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Youth Topics is a service of the Center for Children and Families, Department of Community and Human Services, City of Alexandria.  It is produced by Jacqueline Coachman, DCHS Office of Youth Services. 

Subscribe here. Make inquiries here. Youth Topics is posted online here. 

 

In the October 28 Edition: 

Events
Partners For Safe Teen Driving Presentation (October 30)
Judicial Institute on Domestic Child Sex Trafficking (November 3-5)
Youth Career Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony (November 5)
Special Needs Trusts (November 5)
Volunteers are the Heart of Alexandria (November 6)
Gallup Post-Election Review (November 12)
Child Welfare League of America National Conference (April 27-29)

Careers/Volunteerism 
School Board Appoints Strategic Plan Committee
ACPS Athletic Hall of Fame Nominating Committee
Community Input on City’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Development
Holiday Sharing Program
Padres de Hoy
Military Family Specialist Certificate Program
Christopher Columbus Awards
Student Essay Competition in Healthcare Management
Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarships
National Student Nurses’ Association Leadership Grant
Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability
American Physical Therapy Association Minority Initiatives Awards
Theoretical Computer Science Awards
College Mental/Behavioral Health Award
National Child Care Teacher Awards
Nominations for Human Rights Defenders Award
Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence

Grantsmanship
DCHS Office of Youth Services Listing of Grant Opportunities
 

Research & Resources 
Ebola Risk to Schools Low, Experts Say
ACPS Outlines Ebola Protocols
Parents Guide to Child Care
New National Group Aims to Advance Family-School Engagement Efforts
New ‘Opportunity Index’ Charts Preschool, Other Education Indicators by Community
State Preschool and Programs for Infants and Toddlers Under the Microscope
Kindergarten-Readiness Tests: Navigating a Tricky Terrain
Special Education Resource for Military Families
America After 3PM
The Importance of Conversation at Youth Programs
Youth Still Need JROTC
Free AP Classes Offered Through Massive Open Online Courses
Popularity Grows Anew for Year-Round Schooling
Where Do Biases Start? A Challenge to Educators
Huge Disparity in Per-Pupil Spending in Washington-Area Schools
School Income Level Continues to be Big Predictor of College Enrollment
Trying to Close Gap Between Rich, Poor on College Entrance Tests
New High School Recognition Focuses on Closing Opportunity Gap
Virtual Advising System Aims to Expand College Access
Online Training Launched to Improve College Access Advising
Digital Learning Games Used by Majority of Teachers
Push for ‘Learner Profiles’ Stymied by Barriers
Florida Takes First Formal Step Against U.S. Department of Education on ELL Testing
School Successes Inspire N.C. Push for Dual Language
Attending Live Theater Improves Students’ Vocabulary and Tolerance
U.S. Education Department Expands Guidance on Bullying and ‘504’ Students with Disabilities
N.J. District Suspends Five Football Coaches Due to Hazing Scandal
Child Welfare Worker Pleads Not Guilty to Falsifying Records for Child Killed
Adult Murder Charge for Ten Year-Old
Appeals Court Rejects Police Handcuffing of Elementary Student
Medical Journal Prescribes Fixes for 'Urgent' Child Health Priorities
Smart Snacks in School: Oklahoma Takes the Lead in Fundraising Exemptions
Software Helps States Reduce Foster Care Numbers
Families Discuss How Child Welfare System Has Failed Them
Budget Woes to Close Maryland Journalism Center on Children & Families

 Workshops & Webinars 
The Developing Brain: Implications for Youth Programs (November 5)
Using Technology to Build Capacity in Volunteer Programs (November 12)
Youth Work Matters (January 12 – February 15, 2015)
Changing Adolescent Healthy Living Behavior through Mentoring (January 14, 2015)
Dilemmas in Youth Work (February 16 – March 20, 2015)
Quality Matters (On Demand)
Understanding the Connection Between Suicide and Substance Abuse (On Demand)

Events

Partners For Safe Teen Driving Presentation (October 30)
The first Partners for Safe Driving Presentation for T. C. Williams Driver Education students and their parents will begin at 7 p.m. in the main campus auditorium. Attendees should plan to arrive by 6:45 as the doors will close when the presentation begins. Each student should bring a parent or legal guardian, a pen, and the student ID number. For more information, contact Health/Physical Education/Driver Education Brett Eanes.  

Judicial Institute on Domestic Child Sex Trafficking (November 3-5)
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, in collaboration with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, will host the event in Reno, NV. The interactive institute will provide juvenile and family court judges with tools to improve the outcomes for domestic child sex trafficking victims. Participants will increase their ability to identify victims and children at risk of domestic child sex trafficking, and examine prevention and intervention strategies to address individualized victim needs.

Youth Career Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony (November 5)
JobLink, the City of Alexandria Workforce Development Center, is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony launching its state-of-the-art center that will assist Alexandria youth achieve career goals and acquire 21st century employment skills for a competitive workforce market. Please RSVP by November 3. For additional information, call 703.746.5940 or visit JobLink.  

Special Needs Trusts (November 5)
The workshop “Special Needs Trusts” will address issues of long-term financial planning for adult children with cognitive disabilities.  A part of the ACPS Family Engagement Workshop Series, the program will begin at 7 p.m. in the media center of the T.C. Williams Minnie Howard Campus. Contact ACPS Parent Support Specialist Janet Reese (703.824.0129).

Volunteers are the Heart of Alexandria (November 6)
Join Volunteer Alexandria in a celebration of its volunteers from 6-8:30 p.m. at the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office. Val Hawkins, CEO & President of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, grassroots volunteers Marya Fitzgerald, Donald White, and Jim Walsh; and youth volunteer Yahya Yaziji are the honorees. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.  

Gallup Post-Election Review (November 12)
The free event from Noon to 4 p.m.at Gallup’s Washington, D.C. headquarters will feature a presentation by Gallup that offers a wide-ranging national perspective on the 2014 election results from a variety of demographic and public-policy perspectives; detailed analysis by Education Week’s political-reporting staff of the education-specific results and implications; a panel discussion with political insiders and analysts; and a keynote conversation with U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif.  

Child Welfare League of America National Conference (April 27-29)
The CWLA National Conference, Advancing Excellence through Innovation and Collaboration, will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington. Nominate a peer for a National Award or exhibit at the event.

Careers/Volunteerism 

School Board Appoints Strategic Plan Committee
The Alexandria School Board appointed 25 members of a stakeholder committee charged with crafting a new strategic plan for ACPS. The appointments come on the heels of the School Board’s earlier decision to appoint John Lennon and Janet Eissenstat as co-chairs. Mr. Lennon is a retired Voice of America associate director of strategy and planning, and the father of a T.C. Williams graduate and a Hammond eighth-grader. Ms.  Eissenstat is a mother of two who served previously as the secretary of the Mount Vernon Community School PTA as well as director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships and assistant chief of protocol for the United States.

ACPS Athletic Hall of Fame Nominating Committee
The induction ceremony for the inaugural class is scheduled for December 6 during the annual Parker-Gray versus Hoffman-Boston (T.C. Williams High School versus Wakefield School) basketball game. The committee is looking for athletes who distinguished themselves while at ACPS, in college, in the professional ranks and/or other post-graduate competitions such as the Olympics or world championships. These individuals must also have graduated at least five years ago, displayed good moral character, and contributed in some way to the community. Please contact Mark Eisenhour (703.965.3418) to nominate such an athlete.

Community Input on City’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Development
As part of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget process, the City is seeking community input on the priorities and goals that are most important to residents. The City provides hundreds of programs and services to the community to achieve the goals and vision outlined in its Strategic Plan. Take a survey to tell City officials what is most important as tough decisions are made regarding how best to allocate resources to these programs. The online survey is available until November 5. In January the City will host a series of meetings that will allow participants to give more specific input on how the City allocates resources. For more information, contact Arthur Wicks (703.746.3739).  

Holiday Sharing Program
Holiday sharing has begun and it is time to sign up to sponsor families, foster children, and senior/disabled citizens. Because there are so many needy families, the priority is providing necessities for children and a few toys. This will allow more donors to contribute desperately needed grocery store gift cards and clothing. Sign up online for sponsorships and monetary donations or volunteer through Volunteer Alexandria (enter “Holiday Sharing” in the keyword field).  

Padres de Hoy
SCAN of Northern Virginia and FACE are hosting a group of Spanish speaking parents every Wednesday from 6:30 – 8:00 at Brookside FACE Center (601 Four Mile Run Trail, Alexandria). Parents will discuss/share their parenting experiences with a facilitator experienced in teaching and helping parents achieve more effective parenting skills. Call FACE (703.824.6865) to register or register online. Contact Zayda Galvez (703.820.9001) for information about the program.  

Military Family Specialist Certificate Program
The Child Welfare League of America, in partnership with Boots on Ground Consulting, Inc., is offering a certificate in working with military members and their families. The certificate will help social workers and other professionals understand the unique features of military life and to respond to the needs of this population with culturally competent and effective services. The program is designed to be flexible in meeting the needs of practicing professionals by offering online courses and in-person seminars. All courses are also available without pursuing the degree.  

Christopher Columbus Awards
The program is a national community-based STEM contest that challenges students in grades 6-8 working in teams of three to four with an adult coach to identify a problem in their community and apply the scientific method to create an innovative solution to that problem. The program can be implemented in science or social studies classes, for cross-curricula use in team teaching or block-schedules classes, or as an afterschool program. Eight finalist teams and their coaches will receive an all-expense paid trip to Walt Disney World to attend the program’s National Championship Week and compete for cash prizes as well as development grants of $200 to further refine their ideas. Two gold-medal winning teams will receive $2,000 per team member as well as a medal for each team member. The deadline for submissions is February 2, 2015.  

Student Essay Competition in Healthcare Management
The American College of Healthcare Executives is seeking submissions to the annual Richard J. Stull Essay Competition in Healthcare Management, an annual competition designed to stimulate and demonstrate the ability of future healthcare executives to identify and describe important issues and development in their chosen profession. The competition is open to students currently enrolled in either a graduate or undergraduate health administration program that is a participant in the ACHE Higher Education Network. The graduate and undergraduate students whose essays are selected as the winning entries will each receive $3,000, while their programs will receive $1,000. The second and third-place graduate and undergraduate finalists will receive $2,000 and $1,000 respectively. The two first-place entries will be published in future issues of the Journal of Healthcare Management. Entries are due December 5.  

Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarships
The scholarships recognize students who are mobilizing youth to be catalysts for innovative models and solutions to eliminate hunger in America. Applicants must have demonstrated an on-going commitment to their community by performing unpaid volunteer services impacting hunger in the United States within the last 12 months. Additional consideration is given to students working to fight childhood hunger. Students selected as national STOP Hunger Scholarship recipients will receive a $1,000 scholarship, as well as a $5,000 grant made in their name to the hunger-related charity of their choice in their local community. In addition, selected regional honorees will receive a $1,000 grant made in their name to the hunger-related charity of their choice. Scholarships are open to students (kindergarten through graduate school) enrolled in an accredited educational institution in the United States. Applications will be accepted until December 5.  

National Student Nurses’ Association Leadership Grant
The Marilyn Bagwell Leadership Development Grant is an annual program to foster the development of leadership skills in nursing students at the school level. A grant of up to $2,500 will be awarded to one nursing program that wishes to establish and enhance its involvement in the National Student Nurses’ Association. The deadline for applying is February 13, 2015.  

Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability
The scholarship program supports students with disabilities who are pursuing higher education. Preference is given to students who plan to pursue undergraduate/graduate studies in the field of public health, health promotion, and disability studies, including disability policy and disability research. Applicants must be enrolled full-time in an undergraduate school as a junior or above, or be enrolled part-time or full-time in a graduate school, and provide documentation of their disability. Preference will be given to students majoring in public health, disability studies or research, health promotion, or a field related to disability and health. Scholarships will be limited to under $1,000 and will be awarded in January 2015. The deadline is November 15.  

American Physical Therapy Association Minority Initiatives Awards
The awards recognize planned, comprehensive initiatives that can assist in the recruitment, admission, retention, and graduation of minority students, and/or initiatives designed to sustain or increase the number of minority faculty recruited, employed, and retained over a period of at least three years. Recipients will receive an engraved plaque and a monetary award of $2,500. Letters of nomination are due December 1.  

Theoretical Computer Science Awards
The Simons Award for Graduate Students in Theoretical Computer Science program is accepting applications from graduate students with an outstanding track record of research accomplishments. The annual program is designed to identify and support these students, and enable them to pursue collaborations with their peers and more senior researchers. Awards provide up to $24,000 a year for two years, including up to $8,500 a year for the awardee to use at his/her discretion (e.g. travel to summer research locations or to conferences, equipment, books, personal computer) and up to $9,000 a year for summer salary support. All applicants must be graduate students who have completed two, three, or four years at an institution of higher education in the United States or Canada. There are no citizenship requirements. Applications are due February 12, 2015.  

College Mental/Behavioral Health Award
The American College Health Foundation, the charitable arm of the American College Health Association, is seeking applications for its FirstRisk Advisors Initiatives in College Mental/Behavioral Health Award, which is designed to fund the development of creative initiatives that address prevention, early intervention, and/or treatment for mental and behavioral health disorders among college students. One $3,500 grant will be awarded in May 2015. The deadline for applications is January 31.  

National Child Care Teacher Awards
Child care teachers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and on U.S. military bases and installations around the world are eligible to apply for awards that acknowledge the critical role of child care teachers in providing quality early care and education. As part of the application process, teachers are asked to design an enhancement project and illustrate the educational, social, and emotional benefits. Fifty teachers will receive a $1,000 grant; $500 to create the project and $500 for the teacher’s personal use. Of the top ten recipients, one is selected to receive the Helene Marks Award, which includes an additional $1,000. Applications must be postmarked by December 8.  

Nominations for Human Rights Defenders Award
The goal of the program is to extend recognition and protective publicity to those who are currently engaged in frontline work involving the promotion and protection of human rights. The program aims to encourage and promote the work of individuals or organizations, particularly if they are working in conditions hostile to fundamental human rights and are in need of protection. The present value of the annual award is 20,000 Swiss francs, which can be used for further work in the field of human rights. The awards ceremony will be hosted in Geneva in late 2015. The deadline for nomination forms is December 9.  

Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence
The award seeks to promote innovative thinking about the built environment and advance conversation about making cities better by celebrating urban places that are distinguished by quality design along with their social and economic contributions. The Gold Medal winner will receive a $50,000 award, and four Silver Medal winners will receive $10,000 each. The application deadline is December 9.

Grantsmanship

DCHS Office of Youth Services Listing of Grant Opportunities
 The DCHS Office of Youth Services compiled a listing of grant opportunities on October 15 and October 21.

Research & Resources

Ebola Risk to Schools Low, Experts Say
Medical experts are advising school officials to take a measured approach in response to the handful of U.S. cases of Ebola. Districts in Solon, Ohio and Belton, Texas closed several schools after learning that students or staff members were either on the same flight or had flown on the same plane as one of two Dallas nurses who became sick with the virus this month. Akron, Ohio closed one elementary school after learning that a student’s parent may have had contact with the nurse while she was in the area. But infectious-disease experts and public-health officials say those closings, and steps taken elsewhere by education officials to approve emergency-closure protocols for schools far from any Ebola cases, go beyond what is necessary.  

ACPS Outlines Ebola Protocols
ACPS health officials met with the Alexandria Health Department to draw up protocols for detecting, handling and limiting the virus should it occur in this area.  

Parents Guide to Child Care
The guide, produced by the Early Childhood Division, Center for Children & Families, Department of Community and Human Services, is available in English, Arabic, Amharic and Spanish.  

New National Group Aims to Advance Family-School Engagement Efforts
The new National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement (NAFSCE) hopes to lead efforts to marshal much-needed support for aligning and mobilizing practitioners and researchers behind a strategic effort to garner greater support for family and community engagement. The association officially opened its office in Bethesda in September.  

New ‘Opportunity Index’ Charts Preschool, Other Education Indicators by Community
Opportunity Nation, a coalition of 300 community organizations, has released the latest version of its Opportunity Index, a web-based tool that allows users to see their community’s performance on 16 different indicators. For education, the index evaluates communities and states based on preschool enrollment, on-time high school graduation rate, and the percentage of adults over the age of 25 who have earned an associate’s degree or higher. Other indicators include economic data such as wages and unemployment rate, and community health information such as percent of volunteers and access to doctors. The District of Columbia claimed the top spot on preschool enrollment, with about 76% of 3 and 4 year olds enrolled. The national average is about 47%.  

State Preschool and Programs for Infants and Toddlers Under the Microscope
Two Washington-area think tanks have released reports that call for different approaches to programs for young children. David J. Armor, a professor emeritus at George Mason University wrote an analysis for the libertarian Cato Institute that says evidence is too thin to merit further government-backed expansion. He also examines more current research, such as an ongoing program out of Vanderbilt University that is evaluating the results of universal prekindergarten in that state. Analysts at the progressive Center for America Progress argued in favor of increased funding for programs aimed at very young children and concluded current programs are fractured and only serve a small percentage of children who need assistance. The report also advocated increased, and more coherent, investment for children younger than 4.    

Kindergarten-Readiness Tests: Navigating a Tricky Terrain
Pennsylvania is using a new kindergarten-entrance assessment and a review of the way Pennsylvania is handling the project provides insight into the challenges states face as they use test to gauge what students know as they enter the K-12 system.  

Special Education Resource for Military Families
The Virginia Department of Education has developed a new guide for military families with children in special education. The 16-page guide provides information and answers to questions that military families with school-aged children might have about special education programs in Virginia public schools. Topics include enrollment, special education services, parental consent in Virginia, Section 504, dispute resolution, and procedural safeguards.  

America After 3PM
The 2014 edition of the survey by the Washington-based Afterschool Alliance, which is based on responses from 30,720 households in every state and the District of Columbia, found that more than 10 million children attend afterschool programs – up from 6.5 million in 2004. There are 19.4 million students nationwide – two for every child enrolled – whose parents want them in an afterschool program, but cannot find anything available or affordable. Low-income, black, and Hispanic parents feel the brunt of the gap between supply and demand. They have a harder time than higher-income and white families and often lack a safe way to get their children to the programs and home again. Partly as a consequence of that disparity, 11.3 million children (800,000 of them in elementary school) are on their own after school with no adult supervision.  

The Importance of Conversation at Youth Programs
According to the National Early Literacy Panel, oral language has been linked to later reading success. By practicing conversing with “expert” conversationalists, children quickly learn the pragmatic, or useful, aspects of oral language. Hearing clear, articulate speech helps children develop in their awareness of phonology, or the sounds that go with symbols. Afterschool and youth programs offer ample opportunities to help young people flex their oral language muscles.  

Youth Still Need JROTC
The Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program serves 17 high schools in Los Angeles and well over 1,000 nationwide. Counselors refer some Los Angeles students to JROTC to improve their grades and attitudes.  

Free AP Classes Offered Through Massive Open Online Courses
High school students who want to take the Advanced Placement Biology, AP Environmental Science, or AP Physics 2 can now log on at home and watch instructors at Rice University in Houston deliver the materials free through new massive open online courses or MOOCs. The courses are offered as part of a high school initiative launched by the website edX, a joint nonprofit venture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.  

Popularity Grows Anew for Year-Round Schooling
Although interest in the practice has ebbed and flowed, year-round schooling appears to be making another surge in public education. The surge is being helped along by recent grant programs in Michigan and Virginia that aim to reduce the amount of time students, particularly those from low-income families, spend out of school during the summer. Both states recently set aside money in their budgets (to the tune of $1 million and $2 million, for Virginia and Michigan respectively) for grants to districts that want to implement the year-round calendar for one or all of their schools.  

Where Do Biases Start? A Challenge to Educators
The killing of Jordan Davis in Jacksonville for what was called “loud thug music” and Trayvon Martin are examples of some teens’ sense of being trapped in a new kind of racial optics, what has been called “hip-hop gaze”. This is when signs, symbols, and images of hip-hop (e.g. language, music, style of clothing), associated with urban youths in popular culture, unfairly convey trouble or criminality about black males to the mainstream public. African-American teens participating in a series of focus-group conversations at a hip-hop-based youth center argued their sense of style and aesthetics prompted teachers’ overzealous efforts to suspend them even as they gave other students lesser punishments for the same offenses.  

Huge Disparity in Per-Pupil Spending in Washington-Area Schools
District Heights Elementary School in Prince George’s County, MD is about a 16-minute drive from Moten Elementary School in the District of Columbia. The schools serve similar populations with 77% and 76% of their students, respectively, qualifying for free and reduced lunch. Yet the amount spent per pupil in District Heights in the 2011-12 school year was $7,891 while it was $14,723 at Moten Elementary. This disparity in spending between two schools in different districts, and often among schools within the same district, are among the stark findings in a report and data trove released by the Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Per pupil spending in Alexandria was the fourth highest in the D.C. metro area after D.C. charter schools, District of Columbia Public Schools, and Arlington County.  

School Income Level Continues to be Big Predictor of College Enrollment
Information from the second annual High School Benchmarks Report, released by the National Students Clearinghouse Research Center in Herndon, VA, revealed that how many graduates from a particular high school go on to college depends largely on the school’s poverty level, and whether it is public or private, while location is not as much of a factor. Once income is controlled for, there was no difference in college-going rates between urban, suburban, and rural high-minority schools. Students from low-income schools were more likely to attend a two-year college, with nearly half of all graduates from low-income schools enrolling in a community college. Overall, less than one-third of all college enrollments of higher income, low-minority schools (regardless of locale) were at two-year institutions. While immediate enrollment was 50% among low-income high school graduates, it was 65% within two years of graduation. The new report includes a million more students than in last year’s report.  

Trying to Close Gap Between Rich, Poor on College Entrance Tests
A major gap exists between the performance of low-income students and affluent students on the SAT and ACT entrance exams – and between the performance of black and white students. Data released by the College Board showed that 43% of all students taking the SAT so far in 2014 scored 1550 or more, a benchmark of college readiness, but only 16% of African-American students did. Some nonprofits are ramping up free test prep and support services for underserved kids. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, on the other hand, takes the position that racial, class, gender, and cultural barriers are built into the testing system itself.  

New High School Recognition Focuses on Closing Opportunity Gap
According to researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder, being a quality high school is about more than having students with high test scores. The National Education Policy Center is leading the Schools of Opportunity project, designed to recognize public schools using effective strategies to level the academic playing field for all situations. The university is launching the program initially with public schools in Colorado and New York this year, with the hope of expanding to include nationwide after the pilot.  

Virtual Advising System Aims to Expand College Access
Under new leadership this fall (a former chancellor of the New York City public school system), the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is looking at ways to get more disadvantaged students on the path to college with new outreach efforts, including the development of a virtual advising service. With its $700 million endowment, the foundation awards some of the most generous scholarships to high-achieving, low-income students. The foundation plans to launch the new system within six months.  

Online Training Launched to Improve College Access Advising
The National College Access Network, a Washington-based nonprofit, has launched a professional development e-learning platform for school counselors, nonprofit college advisers, corporate volunteers, and educators to work through at their own pace.  

Digital Learning Games Used by Majority of Teachers
Digital learning games have officially gone mainstream, with nearly three-quarters of K-8 teachers saying they use the games for classroom instruction. The results are based on a survey of 694 K-8 teachers from across the United States conducted in the fall of 2013.  

Push for ‘Learner Profiles’ Stymied by Barriers
The goal of “learner profiles” is to generate ever-more comprehensive portraits of each student’s strengths, weaknesses, and preferences in order to provide them with customized academic content. To date, efforts by vendors to build a truly holistic portrait of any one child have been stymied. The long list of barriers include technical hurdles, turf battles among educational publishers, lack of clear demand from schools, concerns about data privacy, and criticism that their work is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how children learn.  

Florida Takes First Formal Step Against U.S. Department of Education on ELL Testing
Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, has taken the first legal step against the U.S. Department of Education over the issue of testing of English-language learners with a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan requesting a hearing on the issue before the Office of Administrative Law Judges. Earlier this year, Florida passed a law that would allow schools to delay counting the test results of English-learners for accountability purposes until those students have had at least two years of classroom instruction. Federal law, however, specifically the No Child Left Behind Act, wants ELLs to count after one year of instruction.   

School Successes Inspire N.C. Push for Dual Language
At Collinswood Language Academy, a K-8 dual-language school in a working-class neighborhood, students produced some of the highest math achievement scores in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district. And that is the case even though they learn all their math in Spanish, and take North Carolina’s annual end-of-grade math exams in English. The school’s high marks in math – mirrored in reading and science – are coming from every category of student at Collinswood: low-income, English-language learners, Hispanic, African-American, white, and those in special education.

Attending Live Theater Improves Students’ Vocabulary and Tolerance
According to a recent study published by Education Next, students who attended a live theater performance showed better knowledge of vocabulary words, more tolerance, and an improved ability to read others’ emotions when compared to students who did not attend.   

U.S. Education Department Expands Guidance on Bullying and ‘504’ Students with Disabilities
Bullying of students with disabilities such as diabetes, depression, or food allergies could result in a denial of those students’ right to a free, appropriate public education. Hence, immediate steps are required on the part of the school to remedy the situation, according to guidance in a “Dear Colleague” letter released October 21 from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The department says this guidance builds on a 2013 letter from the department that outlined school’s responsibility to curb bullying of students who are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  

N.J. District Suspends Five Football Coaches Due to Hazing Scandal
Football coaches at a N.J. high school have been suspended from their teaching and coaching positions as a result of a hazing scandal that emerged earlier this month.  

Child Welfare Worker Pleads Not Guilty to Falsifying Records for Child Killed
A child welfare worker who was responsible for checking on the children of Rachel Fryer (accused of killing her 2 year-old daughter and burying her in a shallow grave) has pleaded not guilty to falsifying records.  

Adult Murder Charge for Ten Year-Old
A 10 year-old boy (who is described by his mother as having mental difficulties) is alone in a Pennsylvania county prison cell, charged as an adult with killing a 90 year-old woman. Prosecutors say they had no choice but to charge him in criminal court and house him in an adult correctional facility; the law requires it.  

Appeals Court Rejects Police Handcuffing of Elementary Student
A federal appeals court has upheld most of a jury verdict against two police officers and the city of Sonora, Calif. in the handcuffing and transport of an 11 year-old student who was unresponsive to a school official at recess. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco ruled 7-4 that the two officers did not have qualified immunity over handcuffing the student identified as C.B., who had failed to take his medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder on what the student later called a “rough day”.  A physical education teacher who was the school’s disciplinarian became concerned that based on past experience, the boy might run away from school or into traffic, and sought to coax him back into the building. She said she would call the police if he didn’t go inside. When  he continued to be unresponsive, the Sonora police were called. A different 7-4 lineup of the court ruled that the officers who responded to a call from school officials were entitled to immunity over a claim that their seizure on the playground violated the boy’s Fourth Amendment rights. The jury had awarded $285,000 in damages to the boy from the officers and the city. The 9th Circuit court ordered the award reduced by $20,000 because of the ruling for the officers on immunity over the seizure.  

Medical Journal Prescribes Fixes for ‘Urgent’ Child Health Priorities
An analysis published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics states child poverty, hunger, child abuse and neglect, obesity and a lack of health insurance are among “urgent” priorities for children’s health in the United States. Gun violence, the soaring number of immigrant children, childhood mental illness, racial and ethnic disparities in health, and a lack of investment in child-specific health research round out the priorities identified in the analysis, which evaluated priorities based on prevalence, impact on children’s health, and the potential for federal policy to improve matters.

Smart Snacks in School: Oklahoma Takes the Lead in Fundraising Exemptions
The “Smart Snacks in Schools” competitive food rules set limits on calories, fat, and sodium for all foods offered during the day at schools participating in the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs, which means items sold in vending machines, on a la carte lines, and in food-based school fundraisers are being regulated for the first time. With a unanimous vote by its Board of Education, Oklahoma has taken the lead in setting the highest number of state-approved exemptions for food fundraisers under new federal school nutrition rules. Board members voted to allow 30 exempt fundraisers per semester and to allow those fundraisers to last as long as 14 days each. Georgia and Tennessee had already voted to exempt 30 fundraisers per year from the standards.  

Software Helps States Reduce Foster Care Numbers
The number of children in foster care nationally has declined by nearly a quarter from 2002 to the end of the 2012 federal fiscal year. One reason for the decline is that federal and state laws have pushed states to provide the best, permanent outcomes for neglected or abused children. But better computer software tools also have helped states do a better job of meeting standards set out in the laws, including not letting kids linger in foster care.  

Families Discuss How Child Welfare System Has Failed Them
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services promised to make changes after settling a class action lawsuit two years ago involving the welfare of children in state custody. A new report from three experts states the department is getting worse in some areas. The report came out the same day several Oklahoma families gathered at the state capitol to explain how the state’s child welfare system has failed their families.  

Budget Woes to Close Maryland Journalism Center on Children & Families
The nonprofit Journalism Center on Children & Families, a go-to resource for journalists for two decades, will close at the end of 2014 because it will run out of funding.

Workshops & Webinars

Using Research Evidence in Education (October 28, 12 – 1 p.m.)
The authors of Using Research Evidence in Education: From the Schoolhouse Door to Capitol Hill will discuss key findings from their book about the uses of research in education policy and practice.  

The Developing Brain: Implications for Youth Programs (November 5, 1 – 2 p.m.)
The free webcast will address how the brain grows and learns; how the brain responds to trauma; how this response differs in children and adults; how the environment, experience, and genetics impact the brain’s response to challenges and learning, and how programs can apply this new research to help children and youth.  

Using Technology to Build Capacity in Volunteer Programs (November 12, 12:30 – 2 p.m.)
Research indicates that nearly one-third of volunteers choose not to continue their service due to poor management practices. Some of the critical practices for volunteer administrators have become increasingly difficult due to budget constraints. The webinar will explore how to better manage volunteers using educational technology and social media to increase organizational capacity.  

Youth Work Matters (January 12 – February 15, 2015)
The online course takes an in-depth exploration into the foundational research and theories of positive youth development. Participants will interact with an online community to explore, wrestle and produce resources and skills for working with young people.  The content comes from real youth work experience and strong research-based material. The fee is $100.  

Changing Adolescent Healthy Living Behavior through Mentoring (January 14, 2015, 12:30 – 2 p.m.)
The focus of the webinar is a research field study by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development that brought seventh grade youth and health science college students together in a ten-week afterschool mentoring program utilizing research associated with quality programming.  

Dilemmas in Youth Work (February 16 – March 20, 2015)
The online course explores the sticky challenges and issues of youth work and examines various ways to respond to real-life dilemmas of everyday practice. Online activities include both synchronized group time and individual self-paced learning. The fee is $100.

Quality Matters (On Demand)
Learn about the essential components of a high-quality program and how to create environments that are positive places for young people to develop. Participants will be acquainted with current research that helps define quality as well as how to measure and improve it. The fee is $25.  

Understanding the Connection Between Suicide and Substance Abuse (On Demand)
The webinar is the first in a two-part series that examines current research findings on the connections between substance abuse and suicide. It will also highlight particular factors that contribute to both issues, and strategies to address them in a coordinated way.

 

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