The Weekly Connect 9/23/19

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:

Children in “stricter” middle schools are less likely to go to college — and more likely to get arrested.

Federal spending on children falls.

Schools’ student-to-counselor ratios are dangerously high.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Children in Stricter Middle Schools are Less Likely to Go to College — And More Likely to Get Arrested
Market Watch: Students who attend schools that are “stricter” in doling out suspensions can experience far-reaching impacts on their criminal records and educational outcomes, a new study distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests. Researchers from Harvard University’s Kennedy School and the University of Colorado analyzed data on middle-schoolers at North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, which underwent a sudden boundary change that reassigned some students to a stricter school, during the 2002-2003 school year. The researchers found that the students who went to schools with higher conditional suspension rates were more likely to be arrested and incarcerated as adults.

Shredding for School: Researchers Study Links Between Skateboarding and Academic Success
Education Dive: In East Los Angeles, what used to be a car repair business has been transformed into a thriving after-school tutoring and youth entrepreneurship program called Skate-4-Education. Skate-4-Education provides a space for students ages 8-18 to create their own logos for apparel and skateboards and also take workshops in math, English, art, videography, and youth empowerment. The link between skateboarding and education is not limited to this community partnership. Researchers at the University of Southern California are currently conducting a nationwide study to investigate how qualities that skateboarders possess contribute to their success in school and college.

K-12 Program to Reduce Effects of Trauma Expands
Education Week: The PAX Good Behavior game is an educational model that acknowledges the role that childhood trauma plays in student behavior and also acknowledges how this impact ripples across a classroom. This model teaches kids how to self-regulate, and it addresses behavioral difficulties that result from traumatic experiences by integrating game-like approaches, rather than more punitive systems, into the school day from an early age. Research on the program has shown that it can lower the number of students who go on to commit crimes, abuse drugs, or attempt suicide. A federal grant has expanded PAX across the state of Montana, funding the training of close to 1,100 teachers.

New Briefs on Strengthening Pre-K to Kindergarten Transitions and Alignment
New America: New America recently released two briefs focused on strengthening pre-K to kindergarten transitions and alignment. The first brief highlights innovative efforts schools and districts across the country are taking to ease the transition into kindergarten for families and students, including students without access to pre-K prior to kindergarten. The second brief explains the federal programs that can help support and fund state and local transition efforts. Research suggests that students who attend a high-quality classroom in kindergarten and early elementary school are more likely to attend college, save more for retirement, and live in wealthier neighborhoods. See related articles: The Hechinger Report “Can 15 Minutes a Day of Online Preschool Help Prepare a Child for Kindergarten?” and Education Dive “Neighborhood Conditions can Impact Pre-K Effectiveness.”

Policy

Federal Spending on Children Falls to Lowest Level in a Decade
NBC News: Federal spending on children in the United States fell to the lowest level in a decade in 2018, negatively impacting working families with children, according to a report recently released by the Urban Institute. Spending fell to about $6,200 per child younger than 19. The decline was driven by a reduction in federal spending on education and nutrition programs and a temporary reduction in child-related tax credits. The report indicated that the share for children is expected to decrease from 9.2 percent to 7.5 percent over the next 10 years as spending to pay for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest payments on the debt continue to increase.

Ahead of Public Charge Rule, City Council Tasks Schools with Providing Resources to Immigrant Families
Chalkbeat: As fear around a new federal immigration rule continues to perplex some New York City immigrant families, the city will require the education department to send home fact sheets to teach parents about their rights. A bill passed recently in the City Council, which is part of a larger package of legislation, would require public schools to give students “educational materials” about the new federal public charge rule. The rule, a Trump administration mandate, will look at whether immigrants who want to obtain a green card or certain visas are currently relying on Medicaid, SNAP food benefits, public or subsidized housing or might do so in the future. The administration will look at these and other factors, such as income and health, when determining if immigrants can stay in the United States legally.

Around the Nation

Student-to-Counselor Ratios are Dangerously High. Here’s How Two Districts are Tackling it.
EdSurge: Today’s students increasingly suffer from anxiety, depression, and various social pressures, even at a young age, and most are not getting the comprehensive support they need. Nationwide, there are about 11,000 school counselors serving 50.59 million students, or an average of one counselor for every 455 K-12 students. This is significantly higher than having one counselor for every 250 students, a ratio recommended by the American School Counseling Association. Across the country, districts small and large are working to bring this ratio down and to bolster counseling and support services for students by training school leaders and teachers about the signs of anxiety and depression and about suicidal ideation. This effort taps local partnerships and takes advantage of local, state, and federal funding.

With Play Dates and Play-Doh, School Leaders Gain Skills to Support Learning for 4-Year-Olds
Education Dive: Betsy Fox, senior director of early learning partnerships at the nonprofit New Teacher Center (NTC), developed the Early Learning Leadership Program (ELLP) to meet a need for a leadership development program model that covers some of the practical concerns and questions that principals might have, from topics like why it’s important to buy blocks and Play-Doh for early-childhood classrooms to deeper issues, such as discipline practices. The program includes seminars on brain development, growth milestones, and teaching practices that encourage language development and emerging math skills. It also includes down-to-earth “walk and talks” in which the ELLP team tours a principal’s building to look at how classroom spaces and routines can be improved.

The Push to Get More Teachers of Color in Special Education Classrooms
Education Week: It’s a constant struggle for school districts across the country to find qualified special education teachers. An extra challenge: finding special educators of color to help meet the needs of a student population that can be disproportionately nonwhite. Just over 82 percent of special education teachers in public schools are white, according to 2011-12 federal data, the most recent available. Meanwhile, only about half of students receiving special education services are white, according to 2017-18 data. Yet teacher diversity matters: Decades of research has shown that students often perform better academically when they are taught by teachers of the same race. See related articles: The Hechinger Report “Black Teachers Matter, for Students and Communities” and District Administration “Field Trips Help Teachers Face Implicit Bias.” 

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