AASA, Scholastic, UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools Announce Joint Effort To Transform Education

Dec. 1, 2009

Initiative Will Systemically Address Barriers to Learning and Teaching

Amy Vogt

ARLINGTON, Va.—The American Association of School Administrators, Scholastic and the UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools announced a new collaboration designed to help education leaders transform education systems and enhance school improvement efforts. In Savannah, Ga., on Dec. 3, the three organizations will launch the Learning Supports Collaborative, an initiative that works with school and district leaders to implement comprehensive systems of learning supports. Such systems are designed to address factors affecting children’s academic achievement and ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed at school.

“AASA is maintaining its focus on supporting the total child, from physical and mental health to the development of fundamental, lifelong learning skills,” says AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech. “The collaboration among AASA, Scholastic and UCLA is vital to our effort because only when children have support for all their needs will schools have a real chance of helping every student master required education concepts and skills.”

As part of the collaborative, AASA, Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, and UCLA created a range of learning opportunities for education leaders around planning and implementing learning support systems. In the coming months, AASA and Scholastic will host a Learning Supports webinar series at no cost for AASA members and thought-leader sessions at AASA’s National Conference in Phoenix (Feb. 11-14, 2010).

UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools co-directors Howard Adelman, Ph.D., and Linda Taylor, Ph.D., educators and researchers who have worked with state departments of education, districts and schools, will be guiding the collaborative using the proven theories and practices they have developed over the past 30 years. Scholastic is providing a $50,000 grant to AASA to enable school district teams to receive intensive professional development and support from the UCLA Center.

Adelman and Taylor said their research and practice in the school improvement arena indicate that schools must begin to redress the fragmentation and marginalization of the programs put in place to address students’ learning, behavior and emotional problems. "If school improvement efforts do not place a high priority on developing a system to address factors that interfere with learning and that reengages disconnected students, we will continue to see the widespread academic and social problems plaguing so many schools and communities,” they said.

“Scholastic is continuing its longstanding history of collaborating with school leaders to make sure that all children have access to high quality education,” notes Karen Proctor, Scholastic’s vice president of community affairs. “What is innovative about the Learning Supports Collaborative, and the work of , is that it is a bold approach to school improvement that requires fundamentally restructuring school and community resources in ways that truly enable all students to benefit from learning.”

Four AASA districts were selected via an application process to be Learning Supports Collaborative Lead Districts. The districts are Jefferson County Public Schools, KY, Gainesville City Schools, GA, Indian River County School District, FL, and Sabine Parish Schools District, LA and are led by AASA members Sheldon Berman, Merrianne Dyer, Harry LaCava and Dorman Jackson, respectively. During the next several months, the superintendent-led, district teams will work with the UCLA Center, Scholastic and AASA to:

  • Build understanding about comprehensive systems of learning supports and how such systems transform public education;
  • Create policy and practice framework documents that can be shared among critical stakeholder groups; and
  • Work to design and implement learning support systems for their schools and districts.

The first meeting of the Learning Supports Collaborative Lead Districts will take place Dec. 3-4, 2009, at the Westin Harbor Hotel in Savannah, Ga.

About AASA
The American Association of School Administrators, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.

About Scholastic
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in educational technology and children’s media. Scholastic creates quality educational and entertaining materials and products for use in school and at home, including children's books, magazines, technology-based products, teacher materials, television programming, film, videos and toys. The Company distributes its products and services through a variety of channels, including proprietary school-based book clubs and school-based book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, television networks and the Company’s Internet Site, www.scholastic.com.

About the UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools
This national policy and practice center is co-directed by Howard Adelman and Linda Taylor and is funded in part by the Office of Adolescent Health, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, visit http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu.