The Weekly Connect 3/21/22

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

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

Project-based learning can strengthen students’ social-emotional skills. 

Amid rise in violence, Colorado lawmakers back mental health supports for children and adults. 

As mask requirements are dropped, schools are still legally responsible for protecting medically vulnerable students

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Are the Kids Alright? What New Federal Data Say About Child Well-Being
Education Week: In findings with significant implications for the work of schools, researchers at the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration examined parent-reported data collected between 2016 and 2020 and analyzed five-year trends in an effort to identify problems that may have been worsened by the pandemic and the continuation of troubling patterns that predate the national crisis. The data reveal that rates of children’s physical inactivity, misbehavior, and unmet health needs shot up during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic alongside concerns about parental stress. Meanwhile, the numbers of children diagnosed with depression and anxiety stayed on pre-pandemic trendlines, growing steadily between 2016 and 2020.

5 Ways to De-Escalate Challenging Student Behavior
ASCD: Sometimes students get off track by dabbling in minor negative behaviors. In these cases, educators need to guide students back on the right path. Unfortunately, doing so in well-intended, “common sense” ways can cause harm by creating fearful, uninviting classrooms. Educators can avoid harm by using Gentle Guidance Interventions (GGIs), ways of calmly guiding students to use positive behaviors that do not frighten, intimidate, or embarrass students. GGIs are often one of the first interventions used to help students learn that positive, prosocial behaviors are the pathway to success.

Should Kids Get Homework?
US News: How much homework students should get has long been a source of debate among parents and educators. In recent years, some districts have even implemented no-homework policies. Parents of elementary school students, in particular, have argued that after-school hours should be spent with family or playing outside rather than completing assignments. And there is little research to show that homework improves academic achievement for elementary students. But some experts say there’s value in homework, even for younger students. When done well, it can help students practice core concepts and develop study habits and time management skills.

How Project-based Learning Can Strengthen SEL Skills
K-12 Dive: Project-based learning (PBL) depends on students’ abilities to collaborate and confer. In this process, children begin to feel comfortable and secure in sharing and academically challenge themselves with something new. One element of PBL requires that students work together to complete an assignment or task. As they do so, classmates also begin to glean the individual skills of their peers and how each person contributes to the success of an entire group. Learning how to collaborate in a group environment while still in school helps children strengthen this ability early in their lives. And students may begin to mirror the environment they may find when they one day enter the workforce.

Policy

Congressional Spending Bill Lowballs key Biden Education Requests
K-12 Dive: The federal fiscal spending bill for 2022 significantly lowballed many key education programs that would have aided in K-12’s recovery from COVID-19. The blow comes despite President Joe Biden’s request for ambitious investments in Title I, special education, and other programs. One of Biden’s largest proposals for the 2022 budget was to significantly increase Title I funding from $16.5 billion in 2021 to $36.5 billion. The $20 billion increase would have brought Biden closer to making good on his promise to triple the federal program that he touted on his road to the White House.

Fiscal 2022 K-12 Spending Explained in 6 charts
K-12 Dive: President Biden signed into law appropriations for 2022, providing $76.4 billion for the U.S. Department of Education, the largest increase for federal education programs in a decade. However, education policy experts and advocates have expressed disappointment in funding for some programs. While the Education Department will receive the greatest increase in discretionary spending since the start of the pandemic, several budget requests took big hits. Of Biden’s major budget requests, IDEA Part B – the foundation upon which special education and related services rest – took the biggest hit at $2.2 billion. Proposed programs and initiatives, such as Title I Equity Grants, School Leader Recruitment and Support, Fostering Diverse Schools, and Climate Resilient Schools were overlooked in the final bill.

Amid Rise in Violence, Colorado Lawmakers Back Youth Mental Health Support
Chalkbeat: This year, the push for more behavioral and mental health resources seems to be a middle ground for Colorado lawmakers. A bipartisan school safety bill includes security infrastructure for schools and would fund behavioral health services. The bill continues the 2018 program that ended last year, though at lower funding levels. Lawmakers have also introduced a slate of bipartisan bills that would improve mental health services for kids and adults. Lawmakers want to use federal pandemic-relief money to increase training and services to address mental health in schools.

Around the Nation

How the Pandemic Made Social-Emotional Learning More Accessible
K-12 Dive: In the two years since the pandemic, some states and districts began touting the value of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) for student success and committing to new investments and strategies for meeting the SEL needs of students. For example, states and districts used social media platforms to make a renewed push around the importance of SEL, distributing support documents, tip sheets, briefs, and other resources. Moving forward, experts recommend coordinating SEL and mental health supports as part of a system of mental wellness supports and resources that include promotion, prevention, early intervention, and treatment.

A New Imperative for Schools: Protecting Vulnerable Kids as Masks Disappear
Education Week: Legal and medical experts caution mask-optional districts against relying too heavily on virtual learning or voluntary masking as the only protections for students whose disabilities or medical conditions make them vulnerable to COVID-19. Federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act require districts to provide “reasonable accommodations” and a “free and appropriate public education” for students with a wide range of disabilities. Legal experts said that districts may need to consider a suite of protections for such students, including, in some cases, requiring some people to mask around them.

New York Moves to Change ‘Emotional Disturbance’ Label
Chalkbeat: Roughly 8,400 of New York City students with disabilities are classified as having an “emotional disturbance,” a term that has rankled advocates and families because it creates a stigma around behavioral challenges. However, New York state officials have proposed ending the use of the term emotional disturbance as a designation for children who struggle with regulating their behaviors, including certain mental illnesses. Policymakers want to replace the term with “emotional disability,” in hopes that it will reduce stigma. The matter will go out for a 60-day public comment period before it gets a final vote from the state’s Board of Regents later this year. If the change is finalized, New York would join 13 other states that use “emotional disability.”

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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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