TGIF Timesaver: More buses are going green; team teaching endorsed

New this week: Uvalde families of victims agreed on a $2 million settlement with the city, districts are getting major bus upgrades and team-based teaching might be the solution to shortages.

Last week, 19 families of Uvalde school shooting victims agreed on a $2 million settlement with the city in addition to requiring improvements in their local police department. This includes a new “fitness for duty” standard, enhanced police training protocol and increased communication with families about the safety risk officers face as gun violence remains so prominent.

Now, the families have announced further lawsuits against Instagram’s parent company, Meta, citing claims that it allowed advertising by the manufacturer of the assault rifle used in the Uvalde school shooting. Activision Blizzard, the company that owns the “Call of Duty” franchise, was also included in this lawsuit from the families. According to the lawsuit, the Uvalde, Parkland and Sandy Hook shooters played the popular video game leading up to their assaults.

Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of the AR-15 used in the Uvalde school shooting, is also being sued. “There is a direct line between the conduct of these companies and the Uvalde shooting,” Josh Koskoff, a partner at law firm Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, said in a statement.

Safety, of course, remains a top priority for most district leaders. Hop on over to this podcast episode where we chat with safety expert and President of the National School Safety and Security Services Ken Trump about what administrators can do to mitigate risks.

School buses get a makeover

Also this week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the recipients of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2023 Clean School Bus Program competition, which awards 530 school districts nearly $900 million to replace older, diesel fuel school buses that pose health risks. Schools will be using the rebates to purchase more than 3,400 clean school buses, most of which will be electric. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

Weekly insight

I know it’s summer for most of you, so I gathered some timely research that could be useful as you prep for the 2024-25 school year.

Many of you likely operate leveraging one-teacher, one-classroom models. There’s no shame in that, considering how difficult it is to hire and retain sufficient staff post-pandemic. That being said, it may be in your best interest to dive into team teaching.

This report from the Center for Reinventing Public Education showcases early outcomes from the Next Education Workforce (NEW) team-based models in Mesa, Arizona. Here’s what they found:

  • Higher retention rates: Teachers—especially new educators—in these models are more likely to remain at their schools.
  • Longer career plans: Educators plan to stay in the profession for at least five years.
  • Increased satisfaction: They’re more likely to recommend teaching to a friend.
  • Improved evaluations: Ratings are higher compared to those in non-team-based classrooms.

More from DA: School layoffs are mounting quickly as ESSER winds down

To that end, 54% of teachers say they’re considering leaving the profession over the next two years, according to a report released this spring from K12 Insight. By now, I’m sure you’re tired of hearing that, so what should you do?

The researchers suggest creating a work environment where educators want to work and thrive. However, according to K12 Insight’s poll, only 52% of school employees say their district recognizes them for high-quality work and accomplishments. The extensive report offers various strategies and solutions to this issue.

New from DA

Hot off the press, we’ve just announced our “Top 100 Influencers in Education,” which you can find in the latest magazine issue. You’re likely to recognize several national pioneers in education, including some fellow superintendents who are doing incredible work for their students.

We’ve also released another episode of the “Talking Out of School Podcast” where we sit down with filmmaker Tiffany Shlain about her new documentary “The Teen Brain.” The film dives into neuroscience to help parents and teachers better understand the upsides of an intense period of growth and development for students.

And just when you thought you could get through a piece without any mention of artificial intelligence, think again. I recently spoke with Santa Ana Unified School District Superintendent Jerry Almendarez about how he and his communications team use AI to create video messages to the community in multiple languages.

In this video, you can see Almendarez communicating in perfect Spanish, a language he’s not fluent in. Thanks, AI!

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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