The Weekly Connect 1/16/17

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

The Supreme Court is considering what “some educational benefit” means as it considers a case on public school education for disabled children.

Thanks to “urban-education programs,” teachers are learning how to talk about racism so that they can communicate more effectively with their students.

Results on an international math test suggest that early childhood education might be having a positive impact on students’ math scores.

Obesity-linked diagnoses are up – and kids are eating 200 percent more fake sugar.

High school students in New York City are learning about farming – it’s a way to expose them to more career options.

To read more, click on the following links.

Policy 

Supreme Court wrestles with defining rights for students with disabilities, including autism
The Washington Post: The Supreme Court seemed ready to increase the educational benefits the country’s public schools owe to millions of children with disabilities, as the justices considered one of the most significant special-education cases to reach the high court in decades. At issue is whether schools must provide disabled children “some” educational benefit — which several lower courts have interpreted to mean just more than trivial progress — or whether students legally deserve something more. See related article: Ed Week The School Law Blog “U.S. Supreme Court Weighs Level of Benefit Required in Special Education.”

Ed. Dept. Awards $3 Million for ‘Pay for Success’ Early Learning Feasibility Pilots
Ed Week Early Years Blog: Eight government organizations will receive a share of $3 million from the U.S. Department of Education to study how private money can be used to expand public preschool in their communities. The recipients are the Napa Valley Unified district, the Santa Clara County Office of Education and the Ventura County Office of Education, all in California; the Minnesota Department of Education, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, the Cuyahoga County Office of Early Learning in Ohio, Clatsop County in Oregon and the Legacy Charter School in South Carolina. The organizations will each receive between $300,000 and $400,000 for the feasibility studies.

Bill to Ease Path for Repeal of Obama-Era Education Regulations Advances
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Republicans in Congress are already targeting several education-related regulations adopted under President Barack Obama. A bill recently passed by the House could make that job a lot easier. On Wednesday, the House passed the Midnight Rule Relief Act, which would amend the Congressional Review Act by allowing Congress to overturn simultaneously multiple regulations finalized in the last 60 days of a presidential administration, according to the Hill newspaper.

Research

How Teachers Learn to Discuss Racism
The Atlantic: With a profession that’s characteristically white, female, and middle class—and with students of color and children in poverty rapidly making up the majority of the public-school population—it’s become a necessity to have teachers equipped and willing to talk about race and racism. The mere mention of these topics can be awkward and difficult, yet various research findings point to the need to confront the discomfort to improve student learning.

Preschool Linked to Success on Global Math Test
Education Week: The latest results of the Program for International Student Assessment give tantalizing hints of the connections between students’ early-childhood education and their later math scores. A new international test may provide more insights into what those connections mean for policy, but experts warn that it remains hard to tell what the United States can learn from other countries’ approaches to preschool.

Around the Nation

We need to provide better mental health treatment in schools. Here’s how to start.
Washington Post On Parenting Blog: According to recent statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 kids in the United States has or has had a debilitating mental health disorder. Each day, about 20 percent of the millions of children attending school are struggling with a mental health disorder. And yet, many of them suffer in silence. Here are some things school faculty members can do to help improve students’ daily mental health, even if there is no full-time therapist on staff.

Don’t Call It ‘Guidance’ Anymore: A Talk with the Nation’s Top School Counselor
NPR Ed Blog: Counselors play a big role in helping students succeed: They help with scheduling, college applications and with issues like mental health. Since 2015, first lady Michelle Obama has honored a school counselor of the year in a ceremony at the White House. Friday, the honor goes to Terri Tchorzynski of the Calhoun Area Career Center in Battle Creek, Mich., where she works with 11th- and 12th-graders drawn from 20 public high schools in Calhoun County.

The Next Generation of Farmers Is Being Trained In New York City High Schools
NPR: Some 600 of the city’s public school students are enrolled in John Bowne High School’s specialized, four-year agriculture program. Like most of their schoolmates, the “Aggies” follow an ordinary curriculum of English, math and social studies. But they also learn the building blocks of diverse careers in the booming industry of agriculture, which sees almost 60,000 new jobs open up in the U.S. every year, according to the USDA.

Obesity-Linked Diagnoses on the Rise among Kids and Teens
NPR Shots Blog: It’s no secret that American children have gotten heavier in recent decades. Now an analysis released by the nonprofit Fair Health, a national clearinghouse for claims data, joins earlier research showing the consequences of that extra weight. The study found a sharp rise in health insurance claims filed on behalf of young people who have high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and other conditions more typically associated with older adults.

Kids Are Eating Nearly 200% More Fake Sugar
TIME Magazine: The number of children who eat or drink artificial sweeteners—like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin—has skyrocketed over the years, with a nearly 200% increase from 1999 to 2012, a new study shows. The survey results, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, reveal that in 1999, less than 9% of kids consumed low-calorie sweeteners. That number rose to about 25% in 2012, and even children as young as two are consuming them, the study finds.

Exercise: An Antidote for Behavioral Issues in Students
Health Day: Children with serious behavioral disorders might fare better at school if they get some exercise during the day, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests. The researchers looked at whether structured exercise during the school day — in the form of stationary “cybercycles” — could help ease students’ behavioral issues in the classroom. Over a period of seven weeks, the study found it did. Kids were about one-third to 50 percent less likely to act out in class, compared to a seven-week period when they took standard gym classes.

Girls from low-income families feel unprepared for puberty: Study
UPI: A study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that girls from low-income families are unprepared for puberty, resulting in negative experiences in the transition. Researchers found the puberty experiences of African-American, Caucasian, and Hispanic girls in low-income urban areas of the Northeastern United States were lacking in information and preparedness in coping with the onset of menstruation.

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