On a day-long visit to Boston today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be holding a round-table discussion about school-community partnerships at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood. The Quincy school is one of City Connects’ largest elementary schools with nearly 800 students and two site coordinators.
Mary E. Walsh, executive director of CCNX and the Kearns Professor of Urban Education and Innovative Leadership at Boston College, and Pat DiNatale, CCNX director of implementation, will be representing City Connects in the discussion, which will also be attended by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Superintendent Carol R. Johnson. Following the discussion, second- and third-grade Quincy students are scheduled to perform a traditional dance in honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Secretary Duncan is also planning to pay tribute to Boston Educators of the Year as part of a discussion with them about effective strategies for academic success.
“For the first time, the nation will have goals, benchmarks, and measurable outcomes that will help us tackle the childhood obesity epidemic one child, one family, and one community at a time,” Mrs. Obama said.
In February, the First Lady launched the Let’s Move! campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. As part of this effort, the President established the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to develop and implement an inter-agency plan that details a coordinated strategy, identifies key benchmarks, and outlines an action plan to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.
The action plan defines solving the problem of childhood obesity in a generation as returning to a childhood obesity rate of just 5% by 2030, which was the rate before childhood obesity first began to rise in the late 1970s. In total, the report presents a series of 70 specific recommendations, many of which can be implemented right away. Summarizing them broadly, they include:
Giving children a healthy start on life
Empowering parents and caregivers with simpler actionable messages about nutrition
Providing healthy food in schools
Improving access to healthy, affordable food
Getting children more physically active
The Boston Globerecently reported that Massachusetts’ rate of childhood obesity was 13.3% and the overweight rate was 30%. While the obesity rate is lower than the national average of 16.4%, the overweight rate is almost par at 31.6%.
The Curriculum Matters blog covered an analysis conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today, which found a positive association between physical activity and academic performance. Published this past April, the CDC analyzed 50 studies that contained 251 associations between activity and academic performance; more than half of the associations were found to be positive. The analysis concluded that:
Physical activity can help improve academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores
Physical activity can have an impact on cognitive skills, attitudes, and academic behavior, such as enhanced concentration and attention
Increasing or maintaining time dedicated to PE may help–and not does appear to adversely impact–academic performance
Based on this evidence, the CDC encourages schools to continue and encourage school-based PE, recess, classroom-based physical activity, and extracurricular physical activities.
This study comes on the heels of the House passing the FIT Kids Act (Fitness Integrated with Teaching) that mandates schools report on how they promote healthy lifestyles and implement their PE curriculum.
Today, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed far-reaching anti-bullying legislation. From the State House press release:
“As Governor and as a parent, I feel very strongly that no child should feel threatened or unsafe in our schools,” said Governor Patrick. “Today, with this new law, we are giving our teachers, parents and kids the tools and protections they need so that every student has a chance to reach their full potential. I am proud to sign this bill and thank the Legislature for delivering on this critical priority.”
The release spells out new anti-bullying measures for teachers, schools, and communities:
All school staff must fully and swiftly detail any instance of bullying or retaliation to the appropriate school official.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) will establish statewide academic standards that include age-appropriate instruction in bullying prevention.
Every school, public and private, must publish detailed bullying prevention, intervention, and notification plans in student handbooks.
Districts must provide all school staff–from bus drivers to athletic coaches–targeted professional development to build the skills necessary to prevent, identify and respond appropriately to bullying incidents.
Rules and penalties apply to incidents that occur outside of school in the community and online (“cyber-bullying”)
You can follow the Governor’s office on Twitter for real-time updates like these: @MassGovernor