The Weekly Connect 3/16/20

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

Housing aid tied to fewer asthma emergencies among low-income children.

Virginia will invest a record amount on early childhood education.

As schools close because of the coronavirus, officials are scrambling to feed students who rely on the meals they receive at school.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Report: Less than Half of Black Students Feel Adequate Mental Health Support from Teachers, Counselors
Education Dive: Among the 25% of American teens who experience mental health issues, rural students and students of color are less likely to feel that they can reach out to a counselor or teacher for support, according to a survey — “Supporting the Mental Health Well-Being of High School Students” — conducted by the ACT Center for Equity in Learning. While 57% of White students report feeling supported by mental health experts at school, only 48% of African Americans do. Only 65% of rural students say they have access to a mental health professionals at school, compared to 71% of suburban students. ACT recommends addressing students’ perceptions by increasing the availability of existing mental health services and providing access to universal mental health screenings. See related article: Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog “The Nation’s Top School Counselor is Slashing Discipline Disparities. Here’s How.”

Labeling Kids with Mild Disabilities Can Backfire, Study Finds
The Hechinger Report: An analysis of national student data collected by the U.S. Department of Education compared students who displayed identical behavioral issues, such as rare or occasional inattentiveness or restlessness, between kindergarten and third grade. Those who were diagnosed with ADHD during those early elementary years subsequently received lower behavioral ratings from teachers in fifth grade than similar children who were undiagnosed. An earlier 2017 study found that the diagnosed children had worse reading scores in eighth grade than the undiagnosed. And both medicated and unmedicated children with mild forms of diagnosed ADHD had lower teacher ratings and reading scores than similar undiagnosed children. 

Reliance on Helicopter Parents for Donations Leads to Special Treatment
Education Dive: To maintain a high-quality reputation, schools often cater to “helicopter parents” because they tend to be the main donors and school volunteers, according to a study by the Council on Contemporary Families. As a result, teachers may favor the children of helicopter parents, which indirectly hurts those students and creates an uneven playing field for children who don’t have helicopter parents. The study found that helicopter parents are often White, stay-at-home or part-time employed mothers. Teachers indicate they worry about enforcing the rules with the children of these parents.

Housing Aid Tied to Fewer Asthma Emergencies for Kids Living in Poverty
Reuters: Low-income children may have fewer asthma emergencies when their families receive housing subsidies that free up cash for health expenses, a U.S. study suggests. Among kids who had asthma attacks, those whose families received federal government housing assistance were about 25% to 30% less likely to visit the emergency room than children from households on a waiting list for housing subsidies, researchers found. “Rent subsidies might free up a family’s budget to be spent on things that children need to be healthy,” said study leader Michel Boudreaux of the University of Maryland, College Park.

Policy

Ducey Signs Mental Health Legislation into Law in Arizona
KTAR News: Arizona lawmakers and Governor Doug Ducey approved legislation that is aimed at preventing teenage suicides. The law requires insurance companies to pay for mental health care under the same rules that apply to physical ailments. Responding to a rapid rise in teenage suicides in Arizona, the House and Senate approved the measure unanimously, and Ducey promptly signed it in a public ceremony. The measure directs $8 million to cover mental health treatments for children and teens who are uninsured or underinsured, whether they’re treated at school or by a private provider. According to state data, Arizona has seen a 50% increase in suicides by people younger than 18 in the past two years.

Virginia Will Spend a Record Amount on Early Childhood Education
The Virginian-Pilot: The House and Senate budgets each include more than $90 million in new spending for early childhood education, which advocates say is a historic amount of funding. That’s on top of the $145 million over two years the state currently spends. Lawmakers want to add at least $70 million over two years to the Virginia Preschool Initiative, which distributes state funds to school and community-based organizations for 4-year-olds who aren’t served by the federal Head Start program. The $70 million also includes money for a pilot program that allows at-risk 3-year-olds to qualify for the preschool initiative. See related article: KSL “Senate Approves Public Education Budget that Raises Per-Pupil Spending by 5%.”

Around the Nation

Shut Down by Coronavirus, Schools Scramble to Feed Students
Education Week: With school closures stemming from the escalation of the novel coronavirus, school leaders across the country must wrestle with another dilemma: if schools shut down, their students may not have access to meals. Millions of students, in school districts big and small, rely on the free or discounted meals they eat at school. Advocates worry that as more schools close their doors, more children will go hungry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal agency that oversees the nation’s school meal programs, has issued guidance instructing schools on how to feed students during unanticipated school closures. But that doesn’t mean school districts have contingency plans or that federal regulations make it easy to get meals to students amid a public health crisis. See related articles: Education Week “Map: Coronavirus and School Closures,” “How to Respond to Coronavirus: 6 Steps for Schools,” and Chalkbeat “Coronavirus Highlights the Many Roles School Nurses Play — And the Challenges of Going Without Them.”

Black Students Say They Are Being Penalized for Their Hair, and Experts Say Every Student is Worse Off Because of It
CNN: A high school senior, 17-year-old Asia Simo, was suddenly kicked off the cheerleading team after three years at Captain Shreve High School in Louisiana. The reason? Her hair, her family says, which was too thick for the “half up, half down” standard the team required for a number of games. Asia’s story is part of a larger trend across the US, where more and more Black students say they are being penalized for their hair. Similar incidents have happened across the country in Kentucky, New Jersey, and Texas. The problem lies in the policies, experts say, which don’t necessarily take into account an increasingly diverse student body, to the detriment of mostly Black and biracial schoolchildren.

Fairfield Schools Will Double Number of Elementary School Counselors Next Year
The Cincinnati Enquirer: Beginning with the next school year, the number of elementary school counselors in the Fairfield City School District will double from three to six. The additional counselors will allow each one to serve one school full time rather than split their time between two buildings as they do now. This is part of a comprehensive school counseling program for the district that’s modeled after a national approach developed by the American School Counseling Association. Among the services provided by the elementary school counselors are small discussion groups to help children manage anger, anxiety, grief, parents’ divorce, and other topics.

Chesapeake Middle School Student Starts Foundation to Combat Bullying
WAVY: A Chesapeake middle school student is fighting back against bullying and hate through a non-profit organization he created. Ernest “EJ” Jones, a sixth-grader at Deep Creek Middle School, started FATH, which stands for Forget About The Hate. “I wanted to come up with something to stop some of the hate in the world,” he said. Jones himself was bullied in elementary school. Now he plans to meet with police departments and schools to share his anti-bullying message. See related article: SmartBrief “When is it Time to Get Away From the Bully?

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