The Weekly Connect 1/21/19

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:

Geographic and political patterns of racial bullying.

How the federal government shutdown is impacting schools.

Schools train pre-K teachers in “mental health first aid.”

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Miscounting Poor Students
U.S. News & World Report: The number of poor students enrolled in a particular school or living in a certain school district is one of the most important education data points that exists, and the stakes are high for getting the count right. The figures are used to direct billions of dollars in federal and state aid, and they’re a pillar of the K-12 accountability systems that ensure disadvantaged students are keeping up with their wealthier peers. But the method that’s traditionally used to track them – how many students qualify for free and reduced-priced lunch – is no longer a reliable proxy for poverty as eligibility for the school lunch program has expanded in recent years.

Bringing the Science of Learning into Classrooms
Edutopia: New research sheds light on the effects that childhood experiences—both good and bad—have on the developing brain. But are schools keeping up? “The 20th-century education system was never designed with the knowledge of the developing brain,” says Pamela Cantor, MD, who is part of a cross-disciplinary team of experts studying the science of learning and development. “So,” Cantor adds, “when we think about the fact that learning is a brain function and we have an education system that didn’t have access to this critical knowledge, the question becomes: Do we have the will to create an education system that’s informed by it?”

Data: Are We Preparing Students for a Lifetime of Success?
Education Week: The Education Week Research Center’s Chance-for-Success Index identifies strengths and weaknesses in each state’s education pipeline that—taken together—capture the many factors within and outside of the pre-K-12 education system that contribute to a person’s success throughout a lifetime. The Index is based on 13 distinct factors gauging education-related opportunities in three broad stages of a person’s life: early foundations, the school years, and adult outcomes. View the data here.

It’s Not Just That Racial Bullying Jumped in Schools After the 2016 Election. It’s Where It Did
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: A study published in the journal Educational Researcher suggests that school bullying problems split along political lines. In 2017, 18 percent more middle school students reported they had been bullied in communities around the state that voted for Republican Donald Trump for president, compared to those communities that had favored Democrat Hillary Clinton. In particular, race-based bullying rates were 9 percent higher in the GOP-favoring localities versus those in Democrat-leaning ones.

Policy

How the Shutdown Is Starting to Impact Schools
Education Week: More than three weeks into what’s now the longest federal government shutdown in history, school district officials are making plans to cope with the impacts on students, families, and their own operations should the shutdown drag on. The current closure is different from earlier shutdowns because the agencies from which school districts receive critical federal dollars—chiefly the Department of Education—are funded during the partial shutdown. But there is still a lot at stake for school districts if the shutdown persists for months—as President Trump had threatened during a meeting with Democratic congressional leaders earlier this month.

State Laws Promoting Social, Emotional, and Academic Development Leave Room for Improvement
Child Trends: Policymakers increasingly recognize that social and emotional development plays a critical role in learning, and they are enacting policies to encourage the integration of social and emotional learning (SEL) into school curricula. Child Trends, in partnership with the Institute for Health Research and Policy and EMT Associates, Inc., recently completed an analysis of state statutes and regulations (enacted as of September 2017) that are aligned with the ‘Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child’ model of school health. This analysis found that most states already have policies that support components of SEL in schools. Such policies, though, are often limited in their vision of SEL and disconnected from other critical components of healthy school environments. See related article: Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog “Set Social-Emotional Learning Benchmarks to Guide Efforts, Commission Recommends.”

Public School Revenue and Spending Up in Latest Year of Reporting
T.H.E Journal: The National Center for Education Statistics has produced its latest “first look” report, which provides data on state-level revenues and expenditures in public schools for fiscal year 2016 (the 2015-2016 school year). While the country took in $678 billion in revenues, up 4 percent from the previous year, overall spending on elementary and secondary education across the nation increased by just 2.9 percent year over year, compared to a bump of 3.2 percent in the previous year.

Around the Nation

Absenteeism, Teacher Stress, and School Safety: School Climate Factors to Watch in 2019
Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: While educators around the country adopt intentional efforts and programs to improve school climates, learning environments are also influenced by a range of outside factors, from neighborhood violence to natural disasters to federal policy changes. In 2018, schools saw a convergence of those factors: public concerns about safety fueled by school shootings, a fresh wave of teacher activism, and a changing federal approach to civil rights enforcement. Here’s how those issues, and a few others, such as absenteeism and discipline policies, may shape school climates in 2019.

Schools to Train Pre-K Teachers In ‘Mental Health First Aid’
Hendersonville Lightening News: Through a state Community Partners Safety Grant secured by Henderson County Public Schools and the Western Region Education Service Alliance, certified student services staff will be providing training to child- and family-focused organizations to support young children and their families in Henderson County, North Carolina. School district administrators certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid and Trauma-Sensitive Schools will provide training to 200 local pre-kindergarten professionals whose organizations feed directly into the school system.

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