The Weekly Connect 5/8/17

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

A federal budget deal includes small funding increases for special education.

Researchers say that decades of studies point to one conclusion: Kids who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than kids who don’t.

Low-income minority students lag in high school graduation rates, and

Research suggests that bullying is declining in most schools.

To read more, click on the following links.

Policy

Budget Deal for 2017 Includes Increases for Title I, Special Education
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Federal lawmakers have agreed to relatively small spending increases for Title I programs to districts and for special education, as part of a budget deal covering the rest of fiscal 2017 through the end of September. Title I spending on disadvantaged students would rise by $100 million up to $15.5 billion from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2017, along with $450 million in new money that was already slated to be shifted over from the now-defunct School Improvement Grants program.  

New agriculture secretary says he’ll roll back Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunches initiative
LA Times: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that he would roll back part of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy eating initiative: stricter nutritional standards for school lunches. Perdue, who became head of the agency last week, announced he would be relaxing guidelines and providing greater flexibility in nutrition requirements for schools’ meal programs. See related article: New York Times “Trump Takes Aim at School Lunch Guidelines and a Girls’ Education Program.” 

How Would Changes to ESSA’s Block Grant Work?
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: The bill would make a really important change to the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, or Title IV of the law. ESSA collapsed a bunch of smaller programs into the grant to give districts more say over how they spend their federal funds. ESSA envisioned Title IV as a $1.6 billion grant that would go out by formula to districts where the funding could be used for everything from school safety and AP course fees to technology and arts education. But the funding bill that’s likely to be approved this week would only provide $400 million for the program, which is obviously much less than the envisioned $1.6 billion.

Research

Digital storybooks might be just as good as an adult reading to a child
The Hechinger Report: Young children can learn just as much from a story delivered entirely via a digital device as they can from an adult reading a dead-trees version of the same story, according to a new study from researchers at New York University. The quality of the content matters more than the format it’s delivered in, according to the study.

Pre-K: Decades Worth of Studies, One Strong Message
NPR Ed: Some of the nation’s top researchers who’ve spent their careers studying early childhood education recently got together in Washington with one goal in mind: to cut through the fog of studies and the endless debates over the benefits of preschool. They came away with one clear, strong message: Kids who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than kids who don’t.

Around the Nation

A Path Out of Poverty: Career Training + Quality Head Start
NPR Ed: A new study on the first-year impact of a two-generation program, Tulsa’s Career Advance, shows that Career Advance is working well for both parents and their children. In fact, CAP Tulsa’s program is working better than similar combined job training and Head Start programs elsewhere in terms of job certification, employment, and income and overall well-being for the parent. See related article: Smart Brief “3 tips to close the poverty gap.” 

Poor Shaming—But This Time in the School Cafeteria
New America: New Mexico State Senator Michael Padilla recently ended a common practice that he was subject to in school: “lunch shaming.” New Mexico’s bill, cited as the first of its kind, bans any practice that publicly identifies or stigmatizes students for being unable to pay for lunch, and it makes sure students receive a healthy lunch, regardless of their ability to pay. 

Low-income, minority students lag in high school grad rates
Associated Press: Despite rising national graduation rates, low-income and minority students continue to lag behind their peers in finishing high school, according to new a study. While the national graduation rate for the year 2015 was 83.2%, it was only 77.8% for Hispanic students and 74.6% for black students, according to the report, which was released by the Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University.

Where Are All the Preschoolers?
The Atlantic: Federal money offered to Springfield through the Preschool Expansion Grant program created 195 new seats for 4-year-olds without prior experience in formal preschools. This is the second year the city has been enrolling preschoolers through the grant program, and so far the city has not filled all 195 slots. This is because Springfield and other communities don’t have the data they need to count and locate all the children in their neighborhoods.  

Bullying is on the decline in most schools, new research shows
UPI: New research published in the journal Pediatrics suggests bullying and bullying-related behaviors are on the decline in elementary, middle, and high schools. Education researchers surveyed approximately 246,000 students in grades 4 through 12 at 109 Maryland schools over the course of ten years. 

At-risk youth negatively impacted by technology use
UPI: A new Duke University study suggests that increased use of technology in adolescence is linked to attention, behavior and self-regulation problems for at-risk youth. The study showed that when adolescents used devices more, they were more likely to have behavior problems such as fighting, lying, and attention issues, including attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder symptoms. Conversely, the study showed digital technology use was helpful to adolescents who experienced depression and anxiety.

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