The Weekly Connect 10/17/16

This week in The Weekly Connect students are grappling with social problems, from the stress of coping with racism to the challenge homeless students face trying to go to school. Fortunately, positive community responses in other areas are making a difference. Parents and teachers around the country are calling for more public school funding. And grocery stores have gotten a thumbs up from a study that says the dairy aisle and other supermarket settings could be great places to prompt parents to talk more – aka engage in language-rich interactions – with children 8 years old and younger.

On the policy front, the Obama administration has released long-delayed regulations for teacher-preparation programs. And in unexpected news, Ed Week reports on a study that says students of all races prefer teachers of color.

Policy

Obama administration releases long-delayed regulations for teacher-preparation programs
The Washington Post: The U.S. Education Department published regulations governing programs that prepare new K-12 teachers, a long-delayed effort meant to ensure that graduates emerge ready for the nation’s classrooms. The new regulations require each state to issue annual ratings for teacher-prep programs within their borders. The ratings aim to serve as a snapshot of how novice educators perform after graduation, offering prospective teachers and school district recruiters a more accurate picture of which programs are successful at producing strong educators and which are not. See related article” Ed Week Teacher Beat Blog “Final U.S. Teacher-Prep Regs Allow Flexibility on Student-Outcome Measures.”

Research

How the Stress of Racism Affects Learning
The Atlantic: A recent study from Northwestern University suggests that the stress of racial discrimination may partly explain the persistent gaps in academic performance between some nonwhite students, mainly black and Latino youth, and their white counterparts. The team of researchers found that the physiological response to race-based stressors leads the body to pump out more stress hormones in adolescents from traditionally marginalized groups. This biological reaction to race-based stress is compounded by the psychological response to discrimination or the coping mechanisms youngsters develop to lessen the distress. What emerges is a picture of black and Latino students whose concentration, motivation, and, ultimately, learning is impaired by unintended and overt racism.

Students of All Races Prefer Teachers of Color, Study Finds
Ed Week Teaching Now Blog: Students in urban school districts, regardless of their race or ethnicity, prefer teachers of color to white teachers, a provocative new study found. The study, published in the journal Educational Researcher and authored by two New York University Steinhardt professors, found that students of all races, but particularly students of color, have more favorable perceptions of minority teachers versus white teachers. 

How to Spark Learning Everywhere Kids Go – Starting With the Supermarket
NPR Ed: Picture this: You’re in the supermarket with your hungry preschooler in tow. As you reach into the dairy case, you spot a sign with a friendly cartoon cow. It reads: “Ask your child: Where does milk come from? What else comes from a cow?” In a small study published last year, signs like these, placed in Philadelphia-area supermarkets, sparked a one-third increase in conversations between parents and children under 8. The extra family chatter happened only in low-income neighborhoods. Research shows that’s exactly the place where it’s needed most: Studies have documented a “word gap” that can lead, ultimately, to poor kids starting school months behind in language development.

Around the Nation

Parents and teachers rally for public education funding at schools across the country
The Washington Post: Parents, teachers and students came together for “walk-ins” at schools across the country, rallying for more funding for public education and against harsh discipline policies, over testing and the expansion of charter schools.

For New York City’s Homeless Children, Getting to School Is the Hard Part
The New York Times: Family workers carrying caseloads of 256 children at a time. A girl who had transferred to four different schools, one of them twice, by age 11. Attendance reports from multiple agencies, but with none held responsible for making sure that students actually went to school. These are some of the findings in a report on the obstacles faced by homeless children in New York schools that will be released by the city’s Independent Budget Office. The report, which draws largely on data from the 2013-14 school year, vividly maps out just how difficult it is for students who live in shelters to get an education.

Latino Students: A Portrait in Numbers
NPR Ed: Latinos are by far the fastest growing chunk of the U.S. school population. A new report by the National Council of La Raza gives a fascinating snapshot of this fast-growing population. By all accounts, school-age Latinos are doing better academically today than 15 years ago. However, only 21 percent of Latino eighth-graders read at a “proficient” or “advanced” level, compared with 44 percent of white eighth-graders, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and more than 20 percent of Latino teenagers do not graduate from high school.

Nonprofit Receives $1M Grant to Help Support Social, Emotional Learning
Ed Week Time and Learning Blog: Knowing how to control yourself and successfully resolve conflict comes in handy in the classroom, on the playground, and on the job. These skills are considered to be part of social and emotional learning, and leaders of a New York City-based nonprofit hope to share these lessons with thousands of students thanks to a $1 million grant. ExpandED Schools, which is dedicated to closing the learning gap through expanded opportunities for educational experiences, received the three-year grant from the New York Life Foundation to promote social and emotional learning in middle schools.

Bullying Often Triggers Fight Response in Kids with Disabilities
Disability Scoop: Children with disabilities are more likely than other kids to respond aggressively to bullying, researchers say, and they often attack not only those picking on them, but others as well. In a study looking at survey responses from nearly 1,200 middle and high school students with disabilities, researchers found that bullying often led these youngsters to fight or victimize other kids. “Because students with disabilities often lack age-appropriate social and communication skills, they may act out aggressively as a response to being bullied,” said Chad Rose of the University of Missouri who led the study published in the journal Remedial and Special Education.

How Passive Aggression Hurts Children
The Atlantic: For many couples, holding onto a grudge-smoldering but not letting a disagreement erupt into a fighting match-may seem like the best way to deal with a conflict. But research shows this kind of discord can significantly interfere with a child’s behavior and sense of emotional security. When exposed to prolonged unresolved conflict, kids are more likely to get into fights with their peers at school and show signs of distress, anger, and hostility. They may also have trouble sleeping at night, which can undermine their academic performance. In fact, according to various studies, disengagement and uncooperative discord between couples has shown to increase a child’s risk of psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, and aggression.

Check back next week for The Weekly Connect.
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