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Florida Education Association Sues State Over Reopenings and More | News Bites

Educators' unions and parents joined together to sue the state's governor and department of education commissioner over on-site learning at public schools, TikTok launches media literacy campaign, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation releases new online resources, and LibraryPlus has new CEO, comics offering, and apps in this edition of News Bites.

Educators' unions and parents joined together to sue the state's governor and department of education commissioner over on-site learning at public schools, TikTok launches media literacy campaign, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation releases new online resources, and LibraryPlus has new CEO, comics offering, and apps in this edition of News Bites.


Florida Education Association, Parents Sue Over School Openings

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Florida, the Florida Education Association (FEA), educators and parents have filed a lawsuit against Florida governor, Ron DeSantis; the state's departement of education commissioner, Richard Corcoran; the Florida Department of Education; the Florida State Board of Education; and Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez to  stop the reopening of public schools for in-person learning and "safeguard the health and welfare of public school students, educators and the community at large."

“Gov. DeSantis needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one,” Fredrick Ingram, FEA president, said in a statement.  “The governor needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control. He needs to accept the evolving science. It now appears that kids 10 and older may pass along the coronavirus as easily as adults. Everyone wants schools to reopen, but we don’t want to begin in-person teaching, face an explosion of cases and sickness, then be forced to return to distance learning. Florida’s Constitution demands that public schools be safe. Teachers and parents want our schools to meet that basic standard.”

According to the announcement by the FEA, a statewide federation of Florida's teacher and education workers unions, the lawsuit "contends that ordering an unsafe return to onsite instruction at public schools is a violation of Florida’s Constitution, which requires the provision of a 'safe' and 'secure' schools, and requests a declaration that the state defendants’ actions and inactions are unconstitutional. In a second count, the suit seeks a declaration from the court that the state defendants are putting arbitrary and capricious demands on public schools through the education commissioner’s unfunded emergency order.

"A third count in the suit seeks an order enjoining the state defendants, along with Mayor Gimenez, from forcing millions of students and educators to report to unsafe schools that should remain physically closed during the spike of the pandemic; ordering defendants to implement a meaningful online instruction plan with accessible internet connectivity and computers; ordering that before schools reopen they must have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies, reduced class sizes, social distancing, staffing, and school clinic capabilities in compliance with CDC guidelines and other health authorities."


NYT/NYPL Best Illustrated Children's Book Awards cancelled

There will be no  2020 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Book Awards because of the pandemic. The awards, which recognize the 10 best picture books published that year, are typically announced in November.

This will be the first time since the awards began in 1952 that there will be no list from the New York Times Book Review. The NYPL , whichbegan co-sponsoring the awards in 2017, has cancelled all of its events for the rest of the year, and the New York Times building, where the judging typically takes place, is closed to the public. An internal note from the editor of the Book Review Pamela Paul and children's book editor Jennifer Krauss said the judging process "could not be replicated remotely for a number of reasons."

Unlike the Caldecott Medal, which limits candidates to books published in the United States, this award honors titles from all over the world.


Ezra Jack Keats Foundation Marks Award Anniversary with Free Online Resources

The Ezra Jack Keats Award (EJK Award) is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2021. The EJK Foundation, which sponsors the award, kicked off a yearlong celebration in June. It aims to assist librarians, homeschoolers, parents, and children by posting EJK Awardthemed virtual and in-person activities, guides, and themed booklists. Downloadable toolkits, graphics and background information are available on the 35th anniversary pages of the  website. The wealth of resources includes guides to read-alouds with past winners, running a Mock EJK Award, and EJK Award book discussion guides. 

There are also 10 themed booklists of EJK Award winners in 14 categories, including Strong Girls, Community, Immigration, the First Day of School, Justice, Pets, Seasons and Nature, Identity, and Self Esteem. The Mock EJK Award program is a group activity that can be adapted for K–12 children in virtual or in-person settings. In addition to those resources, the website features fun facts about their award winners' lives , including their six-word memoirs, a look at how they procrastinate, and whether they are neat or messy.


LibraryPass Announces New CEO, Comics Offering, and Updated Resource Center

LibraryPass, Inc. announced Ian Singer as its new Chief Executive Officer. Singer, a former group publisher of SLJLibrary Journal, School Library Journal, and The Horn Book, will be responsible for development of ComicsPlus for Libraries and overall strategic planning. 

LibraryPass' new ComicsPlus for Libraries allows students and patrons to read more than 20,000 digital comics, graphic novels, and manga, including popular titles for all age ranges and interests. Every title is accessible 24 hours a day,  seven days a week for offline reading, with unlimited, simultaneous checkout. LibraryPass also has new apps for iOS and Android and an updated website.

The company also updated its Resource Center for librarians, educators, and publishers to provide useful programming concepts and lesson plans to improve engagement and circulation. The Resource Center provides lesson plans aimed to improve engagement and circulation, FAQs, and a streamlined support process to ensure timely, responsive customer service to subscribers.


Discovery Education Launches New Digital Resources

Discovery Education  has added hundreds of new digital resources sourced from its content partners to its digital services. The new content, which was added to  Discovery Education Experience, social studies, and science, is designed to help educators create lessons on social justice, digital citizenship, social-emotional learning, and other K-12 topics. Subjects include: Understand the Roots of Systemic Racism and Discrimination, and Learn About the Power of Protest; Investigate the Importance of Equity; Build Digital Citizenship Skills; Focus on Social-Emotional Learning; Ignite Curiosity in History, Engineering, and Space Exploration; Amplify the Connection Between Innovation and Conservation; and Uncover the Future of Sustainability.


TikTok Creates Media Literacy Series 

TikTok has launched a new safety video series called "Be Informed," which addresses media literacy. TikTok developed the the "Be Informed" series by partnering with the National Association for Media Literacy Education. The "Be Informed" video series includes Question the Source,  Question the Graphics, Question Your BiasWhen to Share vs. When to Report, and Fact vs. Opinion. The entire series can be viewed on the @TikTokTips account.


Bank Street Bookstore To Close

As of September 1, the Bank Street Bookstore in New York City will be closed, a business casualty of the COVID-19 crisis.

"We are deeply grateful for the support of our customers during this unprecedented time and throughout the many years prior," the bookstore's manager wrote in an announcement on the website. "In 1970, the Bank Street Bookstore opened in the lobby of Bank Street College of Education. Originally intended as a small store serving the needs of the College community, the Bookstore grew into a resource for the neighborhood and for parents and educators worldwide. The Bookstore also regularly welcomed authors and illustrators for special events, creating a space for children and their families to find joy in books together and foster a shared love of reading."

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