The Weekly Connect 12/16/19

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:

Social media use is associated with disordered eating patterns.

Courts are protecting the rights of transgender students.

Homelessness makes it tough for New York City students to get an education.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Students Who Can Manage Their Emotions Do Better in School, Large Scale Study Finds
Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: Emotional intelligence is an important part of academic success—from kindergarten to college—according to a new study. In particular, students who understand and can manage their emotions earn higher grades and do better on standardized tests. The results are likely to help schools make the case that investing in teaching social-emotional skills will bring a payoff in improved student achievement. The study, published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, is a meta-analysis of every relevant study researchers could find—162 in all—that cover 42,000 students in 27 countries. 

Does ‘the Achievement Gap’ Evoke a Negative Stereotype? What the Research Says
Education Week: In the 21st century, calls to “close the achievement gap” have been ubiquitous in education circles. Yet, as policymakers and educators devote more attention to the problem, a growing number of commentators have begun to worry that the dominance of this “gap” framing of conversations about race and education may be counterproductive. One concern is that this approach promotes deficit-based mindsets by assuming that White students’ outcomes should be the standard to which Black, Latinx, and Native American students aspire. Secondly, by focusing on student outcomes, the “achievement gap” framing may hide the role that broader structural forces play in producing these disparities. See related article: The 74 Million “Student Belonging is Essential to Success. Education Policies Must Ensure School is a Place Where Every Child Belongs.” 

CDC: Schools Aren’t Doing Enough to Teach Kids About Nutrition
UPI: While the majority of U.S. schools offer curriculum on the benefits of healthy eating and dietary guidelines, the percentage of urban classrooms in which these subjects are taught is significantly lower, according to the 2018 School Health Profiles Report, recently released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, just over 60 percent of schools in Boston and just over half the schools in Oakland, Calif., report that they teach children the benefits of healthy eating. Nationally, the median percentage of schools offering instruction in these subjects is 94 percent. See related article: A.P. News “Brain Differences May Be Tied to Obesity, Kids’ Study Says.”

Social Media Use Associated with Disordered Eating Among Young Adolescents
Healio: Researchers have reported a “clear pattern of association” between social media use and disordered eating thoughts and behaviors. These associations occur at younger ages than previously investigated, they noted in a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. “Our study suggests that social media use is clearly associated with increased disordered eating thoughts and behaviors for both girls and boys,” Simon M. Wilksch, PhD, senior research fellow in psychology at Flinders University in Australia, told Healio Psychiatry. Nearly 52% of girls and 45% of boys reported disordered eating behaviors. Strict exercise and meal skipping were the most common, the researchers noted. Approximately 75% of girls and 70% of boys had at least one social media account. Instagram was the most common, with 68.1% of girls and 61.7% of boys reporting use.


Three Steps to Address the Fairness of School Funding Through ESSA
Ed Note: To support education leaders who want to take a closer look at how resources are allocated to schools within districts, American Institutes for Research (AIR) recently released an action guide, “Using ESSA to Improve the Fairness of School Funding.” Suggestions from the guide include sharing data on per-pupil spending to engage parents and other stakeholders, using school improvement efforts to better understand resource allocation, and evaluating whether a different funding approach, such as weighted student funding, is appropriate. See related article: Education Week “ESSA Voices: The Every Student Succeeds Act, Four Years Later.” 

Immigration Policies’ Impact on Families Places Educators on ‘Frontlines’
Education Dive: The House Committee on Education and Labor was split along party lines during a recent hearing, when representatives learned from witnesses that immigration policies affecting undocumented students and those from mixed families are “creating and perpetuating unprecedented challenges” for educators and districts. Among those challenges, expert witnesses at the hearing said, are staffing of mental health professionals in schools that increasingly need trauma-informed care, a heightened school climate of fear and anxiety, and a deep-rooted sense of uncertainty among key stakeholders including teachers, parents and students. See related articles: The 74 Million “Preschool-Age Kids Don’t Fully Grasp Federal Immigration Policy– But for Some It’s Causing Toxic Stress, Report Argues” and Chalkbeat “‘School is a Safe Place:’ How this Colorado Teacher Talks to Students Worried about Immigration Raids.” 

Transgender Students are ‘Winning in the Courts,’ Require Accommodation
Education Dive: As the case of Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board heads for another round of oral arguments, schools are tasked with the decision to either allow or bar transgender students from accessing facilities aligning with their gender identities. While the U.S. Department of Education currently “isn’t enforcing” transgender students’ rights under Title IX, “trans folks can still sue, and can still win in court,” according to Mara Keisling, founder and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality​. An “overwhelming majority of lower courts” have found school districts barring students from using bathrooms or facilities aligning with their gender identity are violating the law, said Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBT Project and the lead attorney on Grimm’s case​. 

Trump Says He’s Fighting for the ‘Forgotten Child,’ Touts Education Choice Bill
Ed Week Politics K-12: President Donald Trump used a recent White House event held to promote school choice to urge Congress to consider a proposal that would use federal tax credits to help pay for a variety of educational services, including private school tuition. Those who joined Trump included Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, students and teachers who use state-level school choice programs, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Now is the time to fight for the forgotten child, and that’s what we are doing with respect to education,” Trump said. “For decades, countless children have been trapped in failing government schools. In my administration, these children are forgotten no longer.”

Around the Nation

Schools Ramp Up Efforts to Prevent, Reduce Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences
Education Dive: A new initiative called Resilience in School Environments (RISE) has been set up to address adverse childhood experiences, commonly called ACEs. This effort is part of the Thriving Schools program at Kaiser Permanente, which 20 years ago took part in the landmark study that found almost two-thirds of participants reported at least one adverse experience of abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction before age 18. Through a public/private partnership, the RISE program will bring on-site and virtual resources to schools focused on the social and emotional health of both students and school staff members. The goal is to reach 25,000 schools by 2023.

Nine Cities Named Gold Medal Winners for Early-Learning Efforts
Education Dive: Atlanta, Chicago, and Oklahoma City are among the nine cities awarded gold medals for having high-quality preschool programs as part of an initiative run by CityHealth and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). To reach gold status, the cities had to meet at least eight of NIEER’s 10 quality benchmarks and serve at least 30% of their population of 4-year-olds. The other six top awards went to Albuquerque, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Nashville, New York, San Antonio, and San Francisco. See related article: Ed Surge “Want to Support Early Childhood Education? Start With the Parents.

114,000 Students in N.Y.C. Are Homeless. These Two Let Us Into Their Lives
The New York Times: The number of school-age children in New York City who live in shelters or “doubled up” in apartments with family or friends has swelled by 70 percent over the past decade — a crisis without precedent in the city’s history. By day, New York’s 114,085 homeless students live in plain site: They study on the subway and sprint through playgrounds. At night, these children sometimes sleep in squalid, unsafe rooms, often for just a few months before they move again. School is the only stable place they know. The New York Times followed two elementary-school aged children for one day from sun-up to sun-down to capture how much effort, help, and luck it takes for homeless children to have a shot at a decent education. See related articles: The Daily Californian “State Commission Brief Highlights Housing, Those Affected by Housing Insecurity” and District Administration “Are Districts Providing Enough Support for Homeless Students?

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Author: City Connects

City Connects is an innovative school-based system that revitalizes student support in schools. City Connects collaborates with teachers to identify the strengths and needs of every child. We then create a uniquely tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services located in the community designed to help each student learn and thrive.

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