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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 February 20 Edition: 

Events
African Drumming for Families (February 23, 24, 26)
Middle Schools Discussion with the Superintendent (February 23, 25)
February Planetarium Show (February 24)
Can We Talk? Building Communication Between Parent and Teen (February 26)
Why Should I Trust You? Understanding the Impact of Complex Trauma on Attachment Formation (February 27)
Stakeholder’s Meeting  of Mayor’s Campaign to End Bullying in Alexandria (March 18)
SCAN’s Allies in Prevention Awards Luncheon (March 25)
Community Lodgings’ 10th Annual Spring Forward (March 29)
College Tour (March 30 – April 2)
Virginia’s Weight of the State Conference (April 20-21)
Global Youth Justice Training Institute (June 16-18)

Careers/Volunteerism 
Creative Capital Awards
Award for Excellence in the Arts
Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artists Fellowships
Kohl’s Cares Scholarships
GreenPal Lawncare Business Scholarship
Rotary Club Essay Contest
Unhinged: True Stories About Living With Mental Illness
ACAP Accepting Nominations for Leadership Council, Action Committees
Play Therapy Continuing Education
World of Children Award
Innovations in Reading Prize
Minority Summer Oncology Fellowship
Smithsonian Young Ambassadors Program
Margaret E. Mahoney Fellowship Program
Innovations in Care Program
Student Science and Engineering Research Grants
Early Career Grants
Pilot Research Award for Learning Disabilities
Native Hawaiian Academic Fellowships
Pro Bono Professional Services to Nonprofit Organizations
Volunteer Times

Grantsmanship
DCHS Office of Youth Services Listing of Grant Opportunities
 

Research & Resources 
Broad Foundation Puts Hold on Its Prize for Urban Education
Spotlight on Jeb Bush’s K-12 Group as New Chief Takes Over
Selective High Schools Meet on Recruiting More Low-Income Students
U.S. Millennials Come Up Short in Global Skills Study
States Pass Array of Policies to Advance Career Technical Education
Emotional Well-Being of College Freshmen at All-Time Low Levels
Teachers Draw Lots to Keep Jobs After District Cuts Position
Leaders Sound Alarm About Human Trafficking of Girls in South Florida
Lawmakers Want to Stop the ‘Foster Care to Prostitution’ Pipeline
Shame on U.S.
U.S. Education: Still Separate and Unequal
Race and Overreaction: On the Streets and in Schools
Are Black Girls Being Pushed Out of School?
Foundations Donate $10 Million to Boys of Color Initiative
Oakland, Calif., Effort for Black Males Should Be a National Model
ACLU Protests Mentoring Programs for Boys in Kansas District
Bringing Black History Month to STEM Classes
Digital ‘Slavery Simulation’ Game for Schools Draws Ire, Praise
Use of Restraint and Seclusion Under Scrutiny in Virginia, Connecticut
N.C. Early Education Leads to Fewer Special Education Placements
Virtual Preschool
North Carolina Approves State’s First Virtual Charter Schools
Activists Share Strategies for ‘Opting Out’ of Tests
‘Sex (Ed)’ the Documentary: A Comprehensive Study of a Touchy Topic
School Bullying: Federal Bill Would Set Mandates for Local Policies, Data
Afterschool Providers, Others Join Effort to Preserve 21st Century Funding
Foundation Commits $500 Million to Childhood-Obesity Prevention
School Nutrition Association Proposes Changes to Federal School Meal Law
Arizona Education Chief to Schools: Ignore Federal Nutrition Rules for Fundraisers
The Science Behind Designer Drugs
Exposure to Tackle Football at Young Age Linked to Later Cognitive Problems
Two Safety Bills for Youth Sports Recently Introduced in Congress
Mother Sues Pop Warner Over Suicide of Former Football-Playing Son
Grandparents as Parents: Investigating the Health and Well-Being of Trauma-Exposed Families
Start-up Quorum Offers Insight into Lawmaker’s Actions Based on Metrics
Virginia Bill Would Equip Unarmed School Guards with Pepper Spray, Stun Guns
Teen Siblings Create App to Monitor Police Interactions with Civilians

Workshops & Webinars 
Healthy Teen Network Webinar Series (February 24 – June 9)
Webinar Series – Suicide Prevention: An Action Plan to Save Lives (February 24 – June 24)
Federal Student Financial Aid for Apprentices (March 3)
Women in the Mirror: Addressing Co-Occurring Mental Health Issues and Trauma in Women with Substance Use Disorders (March 5)
Mentorship (re) explained (March 11)
Exploring 4-H: Hands-on Science (May 13)
Youth Programs as Powerful Settings for Social and Emotional Learning (May 15)

Events

African Drumming for Families (February 23, 24, 26)
Research exploring the link between music and intelligence suggests that music enhances children’s abstract reasoning, logic, problem-solving, reading, and self-esteem. The entire family can enjoy a fun night of African Drumming. Free dinner will be provided, but spaces are limited. The event will take place at Ladrey High Rise (300 Wythe St.) on February 23; John Adams Elementary (5651 Rayburn Avenue) on February 24; and Patrick Henry Elementary (4643 Taney Avenue) on February 26.

Middle Schools Discussion with the Superintendent (February 23, 25)
Dr. Alvin Crawley, ACPS Superintendent, and the Director of Middle Schools Gerald Mann will be available on February 23 at the Francis C. Hammond Middle School Library, and on February 25 at the George Washington Middle School Library to afford parents/residents the opportunity to provide feedback on the current school year, ask questions, and offer suggestions for the next school year. Both discussions begin at 7 p.m. Contact Krishna Leyva (703.824.6865) for additional information.

February Planetarium Show (February 24)
Help celebrate the 85th anniversary of the discovery of Pluto by attending the monthly community show at the T.C. Williams Planetarium from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. Trace the events that led to Pluto’s discovery and subsequent demotion. The presentation will also include a walk across the February Night Sky, and a look at the countdown clock as the New Horizon spacecraft draws closer to its flight past Pluto this July. Registration is limited to 35 people.

Can We Talk? Building Communication Between Parent and Teen (February 26)
Middle school students and their parents are invited to participate in an interactive workshop designed to support and enhance parent-child communications specific to adolescent needs. Parents will participate along with their child, and free childcare and light dinner will be provided. The event will be held at Jefferson Houston (1501 Cameron Street, School Library, 2nd Floor).

Why Should I Trust You? Understanding the Impact of Complex Trauma on Attachment Formation (February 27)
Using a developmental perspective, the workshop will examine the role of complex trauma on forming attachments and affectional bonds in parent/caregiver – child dyads. Workshop participants will define and review the neurobiological processes impacted by complex trauma and explore its role in child and adolescent development.

Stakeholder’s Meeting  of Mayor’s Campaign to End Bullying in Alexandria (March 18)
The next Stakeholder’s Meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. at T.C. Williams High School (3330 King Street).

SCAN’s Allies in Prevention Awards Luncheon (March 25)
SCAN’s 13th Annual Allies in Prevention Awards Luncheon will take place from 12 – 2 p.m. at Maggiano’s (2001 International Drive, McLean).

Community Lodgings’ 10th Annual Spring Forward (March 29)
The gala will take place from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Union Street Public house (121 S. Union Street).

College Tour (March 30 – April 2)
The 6th Annual College Tour of First A.M.E. Church of Manassas will feature visits to Delaware State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Lincoln University, Cheney University, Central University, and Wilberforce University. For more information, to make a payment, or to make a donation, contact Tiffani Harris (571.449.0468) or Dr. Zella Jones (703.361.2893). 

Virginia’s Weight of the State Conference (April 20-21)
The fourth annual conference on childhood prevention obesity will be held at the Hilton Richmond Hotel in Short Pump.

Global Youth Justice Training Institute (June 16-18)
The institute will be held in Cape Cod, MA. Participants will learn strategies to enhance juvenile diversion programs – teen, peer, youth, and student courts and peer juries. The agenda includes peer-to-peer training sessions on recruiting/training volunteers, grants and funding, increasing juvenile referrals, community partnerships, wrap-around services, and substance abuse screening and treatment. A half-day grant writing and resource session will also be offered.

Careers/Volunteerism 

Creative Capital Awards
The awards support artists whose work is provocative, timely and relevant; who are deeply engaged with their art form and demonstrate a rigorous commitment to their craft as well as boldly original and push the boundaries of their genre, and who create work that carries the potential to reshape the cultural landscape. Awards with be given in the performing arts (dance, dance-theater, experimental music performance, interdisciplinary works, multimedia performance, musical-theater works, non-traditional opera, performance art, puppetry, spoken word, and theater); literature (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and genre-defying literary work); and emerging fields (architecture/design, digital arts, gaming, interdisciplinary works, new genres, and sound art). Awardees receive up to $50,000 in direct support for their project and advisory services valued at more than $40,000. Applicants must be working artists who are at least 25 years old. Letters of Inquiry must be submitted by March 2.

Award for Excellence in the Arts
The annual award by the College Board recognizes the achievements of member institutions which have implemented an arts program in grades 6 to 12 that promotes student learning and creativity in exemplary and innovative ways. Awards will be given in Arts Integration (recognizes a middle or high school program that uses an innovative approach to cross-curricular study); Equity through Arts (given to a successful middle or high schools arts program that uses the arts as a tool for increasing academic engagement among underserved students); and Civic Engagement/Professional Partnerships (recognizes a middle or high school arts programs that uses arts experiences as vehicles for community engagement). Within each of the three categories, one award in the amount of $5,000 will be given to winning schools to support the continuation and growth of their arts programs. Among the three winning schools, one will be named national winner and will be awarded an additional $2,500. 

Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artists Fellowships
Applications are being accepted from American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian artists for an annual program that supports Native artists in dance, filmmaking, literature, music, traditional arts, and visual arts. Grants of $20,000 will be awarded in recognition of the creativity and expression of Native artists who have had a significant impact on their discipline.

Kohl’s Cares Scholarships
The annual program recognizes youth between the ages of 6 and 18 who, through their voluntarism, have had a positive impact on their communities. Winners will be chosen based on the benefits and outcomes of their volunteer services. Scholarships and prizes will be awarded at three levels: store winners, each of whom will receive a $50 Kohl’s gift card; regional winners, each of whom will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship; and national winners, each of whom will receive a $10,000 scholarship, and an award of $1,000 for the nonprofit organization of their choice. The deadline for nominations is March 13.

GreenPal Lawncare Small Business Scholarship
A scholarship of $2,000 is awarded each year to assist a motivated, driven student and future business leader. The program is open to any graduating high school senior, college freshman, or sophomore who owns and operates his/her own small business or has put together a business plan to start a business while in college. Applications must be submitted by May 30.

Rotary Club Essay Contest
It is the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? This is the 4-Way Test applied by Rotarians worldwide to all they think, say and do. Rotary District 7610 is sponsoring a 4-Way Test Essay Contest in which seventh and eighth graders provide, through written expression, an explanation of their understanding of the concept of the principles of the Rotary 4-Way Test as it relates to their lives, their experiences and/or society in general. The first, second and third place winners will receive $1,000, $500 and $250, respectively. Submissions (including essay and entry form) are due by email  no later than Monday, February 23 at 5 p.m.

Unhinged: True Stories About Living With Mental Illness
SpeakeasyDC is presenting its first show featuring true stories about mental illness and is inviting those who have lived with mental illness to pitch a story for the production, which will take place April 25 at Emmanuel on High (1608 Russell Road). The invitation is for an actual true story, complete with a plot, characters, and a narrative arc. Pitch stories by February 25 (202.630.9549).

ACAP Accepting Nominations for Leadership Council, Action Committees
The Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (ACAP) is accepting nominations for two vacancies on its Leadership Council as well as two of its new action committees – the Communications Committee and the 15 Year Anniversary Committee. Learn more in the latest edition of the ACAP eNewsletter.

Play Therapy Continuing Education
The Office of Continuing and Professional Education at Virginia Commonwealth University is offering a series of non-credit workshops that offer the opportunity to learn more about play therapy and provide the training required to become a Registered Play Therapist. The weekend workshops meet the 150 hours required for counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, clinical social workers and other professionals who are seeking a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) credential. The workshops will begin February 20 and continue through early December; sessions will be held at the Career and Technical Center (13900 Hull Street, Midlothian). Workshops can be taken in any order and the cost is $350 per workshop.

World of Children Award
The Health Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to children in the fields of health, medicine or the sciences. The Humanitarian Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to children in the areas of social services, education or humanitarian services. The Education Award recognizes individuals who are making extraordinary contributions to the lives of vulnerable children in their educational development. The Youth Award recognizes youth who are making extraordinary contributions to the lives of other children. The Health, Humanitarian, and Education Awards offer a minimum grant of $50,000, and the Youth Award a minimum grant of $25,000. The deadline for nominations is April 1.

Innovations in Reading Prize
The prizes by the National Book Foundation recognize individuals and institutions that use particularly innovative methods to generate excitement and a passionate engagement with books and literature. Priority will be given to applications that feature interdisciplinary approaches and incorporate innovative thinking in design, technology, social change, social entrepreneurship and other fields. There are four honorable mentions and one winner of a $10,000 prize. The deadline for applications is February 28.

Minority Summer Oncology Fellowship
The annual program of the American Society for Radiation Oncology introduces medical students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine to the discipline of radiation oncology early in their medical education. Although medical students in all years are encouraged to apply, preference will be given to first and second-year students. The fellowship provides three students with a $3,000 package that includes a $2,400 stipend for an eight-week training program and $600 toward attendance at the 2016 annual meeting.

Smithsonian Young Ambassadors Program
The Smithsonian Latino Center is accepting applications for an annual program that seeks to foster the next generation of Latino leaders in the arts, sciences and humanities. Graduating high school seniors with an interest in and commitment to the arts, sciences, and humanities as it pertains to Latino communities and cultures are selected to travel to Washington, D.C. for a weeklong seminar at the Smithsonian. Following the week in Washington, students participate in a four-week interdisciplinary internship in museums and cultural institutions in cities across the United States and Puerto Rico. The program includes meals and accommodations, round-trip travel, and a program stipend. The deadline for applications is April 6.

Margaret E. Mahoney Fellowship Program
The focus of the fellowship program for medical, dental, nursing, public health, and public policy students is transforming healthcare delivery systems for vulnerable populations, and early childhood health and development. Students participate in eight-to-ten week research and policy projects focused on addressing the health needs of vulnerable urban populations. Six fellowships of $4,500 will be awarded. The deadline for applications is March 15.

Innovations in Care Program
Two grants of $600,000 will support innovations that provide care to vulnerable populations, including the economically disadvantaged, racial and ethnic minorities, and other groups that encounter barriers to accessing quality healthcare services. Proposals should address the healthcare needs of vulnerable populations in the areas of maternal and child health, care of older adults, and/or chronic illness management. The deadline for applications is March 15.

Student Science and Engineering Research Grants
Sigma Xi, a society of research scientists and engineers, awards grants of up to $1,000 to students from all areas of the sciences and engineering. Designated funds from the National Academy of Sciences allow for grants of up to $1,000 to students from all areas of the sciences and engineering. Students from any country are eligible to receive funding. The deadline to apply is March 15.

Early Career Grants
The Thrasher Research Fund provides grants for clinical, hypothesis-driven research that offers substantial promise for meaningful advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of children’s diseases, particularly research with broad-based applications. The fund awards small grants of up to $25,000 to new researchers to help them gain a foothold in the area of pediatric research. Concept papers are due March 6.

Pilot Research Award for Learning Disabilities
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is seeking applications for its Pilot Research Award for Learning Disabilities. The program makes an annual award of $15,000 to a child and adolescent psychiatry resident or junior faculty who has an interest in beginning a career in child and adolescent mental health research. Applications must be submitted by March 16.

Native Hawaiian Academic Fellowships
The fellowship program supports Native Hawaiian scholars early in their academic careers and others who are committed to the advancement of knowledge about Hawaii’s natural and cultural environment, history, politics, and/or society. Applicants accepted to the program as doctoral fellows receive $45,000 to complete their dissertations before accepting their first academic posts; postdoctoral fellows will receive $55,000 in support of their efforts to publish original research early in their academic careers. The deadline for applications is February 24.

Pro Bono Professional Services to Nonprofit Organizations
The Taproot Foundation offers pro bono marketing, human resources, information technology, and strategy management services to nonprofit organizations in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Applications must be received by March 1.

Volunteer Times
Learn about opportunities for volunteers to give in the latest edition of the newsletter of Volunteer Alexandria.

Grantsmanship

DCHS Office of Youth Services Listing of Grant Opportunities
The DCHS Office of Youth Services compiled a listing of grant opportunities on February 6 and February 18.

Research & Resources

Broad Foundation Puts Hold on Its Prize for Urban Education
The Broad Prize for Urban Education was founded 13 years ago by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to galvanize urban school districts that serve low-income students to significantly improve student performance and close the achievement gap. The foundation has announced that the prize has been “paused” because of “sluggish” academic results from the country’s largest urban school systems and to allow it time to reflect on how it can improve the prize-awarding process given the ways that urban education has evolved in the last 13 years.

Spotlight on Jeb Bush’s K-12 Group as New Chief Takes Over
Jeb Bush’s decision to turn over leadership of the prominent K-12 organization he founded to Condoleezza Rice could signal a new phase for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and for a broader network of advocacy groups seeking to challenge what they view as the status quo in education.  

Selective High Schools Meet on Recruiting More Low-Income Students
More than 100 principals from selective high schools across the country gathered at a conference convened by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to strategize about how to get more high-achieving, low-income students into their specialized programs and persist in college and careers. The hope of the foundation is to attract more students to apply for its $40,000 a year scholarships.

U.S. Millennials Come Up Short in Global Skills Study
America’s wealthiest and best-educated young adults still lag behind their peers in other countries in the literacy, numeracy, and computer-age problem-solving skills needed to compete in the global labor market. That, coupled with yawning racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps and even grimmer skills levels for students with less than a college degree, could lead to long-term difficulty for the country, according to a new study by the Education Testing Service Center for Research on Human Capital and Education.

States Pass Array of Policies to Advance Career Technical Education
A newly released report highlights 150 new policies recently approved in 46 states and the District of Columbia for career technical education programs at both the high school and college level. Released by the Association for Career and Technical Education (based in Alexandria, VA.) and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (headquartered in Silver Spring, Md.), the review includes a roundup of laws that expand partnerships with businesses, promote access to dual and concurrent enrollments, and create incentives or competitive funds for high-quality CTE programs.

Emotional Well-Being of College Freshmen at All-Time Low Levels
A new survey of college freshmen finds stress and depression is on the rise, with students rating their emotional health at the lowest level in 30 years. The findings were part of the annual Cooperative Institutional Research Program Freshman Survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Teachers Draw Lots to Keep Jobs After District Cuts Position
Five first-year teachers gathered in a West Virginia district office to pick numbers from a plastic cube to determine who would be laid off to create a new position for a more experienced educator whose position had been cut for budgetary reasons.

Leaders Sound Alarm About Human Trafficking of Girls in South Florida
South Florida’s position as an international gateway with many undocumented immigrants means that some girls are held in a form of indentured servitude – working as prostitutes – until the debt to those who smuggled them into the country is paid off.

Lawmakers Want to Stop the ‘Foster Care to Prostitution’ Pipeline
Legislators in Colorado say too many children in the child welfare system are disappearing for weeks at a time without anyone looking for them. According to lawmakers, 60% of children rescued from sex trafficking have at one time been in custody of a welfare agency or foster home.

Shame on U.S.
Researchers at the Child Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law, and Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group First Star found all three branches of the federal government and every state failed to meet minimum standards to protect abused and neglected children. The report “Shame on U.S.” found lapses ranged from the failure of the Department of Health and Human Services to adequately oversee state compliance with standards to what was called the reluctance of both Congress and the courts to deal with the systemic shortcomings. The multifaceted failures were referred to as a “trifecta of inertia and neglect”.

U.S. Education: Still Separate and Unequal
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the U.S spent 39% more per full-time student for elementary and secondary education in 2010 than the average for other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. More than 60 years after Brown vs Board of Education, school systems in the United States are separate and unequal.

Race and Overreaction: On the Streets and in Schools
In each police-related death recently dominating the headlines, the common theme was an overreaction to a perceived threat of black criminality. In a report issued in December by the Discipline Disparities Collaborative (a group of 26 expert researchers, educators, and child advocates), the same dynamic was found to be prevalent in schools, were authorities suspend and arrest black youth for minor misbehavior at alarming rates.

Are Black Girls Being Pushed Out of School?
A study released by law researchers at Columbia University shows evidence that of all groups, black K-12 female students are kicked or pushed out of school more than their peers. Altercations that may just call for a suspension or mediation for other students, for example, turn into expulsion or arrests in the case of black girls at rates that are alarmingly high. The report points to a school culture where young women of color are routinely looked over when it comes to providing a safe, nurturing environment for their learning.. Things like “zero tolerance” policies appear to be interpretive for some K-12 students, but are almost always followed to the letter of the law with black young women.

Foundations Donate $10 Million to Boys of Color Initiative
The leaders of a philanthropic consortium are pouring $10 million into an effort to identify and target the needs of black, Latino, American Indian, and Asian American boys and men. The RISE (Research, Integration, Strategy and Evaluation) Collaborative for Boys and Men of Color aims to improve the lives of boys and men of color in four areas, including education, health, criminal justice, and economic opportunity and workforce development. Led by the Atlantic Philanthropies, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color (a consortium of nearly 40 foundations), will fund the three-year initiative.

Oakland, Calif., Effort for Black Males Should Be a National Model
“Black Sonrise”, a University of California-Davis study on Oakland’s Manhood Development Program for black males in middle schools and high schools, found that students enrolled in the program had better grades and school attendance rates and fewer suspensions than their peers. Introduced in 2011, the program offers leadership training, college and career preparation, and coursework that features black history lessons and conversations regarding black men in society. The classes are taught solely by black men. The program enrolled fifty students from three schools. Four years later, there are 450 students participating at 17 schools.

ACLU Protests Mentoring Programs for Boys in Kansas District
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas wants the Lawrence, Kansas school system to suspend a pilot program for boys over concerns it violates Title IX, the federal law designed to ban sex discrimination in education. The program pairs 15 boys with male mentors, including school district and university leaders and nonprofit directors, and seeks to address the problems of male students graduating at lower rates than female students. 

Bringing Black History Month to STEM Classes
Given the underrepresentation of minorities (particularly black students) in STEM fields, an increased focus on black scientists and mathematicians could have a huge impact.

Digital ‘Slavery Simulation’ Game for Schools Draws Ire, Praise
An award-winning, publicly funded digital learning game that asks middle school student to assume the role of a black slave in America is drawing sharp criticism from some educators and activists, prompting fresh discussion about the role of technology in teaching about painful eras in history. In Mission US: Flight to Freedom, players inhabit the fictional character of Lucy King, a 14 year-old girl who is attempting to escape the Kentucky plantation where she and her family are enslaved. The free, Web-based game unfolds in a choose-your-own-adventure format, with students asked to make choices that affect the game’s trajectory, within the context of the historical realities of 1848. According to WNET, the New York City public television station that produces and distributes the series, Mission US has nearly 1 million registered users. “I don’t know that you can really channel the rape, murder, and mutilation of slavery into a game,” said Rafranze Davis, a K-12  instructional technology specialist and former high school teacher who has been leading an online and social-media campaign to get the game withdrawn from schools, pending further review.

Use of Restraint and Seclusion Under Scrutiny in Virginia, Connecticut
Legislation that would regulate the use of restraint and seclusion has cleared both the Virginia House and Senate, with the latest vote coming just a day before a governor-appointed child advocate in Connecticut released a report saying that schools and teachers need more guidance on alternative methods of handling student behavior.

N.C. Early Education Leads to Fewer Special Education Placements
According to a study in the journal Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, North Carolina’s investments in early-childhood programs led to a reduction in special-education placements. At the funding levels present in the 2008-09 school year, the state programs reduce the odds of a special education placement among the student population as a whole by 39%, according to researchers based at Duke University. An earlier paper by the same researchers found what it described as “robust” positive impacts in both reading and math into the third grade – benefits researchers said could also be explained by a direct benefit to the young children who were a part of the programs, and spillover effects to those who were not.

Virtual Preschool
A “virtual” preschool with digital learning materials, activity guides, learning analytics, and “homeroom teachers” accessible online through a computer, tablet or smartphone is now an option for parents of young children. Subscription service ranges from $80 to $645 annually. All packages include weekly electronic delivery of digital books, songs, and games as well as an activity guide for parents. Children are expected to use the digital learning games about 30 minutes per week. Parents are expected to do about 30 minutes work of activities per week with their child, plus read the book together with their child every day.

North Carolina Approves State’s First Virtual Charter Schools
The State Board of Education in North Carolina approved two online charter schools that are eligible to begin enrolling students this fall. N.C. Virtual Academy (affiliated with K12, Inc.) and N.C. Connections Academy (which is working with education conglomerate Pearson) were the only two that applied. They will each be able to enroll up to 1,500 students in their first year.

Activists Share Strategies for ‘Opting Out’ of Tests
At the United Opt Out National: Standing Up for Action conference, attendees strategized on getting more people involved in the growing practice of “test refusal” in the hope of ultimately ending what they consider punitive and overly burdensome testing practices in K-12 schools. The convening offered a small window on an anti-testing movement that is heating up at both the grassroots and national levels.

‘Sex (Ed)’ the Documentary: A Comprehensive Study of a Touchy Topic
While funny and campy much of the time, “Sex (Ed): The Movie” is more often a serious discussion regarding how this nation and its schools have taught children about sex: whether it was couched in terms of making teenage friends, adolescent development, sexual hygiene, abstinence from sex, or non-abstinence from sex. The documentary has screened at film festivals over the last year and is not available on DVD.

School Bullying: Federal Bill Would Set Mandates for Local Policies, Data
U.S. Senators Mark Kirk, R-Ill, and Bob Casey, D-Penn, introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which would essentially mandate local anti-bullying policies. It prescribes required elements for those policies, including that they explicitly prohibit bullying on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, which has been a sticking point in the passage of some state-level policies. Under the act, bullying includes cyberbullying and electronic communications

Afterschool Providers, Others Join Effort to Preserve 21st Century Funding
More than 50 national organizations – including the YMCA of the USA, Boys & Girls Clubs, the National 4-H Council, Save the Children, and the National Recreation and Parks Association – have joined an effort to preserve funds for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Along with more than 200 state and local groups, they have signed a letter asking the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee to keep the program that provides $1.12 billion in grants to afterschool programs.

Foundation Commits $500 Million to Childhood-Obesity Prevention
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced a $500 million commitment over the next decade toward ensuring all children can grow up at a healthy weight. The foundation, which made a similar $500 million commitment in 2007, plans on paying specific attention to underserved, higher-risk populations, along with a focus on early-childhood prevention strategies.

School Nutrition Association Proposes Changes to Federal School Meal Law
The 2015 position paper of the School Nutrition Association outlined its priorities for congressional reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. The association, which represents 55,000 school nutrition professionals around the country, has led recent efforts to allow some districts to opt out of those standards, arguing those rules have been cumbersome and challenging for schools to implement, have led to declining participation in school meal programs, and that students throw away many mandated fruit and vegetable servings.

Arizona Education Chief to Schools: Ignore Federal Nutrition Rules for Fundraisers
Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction labeled the federal nutrition standards for school fundraisers a federal overreach. Unlike other state leaders, she responded to her concerns by granting schools an unlimited exception from the rules.

The Science Behind Designer Drugs
“Designer drugs” such as bath salts and spice are manufactured to chemically resemble illicit drugs, but can often be purchased legally because manufacturers continually modify their chemical structures in order to circumvent drug laws. 

Exposure to Tackle Football at Young Age Linked to Later Cognitive Problems
According to a study published online in the journal Neurology, former National Football League players who began playing tackle football before the age 12 fared worse as adults in terms of executive function, memory, and estimated verbal IQ compared to those who began playing tackle football later. Based on the study’s results, the authors conclude that “sustaining [repeated head impacts] during critical periods of brain maturation could alter neurodevelopmental trajectories, leading to later-life cognitive impairments.” They highlight the ages of 10 to 12 as a particular concern, since it is a “period of peak myelination rates and increased cerebral blood flow, which has been shown to predict rapid neurodevelopmental periods”.

Two Safety Bills for Youth Sports Recently Introduced in Congress
Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Lois Capps (D- Calif.) introduced companion bills targeting a wide swath of youth-sports-safety issues. The first bill was introduced in January and calls for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a report on “best practices for diagnosis, treatment, and management” of mild traumatic brain injuries in students no later than July 31 of this year. The companion bills call upon Congress to authorize a five-year grant program to help states adopt them and ensure that schools are “adequately staffed with athletic trainers and other medical professionals necessary to implement such guidelines.” The money would also help schools implement computerized preseason baseline and post-injury neuropsychological testing for student-athletes, with $5 million being appropriated for FY 2016 and “such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2020”.

Mother Sues Pop Warner Over Suicide of Former Football-Playing Son
A Wisconsin mother filed a lawsuit against Pop Warner, accusing the organization of negligence that directly led to her son’s suicide. Her son began playing youth football in a Pop Warner league in the summer of 1997 at age 11 and continued to play through 2000. Fifteen years later, her son committed suicide by hanging himself in his mother’s shed.

Grandparents as Parents: Investigating the Health and Well-Being of Trauma-Exposed Families
The practice of extended family members participating in the care and raising of children is an American tradition that dates back to the 18th century. However, the reasons for the current trend towards grandparent-headed households are a reflection of more contemporary problems.

Start-up Quorum Offers Insight into Lawmaker’s Actions Based on Metrics
Quorum, a new start-up founded by two Harvard undergraduates, offers paying subscribers access to an online platform that is rich with data showing the relationships between lawmakers in Congress. Quorum pulls data from lawmakers press releases, Tweets, floor statements and voting record on every bill going back six years, including who they have voted with and against, which bills they have introduced and sponsored and who they con-sponsored them with, and what issues they care most about based on those metrics. It is updated every 24 hours.

Virginia Bill Would Equip Unarmed School Guards with Pepper Spray, Stun Guns
A Virginia lawmaker has proposed allowing the state’s schools to equip unarmed guards with pepper spray and stun guns. Republican Delegate Mark Cole argues the guards, who are not allowed to be armed under state law, could use the weapons to ward off school intruders. “Opponents, including Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration, say they worry that stun guns and other such weapons could be turned against students,” the AP reports.

Teen Siblings Create App to Monitor Police Interactions with Civilians
Sixteen-year-old Ima Christian, her 15 year-old sister Asha, and 14 year-old brother Caleb developed an app in response to the shooting of an unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The Five-O app enables citizens to write reviews of their interactions with police, and then aggregates the information and rates police departments.

Workshops & Webinars

Healthy Teen Network Webinar Series (February 24 – June 9, 3 p.m.)
The Healthy Teen Network is sponsoring a series of webinars that build skills and capacity to serve youth. Registration is open for the webinars individually and as a series.

Webinar Series – Suicide Prevention: An Action Plan to Save Lives (February 24 – June 24, 2 p.m.)
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention released an action plan that outlines the research areas that show the most promise in helping to reduce the rates of suicide attempts and deaths in the next 5-10 years. The Prioritized Research Agenda is organized around six key questions, each of which will be addressed in a series of webinars sponsored by the National Council for Behavioral Health in collaboration with the Action Alliance and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Federal Student Financial Aid for Apprentices (March 3, 3 - 4 p.m.)
The Department of Education has issued new guidance on federal student aid to support Registered Apprentices. The webinar will discuss how Pell Grants, Work Study, and the Job Location and Development Program can be used to support apprentices.

Women in the Mirror: Addressing Co-Occurring Mental Health Issues and Trauma in Women with Substance Use Disorders (March 5, 3 – 4:30 p.m.)
Women with substance use disorders have alarmingly high rates of co-occurring mental health issues and histories of trauma. The session offers current information about effective interventions and strategies for supporting women with co-occurring substance use, trauma, and mental health issues.  

Mentorship (re) explained (March 11, 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
The webinar will challenge thinking about mentoring. Participants will gain knowledge about mentorship to help strengthen current programs and/or develop a new program.

Exploring 4-H: Hands-on Science (May 13, 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
It has been found that youth who participate in science activities outside the classroom are more likely to become comfortable with science. The webinar features lesson plans and resources to enhance the programming of new and experienced staff or volunteers. It is targeted for grades 2-6, but applicable/adaptable to other age groups.

Youth Programs as Powerful Settings for Social and Emotional Learning (May 15, 8 – 11 a.m.)
Youth development programs are uniquely positions to support social and emotional learning. The focus of the symposium is promoting social and emotional learning in youth program settings, and recent, path-breaking research regarding how youth learn skills such as strategic thinking and emotional management, and what strategies experienced leaders use to facilitate this development.

 

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