Posts Tagged ‘Federal Commission on School Safety’

Schools at End of 2018

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018
As of December 22, 2018

As of December 22, 2018

School takes a break for the winter holidays, a time to relax and enjoy time with friends and relations. Except there’s no break from the anxiety for schools produced by the current president and his administration.

On Tuesday, December 18, just before winter break, another change in procedures was dumped on schools. The administration rescinded Obama-era school discipline guidance that aimed to address disproportionately high disciplinary rates for students of color. This decision despite, for example, black students on Long Island are about five times more likely than whites to be suspended from their public schools, according to a report released December 9, 2018, by a coalition of education, civil rights and business groups that finds similar racial disparities across the state. (Schott Foundation for Education newsletter 12/14/18)

On the one hand, the administration claims, with no evidence so far, that districts are pressured to keep dangerous students in school. On the other hand, long time research shows that the numbers of suspensions are a strong factor in dropping out of school. Disproportionate school discipline constitutes discrimination, and the American Association of University Women, for one, urges the administration to reverse this action and instead reaffirm their commitment to supporting equal rights and opportunity for all.

The announcement comes just three days after the Federal Commission on School Safety led by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released a report detailing recommendations for helping schools become safer. Despite claiming to be responding to school shootings, it is hard to find suggestions in the report that directly address gun violence. It does encourage the improvement of mental health services for students, recommend “character education” programs for students and training school personnel in the use of firearms. (AAUW Washington Update newsletter 12/21/18)

Winter holidays always include lots of time for delicious food. However, families with children will be affected by the government partial shutdown of many agencies and, most important, by the Department of Agriculture (DOA).

Earlier in December Congress passed the farm bill with strong bipartisan support. It protects the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s largest anti-hunger program with 40 million beneficiaries. After strong opposition by the National Education Association (NEA) to provisions of the House version of the bill, the provisions were stripped from the final bill. They would have impacted nutrition benefits for millions of families, undermined access to free school meals, and imposed unnecessary new work requirements. (NEA Education Insider newsletter 12/16/18)

Nevertheless, days after signing the bill, the president along with DOA Secretary Sunny Perdue have found a way around the bill to place more stringent work requirements on adults who rely on SNAP. Supposedly, the rules would apply only to single adults, but there are many who work for schools and who still rely on food assistance.

In addition, Perdue plans to relax the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act school lunch rules implemented in 2010. Three provisions for grains, dairy, and sodium in school lunches are to be revised. Perdue seems most interested in allowing sugary flavored chocolate milk to return to schools.

Improving health by using whole grain rich foods does not mean complaints, according to Ann Cooper, Food Services Director from Boulder Valley Schools, Colorado. Few schools have requested exemptions.

Relaxing restrictions on sodium content in food is not as tricky or as conflict-consuming an issue. Schools will not be required to pursue the correct sodium content as aggressively as in the 2010 rules.

Although 99 percent of schools have reported that they can meet the 2010 rules according to a USDA report in 2016, the School Nutrition Association, advocate for the country’s food companies, love the changes. Not good news for children’s school lunch health.

What do trade tariffs easing and now the shutdown mean for students?

The DOA is not completely shut down. However, according to Senator and Vice Chair Leahy of the Senate Appropriations Committee, with the trade extension, USDA plans to distribute $1.2 billion in commodities through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which provides supplemental food to soup kitchens, food banks, and pantries. Help is needed to mitigate this influx of commodities, but a shutdown would really hamper this program.  The Food and Nutrition Service would not be able to purchase commodities or provide the funding for transportation, distribution, or storage. This could be especially harmful to food banks that receive these commodities at a time when more families rely on their services – the winter and holiday months.

With that news, happy holidays and, we wish, hope, and call on the administration to see the light by the New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Education Issues for the Summer Solstice

Friday, June 22nd, 2018
Author of original GEEA

Author of original GEEA

On the longest day of the year 2018, the president manages to throw another shadow on education policy in the United States.

On Thursday, June 21, 2018, President Trump announced his desire to combine the Education and Labor Departments to form the Department of Education and the Workforce.

The Office of Management and Budget said the proposal would “allow the Federal government to address the educational and skill needs of American students and workers in a coordinated way, eliminating duplication of effort.” Tucker Higgins, CNBC, 6/21/18

To teachers, this consolidation would further undermine the work of Title IX as well as loosen enforcement in the education department’s Office of Civil Rights.

As recounted in TakeCare post 10/27/17, Title IX has opened doors for girls and women from classrooms to the playing fields. But despite the 46 years of tremendous progress since enactment, challenges to equity in education still exist. So, keep your eye on Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) who recently reintroduced the Patsy T. Mink and Louise M. Slaughter Gender Equity in Education Act (GEEA) of 2018 to ensure schools and educational institutions comply with this landmark civil rights law.

At a time when the U.S. Department of Education has taken action to roll back Title IX protections for students, GEEA would help address sex discrimination and ensure compliance with Title IX in all areas of education. Mission & Action, AAUW newsletter, 6/21/18

In the meantime, the Federal Commission on School Safety, chaired by U.S. Department of Education Superintendent Betsy DeVos, is not examining the reasons for gun violence in schools, but has made its goal to repeal guidance by the Obama administration on school discipline, ratings for video games, and media coverage of school shootings. In disbelief about the proposal, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, “So you’re studying gun violence but not considering the role of guns? An interesting concept.” NEA Insider, 6/10/18.

Furthermore, there continues to be re-segregation in all our public schools by location and denial of equal opportunities. Congress has spent its time this past spring arguing over tax changes that leave school districts and states in constant turmoil over funding. But, Congress has not been working on projects that would increase wages and stabilize low-income communities. The consolidation of the Education and Labor Departments is likely to cause more disruption to Title I monies which are designed to support students in low-income neighborhoods to succeed and improve their education opportunities.

In fact, the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), another program important for children in low-income families, is being considered for a shift from the Agriculture Department to a vaguely defined ‘mega-agency’. This shift will also cause disruption in the progress of impoverished children. Fortunately, the budget delivered to Congress by Betsy DeVos was rejected which would have slashed education funding further and used what was left for vouchers to private/parochial and charter schools.

Speaking of charter schools,, researchers find that those in urban areas serve mostly black students, and charter schools in outlying suburban areas serve a super majority of white students. Again, re-segregation by location, although the clear evidence from research shows that integrated school students tend to score higher on standardized tests – still the model for judging school success – and are more likely to go to college and move to integrated settings later in life. Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, 6/19/18

Now, as final worry – what is going to happen to all the children sitting in detention camps waiting to be re-united with their families? In the president’s executive order on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, those children aren’t the first priority. Children that cross the border illegally or for asylum won’t be separated, but those already here are not part of the order. Neither of the two immigration laws in front of the House of Representatives as of Thursday, June 21, – the Goodlatte bill didn’t pass – will remove the trauma for these children and you can be sure no money will be set aside for future trauma treatment.

And what about the DREAMERS – will those students ever emerge from the shadows to spend a summer solstice day living in health and peace?