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Students March; DeVos Gets Grilled; The Funding Gap Widens

Robert Edwards, a student from Washington, speaks alongside lawmakers and gun control activists at the U.S. Capitol, a day before the "March for Our Lives." From left are Ilan Alhadeff holding a photograph of his daughter, Alyssa, a 14-year-old Parkland victim; Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.; and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
J. Scott Applewhite

Money talks and students walk in this week's edition of the education news roundup.

National student march

In Washington, D.C., and around the world on Saturday, young people and their families and supporters marched in support of gun safety. The , led by survivors of February's shooting in Parkland, Fla., listed more than 800 events including in Israel, Argentina and Finland.

Celebrities have chipped in to help the cause as well: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt released a song ahead of the march. Common, Ariana Grande and Vic Mensa performed in Washington.

DeVos grilled on Capitol Hill

Betsy DeVos spoke before a House committee on Tuesday to defend her department's budget request, which had included a 5 percent cut.

The education secretary came under harsh criticism from Democrats on a variety of issues, such as this from Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut: "You are turning your back on public schools ... You stand up for debt collectorsrather than college students struggling to pay back loans. You favor reducing government oversight of private, for-profit schools with bad track records. You're undermining sexual assault policies on college campuses."

Spending bill adds money for education, safe schools

Despite DeVos' request to cut the federal education budget, the bipartisan omnibus spending bill signed Friday includes nearly $4 billion in new education funds. There is a 14 percent increase in funding for historically black colleges and universities and more federal student aid. Plus there is more money for low-income students, students with disabilities and preschoolers.

The students marching this weekend might be happy to hear about a $47 million increase in funds for school climate, mental health and other violence interventions that have been shown to make schools safer.

National report: Most states shortchange poor students

The Education Law Center, a policy and advocacy group, has released the latest edition of its School Funding Report Card. The report findsthat the gap in per-pupil spending between the highest- and lowest-funded states is growing. It also finds that only 11 states have progressive funding systems that direct more money to high-poverty districts. This is down from a high of 22 states in 2008.

Teens, using screens, find a political voice

After Parkland, the nation seems to be watching teenagers find a political voice both online and off. A new study from the graduate school of education at the University of California, Riverside, finds a relationship between online participation and political action. "Young people who were more active online (non-politically) in 2013," the study says, "were more likely than others to become politically active two years later."

Parents use social media to keep tabs on tweens

Just over half of parents agree they would read their children's text messages, or look at social media posts, to find out details about a potential party. And 61 percent say that social media has made it easier to keep track of their children ages 9 to 12, even as 94 percent agreed that social media also makes it easier for kids to get in trouble. These findings come from a national survey of 2,000 parents conducted byresearchers at the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anya Kamenetz is an education correspondent at NPR. She joined NPR in 2014, working as part of a new initiative to coordinate on-air and online coverage of learning. Since then the NPR Ed team has won a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for Innovation, and a 2015 National Award for Education Reporting for the multimedia national collaboration, the Grad Rates project.
Erin B. Logan
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