Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 1
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Districts, Advocates Warily Await Health-Care Law Overhaul
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Few people may associate the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act-sometimes derided as "Obamacare"-with school districts and
But scrapping the ACA or revamping it signiﬁcantly, a long-standing Republican priority,
could have serious implications for everything
from student mental-health services to the hiring of substitute teachers.
At this point, it's unclear just how Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress
and the White House for the ﬁrst time in more
than a decade, will proceed. President Donald Trump campaigned on getting rid of the
ACA, but has also said he'd like to keep some
of its most popular parts, including allowing
young adults to remain on their parents' insurance. He vowed earlier this year to work
toward the goal of "insurance for everybody."
Since the 2016 election, GOP leaders in
both chambers have been wrestling with
ideas for changing, repealing, and replacing
the law, which was enacted in March 2010.
But the path forward remains cloudy. The law
is a delicate compromise, said Genevieve Kenney,
a co-director of the Health Policy Center at the
Urban Institute. "You can't get things to work unless you're mindful of the underlying dynamics of
the [health insurance] market," she said.
For now, school district ofﬁcials and children's health advocates are keeping an eye
on a myriad of moving parts within the
sprawling law, from marquee pieces like its
expansion of Medicaid-a federal and statefunded insurance program for low-income
families-to down-in-the-weeds details,
including grants to entice budding mentalhealth professionals to intern at needy
The ACA was generally geared toward adults
Standing Up for
without health-care coverage, but it also appears to have helped more children gain access
to health care. Those gains could be in jeopardy
if the law is repealed and not replaced, some
The Urban Institute, a nonproﬁt social and
economic research organization in Washington, estimates that 4.4 million children could
lose health insurance if the law is struck
down, even partially, without an alternative.
Between 2013 and 2015, as ACA implementation was cranking into gear, the uninsured
rate for children dropped from 7.1 percent to
New Fight to
Stop Gun Bills
Supporters of transgender
students rally in front of the
White House last week after
the Trump administration
revoked Obama-era federal
civil rights guidance, lifting
requirements that schools
allow students to use the
restrooms and locker rooms
that match their gender
Effort to prevent laws to arm
school staff is under way
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A State of Limbo for DACA Teachers
To Digital Games
For Civics Lessons
"Y "ENJAMIN (EROLD
Civics education is having an extended moment in the spotlight, and technology is playing a critical role.
On the one hand, technology is feeding new
problems: The rise of digital news and social
media means that students are now exposed to a
torrent of highly partisan information (and misinformation) about politics and current events.
But technology is also offering fresh solutions.
Take iCivics, a set of free online educational
games developed by a nonproﬁt organization
founded by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Last November, as
the contentious presidential election came and
went, the game was played roughly 3 million
times, nearly twice as many as the year prior.
Much of that uptick was fueled by teachers
hoping to engage their students without further inﬂaming often-raw emotions.
"One of the things I like about iCivics is that
it's a place for students to go where they're not
going to get angry, because you know it's not
Undocumented educators on
edge as Trump policies evolve
"Y #OREY -ITCHELL
Jose Gonzalez's parents brought him to
the United States from Mexico just before
his second birthday.
In the 23 years since, he graduated high
school with honors, earned an Ivy League
degree, and received recognition from the
Obama White House for his work teaching
students in immigrant-ﬁlled Los Angeles
Now, Gonzalez faces a potentially cruel
twist of fate: he could go from being lauded
by the White House to being a target for
deportation as part of President Donald
Trump's widespread immigration crackdown.
Before joining Teach For America in 2014,
he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, Trump's
"Honestly, it kind of makes having been
honored by the White House a bit of a joke.
It feels like a slap in the face," said Gonzalez, a 6th grade math teacher at Community Charter Middle School in Los Angeles.
Gonzalez is among the more than
700,0000 undocumented immigrants who,
for now, remain largely shielded from
President Trump's aggressive expansion of
deportations. He is protected by Deferred
Michael Stravato for Education Week
Houston teacher Alexis
Montes Torres is an
currently shielded from
deportation and legally
permitted to work under
an Obama-era policy. He
worries about his
long-term future under the
Abbey Clements could hear the sounds of
the nation's deadliest K-12 school shooting
as she huddled with her 2nd graders singing
Christmas carols to drown out the terrifying
noises coming from down the hall.
Gunman Adam Lanza had turned left
after he entered Sandy Hook Elementary
School in Newtown, Conn., that day. If he
had turned right, he may have ended up in
Clements' classroom. It took less than ﬁve
minutes for Lanza to ﬁre 154 shots from his
Bushmaster riﬂe, killing 20 children and six
adults on that December day in 2012. He
shot himself as police arrived.
In the time since, the experience that Clements and her fellow Sandy Hook teachers
shared has become a central argument for
lawmakers around the country who push
for less-restrictive gun laws to allow teachers and staff to carry guns in schools. It's not
unusual for a state legislator to assert that
the shooting at Sandy Hook may have been
prevented, or that fewer people could have
died, if the school's staff had been armed. It's
a suggestion Clements ﬁnds insulting.
"We're not trained sharp shooters, we're
not trained first responders," Clements
said. "We are caregivers. ... I'm sure every
educator out there would say that we want
school safety, but arming teachers is not the
Clements is among a growing number of
educators-some of them survivors of school
shootings-speaking out about gun laws on
the state and national level. The interest has
grown strong enough that Moms Demand
Action for Gun Sense in America, a group
that advocates for tougher gun laws, plans
to launch Educators Demand Action, a campaign to help coordinate their efforts.
Educators, including Clements, have long
been involved with the organization's work.
They feel a special sense of urgency this year
as they watch to see if President Donald