Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

March 19, 2017

@ School board Debates: Monday March 20 and Saturday March 25

Filed under: MPS — millerlf @ 6:43 pm
  1. Monday March 20th sponsored by MICAH.

Where: St. Matthews CME Church

2944 N 9th St.

Time: 6:30

2. Saturday March 25th sponsored by Community Brainstorming.

Where: St. Matthews CME Church

2944 N 9th St.

Time 9 am

March 15, 2017

Proposed Resolution Making Milwaukee Public Schools a Safe Haven for Immigrant and Refugee Students and Families

Filed under: American Injustice,Immigration — millerlf @ 6:43 pm

Please attend the MPS full board meeting, March 30th, where public testimony will be taken on a proposed resolution by Directors Joseph and Miller to Declare Milwaukee Public Schools to Be a Safe Haven for Its Students and Families Threatened by Immigration Enforcement or Discrimination.

WHEREAS: The United States Supreme Court held in Plyer v. Doe (1982) that no public school district has a basis to deny children access to education based on their immigration status, citing the harm it would inflict on the children and society itself and the equal protection rights of the Fourteenth Amendment;

WHEREAS, The vision of the Milwaukee Public Schools states, “Schools will be safe, welcoming, well-maintained, and accessible community centers meeting the needs of all”; and

WHEREAS, MPS Administrative Policy 1.04 states, “No person may be denied admission to or participation in the benefits of any public school in the Milwaukee Public Schools, or be discriminated against in any curricular, extracurricular, student service, recreational, or other program or activity, because of the person’s sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, creed, religion, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, or physical, mental, emotional, or learning disability or handicap, or any other characteristic protected by law”; and

WHEREAS, The aforementioned applies to all MPS students without exception, regardless of the immigration status of a student or family; and

WHEREAS, Through its policies and practices, the District has made a commitment to provide a quality education for all students, which includes a safe and stable learning environment, means of transportation to and from school sites, the preservation of classroom hours for educational instruction, and the requirement of school attendance; and

WHEREAS, It is the policy of Milwaukee Public Schools not to allow any individual or organization to enter a school site if the educational setting would be disrupted by that visit; and

WHEREAS, Parents and students have expressed to Milwaukee Public Schools fear and confusion about the continued physical and emotional safety of all students and the right to access a free public K­12 education through district schools and programs; and

WHEREAS, Numerous students whose education, safety, emotional well-being, and family relationships are at risk because of their immigration status are, and will in the future be, enrolled in Milwaukee Public Schools; and

WHEREAS, Milwaukee Public Schools believes that it is in the best interests of the students, staff, families, and the community of Milwaukee Public Schools that it take action to assure all students and families that disruptions to the educational environment that the actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may create will be opposed by all legal means available; and

WHEREAS, No written state or federal law mandates that local districts assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of immigration laws; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Milwaukee Board of School Directors declare Milwaukee Public Schools (the District) to be a safe haven for its students and families threatened by immigration enforcement or discrimination, to the fullest extent permitted by the law; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That as a Safe Haven the Board directs the Superintendent to:

  1. within the next 30 days create a Rapid Response Team in partnership with community-based

organizations, legal-service providers, and social services to assist students and family to prepare in the event a minor child attending school in the District is deprived of adult care, supervision, or guardianship outside of school due to a federal law-enforcement action, such as detention by ICE or a cooperating law-enforcement agency;

  1. create bilingual Know-Your-Rights presentations for students and family members to cover their rights regarding interactions with law-enforcement and immigration agents;
  2. designate a faculty or counselor in each school who is to serve as a resource for immigrant students and their families and establish at least one resource person in Central Office who is to be trained to serve as a immigrant liaison, with expertise in immigrant and undocumented populations;
  3. establish all K-12 schools, early education centers, adult schools, and parent centers as resource and information sites for immigrant students and families;
  4. work with City/County representatives to establish a Safe Haven perimeter within which families will feel safe in bringing their children to school; and
  5. create and offer professional development opportunities for Central Office staff, administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, and paraprofessionals about the pathways to citizenship, opportunities available for college and training, financial aid, rights, and opportunities for immigrant and refugee students; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Superintendent, upon notification of the intent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or other immigration-law-enforcement personnel to enter a district school, shall take the following steps to provide for the emotional and physical safety of students and staff:

  • request and make photocopies of identification from the officers or agents;
  • request and make photocopies of a judicial warrant;

— If no warrant is presented, request the grounds for access, make notes, and contact

legal counsel for the District;

  • request and retain notes of the names of the students and the reasons for the request;
  • If school-site personnel have not yet contacted the student’s parents or guardians, do so;
  • do not attempt to provide information or conjecture about the students, such as their schedule, for example, without legal counsel present;
  • provide the agents with a copy of this Resolution 1617R-007;
  • contact legal counsel for the District;
  • request the agents’ contact information; and
  • advise the agents that you are required to complete these steps prior to allowing them access to any school site or student data; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That unless specifically required by a valid court order, district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not use district resources for the purpose of detecting or assisting in the apprehension of persons whose only violation of law is or may be being an undocumented resident in the United States, or failing to produce documents authorizing residency in the United States; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That unless specifically required by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not report any information about a student’s or parent’s immigration status; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall refrain from requiring any student or parent to produce documentation regarding immigration status; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, disclose to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or to any other person or entity any information about a student’s or family’s immigration status; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, disclose to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or to any other person or entity any information about any district student that is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That no Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or other immigration­law-enforcement personnel shall be granted immediate access to any district school for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws and shall be referred immediately to the Superintendent; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the District shall review its record-keeping policies and practices to ensure the highest level of protection of student privacy; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board direct the Administration to conduct a full review of the District’s policies, procedures, and practices to ensure complete alignment with the Safe Haven declaration in all areas of district operations; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the District shall post this Resolution at every school site and distribute it to district staff, students, and parents using usual means of communication and that the Resolution shall be translated into all languages spoken by students at home.

 

February 23, 2017

March 1, 2017

NYTimes Editorial: Ms. DeVos’s Fake History About School Choice

Filed under: Revisionist History — millerlf @ 9:29 am

A gate to Howard University, in Washington. Credit Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos offered a positively Orwellian explanation Monday of why historically black colleges and universities were created in the United States. Incredibly, she suggested that they were “real pioneers” in the school-choice movement and “started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education.”

The Education Department’s own website — on a page titled “Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Higher Education Desegregation” — offers a more accurate history. These colleges, it shows, were created, beginning in the 19th century, as a direct response to rigid racial segregation when the doors of white colleges were typically closed to African-Americans.

Rather than integrate colleges, the Southern and border states established parallel, Jim Crow systems in which black college students were typically confined to segregated campuses handicapped by meager budgets and inferior libraries and facilities. Litigation over the funding equity issue continues to this day.

Ms. DeVos’s insulting distortion of history, which she tried to pull back after furious criticism, grows out of her obsession with market-driven school policies, including the idea of a publicly funded voucher program that public school students could use to pay for private education.

But as Kevin Carey reported in The Times just last week, new research shows that voucher programs may actually harm many students by shunting them into low-quality private schools. Taken together, three of the largest voucher programs in the country, enrolling nearly 180,000 children nationwide, showed negative results.

A 2015 study of an Indiana program that served tens of thousands of students found that voucher students who transferred to private schools did significantly worse in mathematics — and showed no improvement in reading.

A study of a Louisiana voucher program last year serving predominantly black and low-income families found reading and math scores went down when children transferred to private schools. The performance decline was significant: Public elementary school children who started at the 50th percentile in math dropped to the 26th percentile within a year of transferring to a private school.

And a study of a large program in Ohio — conducted by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute — found that students who used vouchers to attend private schools fared worse academically compared with their peers attending public school.

At the very least, these studies show that the private schools cannot be presumed superior to public schools. These dismal results also make clear that free-market mechanisms that work well in business can be damaging when applied to the lives of schoolchildren.

Ms. DeVos’s strange interpretation of this country’s racist history was probably meant to pave the way for market-driven education policies. Ignorant statements notwithstanding, those policies have proved to be failures.

It Turns Out Spending More Probably Does Improve Education

Filed under: Education Policy — millerlf @ 9:21 am

If you spend more on education, will students do better?

Educators, politicians and unions have battled in court over that crucial question for decades, most recently in a sweeping decision this fall in Connecticut, where a judge ordered the state to revamp nearly every facet of its education policies, from graduation requirements to special education, along with its school funding.

For many years, research on the relationship between spending and student learning has been surprisingly inconclusive. Many other factors, including student poverty, parental education and the way schools are organized, contribute to educational results.

Teasing out the specific effect of money spent is methodologically difficult. Opponents of increased school funding have seized on that ambiguity to argue that, for schools, money doesn’t matter — and, therefore, more money isn’t needed.

But new, first-of-its-kind research suggests that conclusion is mistaken. Money really does matter in education, which c

The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in July, was conducted by the economists Julien Lafortune and Jesse Rothstein of the University of California at Berkeley and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach of Northwestern. They examined student test scores in 26 states that have changed the way they fund schools since 1990, usually in response to a lawsuit like Connecticut’s, and compared them with those in 23 states that haven’t. While no two states did exactly the same thing, they all had the effect of increasing funding for the poorest districts.

The post-1990 time frame is important: That’s when courts changed how they think about states’ obligations to public schoolchildren. Previously, nearly all school funding lawsuits focused on the question of “equity” — did disadvantaged students receive funding equal to that of their well-off peers?

The problem with that perspective was the answer could be “yes,” even if funding was too low across the board. Starting with a 1990 court case in Kentucky, courts started asking about “adequacy” instead. Were school districts getting enough money, which might require giving extra money to districts that enroll many low-income, expensive-to-serve students?

“There’s been this wave of school finance reform across the country over the last few decades,” Mr. Rothstein said. “I think it’s fair to say it’s the largest reform aimed at equity since school desegregation, and we really didn’t know what the impacts were. There’s now growing evidence, from my work and from others, that those reforms did lead to improved achievement and improved outcomes for children in low-income school districts.”

Mr. Lafortune, Mr. Rothstein and Ms. Schanzenbach also solved a difficult methodological problem that had plagued school finance researchers for decades. More money isn’t an end unto itself — the goal is to produce better results. But before the recent widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards, every state had its own standards and related tests. That made it hard to compare academic results from one state to another.

At Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport, Conn. A sweeping court decision has ordered Connecticut to revamp nearly every aspect of its education policies, including funding.

” data-mediaviewer-credit=”Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times” />

At Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport, Conn. A sweeping court decision has ordered Connecticut to revamp nearly every aspect of its education policies, including funding.

Credit Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times

The researchers took advantage of the one test that is taken by a representative sample of schoolchildren nationwide: the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, which is administered by the Department of Education.

Although NAEP results are usually published only for whole states and a small number of large urban school districts, the researchers got the education department to let them analyze individual student scores. Those results include information on the test-taker’s race and income, as well as school district attended. The researchers could compare performance in poor and wealthy districts before and after changes in spending.

They found a consistent pattern: In the long run, over comparable time frames, states that send additional money to their lowest-income school districts see more academic improvement in those districts than states that don’t. The size of the effect was significant. The changes bought at least twice as much achievement per dollar as a well-known experiment that decreased class sizes in the early grades.

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February 28, 2017

Director Tatiana Joseph and Larry Miller on Channel 12 tonight on resolution to make Milwaukee Public Schools a Safe Haven for immigrant and refugee students and families

Filed under: Immigration — millerlf @ 4:27 pm

Please Watch Channel 12 Tonight at 10!
Please watch Directors Tatiana Joseph and Larry Miller tonight on Channel 12 at 10 o’clock. They were interviewed about their proposed resolution to make Milwaukee Public Schools a Safe Haven for immigrant and refugee students and families.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, crowd and outdoor

February 27, 2017

Monday March 6, District 5 School Board candidate debate

Filed under: Elections — millerlf @ 11:29 am

Please join me for a discussion on MPS and public education.

Larry Miller

You are invited to a Candidate Forum sponsored by Eastside Milwaukee

Community Council. The event will be moderated by a volunteer member of the League of

Women Voters of Milwaukee County (LWVMC).

Milwaukee Public School District #5 candidates

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2618 N Hackett Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211

March 6, 2017; 6:30 – 8 pm

February 25, 2017

Betsy deVos, feeding children is not a joking matter. She says “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Filed under: DeVos — millerlf @ 10:44 am
 
Betsy DeVos is in charge of a system that literally serves millions of free lunches. She opened remarks to the ultra-conservative CPAC on Thursday with a joke about free lunch.
 
Andy Martino
Feb—24—2017 02:11PM EST
 
The new secretary of education stepped to the mic at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, and warmed up the crowd with a joke that played well in that particular room.
 
“I’m Betsy DeVos,” the secretary, who arrived at the job with no experience in the public school system, said. “You may have heard some of the wonderful things the mainstream media has called me lately. I, however, pride myself on being called a mother, a grandmother, a life partner, and perhaps the first person to tell Bernie Sanders to his face that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
 
Hahaha, Bernie Sanders. Whatever on that. It’s a speech at CPAC, where he’s an obvious target, and this was an apparent reference to DeVos’ back-and-forth with Sanders during her confirmation hearing last month. And maybe DeVos just didn’t consider the impact of the phrase “free lunch” in the context of her new job. But here’s the problem: She’s now in charge of a school system that serves free and subsidized lunches to more than 30 million students every day. While the Department of Agriculture actually pays for this program, DeVos’ tone-deaf joke made her appear oblivious to the fact that free school lunches are often the only thing that keep many low-income kids from going hungry.
 
According to government statistics, 15.8 million, or 12.5 percent, of U.S. households were “food insecure” in 2015, meaning they were unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all family members. Multiple studies have shown that hungry children struggle in school, with demonstrably lower math scores, and a greater likelihood of having to repeat a grade.
 
I spent three years teaching in a public middle and high school in Brooklyn, and saw this play out on a human level: If a kid eats, he or she has a chance to be engaged in class. If a kid is hungry, he or she will probably stumble through the day, a weak and grumpy zombie, head down on desk, no chance to learn.
 
But as LeVar Burton would say, don’t take my word for it. Here are some facts that might help the billionaire secretary realize that there is, in fact, such a thing as a free lunch, and it’s important.
 
The National School Lunch Act came into being in 1946, when it was signed by President Harry Truman. Under the law, the federal government reimburses schools for students who qualify for the program. Through 2012, the program had served more than 224 billion lunches.
Children from families with incomes below 130 percent of the poverty level — an annual income of $30,615 for a family of four — are eligible for free lunches. Children with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level — $30,615 to $43,568 for a family of four — are eligible for reduced-price meals, for which students can be charged no more than 40 cents.
According to government statistics, the program serves more than 100,000 schools and feeds more 30 million American children each day.
The program cost $11.6 billion in fiscal year 2012, a pittance compared to many other expenditures. That same year, the U.S. devoted $781 billion to Social Security, $676 billion to defense spending, and $86 billion to transportation spending.
The program provides school staff and students with nutrition education, in an effort to promote health and combat child obesity.
 
You get the idea. Free lunches are important, and DeVos should have found another zinger.

February 24, 2017

Where Does The Feds’ Withdrawal of Transgender Guidance Leave School Districts?

Filed under: LGBT — millerlf @ 2:34 pm

Wisconsin Association of School Boards Update:

February 24, 2017National Issue, State IssueBathrooms/Lockerrooms, eConnection, Jesse Kremer, Local Control, Title IX, Transgender Students, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, WASB Policy PerspectivesDan Rossmiller

Federal Enforcement Actions: The joint decision by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education to withdraw and rescind past guidance on transgendered students means those departments will not be independently pursuing enforcement actions against schools and/or threatening the loss of federal funds based on a school district’s alleged failure to implement each and every aspect of the former guidelines.

As a practical matter, enforcement of the rescinded guidance has been on hold since last August when a federal district court in Texas issued a nationwide injunction blocking enforcement. (See previous post.) The Wisconsin Department of Justice was one of several state departments that joined a federal lawsuit challenging the guidance that resulted in the issuance of that injunction. (See previous post.) Given the latest action from the new Trump administration, that lawsuit is “essentially moot,” according to a state DOJ spokesman.

Local School District Policies: For the moment, at least, most school districts are in position very similar to the position they were in before the now-withdrawn guidance was originally issued.  That is, there is substantial uncertainty about the extent to which Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

In light of that uncertainty, districts generally retain discretion to implement policies, procedures, and practices that school leaders determine are consistent with local priorities and that attempt to reasonably interpret applicable law—including the possibility that the courts, irrespective of the Departments’ changing position, will interpret Title IX to prohibit certain discrimination on the basis of a student’s gender identity.

School districts, for example, can choose to adopt (or retain) and implement otherwise-lawful local policies that provide protections and rights on the basis of a student’s gender identity, or that permit or require certain individualized accommodations.  As this Wisconsin Public Radio report suggests, some districts that have adopted such policies apparently intended to keep them in place.

Significantly, the withdrawal of the prior federal guidance does not prevent students, parents, or their representatives from filing (or continuing to pursue) complaints or lawsuits that allege unlawful discrimination under Title IX or violations of privacy rights.  (The Kenosha Unified School District is involved in pending litigation (a private action not brought by a student and the student’s parents and not the DOJ or DOE) regarding bathroom access that could potentially set state-wide precedent by defining a school district’s obligation in this area.)

Potential Legislation:  It appears likely that at least some state legislators may attempt to pursue one or more different “bathroom bills” in the current legislative session. In media reports, state Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) was quoted as saying that while he is pleased by the Trump Administration’s change in position, he still intends to re-introduce a bill to force public school students to use bathrooms and changing rooms that correspond with their birth gender. A similar bill introduced by Rep. Kremer last session did not advance out of the Assembly Education Committee. (See previous post.)

Pending U.S. Supreme Court Case: The next major legal (court) development regarding the rights of transgender students is expected to occur later this year when the U.S. Supreme Court issues a decision in a Virginia case that raises the specific question of whether Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. That case is scheduled for oral arguments in Washington on March 28.

Summary: In short, while school leaders await further clarification or a resolution of their legal obligations from the courts and, potentially, from Congress, the state legislature, and administrative agencies, they will continue to face policy challenges as they attempt to balance student rights and personal privacy, provide safe learning environments for all students, and ensure that no student is unnecessarily marginalized.

The WASB will be providing more information and guidance for school boards on this topic as developments warrant.  Please look for articles and other helpful information this blog (the LegUpdate Blog), in the weekly Legislative Update Newsletter, in the weekly eConnection and in the WASB Policy Perspectives.

News Coverage About the Impact of the Change: The Economist; Washington Post; National Public Radio; Fox News; EdWeek

 

 

Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins

Filed under: DeVos — millerlf @ 2:28 pm

The voucher idea sat dormant for years before taking root in a few places, most notably Milwaukee. Yet even as many of Mr. Friedman’s other ideas became Republican Party orthodoxy, most national G.O.P. leaders committed themselves to a different theory of educational improvement: standards, testing and accountability. That movement reached an apex when the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 brought a new focus on tests and standards to nearly every public school nationwide. The law left voucher supporters with crumbs: a small demonstration project in Washington, D.C.

But broad political support for No Child Left Behind proved short-lived. Teachers unions opposed the reforms from the left, while libertarians and states-rights conservatives denounced it from the right. When Republicans took control of more governor’s mansions and state legislatures in the 2000s, they expanded vouchers to an unprecedented degree. Three of the largest programs sprang up in Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio, which collectively enroll more than a third of the 178,000 voucher students nationwide.

Most of the new programs heeded Mr. Friedman’s original call for the government to enforce “minimum standards” by requiring private schools that accept vouchers to administer standardized state tests. Researchers have used this data to compare voucher students with similar children who took the same tests in public school. Many of the results were released over the last 18 months, while Donald J. Trump was advocating school choice on the campaign trail.

The first results came in late 2015. Researchers examined an Indiana voucher program that had quickly grown to serve tens of thousands of students under Mike Pence, then the state’s governor. “In mathematics,” they found, “voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement.” They also saw no improvement in reading.

The next results came a few months later, in February, when researchers published a major study of Louisiana’s voucher program. Students in the program were predominantly black and from low-income families, and they came from public schools that had received poor ratings from the state department of education, based on test scores. For private schools receiving more applicants than they could enroll, the law required that they admit students via lottery, which allowed the researchers to compare lottery winners with those who stayed in public school.

They found large negative results in both reading and math. Public elementary school students who started at the 50th percentile in math and then used a voucher to transfer to a private school dropped to the 26th percentile in a single year. Results were somewhat better in the second year, but were still well below the starting point.

This is very unusual. When people try to improve education, sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. The successes usually register as modest improvements, while the failures generally have no effect at all. It’s rare to see efforts to improve test scores having the opposite result. Martin West, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, calls the negative effects in Louisiana “as large as any I’ve seen in the literature” — not just compared with other voucher studies, but in the history of American education research.

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February 23, 2017

Trump Administration Rescinds Protections For Transgender Students

Filed under: LGBT — millerlf @ 6:25 am
 02/22/2017

The Obama administration tried to stop schools from discriminating based on gender identity.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced on Wednesday that it will no longer bar schools from discriminating against transgender students, rescinding a policy put in place by the previous administration.

“The prior guidance documents did not contain sufficient legal analysis or explain how the interpretation was consistent with the language of Title IX. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice therefore have withdrawn the guidance,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue. The Department of Justice remains committed to the proper interpretation and enforcement of Title IX and to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, from discrimination, bullying, and harassment.”

In May, under President Barack Obama, the departments of Education and Justice issued guidance mandating that any school that receives federal money must treat a student’s gender identity as his or her sex. Schools, for example, would therefore have to allow transgender individuals to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, rather than the sex assigned to them at birth.

The federal government said at the time that transgender students were covered under Title IX, the statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. This interpretation had been on hold, however, after more than a dozen states sued the Obama administration and a judge issued an injunction in August.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was reportedly against rescinding the order and initially resisted signing off on it, but Sessions pushed her to do so because both departments had to agree in order to move forward.

In a statement Wednesday, DeVos said she considered protecting all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students, “not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.”

“This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find ― and in many cases have found ― solutions that protect all students,” she added.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer argued during his press briefing earlier Wednesday that Title IX does not apply to transgender issues because there was no discussion of gender identity when the statute was passed in 1972. Judges and justices, however, often interpret laws and the Constitution to apply to new issues that arise.

Spicer also said there were no disagreements between DeVos and Sessions.

Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Transgender teen Gavin Grimm sued the Gloucester County School Board after it barred him from the boys bathroom.

The Trump administration’s announcement is the latest in its shift away from the protection of transgender rights that became a legacy of the Obama era. The new administration also recently announced it would not appeal the August ruling. Under Obama, the Justice Department tried to argue that the ruling should appeal only to the states that were part of the suit rather than to all states.

Trump has tried to portray himself as a defender of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, pledging in his Republican National Convention speech that he would protect its members from terrorist attacks. The president has said, however, that he does not support marriage equality even though he considers the issue settled law because the Supreme Court ruled on the matter. During the campaign, Trump said he supported a North Carolina law that barred cities from putting protections for LGBTQ individuals in place. His administration has also been considering at least two anti-LGBTQ executive orders.

Spicer said Tuesday that the president considered transgender rights to be “a states’ rights issue and not one for the federal government.”

“I find it obscene that Mr. Spicer would characterize the well-being, the health and the very safety of transgender young people as an issue of states’ rights,” responded Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. “The fact is that no child in America should have their rights subject to their zip code.”

Transgender students experience a significant degree of bullying in school.

The majority of respondents to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey who were out or perceived as being transgender while in school (K-12) reported being verbally harassed (54 percent), physically attacked (24 percent) or sexually assaulted (13 percent) because they were transgender.

“I worry that in the backlash and response, people are forgetting that these are children who fundamentally just need to go to school and have a right to be educated and not being able to use the bathroom that accords with their gender identity has profound consequences on their ability to actually receive an equal education. I feel like the human face of this has gotten lost in this,” Vanita Gupta, who at the time was the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, told The Huffington Post in December.

The Trump administration’s latest decision could also affect the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender teenager in Virginia who sued his school for the right to use the boys bathroom. The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on March 28, and the rescinding of the federal guidance could give the court an excuse to throw it back to the lower court.

LGBTQ advocates emphasized Wednesday that even though the Trump administration rescinded the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance, the legal foundation that interpretation was built upon is still solid.

“While it’s disappointing to see the Trump administration revoke the guidance, the administration cannot change what Title IX means,” said Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who is lead counsel for Grimm. “When it decided to hear Gavin Grimm’s case, the Supreme Court said it would decide which interpretation of Title IX is correct, without taking any administration’s guidance into consideration. We’re confident that the law is on Gavin’s side and he will prevail just as he did in the Fourth Circuit.”

Ryan Reilly contributed reporting.

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