December 18, 2018(1)

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ISTE ESSA Title IV-A Implementation Guide

ISTE’s Using ESSA to Fund Edtech: Getting the Most Out of Title IV-A guide makes specific recommendations for incorporating technology into all three major funding categories of ESSA Title IV-A (i.e. well-rounded education, safe and healthy schools, effective use of technology). The guide pulls evidence from current research and examplar cases around the country to show how innovative digital tools and edtech-related professional learning opportunities can reinforce many of the uses permitted under ESSA. It also provides clear next steps for state edtech directors and district technology coordinators to help them place edtech at the forefront of funding decisions. Sections of the guide focus specifically on top spending priorities identified by the AASA survey conducted earlier this year. 

For a specific example, according to the survey, social and emotional learning programs are currently a big priority among educators and is something that ESSA allows Title IV-A funds to be used for. In the guide ISTE includes information about what the research says about using edtech to support SEL initiatives as well as examples of school districts already engaged in this type of work.

December 18, 2018

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AASA Issues Statement on the Federal School Safety Commission Report

Alexandria, Va. – Dec. 18, 2018 – Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued the following statement on a report issued today by the Federal School Safety Commission.   

“We appreciate that the Federal School Safety Commission has put forward a report that lifts up some promising school district practices related to building positive school climates, addressing and mitigating cyberbullying, and promoting screening and early intervention for mental/substance use disorders. In particular, we are glad the Commission endorsed one of our key recommendations—create a federal clearinghouse to assess, identify, and share best practices related to school security measures, technologies and innovations for school district leaders.  

 “While a compendium of recommendations can be helpful to a well-resourced district, which can adopt and implement a multitude of best practices found in the report relatively easily, we are concerned the majority of districts in the U.S. cannot dedicate the resources to fulfilling some of the most basic recommendations of the report. 

“Further, only one recommendation in the report suggests Congress increases funding and we are deeply concerned that districts with varying needs and resources will not be able to benefit from the report simply because they lack access to the funding that would enable them to adopt some of these best practices and policies.  

The Commission has chosen to ‘pass the buck’ to states, hoping that states will find the money to support state and district efforts; or worse, advise federal agencies on how they can use limited, existing federal resources to comprehensively address the myriad of challenges that prevent tragedies in schools. The disconnect between the expansion of a federal list of best or improved practices—many of which have substance—in light of the current funding trends, merely dilutes the opportunity for improving student safety and will leave many policy makers and educators playing a game of ‘shuffling of deck chairs’ as they scramble with yet another growth in the federal list of things they could and should do without the appropriate support. 

“Specifically, if a district cannot afford to hire a mental health provider, it’s hard to imagine how recommendations to adopt comprehensive school-based mental health care services could be meaningfully implemented. Similarly, if a district has been unable to afford updating its buildings for 40 years, it’s impossible to imagine they would be well-served by a recommendation to limit entry points by rerouting roads or eliminating access points to the building.    

“Ultimately, the Federal School Safety Commission’s report has limited utility for school leaders and its purported audience, if school leaders lack the resources to fulfill the best practices and recommendations of the report.

“Finally, we are disappointed by the decision to recommend policy changes related to the 2014 discipline guidance within the School Safety Commission report is misplaced. The 2014 guidance has flaws and limited value for school leaders based on our 2018 survey of school leaders that found only 16 percent of districts modified policies and practices because of the guidance. What school leaders have most strongly objected to was how the prior Administration investigated school district discipline policies prior to and after the issuance of the guidance. This concern is not addressed by simply rescinding the guidance nor is it addressed by any of the policies in the report.” 

December 12, 2018

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USDA Issues Changes to School Nutrition Rules

The USDA recently released a final rule for its proposed changes to school meal standards. The final rule ushers in broader flexibilities in the whole wheat, sodium, and milk standards than previously suggested. Under the final rule, to be published later this month, the whole grain requirement will be lowered from 100 percent whole wheat to 50 percent whole wheat. Many districts have been eligible for an annual waiver from the 100 percent requirement, but under this rule, all districts will only be held to the 50 percent requirement. AASA had been suggesting this change, in that many districts have had difficulty finding culturally appropriate whole grain foods that students enjoyed.

The rule also holds steady the sodium limit, postponing the planned decreased allowance for four years and cancelling the final planned decrease. Phase II of the sodium restrictions will now take effect in the 2024-25 school year and will be the final stage. AASA had been suggesting this change as the current limits are already quite stringent and nutritionists disagreed on the need for further reductions.

The rule also allows schools to sell and to serve one percent flavored milk in addition to the nonfat milk currently allowed. This change will make it easier to buy, sell, and serve milk that is familiar to students.

Find AASA's statement here.

December 11, 2018

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Farm Bill Compromise Reached

Last night, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees released a Farm Bill compromise. We were concerned about two elements of the House version - the SNAP work requirements and changes to categorical eligibility. AASA applauds the committee members, particularly Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Senate Agriculture ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) for this bipartisan compromise that prioritizes children's health. 

The bill will be voted on by the House and Senate this week, before going to President Trump for his signature. He has hinted that there is a chance that he will veto any bill without the House-version's SNAP work requirements, but we are hopeful that he will be satisfied by other elements of the bill and will sign it before the end of the month.

December 10, 2018

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USED Webinar: The Opioid Crisis and K-12 Schools: Supporting Students at School

The Opioid Crisis and K-12 Schools: Supporting Students at School

A national webinar hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students  and the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments 

 

  • Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. Eastern Time

 

REGISTER FOR THIS WEBINAR: https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/events/webinar/opioid-crisis-and-k-12-schools-meaningful-response 

This webinar will provide examples of how the opioid crisis is impacting our schools and students and will provide insight into strategies that can support students impacted by the crisis. The event is designed to provide building-level administrators, teachers, and specialized instructional support personnel with information on how they can effectively support students impacted by the opioid crisis. The webinar will include federal, state, and school-level perspectives.  

 

  • Frank Brogan, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, will provide opening remarks. 
  • Mary Ann Gapinski, Director School Health Services, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, will describe the state’s effort to bring Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) to MA schools and the impact they’ve seen as a result.
  • Dr. Jeff Hawkins, Executive Director, Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, will present information on the Cooperative’s efforts to empower and engage staff and students in rural schools as change agents in addressing the opioid crisis.

 

For questions regarding the content presented in the webinar, email ncssle@air.org. 

 

 

December 3, 2018

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AASA Submits Comments on Public Charge Regulation Proposal

Today, AASA submitted comments in response to a proposed regulation by the Department of Homeland Security that would redefine who, for immigration purposes, is considered a public charge. We believe the proposed regulation puts the health and well-being of millions of immigrant children at risk and could place new burdens on school districts to provide health and nutrition related services for children who qualify for these benefits through federal programs. Our comments can be found here