Gay rights groups are lobbying the California Department of Education to expand LGBT influence over textbooks set for review this year. In 2011, California mandated students learn about the historical contributions of those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. During a state commission hearing last week, advocacy groups insisted that simply mentioning historical figures wouldn’t cut it. They want each person’s orientation and relationship status outlined in specific detail. “It’s not something to appease a particular part of the population but to truly include inclusive history throughout grades K-8,” said Renata Moreira, executive director of San Francisco–based LGBT adocacy group Our Family Coalition. Their success will have a ripple effect: California is the biggest market for textbooks and publishers peddle books crafted for California elsewhere. —L.J.
Students at Harvard University protested Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ visit to the Cambridge, Mass., campus last week to deliver a speech on school choice. Students waved signs or held up their fists to express outrage at DeVos’ apparently radical proposition: “The future of school choice does not begin with a new federal mandate from Washington.”
At least the students protested politely, opting not to shout down or interrupt the presentation at Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance. DeVos stuck to familiar themes, reiterating the importance of state education innovation and the minimal role the federal government has to play.
“We can amplify the voices of those who only want better for their kids,” she said. “We can assist states who are working to further empower parents, and urge those who haven’t.”
Shortly before last week’s speech, DeVos announced $253 million in federal Every Student Succeeds Act grants to expand charter schools. The Education Department divided the award among nine states, two state agencies, and more than 20 nonprofit charter management organizations.
While the Trump administration has drawn a lot of attention to voucher and tax credit programs to help fund private school choice, public charter schools still offer the most widespread choice option in the country, with most schools maintaining long waiting lists. DeVos wants to help clear that backlog by encouraging states to authorize new charter schools, an expansion teachers’ unions and public school backers vehemently oppose. —L.J.