The Weekly Connect 9/20/21

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Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Fear of discrimination keeps many LGBTQ youth from participating in sports. 

The White House launches a Hispanic education initiative

School systems weigh the role of police on campus.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Despite Struggles, Pandemic-Era Online Learning Holds Promise for Student-Centered Learning
K-12 Dive: K-12 emergency online instructional programs cobbled together in reaction to school shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic offered less-than-quality learning opportunities, with teachers reporting hybrid and remote students were behind in average learning growth, according to a new report from The Christensen Institute. The experience with remote learning options and tools, however, has empowered some teachers to make their classrooms more student-centered through differentiated instruction, allowing students to learn and demonstrate knowledge in various ways, and the use of online tools to help absent students stay on track academically.

How to Preserve the Good Parts of Pandemic Schooling
Education Week: To explore the experiences of teens since the pandemic began, researchers with Ed Week surveyed 150 9th to 12th graders—students they had previously studied for a research project on youth mental health in Baltimore schools. Young people reported experiencing significant stress with respect to school disruption, family finances, and family illness and death. But for some, time away from the academic pressures and social minefields of school has been beneficial. In fact, many young people found that they had more time to prioritize their own mental health and strengthen their bonds with family members. They were also able to sleep more, a critical driver of wellness for teenagers.

Fear of Discrimination Prevents Many LGBTQ Youth From Participating in Sports
K-12 Dive: Research from The Trevor Project finds that while nearly one-third of LGBTQ youth participate in school, community league, or club sports, a large portion of the remaining 68% who identify in this group say they don’t play sports out of fear of discrimination. The portion of those who report participating is significantly lower than that of the general youth population, where more than half play sports. Among those who had participated in a sport, 18% said they had heard negative things about the LBGTQ community from their coach or team leader, and only 4% of respondents reported they would feel comfortable talking to their coach or sports leader about their struggles.

Policy

School Health Centers Get $5M to Expand Telehealth Access to Care
Telehealth News: With schools returning to in-person learning or juggling remote options, the Biden Administration is investing more than $5 million in school-based health centers that often use telehealth to help students access a variety of care services. The Department of Health and Human Services is awarding the grants to 27 centers at new or existing Health Center Program sites in 19 states, which offer primary and mental health services, oral and vision care, and enabling services such as transportation, outreach, and translation services. These services are offered both in-person and through telehealth, an important option during the pandemic.

White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
Ed Week Politics K-12: President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order intended to coordinate efforts across the federal government to improve educational and economic outcomes for Hispanics. The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics will focus on policies that address “systemic causes” of challenges faced by students, improve their access to high-quality teachers, and address racial disparities in education funding, among other issues. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will serve as chairman of the initiative, which will be established at the U.S. Department of Education.

Ed Dept Announces Project SAFE Grants to Support Districts Facing State Penalties Over Masks
K-12 Dive: The U.S. Department of Education recently announced the launch of the Project SAFE (Supporting America’s Families and Educators) grant program, which will provide funding to districts penalized by states over COVID-19 prevention strategies as part of President Joe Biden’s plan to address the ongoing pandemic. The program is expected to use Education Department funding provided by the Every Student Succeeds Act under Title IV, Part F, School Safety National Activities for applicable districts where funding has been withheld by state leaders, including pay cuts that have been levied against school board members and superintendents.

FCC Will Open Second Round of Funding to Support At-Home Connectivity
Ed Week Market Brief: The Federal Communications Commission is opening a second application window for school districts to tap into a newly created $7 billion fund to pay for devices and internet connectivity tools used off campus. The agency has decided, however, that districts won’t yet be able to use that money to get reimbursed for remote learning costs incurred early in the pandemic — and it’s not clear if that will happen at all now. Instead, the FCC says school systems and libraries will continue using the fund to shore up unmet remote learning needs for the ongoing 2021-2022 academic year.

Around the Nation

Setting Up a Mentoring Program to Encourage Students
Edutopia: Renee Moore, an English teacher in Mississippi, tried to give her high school students the opportunity to receive consistent, nurturing encouragement by creating a mentoring program. Mentors were generally selected by students as adults that they respected. Mentors’ main responsibility was to encourage their student and provide positive support for academic endeavors. The purpose of the mentoring program was not to replace parental involvement, but to strengthen it. The impact on students was overwhelmingly positive. More than one student commented that while they expected their parents to push them about schoolwork, there was something different and affirming about these other adults taking an interest in their success. See related article: The Hechinger Report “When Kids Pick Their ‘Trusted Adult,’ It Pays Off.”

School Systems Continue to Weigh Roles of Police on Campus
K-12 Dive: In a new report, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates calls for the end of police presence in schools, saying despite decades of funding, there is little evidence police cultivated positive relationships in schools or helped prevent school shootings. They have suggested instead of police, schools should ensure staff are trained in addressing challenging behaviors; use alternatives to suspensions and expulsions; increase the hiring of school counselors; and provide behavioral supports to students with disabilities. The debate about the responsibilities of police at schools also includes organizations like NASSP, who say police-school partnerships can help keep students safer. They suggest clearer MOUs between schools and police departments and more specialized training for officers. See related article: Chalkbeat “Denver Schools Increase Safety Officers, Seek Authority to Ticket Students.”

A New School Year Brings New Concerns of Pandemic ‘Educational Neglect’ Child Welfare Probes
Chalkbeat: With all New York City kids set to soon return for in-person classes for the first time in 1 ½ years, Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to reassure nervous parents that pandemic-related absences won’t immediately lead to child-neglect investigations. But concerned parents and advocates are bracing for a repeat of last year, when, as THE CITY revealed, multiple families were investigated by the city Administration for Children’s Services for neglect — in some cases, because they didn’t have internet access or hadn’t yet received a city-issued iPad. Calls made by school staff and other mandated reporters to the state neglect and abuse hotline overwhelmingly target Black, Latino, and poor families.

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