The Weekly Connect 11/18/19

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

Summer school programs might boost the high school graduation rates of English language learners.

Newark schools receive $6.5 million for mental health supports.

To build their perseverance, empathy, and confidence, Detroit school children will learn to ride and care for horses.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Math Looks the Same in the Brain of Boys and Girls, Study Finds
NPR: There’s new evidence that girls start out with the same math abilities as boys. A study of 104 children from ages 3 to 10 found similar patterns of brain activity in boys and girls as they engaged in basic math tasks, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Rochester reported in the journal Science of Learning. The finding challenges the idea that more boys than girls end up in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) because they are inherently better at the sort of thinking those fields require. It also backs other studies that found similar math abilities in males and females early in life.

Black Gentrifiers May Be More Likely to Send Children to Neighborhood Schools
Ed Week District Dossier: Gentrification in the past decade is linked with declining enrollment in neighborhood schools—but the race and ethnicity of new families moving into the neighborhood changes the equation, a new study finds. Overall, neighborhood school enrollment drops when college-educated, middle-class families move into an area that had been characterized by concentrated poverty and underinvestment in infrastructure. Looking at gentrified neighborhoods nationwide, that accounts for a drop in enrollment of about 32,000 children between 2000 and 2014, compared to similar neighborhoods that had not gentrified. But that enrollment drop is sharpest when the gentrifying families are White. In contrast, when the new families are all Black and Latino, the study found that Black enrollment in neighborhood schools goes up.

Summer School for EL Students Could Boost 4-Year Graduation Rates
Education Dive: In a large, urban school district in California, a summer school program for high school English learners increased the number of core courses the students took. A new requirement says students have to complete these classes to graduate. However, the program had little impact on four- and five-year graduation rates, according to a study in the American Educational Research Journal. One explanation for why four-year graduation rates did not increase is because the students in the study sample did not have enough time to prepare for the new requirement. But five-year graduation outcomes were stronger among later cohorts of students who were able to participate in the summer program for more than one year. And expanding the program to rising 9th graders and encouraging students to enroll in multiple summers could increase the number graduating in four years as well.

Most School Shooters Showed Many Warning Signs, Secret Service Report Finds
Education Week: Most of the violent attacks in schools over the past decade were committed by students who telegraphed their intentions beforehand—and these attacks could have been prevented, a new report from the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center concludes. The report, which analyzed 41 violent incidents in schools between 2008-2017, found that most of those students were motivated by a specific grievance, and every single one was experiencing extreme stress. But there remains significant variation among the perpetrators, and schools should use a comprehensive analysis to detect true threats rather than trying to profile students, the report says.

Policy

Schools Fear Deportation of DACA Recipient Teachers
U.S. News & World Report: If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Trump administration, the future of thousands of teachers and some 660,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, would be in doubt. “I made it my life’s mission to make sure students would never, ever experience such events and hardship in pursuit of education as I did,” Vincente Rodriguez, a teaching assistant and DACA recipient from California, said to thousands of people gathered in front of the steps of the high court as the justices recently began considering the Trump administration’s efforts to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Rodriguez is one of an estimated 20,000 teachers, assistant teachers, and those in the process of being certified to become teachers who are protected under DACA. 

Newark Schools Awarded $6.5M for Student Mental Health Supports
Chalkbeat Newark: Newark schools are putting an additional $6.5 million toward student mental health starting this year, thanks to two grants from the federal education department. The funding announcement comes on the heels of new legislation requiring all New Jersey public schools to teach about mental health in K-12. Newark schools have been awarded a five-year, $4.6 million grant for its Project Prevent Newark, which aims to create culturally responsive learning environments, train school staff to serve children affected by trauma and violence, and increase student mental health counseling services. See related article: The Denver Channel A Bigger Focus on Mental Health is Paying Off at Aurora Public Schools.”

Around the Nation

Flint’s Children Suffer in Class After Years of Drinking Lead-Poisoned Water
The New York Times: Five years after Michigan switched Flint’s water supply to the contaminated Flint River from Lake Huron, the city’s lead crisis has migrated from its homes to its schools, where neurological and behavioral problems — real or feared — among students are threatening to overwhelm the education system. The contamination of this long-struggling city’s water exposed nearly 30,000 schoolchildren to a neurotoxin known to have detrimental effects on children’s developing brains and nervous systems. Requests for special education or behavioral interventions began rising four years ago, when the water contamination became public, bolstering a class-action lawsuit that demanded more resources for Flint’s children.

Should Every Special-Education Classroom be Recorded? Dallas ISD Trustees are Debating Cameras
The Dallas Morning News: Children with severe disabilities often don’t have the ability to speak up when they are hurt at school, so determining what happened can be difficult. That’s why one Dallas Independent School District (DISD) trustee wants to require each special education classroom in the district to have video cameras. Texas public schools are already required to place one in a special education setting if a parent requests it. Installing cameras district-wide would help protect the most vulnerable kids in DISD and even protect teachers if they are falsely accused of wrongdoing, trustee Dustin Marshall said. But DISD administrators are concerned that doing so would be too expensive and could even drive teachers away. See related article: Ed Source “California Spending Over $13 Billion Annually on Special Education.”

Motor City Students to Benefit from a Different Kind of Horsepower Through New Partnership
Chalkbeat Detroit: An old school site will get new life when it becomes the home of a program to train Detroit students to care for and ride horses. In the process, these children are expected to develop skills such as perseverance, empathy, and confidence. That’s thanks to a new partnership between the Detroit school district and Detroit Horse Power, a nonprofit that since 2015 has been teaching these lessons to children around the city. The partnership means Detroit children will be able to learn to ride and care for horses in the city, on district-owned land that is now vacant but will eventually house a horseback riding center.

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