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Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:
The trauma of preschool suspensions and expulsions is long-lasting.
Supreme Court asks President Biden about the legal status of charter schools.
America’s public schools are losing students.
To read more, click on the following links.
Research & Practice
Preteens’ Social Media Habits Could Be Changing Their Brains
Education Week: Getting into the habit of checking social media “likes” and comments in middle school can significantly change the way students’ “social brains” develop by the time they enter high school. While children generally become more attuned to social interactions as they enter adolescence, those who are frequent, early social media users become particularly sensitive to anticipating social risks and rewards from their peers, according to a new longitudinal study published this week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. It’s the latest study to connect newer media forms, like social networking sites or YouTube, to changes in adolescent development or behavior.
Trauma of Preschool Suspensions, Expulsions is Long-Lasting
K-12 Dive: Preschool expulsions and suspensions can cause long-lasting trauma to children and families, as well as more immediate damage to children’s cognitive and social development, panelists said during a webinar hosted by The Hunt Institute, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve education policy. Simply having policies that prohibit exclusionary discipline, however, is not the solution, panelists said. Additionally, they supported better compensation and preparation for early educators, more training in cultural responsiveness and racial biases, and a stronger focus on play-based learning and social development for young children. As the pandemic brought more attention to the value of child care and early education, many advocates are now hopeful that long-desired reforms will gain momentum — including the elimination of preschool expulsions and suspensions.
Supreme Court Asks for Biden Administration’s Views on Legal Status of Charter Schools
Education Week: The U.S. Supreme Court recently asked the Biden administration to weigh in on a pending appeal about whether charter schools act with government authority when they adopt rules for student behavior. The appeal stems from the high-profile case of a North Carolina charter school with rules barring girls from wearing slacks or shorts. The case has become a flashpoint among some conservative groups—not over restrictive and allegedly discriminatory dress codes but for what it might mean for the legal status of charter schools. A federal appeals court ruling that the school involved is a “state actor”—that is, acting with the authority of government—“undoes the central feature of charter schools by treating their private operators as the constitutional equivalent of government-run schools, squelching innovation and restricting parental choice.”
Around the Nation
America’s Public Schools are Losing Students
Axios: Public schools lost more than a million students from fall 2019 to fall 2020, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Enrollment fell from 50.8 million to 49.4 million. Public schools lose funding as they lose students, and some schools have been forced to shutter altogether. This trend disadvantages the many millions of students — typically lower-income students in cities — who cannot turn to private schools or homeschooling. Over the last decade, a number of states, including Michigan and New Hampshire, saw enrollment fall primarily due to declining birthrates. Major metropolitan areas have been hit the hardest, with enrollment falling in 85 of the nation’s 100 largest school districts.
With a New COVID Variant Rising, Some Schools Revert to Former Safety Measures
Education Week: Some concern in recent weeks has been sparked by an emerging strain of the COVID-19 omicron variant, known as XBB.1.5, which was first detected in the United States. The World Health Organization has called XBB.1.5 “the most transmissible” subvariant of the virus yet. After months of waning COVID-19 protocols, some districts started the month by temporarily reinstating requirements for precautions they had abandoned last year. School districts in Ann Arbor, Mich., Boston, and Philadelphia have required students to wear masks in the first weeks of the new semester. Other school systems have encouraged, but not mandated, face coverings. The District of Columbia schools required students to take at-home COVID-19 tests before they returned to the classroom after vacation.
MCAS Getting Fresh Look in Shifting Landscape
WBUR: Top Democrats are leaving the door open to reassessing the role of Massachusetts’ long-controversial standardized testing system as some education advocates reinvigorate calls to abolish the tests or remove the requirement that high school seniors pass it in order to receive a diploma. Lawmakers created the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) system in a 1993 education reform law aimed at improving accountability and school performance. The Massachusetts Teachers Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, and other educators have long opposed the test. The MTA set its sights against the test again recently when setting its policy goals for the 2023-2024 legislative session, describing the MCAS exams as “destructive and punitive.”
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