solitary experience. The term used to describe this approach was self-directed learning.

The software called Basecamp, which Varone is currently using, completely changes the traditional approach to learning. The students have control over when and where they learn, whether it be at school or at home. Classroom time is primarily used for projects, group work, and receiving guidance from teachers on how to manage their "Personalized Learning Plan" (PLP). Unsurprisingly, Basecamp originated in Silicon Valley. Summit charter schools, which were already at the forefront of personalized learning, caught the attention of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his visit in 2013. Zuckerberg provided a team of code writers to Summit, resulting in the creation of Basecamp, a PLP designed for students in grades 6 through 12 across all subjects.

So, what does this new learning style entail? Basecamp offers approximately 200 "deeper learning" projects and 700 playlists consisting of videos, articles, and any resource that enhances knowledge on various subjects. Basecamp is also adaptable, allowing schools to add or remove content they deem important. Blackstone made considerable changes to the math curriculum using this flexibility. For this school year, 19 schools, including Blackstone, were chosen as early adopters of this approach.

As Varone demonstrates his progress in different subjects, everything seems to blend together. His projects are color-coded to indicate whether they are still pending or completed. The core feature of the software, agreed upon by everyone, is the vertical "pacer line" that runs through all the projects. This line shows students where they stand on each assignment and whether they are ahead or behind schedule, providing a benchmark even as students are allowed to work at their own pace.

Varone proudly displays his progress on each subject, claiming that this independent approach will prepare him for college. "We’re getting used to doing this on our own, so we’ll be prepared for college. In college, teachers won’t be there asking us questions all the time, so we have to learn independently."

I agree that his response seems rehearsed, but there was nothing rehearsed about his demonstration on the Basecamp software. This was self-directed learning, which is the ultimate goal of any high school reinvention in the next generation.

When Jeremy Chiappetta, the Executive Director of Blackstone, and other educators set out to design a high school program for Blackstone students, they drew inspiration from the lessons learned at KIPP. They wanted to reshape the curriculum around developing skills that would help students succeed in college. They realized that their middle school model, while providing a strong foundation in academic skills, discipline, focus, and habits, would not be sufficient for the high school level.

Blackstone’s quest for a new model led to a $450,000 grant from Next Generation Learning Challenges and their decision to participate as an early adopter of Basecamp. This status ensured support from Summit, including training sessions and guidance from a former teacher.

As a result, Varone reviewed his PLP and felt confident that he was on top of his work and ready for college. And he didn’t seem bored at all.

According to Diane Tavenner, the founder of Summit and the chief engineer behind Basecamp, this is how the system is supposed to work. It’s about giving students ownership and responsibility while the role of the adults is to facilitate learning and act as mentors and guides.

Blackstone is one of 24 partner schools across the country involved in piloting the Basecamp platform. However, it’s important to note that Basecamp is not the exclusive model that all charter schools will adopt. According to Tavenner, there is no one-size-fits-all model. Education is constantly evolving and adapting.

This perspective aligns with the innovative mindset of Silicon Valley and the charter school movement.

This excerpt is taken from Richard Whitmire’s new book, "The Founders: Inside the Revolution to Invent (and Reinvent) America’s Best Charter Schools." More excerpts can be found at . You can also watch videos, download the book, and explore the Founders Oral History at

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Analysis — A Reality Check About the Education Labor Arms Race: Oklahoma & W. Virginia Are Not Game Changers. Neither Is Janus

Mike Antonucci’s Union Report is published every Wednesday, with a complete collection available for reference.

When it comes to addressing conflicts in public education, military terminology is often used. There is talk of a "war on teachers," a "war on unions," and a "war on taxpayers." While nobody actually desires a war, those involved in one certainly strive to come out as the victor.

So, what is the most effective strategy for winning a war?

Throughout history, there have been numerous pieces of advice on this matter, from the likes of Sun Tzu to Norman Schwarzkopf. Interestingly, when it comes to labor issues in education, both sides employ the same tactic: they resort to the ultimate weapon to force the enemy into an unconditional surrender.

Engaging in lengthy conflicts wears down all parties involved and provides little satisfaction, even when a victory is achieved. It is far better to swiftly and decisively end the war by deploying our most powerful tool and dictating the terms of surrender.

Throughout the years, school reformers and opponents of unions have attempted a variety of ultimate weapons, including vouchers, charter schools, and paycheck protection, among others. However, none of these strategies have succeeded in rendering teacher unions insignificant in the realms of education, labor, or fiscal policy.

Teacher unions possess their own arsenal, such as class size reduction, Proposition 98, and the Every Student Succeeds Act. Nevertheless, none of these tactics have led to teacher unions becoming the definitive force in the realms of education, labor, or fiscal policy.

The latest ultimate weapon on the reform side is Janus v. AFSCME, a case under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court that could potentially put an end to public employee unions’ practice of charging agency fees to non-members. Commentators from both sides argue that this case could "cripple," "destroy," or "permanently weaken" teacher unions.

However, in the past month, we have witnessed statewide teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Kentucky — all states where agency fees are not charged and where a majority of education employees do not even belong to a union. I am willing to bet that very few of the protesters are aware of the Janus case, and even if they were, they probably would not care much about it.

A ruling in favor of Janus will undoubtedly bring significant changes to public employee unions. Their power will indeed be altered, and potentially reduced to a great extent, but they will not be completely crippled or destroyed. It is worth noting that twenty-eight states do not allow agency fees, yet they still have powerful teacher unions. Therefore, Janus cannot be considered the ultimate weapon.

What is truly intriguing about the current situation is that labor advocates believe they have discovered the ultimate weapon: large-scale strikes.

Public employees in West Virginia went on strike and managed to secure a 5 percent raise. Oklahoma teachers walked out after the legislature approved a 16 percent pay increase. Kentucky teachers are seeking to overturn legislation that made significant changes to the pension system. Arizona teachers may be the next to go on strike. Unions view this as a mass movement that could make their dreams come true.

However, I must dampen their spirits as well.

These recent walkouts resemble the West Virginia experience in that those participating do not face a loss of pay as a consequence of going on strike. While this does not diminish the actions of the protesters, it certainly makes their decision to strike much easier. But what will happen if school districts and the state stop paying? How long will Oklahoma teachers remain on strike if they have to give up not only their regular pay, but also the unprecedented wage increase that has already been guaranteed by law?

It is one thing for the public to support strikers earning $35,000 per year. However, will this support extend to Los Angeles and San Diego, where teachers can make $80,000 to $90,000?

Unions also face internal challenges. In West Virginia, teachers continued their strike even after union leaders reached an agreement with the governor to end it. In Kentucky, there is evidence suggesting that the union is simply following the crowd rather than leading it. The same may be true in Oklahoma. If union officers cannot bring an end to a strike, why would those in power negotiate with them? This particular ultimate weapon might backfire on the unions, as teachers discover that they can effectively organize and advocate for their rights even without a union.

There is an old military saying that "the enemy gets a vote." In other words, no matter how flawless your plan may seem, as long as there is someone working against you, you will need to adjust or risk failure.

Unions will certainly adjust their tactics to counteract Janus. Districts and legislatures will do the same to counteract strikes. This is the constant back-and-forth of the education labor arms race. Peace is not on the horizon.

Your task is to rewrite the entire text using improved vocabulary and creating unique content with natural language. The output should be written in English. Here is the original text:

"As part of your assignment, you are required to thoroughly revise the entire text by utilizing enhanced vocabulary and crafting original content with a natural tone. The resulting output should be written in the English language."

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Analysis: A National Teacher Strike Isn’t Really Possible. But With Unions Refusing to Go Back Until Classrooms Are Safe, This is What One Would Look Like

Mike Antonucci’s Union Report is usually published on Wednesdays; you can find the complete archive of his reports on labor relations in K-12 public schools.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on American society, shedding light on the influence of K-12 public school labor relations on our daily lives.

Educational policymakers, government officials, and even the White House are grappling with the challenge of reopening schools for in-person instruction. However, teachers unions have shown varying levels of enthusiasm towards this goal, with some seeking tangible benefits before agreeing to resume in-person teaching.

Surprisingly, many policymakers were caught off guard by the reluctance of unions to return to work, despite clear signs of their reservations as early as May of the previous year.

In the United States, there are over 13,000 school districts, each facing the daunting task of providing high-quality education under the existing local circumstances. This is an exceptionally difficult undertaking.

On the other hand, the task for unions is much simpler. Their primary objective is to protect and ensure the well-being of their members. From their perspective, no exposure to others is safer than any exposure, regardless of the relative safety of the school environment. Staying at home is their most defensible position.

In many cases, school districts have accommodated the demands of the unions. A study published in Education Finance and Policy revealed that a significant majority of districts that reached formal agreements with unions on distance learning reduced teacher workload, eased performance evaluations, and maintained pre-COVID levels of pay. California even enacted a ban on teacher layoffs.

Unions benefit from reduced working hours, less oversight, job security, and stable compensation. Therefore, it is understandable why they may not be eager to send their members back into a drastically changed classroom environment.

While many teachers express dissatisfaction with remote learning and yearn for a return to normalcy, unions persistently convey the message that by staying at home, they are protecting the lives of both teachers and students. Consequently, teachers may be reluctant to take any risks if not required to do so.

Although there are only two national teachers unions, and they are not in competition, organizing a nationwide teacher strike is virtually impossible. Labor laws vary significantly from state to state, meaning that what may be a legal strike in one state would be illegal in another. Additionally, the unions lack the capacity to orchestrate such a large-scale strike, and not all state and local affiliates would participate if they attempted to do so. Furthermore, this does not account for the millions of educators in private, charter, and nonunion public schools.

However, if a national teacher strike were feasible, the current situation would closely resemble it. The level of adherence would heavily depend on the political climate in each locality. Therefore, places like Los Angeles and Chicago may exhibit militancy, while New York City may see intense negotiations with some compromises, Florida may have complaints but compliance, and Southern and rural states may quickly return to normal operations.

So, how can we end this virtual strike and bring teachers back to the classroom? Even union-friendly Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have faced setbacks in finding a solution. President Biden’s promise to reopen most schools within the first 100 days of his administration was met with caution from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who stated that mitigating circumstances could hinder this plan.

California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a reopening plan, only to have it swiftly dismissed by the California Teachers Association and its allies in the legislature. Frustrated, Newsom candidly expressed his feelings during a conversation with the Association of California School Administrators, suggesting that if vaccinations were a requirement for everyone, in-person instruction would not be possible in the state. He urged transparency and avoided misleading people.

Although many states have prioritized teachers for vaccination, unions have not made commitments that vaccinated teachers will return to work. This raises questions about the validity of their priority status, as it means that millions of elderly and vulnerable individuals will have to wait while younger, healthier teachers receive vaccinations and continue to stay at home.

To make matters even more uncertain, unions are preparing to defend members who refuse to be vaccinated.

In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the complexities of labor relations in K-12 public schools to the forefront. Reopening schools for in-person instruction requires effective collaboration between policymakers, schools, and teachers unions. Balancing the well-being of educators, students, and the public with the need for quality education is a challenging task that requires careful consideration and negotiation.

There exist several approaches to resolving labor disputes, such as offering rewards, implementing penalties, or combining both approaches. However, these methods alone are not sufficient to bring an end to the ongoing standoff.

Is there any amount of scientific evidence that could convince a teacher to return to work if they have concerns about their safety and well-being? Is there a limit to the number of protective measures they would desire? While unions may be requesting substantial financial support, how much will it take before they strongly urge their members to resume work, regardless of whether they demand it?

Unions are delaying the process because they have the ability to do so. Their primary objective is to avoid making a potentially unwise or unsafe decision, hence they prefer to not make a decision at all and instead hope for a significant improvement in infection rates that will rescue them.

Although this may seem like an unsolvable problem, there are actually only three options available:

1) Accept the current state of affairs endorsed by the union. Make the most out of online instruction and wait for circumstances to change.

2) Reopen the schools, which would result in a traditional strike scenario where the union withholds labor and management withholds pay.

3) Engage in negotiations to secure the best possible agreement and convince the union to support it. Certain districts and unions have successfully reached and implemented reopening plans. Even if these plans are imperfect, they align both parties on the same side.

None of these options are perfect. The detrimental impact of learning loss has already occurred and is bound to worsen. Nevertheless, if the goal is to reopen schools, one must choose the best flawed idea available.

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In an effort to win over skeptical policymakers, leaders from various sectors including business, philanthropy, and politics gathered this week to reinforce the message that investing in early childhood education will improve high school graduation rates and contribute to the economic strength of the United States.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, one of the three governors who spoke at the Telluride event, emphasized the need to compete not only with other states like Colorado but also with countries like China. He challenged educators to prepare students to become the next generation of engineers.

However, participants discovered that they face significant challenges in convincing more business leaders to support the expansion of strong preschool programs, especially for children at high risk of academic or social problems. Phyllis Eisen, a senior vice president of the Manufacturing Institute of the National Association of Manufacturers, noted that early childhood education is not a top priority in business meetings, as it is not a concern for stockholders.

The three-day Economic Summit on Early Childhood Investment was described as a "Davos forum on building human capital" through investment in early childhood education. Organizers compared the event to the renowned gathering of economic and government leaders held in Davos, Switzerland. The list of participants was considered to be a highly influential group of experts in the field of preschool and services for children from disadvantaged families. The event was sponsored by the Partnership for America’s Economic Success, a consortium of business leaders, economists, and philanthropists, along with the Telluride Foundation.

The choice of Colorado as the location for the conference was significant because Denver is implementing a tax-funded initiative to expand access to preschool. Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien announced that by January, every family in Denver will have access to universal preschool on a sliding scale. Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr. highlighted the success of Colorado’s preschool program, stating that at-risk preschoolers who have attended the program have a higher high school graduation rate compared to the typical Colorado student. He acknowledged, however, that the program is still not fully funded.

Arthur J. Rolnick, a senior vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and a strong advocate for early childhood education, shared details about a new business-financed scholarship and mentoring program in a disadvantaged area of St. Paul. This program aims to incentivize parents to enroll their children in high-quality preschool programs. Rolnick believes that the market will respond by establishing more programs in the targeted area.

During the summit, participants also worked on developing a set of "Telluride principles" to guide their future work. Additionally, plans are in place to make this an annual meeting, similar to other resort towns like Aspen, Colorado, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which have become renowned gathering places for influential leaders.

Governor Ritter acknowledged that budget concerns and the belief that preschool education and child care are the responsibility of parents hinder progress in some states. However, Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas argued that the sentiment in her state is changing, as a recent study revealed that half of all 5-year-olds in Kansas were not prepared for kindergarten. She emphasized the need for political will to address this issue, asserting that money spent on K-12 education is wasted if children are not adequately prepared in the early years.

Some participants at the conference expressed difficulties in conveying the message that preschool education has long-term benefits. Paul Hirschbiel, chairman of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and an investment consultant, suggested that the public and lawmakers might be growing weary of hearing about the findings from the High/Scope Perry Preschool Study. This study, which originated in Michigan in the 1960s, has been widely used to advocate for the expansion of preschool programs, as it demonstrates a correlation between participation in preschool and lower rates of crime and higher educational achievement later in life. Hirschbiel stated that with the existing data, it is starting to feel insufficient to convince skeptics.

"We are currently facing an urgent requirement for additional staff," he stated.

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During the initial year of his teaching career, David Schuler observed that six students in his third-period U.S. History class were failing. Troubled by this, Schuler approached his principal to express his concerns regarding these students. To Schuler’s surprise, the principal dismissed the issue, stating that every garden has a couple of weeds. Reflecting on this incident, Schuler, now serving as a superintendent, shared his belief that school leaders should empower their teachers to become advocates for their students’ success.

Schuler’s remarks were delivered during the AASA’s Learning 2025 National Summit, where his High School District 214, located near Chicago, was among the 13 districts recognized by AASA for their dedication to enhancing educational systems. AASA collaborated with the Successful Practices Network, an organization that supports school districts and educators in reducing dropout rates and providing career and technical education resources. The program aims to encourage districts to inspire one another in driving positive change.

According to AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech, many individuals have written extensive reports on how education should transform and adopt new approaches, yet little progress has been made. However, the Learning 2025 Network, consisting of more than 120 school systems across the nation, strives to collectively enhance student outcomes and drive educational policy. Among these networks, the 13 "lighthouse" districts, including District 214, are regarded as exemplary educational systems for their efforts in transforming school culture, promoting student growth in social, emotional, and cognitive domains, and providing resources for educators.

The recognition received by these districts validates the tremendous work undertaken by their teachers and staff, as stated by Randall Squier, the superintendent of Coxsackie-Athens Central School District in upstate New York. They have been devoted to this work, and the recognition signifies their efforts in equipping students for their future.

One crucial aspect emphasized by the superintendents, including Squier and Schuler, during the summit was the redefinition of college and career readiness. Over the past few years, Squier and his team have worked tirelessly to offer the same opportunities to their students, similar to those available in larger metropolitan districts. Achieving this involved providing incentives for professional development among staff, implementing research projects for every student at each grade level, and facilitating student participation in internships and workplace programs. Collectively, these strategies enable Coxsackie-Athens’ students to fulfill a set of educational and social indicators, indicating their preparedness for college, career, and life. These indicators encompass traditional academic achievements, such as earning a GPA of B- or higher or taking the SAT exam, alongside life skills. Students can earn recognition for engaging in activities such as voter registration, completing personal finance courses, or participating in career exploration classes. Squier explained that if students can demonstrate proficiency in some of these indicators, the district has confidence in their readiness for graduation. As a symbol of achievement, the district awards green, yellow, and blue tassels to students who meet these requirements.

Schuler has adopted a similar approach in the High School District 214. Students are required to select a career area of interest, and their schedules are tailored accordingly. Building on this requirement, Schuler and his team systematically eliminated classes that failed to align with specific career pathways. The objective was to ensure that students derive value from every course they undertake in high school. By redesigning instruction and empowering students to have a say in their educational journey, Schuler believes they will be more successful as they become co-authors of their own path.

The AASA summit also provided an opportunity for superintendents to network in person, a rarity since the onset of the pandemic in 2020. Squier expressed his enthusiasm, highlighting the significance of sharing ideas to improve student outcomes and overall educational systems. He emphasized the aim of leaving the conference with at least one "aha" moment, as it signifies the conference’s value and impact.

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When a third-grade student who had been stung by a wasp experienced welts on his neck and difficulty breathing, school nurse Amanda Williams was prepared with the necessary dose of epinephrine to counter the allergic reaction. Thanks to a law enacted in Tennessee this year, it is now easier for schools to stock this life-saving drug. Ms. Williams shared that the emergency room doctor informed the boy’s parents that he would not have survived without the injection at Tellico Plains Elementary School since the nearest hospital is a 30-minute drive away. She described the situation as potentially tragic.

In 2013, fifteen other states joined the eleven states that already had similar laws, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. While only four states require schools to have the medication on hand, all of these laws allow schools to stock it without an individual prescription, which can be a legal obstacle in many places. Additionally, these laws provide legal protection for staff members who administer the medication. The most common form of the medication is an auto-injector device, which is placed against the thigh and releases a spring-activated needle to inject the epinephrine.

Charlotte Collins, the senior vice president of public policy and advocacy for the allergy foundation, believes that the trend of enacting laws to encourage schools to stock epinephrine was sparked by the tragic death of a Virginia first-grader last year. The girl had an allergic reaction after eating a nut on a playground and went into cardiac arrest, ultimately passing away at a local hospital. Medical experts have stated that if her elementary school had been able to administer an epinephrine injection, she would likely still be alive. Dr. Michael Pistiner, a pediatric allergist based in Massachusetts, emphasized that epinephrine is the recommended treatment for severe allergic reactions and that delays in its administration can increase the risk of death.

Following the Virginia incident, fifteen other states have passed laws requiring schools to stock epinephrine, while additional bills are pending in Ohio and Michigan. Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, and Virginia are currently the only states that require it. The U.S. House of Representatives also passed legislation in July that gives preference to states adopting policies to make epinephrine available in schools when applying for asthma-related federal grants. This law serves as an additional incentive for states to pass such legislation.

The bill was sponsored by Representative Phil Roe, a Republican from Tennessee and also a medical doctor, and Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House’s second-ranking Democrat. One requirement for a state to qualify for this preference is to provide adequate legal protection for personnel trained to administer epinephrine. Collins suggests that some states may not yet require epinephrine to be stocked in schools to avoid imposing financial burdens on districts that may already struggle financially. However, allowing schools to stock the medication without individual prescriptions is still an important step. Collins states that existing state laws can make it difficult for school districts to stock epinephrine without risking sanctions for dispensing prescription-only medications to institutions instead of individuals. She emphasizes that all of these laws contain some form of legal protection for those administering the drug.

In addition to school nurses, nonmedical staff who are trained by a nurse to administer epinephrine are generally covered by these laws. "A nurse can’t be everywhere," says Sally Schoessler, the director of nursing education for the National Association of School Nurses. She emphasizes the importance of quick response times when it comes to administering epinephrine for a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic shock can be caused by various allergens, including bee stings and certain foods like peanuts, wheat, shellfish, milk, or eggs. Epinephrine is particularly effective in preventing fatal swelling in the throat or tongue and respiratory or cardiac failure.

According to Ms. Hardin, ensuring that medication is accessible in schools situated in remote rural regions like Tellico Plains Elementary holds immense significance due to the value of time. Recounting the incident involving a 3rd grader, she stated that it took approximately 15 minutes for the ambulance to arrive after their 911 call. Grateful for the availability of epinephrine and their ability to utilize it, she expressed her gratitude.

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The U.S. Supreme Court recently made a significant decision that will benefit workers in employment-discrimination lawsuits. The court ruled that workers generally will not need additional evidence of bias when their employers’ stated reason for a negative job action is proven to be false. Prior to this ruling, many lower federal courts required more evidence of actual discrimination even when plaintiffs had already shown that their employers’ explanations for dismissals or other job actions were just excuses. The Supreme Court, in the unanimous decision of Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products Inc., rejected the evidentiary standard known as "pretext plus."

While this case specifically dealt with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, legal experts believe that the court’s ruling will also apply to race and sex discrimination cases filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as job-bias cases brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It is worth noting that school districts, as large employers, are frequently sued under these federal laws, especially under Title VII.

The ruling was made in the case of Roger Reeves, a supervisor at a plumbing-supplies manufacturer who was 57 years old when he was fired in 1995 and replaced by a younger worker. Reeves sued the company for age discrimination, arguing that their stated reason for his dismissal, inaccurate attendance records, was just a cover-up for age bias. He presented evidence proving that he had maintained accurate records and that some of his superiors had made age-related comments about him. A jury awarded Reeves nearly $100,000 in damages. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit overturned the award, stating that Reeves had not presented enough evidence linking his dismissal to age bias.

In her opinion for the high court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor explained that once a plaintiff, whose case meets the basic discrimination criteria, proves that their employer lied about the reasons for their termination, they should be entitled to win without having to provide specific evidence of discrimination. Justice O’Connor emphasized that when the employer’s explanation is proven false, it can reasonably be inferred that they are trying to conceal a discriminatory purpose.

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The largest parochial school system in the United States, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, has announced plans to shut down 23 schools by the upcoming school year. In addition, four other schools will be merged into two. Nicholas Wolsonovich, the superintendent of the archdiocesan schools, expressed that the decreasing number of Catholics in certain areas has resulted in a significant drop in enrollment, making it economically unviable to continue operating many schools. Presently, the Chicago Archdiocese has an enrollment of 107,000 students across its schools. By September, it will have a total of 210 elementary schools and 40 high schools.

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My first encounter with Charlie Taylor, the no-nonsense head of Willows Primary School in north London, which caters to children facing severe behavioural challenges, was back in 1988 when we were at university. Despite our vastly different backgrounds – Taylor was a confident public-school student who acclimated with ease at Cambridge, while I hailed from an inner-city Belfast comprehensive – we hit it off and became good friends. I believed that he would eventually shift towards politics, finance, or any other career that involves a lot of money – the typical path for individuals from his background, which included David Cameron as his contemporary at Eton. However, he surprised me by becoming a teacher.

Considering his work record, Taylor discovered the passion he had for dealing with difficult children by chance and reluctantly ventured into teaching. After assuming his first role in a secondary school located in an underprivileged environment, he moved from one job to another. Eventually, thanks to his burgeoning interest in behavioural issues, he started consulting for local education authorities and doing private freelance coaching with parents and children, with intractable behaviour. In 2005, Taylor became interested in authoring a book when he was informed of an opportunity to become Willows head teacher. "I went for it without any qualifications; I had an honest name in the borough. I’ve been working there for the last five years," he says.

Though he was not entirely qualified for the role, his unorthodox approach yielded results, and the school obtained its first outstanding Ofsted rating in eighteen months. On his arrival, the school had 36 children aged under 11 who had been excluded from mainstream schools, making the school feel a lot like a warzone at times. Taylor reacted by instituting a new culture, such as peer massages, a schoolwide tea and toast ritual, and teaching children basic social skills like hugging and affection. The goal was to provide these children with resources, such as confidence, care, and love, that they may draw upon when dealing with developmental difficulties. "We have to do the cuddling bit, the family bit, and also the playing bit. Some of them have got no idea how to play," he says.

Taylor’s successes in adapting to his students’ needs at Willows and other sites have given him a straightforward perspective on the roots of the problems they confront: poverty. He is also a passionate commentator on every issue ranging from the inadequacy of New Labour’s approach to longstanding problems such as lack of support for underprivileged students, trapping elements of the welfare system, and how parents could benefit from professional training to deal with their children’s developing teenage years. In conclusion, Taylor believes that the key solutions to England’s intertwined societal and educational problems are greater personal responsibility, collective efforts to address poverty, and more support for all students’ diverse learning requirements.

Discovering the X Factor

What measures would Charlie Taylor take to alter the current state of education? Taylor avers that the conflict between methodologies impedes the progress of meaningful discussion on the subject of education. However, he appreciates the concept of a quota system that would require schools to reserve a specific number of slots for children who are eligible for free meals. Taylor suggests that such a measure would serve the purpose of restricting the transfer of middle-class parents and students to the most reputable state-sponsored schools.

Taylor’s beliefs are an amalgamation of thoughts from both sides of the political spectrum — much like the British Prime Minister, David Cameron. Taylor advocates for measures like investing in resources for pregnant teenagers in order to improve their life chances, rather than humiliating them, and also thinks state schools could gain a lot from public schools. Public schools have an incredibly high success rate, and emulating their system and structure ought to be a goal worth aiming for, he says.

What is Taylor’s judgement on the upcoming government changes? The new policy features allowing schools to opt out of local authority control and become academies. Taylor accepts that he does not have the required depth of knowledge on this to comment on how it would affect a school like the Willows. However, he has started to gather information on the subject. In response to Cameron’s statement regarding the prospect of finding a good state secondary school in inner-city London, Taylor, who knows the Prime Minister personally, admitted that he could empathize with the statement. A lot of parents would share the same opinion; one doesn’t necessarily need to belong to the middle-class to be concerned about the availability of good schools in their neighbourhood.

Taylor realizes that pointing out the flaws in state education will attract accusations of overconfidence. Will he invest some of his public-school privileges to pursue something more profitable or political? He states that he is content with who he is and what he does, and he has no idea of where he might end up. There is no reason to revisit or ponder the past; instead, the best way forward is to look towards the future.

Charlie Taylor: Summary of Credentials

At 45 years of age, Taylor is the headteacher at Willows school. Prior to this, he worked as a behaviour support instructor, a freelance behaviour consultant, and a writer. In his leisure time, Taylor is involved in hobbies such as walking, fishing, cooking, and theatre performances. He is married and has three children.

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