Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New book takes on zero tolerance fervor in schools

Tuesday - 7/19/2011

Leanne Italie

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - High-tech surveillance. Metal detectors. Zero tolerance for, well, just about any bad behavior, real or overblown.

Welcome to "Lockdown High," the title of a sweeping new book by journalist Annette Fuentes, describing how the schoolhouse has become a jailhouse and fear prevails.

Dating to Ronald Reagan's war on drugs launched nearly three decades ago, fueled by campus shootings and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, "preoccupation with security and violence are particularly acute when it comes to children and teenagers," she writes.

But a paradox exists, Fuentes argues, and it goes like this: "Children are considered both potential victims, vulnerable to dangers from every corner, and perpetrators of great violence and mayhem, demanding strict, preventive discipline."

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Study exposes some some myths about school discipline

Donna St. George
The Washington Post
July 19, 2011

Here’s one myth of school debunked: Harsh discipline is not always a reflection of the students in a particular school. It can be driven by those in charge.

In a study of nearly a million Texas children described as an unprecedented look at discipline, researchers found that nearly identical schools suspended and expelled students at very different rates.

The report, released Tuesday, challenges a common misperception that the only way schools can manage behavior is through suspension, says Michael D. Thompson, a co-author of the report, done by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and Texas A&M University’s Public Policy Research Institute.

“The bottom line is that schools can get different outcomes with very similar student bodies,” he said. “School administrators and school superintendents and teachers can have a dramatic impact.”

Read more HERE

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

MD Becomes First State to Require Environmental Literacy
June 21, 2011

In an historic vote today, the Maryland State Board of Education provided specific guidance to all public schools to require that each student be environmentally literate before he or she graduates from high school. The vote cements Maryland as the first state in the country to approve a graduation requirement in environmental literacy, a credit to Governor O’Malley, to board members, and to Dr. Nancy Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools.

“This is a momentous day not only for Maryland but for educators across the country who are watching what Maryland does, and hoping to increase outdoor learning in their states, “said Don Baugh, director of the No Child Left Inside Coalition (NCLI). “ Governor O’Malley and Dr. Grasmick deserve our profound gratitude. For years they have put Maryland at the forefront of the environmental education movement.”

The state school board vote clarifies for schools that each child must receive a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary environmental education that meets the approval of the State Superintendent of Schools. Regulations given final approval by the board provide critical flexibility and oversight for school systems as they develop effective environmental literacy programs aligned with the Maryland State Environmental Literacy Standards.

While many exemplary environmental education programs already exist in some Maryland schools not all students have access to these programs. That can occur when schools feel compelled to emphasize math and reading instruction over science and other subjects because of the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind law.

With today’s vote school districts must now move beyond standard science courses that provide minimal focus on the environment. The Maryland State Department of Education has established two workgroups to begin revising and aligning Maryland environmental literacy standards, and developing guidelines to provide school systems with guidance and support for implementation.

Read more HERE.

Maryland officials scrap new sunscreen restrictions

Marc Fisher
Washington Post
July 2, 2011

Less than a day after dermatologists and parents said Maryland’s new policy on sunscreen at summer camps would make it far more likely that children would suffer skin damage, the state health department Saturday scrapped all of the restrictions it had imposed just three weeks ago.

The new policy, announced in a statement that noted in bold capital letters that it “supersedes all previous interpretive memoranda regarding sunscreen,” will no longer direct camps to steer counselors away from helping children apply sunscreen. It also removes any mention of the previous ban on children assisting each other in putting on sunscreen.

The health department’s reversal came about 22 hours after a report on cited the American Academy of Dermatology, local skin doctors and parents warning that Maryland’s limits on who could apply sunscreen at summer camps would result in a surge of children going unprotected against the sun’s harmful rays.

The new policy specifically permits camps to provide sunscreen to children, something that the previous policy had banned.

The turnabout, which the health department said Friday night would be coming soon, resulted from what the agency’s assistant director, Clifford Mitchell, called “confusion caused” by the June policy. Mitchell said that policy was intended to keep children safe from inappropriate touching by counselors or other children but was not meant to deter the use of sunscreen.

But camp operators and parents sided with dermatologists, arguing that it was far more important to defend children against the daily danger of sunburn than to add another layer of protection against abuse.

The health department conceded that it had no information to indicate that inappropriate touching was a problem at Maryland summer camps.

Under the latest policy, parents will still have to sign permission forms allowing their children to use sunscreen, a policy that exists in a few other states. But the state now says that it “encourages the appropriate use of sunscreen during summer activities.”

Maryland school systems have a hodgepodge of regulations governing sunscreen use: some require parental permission, some make no restrictions and Montgomery County requires a physician’s note before children may use sunscreen.