‘You Have to Redefine Normal’: Leading Schools in the Aftermath of a Shooting

They share an unfortunate bond—the principals and superintendents of schools and districts where unexpected gunfire shattered their peace and where the names of their schools and communities came to symbolize tragedy.

Columbine. Sandy Hook. And now Parkland.

For schools and district leaders in charge when the unthinkable happens, there is no playbook on how to pick up after the crime scene has been sanitized.

How do you balance attending funerals and consoling students, staff, and parents with trying to reopen a school building?

Forget Wealth And Neighborhood. The Racial Income Gap Persists

A new study conducted by researchers at Stanford, Harvard and the Census Bureau, finds that in 99 percent of neighborhoods in the United States, black boys earn less in adulthood than white boys who come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds. This undermines the widely-held belief that class, not race, is the most fundamental predictor of economic outcomes for children in the U.S.

The study looked at racial disparities in income over generations by looking at de-identified data from 20 million U.S. children and their parents. It tracked outcomes for Hispanic, white, Asian, black and Native Americans.

Nathaniel Hendren, who co-authored the study, told NPR’s Leah Donnella that black and Native American children have the lowest rates of upward economic mobility. Whites and Asians came out at the top, he said. “For Asians and white children, we find very similar processes of mobility,” Hendren said. “For Hispanics, we see slightly lower incomes for children at the same level of parent income.”

 

Secretary DeVos Issues Full Forgiveness of HBCU Hurricane Relief Loans

Today U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced full forgiveness of the hurricane relief loans provided to four Historically Black Colleges and Universities after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast in 2005.

“This additional disaster relief will lift a huge burden and enable the four HBCUs to continue their focus on serving their students and communities,” said DeVos. “This relief provides one more step toward full recovery.”

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 made funds available to fully forgive the loans of Dillard University, Southern University at New Orleans, Tougaloo College and Xavier University of Louisiana under the HBCU Hurricane Supplemental Loan program.

Full story at ed.gov

How School Walkouts Test Student Rights And School Responsibilities

Wednesday morning, at 10 o’clock, students at schools across the country will walk out of their classrooms. The plan is for them to leave school — or at least gather in the hallway — for 17 minutes. That’s one minute for each of the victims in last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

The walkout has galvanized teens nationwide and raised big questions for schools about how to handle protests.

The organizers, Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, have made it clear: While this walkout is meant to honor the victims in Parkland, as well as anyone who’s experienced gun violence, it is also a political call to action.

Full story at NPR.org

DeVos to State Chiefs: We Can, We Must Do Better for Students

Addressing the nation’s chief state school officers, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered some “tough love” regarding progress under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA is the bipartisan education legislation passed by Congress in 2015 that returned power over education back to states.

DeVos’ remarks came after her review and approval of a majority of states’ ESSA plans. The law requires a federal review to ensure compliance with the law but then gives latitude to the states to determine how best to ensure educational success. DeVos challenged the chiefs to embrace the flexibility afforded them by ESSA and innovate on behalf of their students. “Just because a plan complies with the law doesn’t mean it does what’s best for students,” said DeVos.

Full speech at ed.gov

Making Elementary School A Lot More Fun: Like Preschool!

In Kelly Stevens’ kindergarten classroom, each day begins with circle time for what sounds like a menu of lesson options.

Students — or “friends” as Stevens calls them — can read at the green table, they can build boats or make things out of clay, among other options.

Students Marco Carias Castellanos and Holden Free chose a writing activity today. But there’s no worksheet in front of them. Instead, they’re standing in front of wolf statues they made out of blocks and their assignment is to write labels for body parts.

Full story at NPR.org

A New Focus on College Campuses: Ending Housing Insecurity

REGINA MONTOYA, A senior at California State University, Sacramento, is managing a busy schedule this semester: two internships and a full course load. But she used to face a very different challenge: when the dorms were closed, she was homeless.

Montoya grew up shuttling between different relatives and a foster family. Moving constantly was hard, especially because she didn’t know long she would be living in one place. But she believed that going to college would make her living situation more stable, so she enrolled in a school in the Bay area.

“At my first year at university, it was hard because I never could shake the survival mode tactics. At holidays I couldn’t stay at the dorms, so I had to plan out who was I going to stay with, who was going to take me in and how many days and weeks can I stay at this person’s house,” says Montoya, 26. Constant worrying about her living situation and personal mental health issues were so stressful that she “flunked” out her freshman year, she says.

Full story at US News

With Hundreds Of Students, School Counselors Just Try To ‘Stay Afloat’

Yuridia Nava, a counselor at Riverside Polytechnic High School in Riverside, Calif., has been getting to work at 7 a.m. lately. It’s class registration time, so she wants to be available before school for parents and students to come in with questions as they plan for the next year of courses, SAT tests, and college preparation.

Poly — as her school is known — employs six counselors for its 2,700 students, so Nava and her colleagues each work with about 500 teens. That’s just above average. According to the most recent data, school counselors across the country manage caseloads of about 482 students each. In California, where Nava works, that average ratio is 760 students per counselor — the second highest in the nation. She says counselors there are just trying to “stay afloat” and get through each day. The American School Counselor Association recommends that counselors work with 250 students each, but just three states follow that advice.

Each time a school shooting occurs, the nation collectively asks: who is responsible for students’ safety? Is it teachers? Parents? Lawmakers?

Full story at NPR.org

What Decades Of Covering School Shootings Has Taught Me

I remember back during the 1997-98 school year when we were all stunned by five school shootings within a period of eight months in places few Americans had heard of: Pearl, Miss., West Paducah, Ky., Jonesboro, Ark., Edinboro, Penn., and Springfield, Ore.

Then there was Columbine the following year, April 20, 1999, at a high school in Littleton, Colo. It became a pivotal event that started a national debate about school security, police tactics in response to a shooting and the shooters themselves — their psychological state, their upbringing, their families and of course, their access to guns.

There was even talk about creating a government agency that would deal with school shootings the same way FEMA responds to natural disasters.

Full story at npr.org

How To Talk With Kids About Terrible Things

For the more than 3,000 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Wednesday’s mass shooting was terrifying and life-changing. But what of the tens of millions of other children, in schools across the country, who have since heard about what happened and now struggle with their own feelings of fear, confusion and uncertainty?

For their parents and teachers, we’ve put together a quick primer with help from the National Association of School Psychologists and Melissa Reeves, a former NASP president and co-author of its PREPaRE School Crisis Prevention and Intervention curriculum.

Full story at NPR