The Weekly Connect 5/1/23

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:

A study finds that school discipline occurs at predictable times, a finding that shows how important it is to monitor discipline practices to avoid inequitable treatment of students. 

Some states want to give students more time to eat lunch to ensure that they get the nutrition they need. 

U.S. Surgeon General calls kids’ declining mental health the “crisis of our time.”

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

School Discipline Can Be Predicted, New Research Says. Is It Preventable?
Science Daily: A new study documents for the first time the “dynamic” nature of student discipline during an academic year. Daily rates of punishment across all schools in the study ratcheted up in the weeks before Thanksgiving break, declined immediately before major vacations, and increased rapidly again when classes resumed. Schools with a high degree of racial disparity regarding discipline referrals or suspensions early in the year saw discipline rates for Black students increase even faster as the semester continued, researchers found. By November, the Black student discipline rate was 10 times higher than at the beginning of the year. Compared to white students, it was 50 times higher. The study shows how important it is for districts to create systems for teachers to regularly monitor school discipline. Policy leaders should likewise take note as they write policies and dedicate funding meant to curb discipline, alleviate disparities, and minimize disruption.


Ed Dept Revives Systemic Racial Discrimination Reviews Of School Districts
K-12 Dive: The U.S. Department of Education has brought back systemic reviews of school districts accused of racial discrimination in their practices and policies, including in student discipline. The shift revives an Obama-era practice of investigating the disproportionate impact of district policies on historically marginalized student subgroups. Currently, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has initiated or completed at least a handful of civil rights investigations into the disparate impact of district policies. For example, last August, the office settled with California’s Victor Valley Union High School District in one of the most comprehensive and publicized investigations on the issue to date by the current administration.

Florida At Center Of Debate As School Book Bans Surge Nationally
The New York Times: Florida is a hot spot in the clash over what reading material is appropriate for children, with laws that have greatly expanded the state’s ability to restrict books. Access to books, particularly those touching on race, gender, or sexual orientation, has become increasingly politicized. With that came an increase in legislation and regulations in some states and school districts that affected which books libraries could offer. The shift, however, is particularly evident in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican-controlled Legislature, and a rapidly growing network of conservative groups aligned to pass three state laws last year aimed at reading or educational materials. See related article: K-12 Dive “Book Bans For 2022-23 Outpacing Previous School Year.” 

Are Lunch Periods Too Short? Some States Want To Give Kids More Time To Eat
Education Week: Several states are attempting to change how much time kids get to eat lunch. While many schools carve out 25- and 30-minute lunch periods, according to a survey by the School Nutrition Association, students also must use that time to use the restroom, walk to the cafeteria, and stand in line, which can leave little time for students to sit and eat their meals. The CDC recommends that students get at least 20 minutes of seat time to eat lunch, and some experts recommend more. When students don’t have enough time to eat, not only are they missing out on important nutrition that affects their ability to learn—which is especially harmful for students from families struggling with food insecurity—they also waste more food. Having adequate time to sit and eat has become more important as federal nutrition requirements have tightened and as more states pass laws making school meals free to all students regardless of income.

Senate Passes Bill To Ensure Safe Drinking Water At Schools And Childcare Centers
Michigan Advance: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, even low levels of lead in blood can negatively affect a child’s development, with the most proactive solution to exposure in schools being the placement of filters where water is used for human consumption. The Michigan Senate recently voted in favor of legislation to protect children from lead in drinking water at schools and childcare centers. Senate Bills 88 and 89 would require all Michigan schools and child care centers to implement a drinking water management plan in addition to installing filtered faucets and bottle-filling stations and testing the filtered water to ensure proper installation. The bills received bipartisan support, passing the Democratic-led Senate in a 30-7 vote. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

Around the Nation

Kids’ Declining Mental Health Is the ‘Crisis of Our Time,’ Surgeon General Says
Education Week: U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called out social media as a driving force behind the surge in children’s mental health challenges and encouraged lawmakers to regulate how the platforms are marketed to and used by kids. In a conversation with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders live streamed on Twitter, Murthy called the increase in youth mental health needs “the defining public health crisis of our time” and underscored that kids’ mental health has taken a hit as they turn to social media more often and at younger ages. The increased use has led to more feelings of isolation, stress, and inadequacy as they constantly compare themselves to others, he said. It also keeps kids awake well into the night when they should be getting much-needed rest and makes it harder for young people to focus. 

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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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