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Social-Emotional Learning: States Collaborate to Craft Standards, Policies

Education Week – Evie Blad

“Eight states will work collaboratively to create and implement plans to encourage social-emotional learning in their schools, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning announced this month. The organization, which is also known as CASEL, will assist the states through consultation with its own staff and a panel of experts. The participating states are California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington. And an 11 additional states that originally applied to join the collaborative will have access to the materials it develops. Each participating state has a unique plan, and many of those plans include creating developmentally sensitive standards that show how social and emotional skills are demonstrated at each grade level, developing materials to infuse traditional classroom concepts with social-emotional learning concepts, building strategies for state-level support, and implementing professional-development plans for schools about the subject.”(more)

‘Why are people mad at each other?’ Explaining another shocking week of violence to your kids

The Los Angeles Times – Sonali Kohli

“A 13-year-old in California shook her head at the TV. A 5-year-old in Pittsburgh asked her father why people are so angry. As America coped with one tragic moment after another this week, with the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile followed by the shooting of a dozen police officers in Dallas, the country’s parents had an added task: explaining each act of violence to their children. “If [children] see a bunch of this on television, they can become the indirect victims of trauma,” said Suzanne Silverstein, director of the Cedars-Sinai Psychological Trauma Center. African American children might be afraid for their own lives or for their friends and families when they see black men being shot. Children of law enforcement officers might be even more afraid for their parents after learning what happened in Dallas.”(more)

After No Child Left Behind, will shift to states help or hurt students?

The Christian Science Monitor – Stacy Teicher Khadaroo

“Across Minnesota, the number of native American kids heading to college is on the rise. The reading and math scores of black students are catching up to those of whites. Low-income students, kids whose native language isn’t English, and kids with disabilities are meeting the higher expectations teachers have been setting for them. The state – a high performer by many education measures – still faces many academic gaps between groups of students. But it is well on its way toward a goal it set in 2012 to cut those disparities in half by 2017. Minnesota offers an example of what can happen when a state puts a priority on closing achievement gaps. It developed its approach through a waiver to some of the requirements of the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).”(more)

Early education: The earlier, the better

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune – Art Rolnick, Kate Mortenson and BARB FABRE

“Minnesota has made historic investments in early learning over the last several years. And through targeted early-learning scholarships, we are beginning to make significant progress on closing our educational achievement gap, one of the largest in the country. Leaders who have demonstrated their commitment to this progress deserve credit, but our work is not done. Our understanding of what resources are needed to prepare our youngest residents for school continues to evolve. In the coming legislative session, conversations about what additional investments are required almost certainly will again lead to debate over an alternative approach: universal prekindergarten for all 4-year-olds. There is broad agreement that Minnesota’s educational achievement gap is one of the state’s most critical challenges. However, at the State Capitol in 2015, differences over methods of addressing this challenge produced a sometimes-bitter argument that placed proposals with distinct goals into competition with each other. But pitting the unique needs of children who are born into poverty against the value of preK for all 4-year-olds is not helpful to arriving at an accurate understanding of either proposal.”(more)

A decade of research proves early learning scholarships work

The Minnesota Post – Terri Barreiro

“The Early Learning Scholarships Program that the Legislature is considering for expansion this year may be the most extensively, locally researched early education tool in Minnesota’s history. Nearly a decade’s worth of encouraging research findings should be very comforting to policymakers making investment decisions this year. Here’s how scholarships work. Low-income parents are given scholarships, and are allowed to choose any program that is using kindergarten-readiness best practices, as identified by the Parent Aware Ratings. And those best practices are based on decades of national research. More than 2,000 of these high-quality programs can be found in Minnesota schools, centers, homes, churches and nonprofit organizations across the state. A website featuring Parent Aware rated programs makes it easy for parents to learn about their options and choose one that best fits their home and work locations and schedules needs based on location, schedule, teaching approach, and other factors. If a parent’s job or residence changes, parents can take the scholarship to a new rated provider that fits their new situation, so the child’s learning doesn’t get interrupted, and paperwork is kept to a minimum.”(more)

California’s school suspensions show racial disparity

USA Today – Michael Bott and Ty Chandler

“Teenager Dwayne Powe Jr. got a suspension in eighth grade. He didn’t get into a fight. He wasn’t caught with drugs. He committed no crime. “I actually was asking for a pencil,” Powe said. Powe said his class began an exercise and he asked to borrow a pencil from another student. That’s when his teacher told Powe he was being disruptive and made him leave class. Powe tried explaining he had only asked for a pencil, but that only dug his hole deeper, he said. He was technically suspended for “willful defiance”. Nearly 200,000 California students who were suspended for willful defiance last year can relate to Powe’s story. What constitutes willful defiance is somewhat vague, but it generally allows teachers to remove students from the classroom if their behavior is thought to be disruptive or defiant. It’s the most common reason California students were suspended—and students of color are overwhelmingly targeted.”(more)