September 4, 2020

Hello Friends!

I know, you might not feel like I am your friend after just skimming the links and topics below. At least it’s a long weekend. So, let’s just jump into it, shall we? After all, there are cookouts to be had, Bundt cakes to be baked, and someone needs to turn down the temperature because CHS is going to be in the 90s this weekend.

I do feel like we have seen a general shift in focus out there, particularly away from moment to moment planning in school reopenings and more towards how this experiment is bearing out and how we might meet the needs of students and the times in this unorthodox time, Of course, one of our favorite places for trends ahead is higher ed, so let’s start there.

  • In COVID news and higher ed, there is more news around sports. COVID-19 cases jumped in all Power Five college football conferences last week, with the SEC being among the highest. Myocarditis continues to be talked about in the background, with a Penn State physician recently citing apparently outdated numbers that as high as 30-35% of COVID positive athletes are experiencing inflammation of the heart after infection.  The NCAA updated its return to sports guidelines, which are worth reviewing. In short, if your students are playing high risk sports, do keep an eye on these plot lines. Some SAIS schools are reporting requiring students engaged in high risk sports, either for the school or in traveling teams, to learn virtually during the season. This is also being reported in other parts of the country and it might be a developing standard of care.
  • You might remember that there was some good fortune-telling going on in about April or so that this would be the year for community college enrollments. As it turns out, that is the not what the data is showing at least for summer enrollment, and enrollment in graduate schools and regular four year college programs was up. Data from this fall will tell us more, particularly with the rise in enrollment of Asian and Hispanic students in community colleges this summer, but this goes to illustrate how unpredictable the myriad effects of the pandemic can be on what we think might happen.
  • The University of California schools got hit with an injunction related to a lawsuit around standardized testing. They were already facing challenges around racial disparity in the SAT and ACT results, but this one was related to allowing students to submit scores for consideration in their test optional year ahead. The argument was related to the use of the test scores being a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because standardized testing is so difficult for students to participate in right now. Expect to see this reverberate this fall, potentially across colleges and universities around the country and into state scholarship programs. And, it might be something to bear in mind as we get closer to our admissions season.
  • Finally, studies are showing that colleges are more likely to try and open in person in politically “red” states then in “blue” ones. It will be interesting to see the mapping of independent schools along similar lines when this is all said and done.

Let’s talk about us, now, shall we?

First, for those of you looking to the bigger picture, I have been thinking about the fourth industrial revolution again. This has been a coming disrupter on a variety of fronts, including education, for some time, but this publication from the UN pulls together a lot of insights around COVID-19 and how it may accelerate or exacerbate change and we should be watching this as we think about long term changes in our schools. More on the fourth industrial revolution? Check out this downloadable book as it relates to higher education.

Our industry is seeing its own law suit related bumps in the road. There are now injunctions that have been issued from courts in Washington state as well as California affecting the CARES act money calculation being provided to private schools. These injunctions directly impact Washington, Wisconsin, California, Michigan, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia, as well as school districts in New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, and San Francisco. These injunctions stop the use of the equitable services methodology using the percentage of students educated in private schools that the Department of Education says must be used to distribute these funds in favor of one using the number of impoverished children in a private school (you can read the amicus brief filed on behalf of private schools and this is a great overview tying it all together). This news is causing some states in our region to pause in how they are managing this funding and may cause issues for your school, although it is unclear if these injunctions directly apply to the states in our region. Some schools are reporting issues from GA, and NC also seems to be putting out some mixed messages.  If you are waiting services or goods in your state, or have received them, do keep an eye on this one as the magic 8 ball says the future on this topic is cloudy.

A few quick things on the COVID front:

  • The heads’ listserve was very active this week around tracking cases and sharing out information to the community with some helpful models. I would note that some states are requiring reporting to the state itself. Do make sure that you know your state requirements and make sure those numbers are being reported in a timely manner. We anticipate that this information will show up in different places, too, such as this NEA spread sheet tracking outbreaks and cases in different states, by school. While primarily aimed at public schools, a couple of private schools get sprinkled in.
  • The CDC updated / cleaned up its page on keeping students and staff safe in schools.
  • NBOA released a COVID-19 Field Guide for Operations, which is worth checking out.
  • Research continues to show that teachers have been unsurprisingly on the fence about returning to school, with one study showing that roughly 50% thought about making a major job change in the last month. As we continue to worry about this, SAIS has reached out to a group called Selected to see if we can tap into some of their work. Selected is a teacher placement matching platform that works with independent schools, but also public schools, charter schools, and magnet schools, giving them a big recruitment base. They have historically been in the northeast, mid-Atlantic, California, and Texas, but have been making forays into the South, including most recently Atlanta. They pre-screen teachers to ensure that they have taught before or have an education degree, and 45% of their pool are people of color. Selected is holding an information session for SAIS schools on September 15th at 10:00am Eastern / 9:00 Central (that’s a zoom link, no registration required, just save the link in your calendar for that day and time). SAIS schools that pull together a beta group of 3 or more schools in a reasonably close geographical area get 20% off of fees the first year, and SAIS schools will all get 10% off of fees in years after this. Fees are for posting jobs and interviewing candidates. There are no placement fees. I have serious concerns about hiring next year and beyond, so this might be worth checking out.
  • If there were ever a time for online learning about online teaching, now is it. This group has a free master class on line.  This group has curriculum Care Packs aimed at student wellbeing for students age 5-12, but also has tips for adults, too. They are well-built out and have different lessons for teachers to consider.
  • Howard Gardner talks about multiple intelligences and lessons for the COVID-19 Era in this interesting podcast.
  • This link collects a number of fairly short articles on the potential future of k-12 to keep those in front of mind
  • And, do think about requiring flu shots this year. Although the flu might be less frequent than normal this year, the double whammy of the flu and COVID would be bad. Here is the link to that recorded webinar.

And, not COVID related, but I wanted to flag two legal pieces for you. This first is for employers who might be facing hurricanes. A friend pointed out to me last night that we shouldn’t worry about a hurricane here in 2020 because in bizarro world it shouldn’t happen the way it does every year. I am not that optimistic, so let’s be prepared. The second is around arbitration agreements, which I am generally in favor of. You will be updating those enrollment and employment contracts again this year, so think about making this change next if you have not already.  

Let’s take a pit stop for politics and campus discourse work. There is an election coming up, in case you missed the news flash, and if you don’t have the pieces in place already, now is a good time to prepare our communities for talking about politics and other issues that divide us. However, a head of school reminded me this week that this is not just about politics, as some schools have really experienced negative interactions with parents and others around opening decisions, cancellations or continuations with community events, etc. Rules of the road can help.

  • I am partial to this Bridging Differences Playbook out of the Greater Good Center at Berkeley. I know, I know, Berkeley can get a little out there, but this group does good work and they are so optimistic.
  • Along these lines, SAIS is continuing its work with NWAIS and ISAS to help school leaders get aligned and prepared for healthy discourse during this political season. This two part series continues on September 22nd. We don’t have all of the sessions up there yet, but one will include Suzanne Bogdan and Whitney Walters-Sachs of Pinecrest to talk about policies and practices to get you through the season, and another will focus on guiding community norms and include my former NAIS colleague, Gene Batiste who is at Saint John’s in Houston.
  • We are also working with Leadership and Design to offer a one-day workshop for educators who want to have productive conversations in the classroom this election season. This four hour workshop includes curriculum available to your entire school for educators looking to engage students in healthy discussions around the election. The workshop has a cap of 50 people and has breakouts, role plays, and a variety of activities to help educators get comfortable.
  • I share this information from Riverdale on their campus discourse work again because it’s a sound model that might help you launch.

I have been having some really interesting and open conversations around diversity, equity, and belonging that I truly appreciate and I wanted to share with you a couple of pieces. This one helps when you are looking at defining your terminology around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Literally, how to think about those words, and provides an exercise for you and your team to think through how you might define them for your school. This piece from EdSurge on how SEL plays into teaching white children about race is a good one. It brings in a publication I had not seen before from CASEL, but that I am going to dig into more. Now that you have your feet a bit under you with the start of the year, this packet of articles around lessons from the protests, as well as other pieces around inclusivity might help. You might also want to check out this one on how teachers are rethinking how they teach about race, as well as this new book out of Harvard. You know we are always looking for where this might go next, so check out this ranking of colleges as they promote upward mobility, research, and civic engagement.

Okay, so how about some SAIS happenings close on the horizon? We are working with Greg Bamford of Leadership and Design for two fabulous events. The first is on constructively engaging with staff and families who might be reluctant to return to campus as the pandemic continues. For upper level administrators of all kinds,  this session will help you understand the dynamics in play and provide some helpful tactics to get to a more fruitful conclusion. The second is for heads and board members around the important partnership and how that partnership can weather the storm of return to campus commentary and pressures.

Also, don’t forget our Annual Conference is coming up. We are going to use our cohorts to get collective feedback on the ideas in the big picture sections and capture them into a report from our schools, for our schools as we collectively think about the future of our piece of this wide world. One of our speakers, Jeff Selingo, has been doing interviews around his new book, Who Gets in and Why, and this one caught my eye. Also, I apparently get to facilitate and pose questions to our major speakers, so start thinking of what you might want to get into the mix. I am starting a list.

Finally, I was remiss last week in not noting the passing of Ken Robinson. If you have never watched a video of his, or heard him speak, this TED talk is excellent and captures his wit and depth. I had the good fortune to meet him briefly twice, and my impression was that he was approachable, kind, and genuine. I enjoyed re-watching the TED talk. It was a good reminder of why we do the work we do and the opportunities we should be thinking about right now.

And, for those of you missing esoteric endings… I love this site and it’s various visualizations. This week my favorites include the popular website visualizations (remember Prodigy?) and here is a chart to help you see the daily routines of famous people. And, yes, most of them had more fun than we do at this point in the 21st century.

On that note, I am taking two of the three kids on a mission today to acquire a pandemic puppy on the other side of the state. Who said I am too old to get a puppy for my birthday?

Have a great long weekend!

Debra