VASSP Member Update, November 13, 2023

There will be no VASSP Member Update next week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Articles of Interest  

Pre-K-12 enrollment plateaus in Va., but still down since COVID-19 nosedive

Danville school system crafts plan for state tutoring initiative

Pulaski Co. Public Schools investigating cyber attack

JWHS students offer insights on combating teen vaping | Winchester Star |

National Articles of Interest

School districts navigate wave of activism in wake of Israel-Hamas war | K-12 Dive

Middle school teachers need support to integrate SEL | K-12 Dive

LGBTQ+ issues increasingly targeted in K-12 censorship bills

Out-of-school suspensions cost California students 500,000 instruction days | K-12 Dive

State superintendent appointments mired in politics | K-12 Dive

DOE Updates

Virginia Literacy Act Training Requirements Update
Reading specialists are required to take the nine-module Canvas course after attendance at the reading institutes, hosted by Virginia Literacy Partnerships, to meet the training requirements as outlined in the Virginia Literacy Act. These modules will prepare reading specialists to successfully implement evidence-based literacy instruction and supports for students needing additional services. In addition, per the Virginia Literacy Act, teachers will receive training in evidence-based literacy instruction and science-based reading research. VDOE will provide a list of approved professional development programs that meet the requirements of the legislation later this spring. School divisions will have flexibility in the selection of a professional development for their teachers from the approved list. Read more in #2023-18 Virginia Education Update 2 November 2023.

Ed. Department Updates


As part of the Biden Administration’s continued efforts to address the alarming rise in reports of antisemitic, Islamophobic, and other hate- or bias-based incidents at schools and on college campuses since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict on October 7, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a new Dear Colleague Letter, reminding educational institutions of their legal obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide all students — including those who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, or Arab — a learning environment that is free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.  The Administration is implementing the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, and the White House recently announced it will develop a U.S. National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia.  The Department continues to carry out actions under the former strategy and anticipates additional actions in the forthcoming latter strategy (press release). 

The letter comes after Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, Secretary Cardona, and other senior Administration officials met with members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (readout). 

The letter also follows Secretary Cardona’s and White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden’s trip to Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University.  There, they held a roundtable discussion with Jewish students from several area universities (photos), as part of the final stop of the Department’s Antisemitism Awareness Campaign.  Over the last month-plus, the agency conducted site visits in cities across the country. 

Notably, OCR issued an updated complaint form specifying that Title VI’s protection from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin extends to students who are perceived to be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh or based on other shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.  Anyone who believes that an educational institution has discriminated against a student based on race, color, or national origin can file a complaint with OCR.  The individual who files the complaint does not have to be the target of the alleged violation but could be a family member, faculty, staff, or other concerned community member. These newly released documents are among the resources issued by OCR to support schools, colleges, and universities in complying with their Title VI obligations, which are compiled on OCR’s Shared Ancestry or Ethnic Characteristics web page.