The Weekly Connect 12/24/18

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:

Schools in Washington state are addressing students’ homelessness.

White House report recommends scrapping Obama-era school discipline guidelines.

Chronic absenteeism is a major problem in U.S. schools.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

With Child Homelessness on the Rise, What Can Schools Do?
Governing: When children don’t have stable housing, it’s well documented that they are much more likely to fall behind in school, score lower on standardized tests, miss classes, and drop out altogether. Across Washington state, more than 40,000 schoolchildren experienced homelessness at some point during the 2016-2017 school year, a 33% increase from four years earlier. The state now requires every school district with more than 10 homeless youths to provide a “homeless liaison” at every secondary school to help connect these students to district and community resources. See related article: Education Dive “Teacher Prep Beginning to Address Growing Homeless Student Population.” 

The Teaching Profession in 2018 (in Charts)
Ed Week Teaching Now Blog: This year will go down in history as a milestone year for the teaching profession. In six states, tens of thousands of teachers walked out of their classrooms to protest low salaries and cuts to school funding. Nearly 180 current classroom teachers ran for their state legislatures on a platform centered around funding education, and 43 of those teachers were elected. Suddenly, the whole country seemed to be talking about how underpaid and overworked teachers are. These events and conversations will stretch far beyond the new year. Here are some of the most significant research findings about teachers that were published in 2018.

School-Based Nutritional Programs Reduce Student Obesity
Science Daily: In-school nutrition policies and programs that promote healthier eating habits among middle school students limit increases in body mass index (BMI), a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds.

When Report Cards Go Out on Fridays, Child Abuse Increases on Saturdays, Study Finds
The New York Times: A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics found a nearly fourfold increase in confirmed reports of child abuse on the Saturdays immediately after the distribution of report cards at Florida public schools. The study focused on children ages 5 to 11 and relied on reports called in to the Florida Department of Children and Families abuse hotline during the 2015-16 academic year. 

Parents are Biased Against Even Quality Urban Schools
The Atlantic: In recent years, many of America’s urban schools have improved significantly, but the persistent stigma against them continues to contribute to segregation. A recent study in the journal City & Community based on survey data out of eight metropolitan areas in the U.S. suggests that residents—including, presumably, parents—frequently harbor negative associations with the term urban and, by extension, “inner-city” communities and institutions, such as schools.


White House: Scrap Obama-Era School Discipline Guidance
US News & World Report: The White House released its long-awaited school safety report, recommending that the Department of Education scrap Obama-era guidance aimed at reducing the number of students of color who are disciplined. “Ultimately governors and state legislators should work with school leaders, teachers and parents to address their own unique challenges and develop their own solutions,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said. “It does not impose one-size-fits-all solutions. The primary responsibility naturally rests with states and local communities. Local problems need local solutions.” See related articles: Ed Week Teacher Beat Blog “What the Trump School Safety Report Says About Teachers” and Center for American Progress “Smart Investments for Safer Schools.”

End Head Start, School Lunch Programs to Cut Deficit? Federal Report Probes Options
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Capitol Hill’s budget arm says that among the many options federal lawmakers have for cutting the budget deficit is the choice to consider eliminating Head Start and federally supported school meal programs. The Congressional Budget Office’s “Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2019 to 2028” is the latest in a series of reports that the office releases to help lawmakers consider options for reducing the federal deficit, which in fiscal 2018 stood at $778 billion.

Around the Nation

Schools Report Fewer Out-of-School Suspensions, but Gaps by Race and Disability Persist
Child Trends: Schools are reporting incremental progress in reducing discipline disparities and reliance on out-of-school suspension, according to new Child Trends analyses, but large gaps by race and disability remain. As state lawmakers work to reform school discipline, the Federal School Safety Commission’s recommendation to repeal federal guidance designed to highlight and help schools address the problem of discipline disparities could instead risk undermining states’ efforts to address the problem. 

Chronic Absenteeism a Major Problem in U.S. Schools
Governing: Desks in classrooms all across the country are routinely empty. This isn’t due to a lack of funding or declining enrollment, but to the fact that students simply aren’t showing up. The most recent federal data suggest more than 1 in 7 students are chronically absent from our public schools. It’s a widespread problem: At least a dozen schools in nearly every state report more than 20% of students are chronically absent. 

Schools Need to Foster Kids’ Social, Emotional Skills, Educators Say
The Columbus Dispatch: These days, educators are embracing the idea that fostering abilities known as “soft skills” — including goal-setting, empathy, perseverance, and emotional awareness — is as important as teaching traditional subjects such as reading, writing, and math. The concept is called “social and emotional learning” and the hope is that such practices, which also include relationship skills and decision-making, will make students happy, well-rounded, successful adults. See related article: New England Public Radio “Elementary School in Berkshires Revamps Culture with Trauma in Mind.”

Lack of Transportation, Conflicting Deadlines put School Choice out of Reach for Some, Study Finds
Chalkbeat: A recent report on choice and open enrollment in the traditional public school sector put out by Ready Colorado found that more Colorado students use school choice to opt into traditional district-run schools than use it to attend charter schools. Further, those who do so are more likely to be white and middle- or upper-class than their peers. In addition, transportation continues to be a barrier for students who want to go somewhere other than their neighborhood school.

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