The Total Child

A VOYCE on the School-to-Prison Pipeline

(School Discipline , Student Support Services) Permanent link

A guest post by Maria Degillo, VOYCE coordinator at the Voices Of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE)  

My friend, Antonio (Tonii) Maggitt, is a young person who has personally been affected by the large dependency that schools have on the police in our schools. In Chicago and other school districts the drive to keep students and the schools safe has resulted in bad consequences in my experience for fellow Black, Latino, and students with disabilities across the state.

Last month, I was so proud of Tonii for finally graduating from his CPS (Chicago Public Schools) school despite the challenges he personally faced in dealing with police over the years. Throughout his elementary and high school years, Tonii had family problems which lead to him moving around between his mother and his grandmother. He felt like no one wanted to take responsibility for him. This led to him closing himself off from others all while he kept his thoughts and feelings to himself. The only place where he was comfortable enough to express himself was at his school. One day in 8th grade he was excused by his teacher to go talk to a counselor, and on his walk through the hall a police officer at the school assumed that he was cutting class and proceeded to grab him. Tonii pulled away, then the officer rushed to grab him again and a physical altercation broke out between the two. This led to his arrest.

What the police officer did not know is that Tonii was suffering from severe depression and was clinically diagnosed because of his family situation. He was trying to seek help but instead was targeted and the outcome was the loss of school for Tonii, a criminal record, and a new perspective of how Tonii came to view police in schools. After his second arrest in high school for a disruption in the hall, Tonii joined Voices of Youth in Chicago Education(VOYCE) to try to have his story be told. VOYCE was founded by students to have their voice be told, create youth led solutions to discipline, and end the school to prison pipeline.

I wish I could say that Tonii is the exception to having these type of experiences, where students feel like no one but a police officer is there to handle difficult situations, but that is not the case. Many schools across the state have become overly reliant on law enforcement personnel to handle routine school disciplinary situations. Young people are often criminalized and kicked out of school for minor infractions that could be handled in the school’s disciplinary office. In 2015-2016 school year, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filed by the Shriver Center uncovered that Ottowa Township High School had 225 school-based arrests, 187 of which were for truancy. Can schools do a better job in addressing behavioral and mental health needs of students to address the root cause of problems without cops? 

A few years ago, VOYCE created a “wishlist” of things we wanted to achieve statewide. This list included:

  1. To create data transparency that would lay out the demographics of who was getting suspended and expelled from their schools. It is also important for this data to be available to the public and have school districts that are on the top 25 percentile to create an improvement plan that would help address the issue;
  2.  To eliminate zero tolerance policies that kick students out of school and increase their chance of falling into the prison system; and
  3.  To diminish the amount of school based arrests on students.

It has been three years and VOYCE has been able to accomplish the first two items on that wishlist. It is the continuing passion and experience of the young people like Tonii and myself that work with VOYCE on ending the school to prison pipeline that has resulted in these changes. It is an absolute injustice that young people are being arrested for getting into verbal arguments, a dispute with another student, or even drawing on a desk. All of these are issues that schools should definitely address, but not through the criminal justice system.

The current model for most school-based misbehaviors is the wrong approach. It is costing taxpayers too much money and costing the lives of our students most in need of an opportunity to get an education. VOYCE believes that we need to invest in our young people by focusing our resources on strategies that address the root cause of the issues. We have a motto that we try to work toward creating a transformative education and lessen the transactional experiences. This is why VOYCE works tirelessly to end the school-to-prison pipeline and uplifting student voice through sensable reforms to the system. We need schools that will provide an education and transform our lives for the better.

Last year hundreds of students have been arrested in schools for minor reasons across our state and thousands across the country. We are young people, we are learning, and we are growing. We need support, we need connections, and we need education. As Tonii once said, “giving up has always been my option, but it has never been my choice.” Students go to school to learn, and that is why VOYCE and the young people who have worked so hard to support the work that we do will not give up until schools handle all students actions with the correct resources. Police should not be handling all issues in the community or in our schools.

The Voices Of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) is a youth-led alliance that is made up of four different community based organizations; Communities United, Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), Westside Health Authority (WHA), and Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere (MOVE). Khadijah Lee is a senior at Prosser Career Academy and is a core student organizer with VOYCE. If you want to know more about VOYCE please contact Maria Degillo, VOYCE coordinator, at maria@voyceproject.org  

EQUITY SERIES: SEL, Whole Child Education and Student Readiness: How do They Connect?

(Coordinated School Health, Equity Series) Permanent link

Guest Post by Karen Pittman, Co-Founder, President and CEO, The Forum for Youth Investment

Imagine this scenario. A smiling five-year-old is brought into a bare room with a table. On the table is a plate with a single marshmallow. The researcher who brought them in says she will back in 15 minutes, and gives them a choice: they can eat the one marshmallow while she’s gone or wait until she returns and have two. This simple test turned out to be an effective measure of willpower or self-control and a strong predictor of future success. Children who displayed early ability to defer gratification, on average, had higher SAT scores, lower body mass index and a host of other desirable outcomes.i


marshmallowtotalchildblog

For decades, the results of the “Marshmallow Test” have been used to suggest that traits like self-control, emotion management and grit matter. Rightly or wrongly, however, the study has also been interpreted to suggest that these are relatively immutable traits that are baked into children early. 

We now have ample evidence that these skills are malleable. Brain research confirms that these skills continue to develop well into adolescent years and even beyond.ii Program evaluations show an increase in skill growth in response to explicit instruction.iii Combined, these findings suggest the need for more intentional focus on social and emotional learning (SEL) as a part of schools’ commitment to educating the whole child.iv  

The good news is that educators are responding to this challenge. The bad news is that efforts to teach SEL can sometimes reinforce counterproductive stereotypes about students and their families.

The statement that social and emotional skills can be taught is technically correct. But the suggestion that schools should teach these skills too often ends with the selection of a curriculum that emphasizes teaching SEL content. This expedient decision can pull educators away from having broader discussions about creating learning contexts that encourage students to demonstrate and build on the skills they have.

A new marshmallow study makes this point unequivocally. Researchers at the University of Rochester once again put young kids into a room with a marshmallow. But this time, the children were randomly assigned to have a pre-encounter with a member of the research team. Some had an unreliable experience: The adult promised fun art supplies but never came back. Others had a positive experience: The adult delivered the art supplies as promised. The impact of this seemingly insignificant encounter was amazing.v  

In the original study, the average time young children waited before eating the marshmallow was about 6 minutes. In this study, the average time for the group that had the reliable pre-experience was 12 minutes. The average time for the group with the unreliable pre-experience was only 3 minutes! Dramatic findings like these are almost unheard of in behavioral studies.

This simple test has enormous implications. It reminds us that even at a young age, a child’s behavior is a product of what they can generally do and what they believe makes sense to do in that situation or environment. The difference between the two groups is clearly not related to their general ability to delay gratification—it is related to their assessment of the specific behavioral cues provided by the adults around them.

A new branch of research called the science of learning reinforces the new marshmallow test findings. This research supports a simple premise: In order for children and youth to learn specific content (academic or otherwise), we must first ensure that we have created learning environments in which they feel socially accepted, emotionally safe and generally supported.vi If these conditions aren’t met, young people are far less likely to engage in the learning activities, to show and use the skills and knowledge they already know, and to take the risk of stretching themselves into new areas of learning and leadership.vii  

 Consider the differences between these two statements:

  • Educators should prioritize social and emotional learning.
  •  Educators should recognize that learning is social and emotional.

 The first statement suggests that educators should take on responsibility for yet another set of skills that they and their students will be held accountable for. This means either that time has to be carved out of the school day to support explicit instruction, or that teachers have to squeeze SEL instruction into what are already demanding and prescriptive curricula.

The second statement suggests that educators need to understand the social and emotional profiles that their students bring into school and do as much as they can to anticipate their reactions to the learning demands, structures and supports being offered them in order to co-create contexts for learning that will differ school to school, class to class, and perhaps student to student.

The second statement, on its surface, seems more challenging. But it is also more empowering. It requires that school administrators, families, and communities acknowledge and support the powerful role that teachers can play not only as deliverers of academic content, but as shapers of the social and emotional contexts in which academic, social and emotional learning happens.

The push to formally integrate social and emotional skills development into the school day and the school curricula is playing out in at least three distinct (but overlapping) efforts.

  • Efforts to improve student behavior in order to address school discipline and school climate issues.
  •  Efforts to increase student engagement in learning through more active, personalized approaches to teaching subject areas such as science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) that respond to talent pipeline gaps.
  •  Efforts to prepare students for their future roles as citizens, community leaders and change makers.

All of these efforts involve deliberate work to integrate opportunities to name, use and build social and emotional skills into the learning content. Not all of these, however, are called social and emotional learning.  

 Project-based learning, deeper learning, service learning, STEM, career and technical education are examples of teaching/learning approaches and curricula that require students to practice the full range of social and emotional skills in the service of mastering academic content. These approaches focus more explicitly on skills like teamwork, problem-solving, critical-thinking, and initiative. These curricula or approaches are frequently described by their content focus or broader academic learning approaches.viii

These approaches, unfortunately, may not be equally available to all students. Teachers in gifted and talented programs and magnet schools, for example, are more likely to be trained and incorporate opportunities for students to demonstrate and develop all of these skills in their classrooms. A growing number of schools and school networks designed to provide these types of learning environments to low-income and minority students exist, but they are not the norm.ix  

Explicitly branded social and emotional programs (such as PBIS – Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports), in contrast, may focus on these “higher order” skills, but typically have emotion management and empathy as their starting points, moving on to include skills like “grit".x Many schools and districts have begun to implement curricula by starting with an explicit focus on improving student behavior. They have made a strategic decision to roll out these initiatives first in their weakest schools.

This targeted approach is justifiable. It can be an important first step towards reversing the disturbing trends in school discipline and suspension rates and in reducing disparities associated with race, ethnicity, income and gender. This first step becomes dangerous and divisive when it is the only step taken, or, more specifically, the only step taken for a subset of schools serving students and families whose lived experiences give them reasons not to trust schools and educators and give educators reasons not to have high expectations for students.xi  

It is absolutely unacceptable in the 21st century to have the social, emotional and academic competency expectations for black, brown and poor students be defined as having behavior good enough to allow them to stay in their seats so that they can complete needed credits. Readiness for college, work and life requires proficiency if not mastery of the social, emotional and academic competencies that have become the vocabulary of the workforce.

 Learning is social and emotional.

 Honoring this premise means that schools as well as any other systems in which students spend their time have to ensure that all students have access to environments that they find safe, supportive, stimulating and empowering. This means creating safe, supportive, stimulating and empowering opportunities for the adults who work with students to reflect on their own skills, assess the adequacy and have the time and resources needed to create appropriate learning contexts– from core classes to communal spaces. It also means providing opportunities for teachers, students and families to voice and influence systemic changes in the conditions beyond their control that are affecting the social and emotional health of their school communities.xii  

When faced with the opportunity to truly improve young people’s readiness for college, work and life, how can we not respond with all we have?

---

i Mischel, Walter; Ebbesen, Ebbe B.; Raskoff Zeiss, Antonette (1972). "Cognitive and attentional mechanisms in delay of gratification." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 21 (2): 204–218.
iiThe Adolescent Brain, Executive Summary, by Jim Casey Opportunities Initiative, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2017 from http://www.aecf.org/resources/the-adolescent-brain/.
Siegel, Dan. Brainstorm: The Teenage Brain from the Inside Out (2014). Penguin Group.
iiiDurlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D. & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing
students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1): 405–432.
ivSocial, Emotional and Academic Development Fast Facts. (n.d.). The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. Retrieved July 17, 2017, from https://dorutodpt4twd.cloudfront.net/content/uploads/2016/11/NCSEADInfographic_Final2.pdf
vCasey, B. J.; Somerville, Leah H.; Gotlib, Ian H.; Ayduk, Ozlem; Franklin, Nicholas T.; Askren, Mary K.; Jonides, John; Berman, Mark G.; Wilson, Nicole L.; Teslovich, Theresa; Glover, Gary; Zayas, Vivian; Mischel, Walter; Shoda, Yuichi (August 29, 2011). "From the Cover: Behavioral and neural correlates of delay of gratification 40 years later". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108 (36): 14998–15003.
Shorter summary: The Marshmallow Study Revisited. (2012). University of Rochester. Retrieved July 17, 2017 from http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=4622.
viBerg, Juliette, et al. Science of Learning and Development (2016). (Pre-pub copy) The Opportunity Institute, The Learning Policy Institute, Education Counsel.
viiDurlak, J.A. et al. (2011) “The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions.” Child Development, 82(1) pp.405-432.
Smith, Charles et al. (2016) Preparing Youth to Thrive: Methodology and Findings from the Social and Emotional Learning Challenge. The Forum for Youth Investment, Washington D.C.
viiiEmdin, Christopher. “5 New Approaches to Teaching and Learning: The Next Frontier.” The Huffington Post. January 31, 2014.
Retrieved July 17, 2017 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-emdin/5-new-approaches-to-teaching-strategies_b_4697731.html.
ixExamples include Big Picture Learning network schools (http://www.bigpicture.org/), EL Education schools (https://eleducation.org/), XQ Super Schools (https://xqsuperschool.org/), and KIPP Public Charter schools (http://www.kipp.org/).
xJones, S. et al. Navigating SEL from the Inside Out. (March 2017). Published on line. Harvard School of Education with funding from the Wallace Foundation. Retrieved July 17, 2017 from
http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/Documents/Navigating-Social-and-Emotional-Learning-from-the-Inside-Out.pdf.
xiHarold, Benjamin. “Is ‘Grit’ Racist?” Education Week. January 24, 2015.
xiiBridgeland, J., Bruce, M., & Hariharan, A. (2013). The Missing Piece: A National Teacher Survey on How Social and Emotional Learning can Empower Children and Transform Schools. A report for CASEL. Washington, DC: Civic Enterprises.

EQUITY SERIES: New Research Explores FLNE Student Experience in Massachusetts

(National Awareness, Equity Series) Permanent link

 FLNECover

 A new report from the Center for Promise, supported by Pearson, explores what it’s like to be a First Language is Not English (FLNE) student in Massachusetts. Despite displaying an eagerness and motivation to learn, FLNE students experience a complex set of factors—from language barriers to school climate—that keep them behind.

I Came Here to Learn: The Achievements and Experiences of Massachusetts Students Whose First Language is Not English highlights that being an English Learner does not have to be synonymous with being a low academic performer. Some FLNE groups graduate at rates on par or even substantially higher than their native English-speaking peers. Others lag far behind. Learn more: http://bit.ly/Here2Learn

Feeding Hungry Minds: Superintendent Leadership for Alternative School Breakfast Programs Request for Proposals

(Alternative School Breakfast , Student Support Services) Permanent link

 School Breakfast Logo

 AASA, The School Superintendents Association, has funding from the Walmart Foundation to support "Feeding Hungry Minds", the Association's alternative school breakfast program.

AASA will provide funding for infrastructure (e.g. kiosks, insulated bags and other equipment for school breakfast implementation), and other equipment and supply needs around school breakfast implementation.

AASA invites proposals from qualified school districts that possess the commitment, need, and capacity to participate in this alternative school breakfast initiative.

The deadline for submission of proposals is July 31, 2017.Send completed applications and questions to Kayla Jackson at kjackson@aasa.org.

The full application is below; please download all three documents.


 School Governance and Leadership Publication

 SGL SlideShow

 In preparation for your submission, you may also want to read our latest School Governance and Leadership, Feeding Hungry Minds: Stories From the Field, developed with support from the Walmart Foundation. It focuses on the impact of school breakfast by telling the stories of stakeholders including superintendents, food service directors, parents and students.

 

Making Memorial Day Meaningful: Supporting Military-Connected Students

(National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

A guest post by Dr. Tom Demaria from the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, who develops a number of topical articles on bereavement for the Coalition to Support Grieving Students

Memorial Day was established after the Civil War to honor those who had died while in military service. It is observed each year on the last Monday of May. While non-military families often see Memorial Day as the first celebration of summer, those connected to the military are likely to see it differently.

Military-connected students almost certainly attend your schools. There are nearly 2 million children of active service members—that is, with parents in active duty military, National Guard or Reserves. They live in communities across the nation. Over 80% attend public schools.

Things To Know 

 Here are some helpful things to consider if you are planning learning activities or other student events related to Memorial Day.

  •  Memorial Day is a solemn day for most military families. Many spend it visiting cemeteries to place flowers or flags on graves. They may attend special programs remembering those who have died in service.
  •  Children who have lost a loved one through a line-of-duty death often revisit powerful feelings of grief at this time of year.
  •  Memorial Day is not the same as Veteran’s Day. While Veteran’s Day honors all who have served in our military. Memorial Day focuses particularly on those who have died in the line of duty. This distinction is quite important to military-connected children and their families.
  •  The TAPS Good Grief Camp is a weekend experience offered over Memorial Day weekend to child survivors of service members who died in the line of duty.

 Things to Do

 To support military-connected children, especially those who are grieving a line-of-duty death, consider these steps. 

  •  Offer students opportunities to think about and discuss the serious and solemn qualities of Memorial Day.
  •  If active service members or veterans are invited to speak to students at this time of year, ask them to acknowledge and address the deeper meanings of Memorial Day.
  •  Support students’ efforts to attend events such as the Good Grief Camp.
  •  If you know military-connected students, especially if they are grieving, reach out as Memorial Day approaches. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask whether Memorial Day brings up any thoughts or feelings they’d like to talk about. Let them know you’re thinking of them.

 The Coalition to Support Grieving Students offers a range of free resources that can help educators learn more about supporting grieving students. They have just released a special module, Supporting Children and Family Survivors of Military Line-of-Duty Deaths. This will be helpful to any educator working with military-connected children. Our organization is a member of the Coalition.

 

Supporting Students After the Manchester Tragedy

(National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

Monday night's bombing in Manchester, England has likely unsettled some of your students, especially because so many of the deceased and injured are school-age. As the school year comes to a close, many students are preparing for trips to amusement parks, vacations to new places and concert venues to see their favorite artists. Cowardly actions like those of  the suspected suicide bomber will make some students AND adults afraid to go about their normal lives. In light of this, AASA has pulled together some resources to help you talk with your students as they process their grief and fear. These tools can help you provide suggestions for coping with this event and similar events in a healthy way.

 With any questions, please contact Kayla Jackson, project director, AASA, at kjackson@aasa.org or 703-875-0725.

 

Take the Prevention Promise: A Parent's Story

(National Awareness) Permanent link

The following guest post is by Martha Lopez-Anderson, Executive Director of Parent Heart Watch. She tells her story of how she became involved with Parent Heart Watch and why it's important to Take the Prevention Promise.

 A beautiful and sunny Sunday afternoon in February 2004 became the darkest day of my life. One minute my active 10 year-old son, Sean, was happily rollerblading to a friend’s house and the next he was lying unresponsive on the sidewalk of our neighborhood.

 PHWblogMay22
Martha Lopez-Anderson with her son, Sean.

At first, neighbors thought he was having a seizure and called 911, but it wasn’t until a neighbor and registered nurse recognized he was not breathing, that CPR was started. Police were the first to arrive at the scene. Paramedics followed more than 10 minutes later and used a device known as an automated external defibrillator or AED several times to shock Sean’s heart back to rhythm, but his heart just quivered…it was too late.

Ironically, Sean’s heart had stopped beating just two days after he had participated in Jump Rope for Heart at his school.

 Four and a half months later we learned that Sean had suffered sudden cardiac arrest or SCA due to a heart condition that went undetected until after his death. How could my seemingly healthy son be gone? He was not sick and had never missed a well-checkup. I thought of myself as an informed and resourceful parent, yet I was totally blindsided by sudden cardiac arrest.

As I grieved the loss of my baby boy and searched for answers, Parent Heart Watch reached out to me, which is how I became educated about sudden cardiac arrest in youth, its causes, prevention strategies and treatment. Like the fact that 1 in 300 youth has an undiagnosed heart condition that puts them at risk for SCA. And that sometimes, warning signs of a potential heart condition go unrecognized and unreported.

Do you know what made my grief worse? Learning that my son’s death could have been potentially prevented. How you may ask? Through early detection or by simply being prepared in the event of a cardiac emergency.

Sadly, mine is just one story.

 According to a US Fire Administration census on school building fires between 2009 - 2011, there were an estimated 75 fire-related injuries, with resulting fatalities being rare. The National Fire Protection Association reports that there have been eight K-12 school fires with 10 or more deaths since 1908. Likely because every school is now equipped with fire extinguishers and fire drills.

 PHWlogomay22

Now consider this: SCA is the #1 killer of student athletes and is the leading cause of death on school campuses. Given this tragic dynamic, educators could play a critical role in saving lives by championing SCA awareness throughout their school community and advocating for life-saving SCA prevention tools on their campus.

 We lose thousands of youth each year to sudden cardiac arrest because adults who live and work with youth are not prepared for a cardiac emergency, either as parents who are not encouraged to proactively protect their kid’s heart through a cardiac risk assessment and screening, or as educators, coaches, counselors and others who have not had the opportunity to equip their facilities with cardiac emergency response plans, CPR trained staff and automated external defibrillators.

 There is a national movement called Take the Prevention Promise that compels anyone who has children or works with them to get educated about the true incidence of sudden cardiac arrest in youth and how anyone can save a life. Educational resources and tools can be found at www.ParentHeartWatch.org.

 My hope is that we can all take the time to be prepared – the life you save could very well be your own child’s.

'13 Reasons Why' Discussion Resource Library for Educators and Parents

(Coordinated School Health, National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

 13reasonswhybanner

The new Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, based on 2007 the young adult novel of the same name, revolves around a 17 year old girl, Hannah Baker, who commits suicide. She leaves behind audio recordings to 13 people- 12 students and one school counselor- who she perceives as playing a role in why she killed herself.

 Due to the realistic and graphic depictions of – among other topics-- bullying, rape and the protagonist’s suicide in the show, AASA compiled a resource library for parents and educators on how to talk to youth about the issues conveyed on the show.

 As the National Association of School Psychologists states , “ this is particularly important for adolescents who are isolated, struggling or vulnerable to suggestive images and storylines,” and it is vital to reinforce the message that “suicide is not the solution to problems and help is available.”

The following are the resources we have compiled as of Friday April 28, 2017. We will update the resource library on an ongoing basis on the following page: http://aasa.org/13ReasonsWhyResources.aspx 

Staff Contact

 Kayla Jackson, Project Director
703-875-0725
kjackson@aasa.org

 Resource Library

  •  National Association of School Psychologists. "'13 Reasons Why' Netflix Series: Considerations for Educators"
    •  This resource includes cautions related to the show, guidance for families and educators in recognizing the signs related to youth suicide, safe messaging when talking to students , and additional websites, fact sheets and books to reference on this topic.
     
  •  Child Mind Institute. "Why Talk to Kids About '13 Reasons Why.'" A blog post by Peter Faustino, PsyD, who is a school psychologist in the Bedford Central School District (NY) and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of School Psychologists.
  •  The Jed Foundation and SAVE. "13 Reasons Why: Talking Points for Viewing & Discussing the Netflix Series"
    •  Talking points , available in both English and Spanish, to assist parents, teachers and other educators in talking to youth about suicide as it relates to the situational drama that unfolds in '13 Reasons Why.' 
     

Do you want to offer school meals at no cost to all students?

(Alternative School Breakfast , National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

Guest Post by Alison Maurice, MSW, child nutrition policy analyst at the Food Research & Action Center.

FRAC will co-host a webinar with AASA and the National Rural Education Association on May 8th at 1pm EST on the Community Eligibility Provision. Learn more and Register.  
 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision is a powerful tool for high-need schools to provide breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students. Community eligibility reduces administrative paperwork for schools and increases school meal participation and benefits the entire community —students, families, school nutrition staff and administrators.

Why should I consider community eligibility for my school district? 

 FRACCEPPhoto

 Educators know that in order for children to learn, they must be well-nourished. Schools play an important role in ensuring students have access to healthy meals. That is why community eligibility continues to grow in popularity among high-need school districts. Community eligibility has been successful at increasing school breakfast and lunch participation, so more students experience the positive educational outcomes that are linked to participating in school meals. In the current school year, nearly 10 million children in over 20,000 schools and 3,500 school districts are being offered breakfast and lunch at no charge through the community eligibility program.

What are the benefits of community eligibility? 

 School districts participating in community eligibility benefit from: 

  •  less administrative work. School administrators no longer need to collect and verify school meal applications and can focus more resources on providing nutritious meals for students;
  •  increased participation in the school breakfast and lunch programs. In initial pilot states, community eligibility increased breakfast participation by 9.4 percent and increased lunch participation by 5.2 percent;
  •  improved financial viability of school nutrition programs. When community eligibility becomes available at a school, school meal participation increases, which can improve school nutrition finances; and
  •  the elimination of unpaid meal fees. This means schools no longer need to collect money from families or find available funds for the meals that go unpaid by students.

 Additionally, by offering meals at no charge to all students, community eligibility makes it easier for schools to leverage innovative school breakfast service models, such as breakfast in the classroom, “grab and go” breakfast, and second chance breakfast. Traditional school breakfast programs that operate before the school day begins must compete with hectic morning schedules and late bus arrivals. Rather, breakfast after the bell service models integrate breakfast into the school day, allowing more children to start the day ready to learn. 

How does community eligibility work? 

 Community eligibility allows high-need school districts and schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students, while eliminating the school meal application process. Any school district, group of schools in a district, or individual school with 40 percent or more “identified students” — children who are certified for free meals without submitting a school meal application — can choose to participate in community eligibility.

Identified Students Include:

  • children who live in households that receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and in some states, Medicaid benefits; and
  •  children who are homeless, migrant, enrolled in Head Start, or in foster care.

 How will my schools get reimbursed?

Once a school, group of schools, or school district establishes its identified student percentage (ISP), the ISP is multiplied by 1.6 to determine the percentage of meals reimbursed at the free reimbursement rate (capped at 100 percent). The remainder is reimbursed at the paid rate. This percentage is locked in for four years, unless the ISP goes up, in which case it would be adjusted to reflect the increase. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a “Community Eligibility Provision Estimator ” tool to help school districts determine if community eligibility makes financial sense. There is a lot of flexibility in how schools are grouped to determine the ISP, allowing districts to group schools to ensure financial viability.

 

Identified Student Percentage (ISP)

Meals Reimbursed at the Free Rate

Meals Reimbursed at the Paid Rate

40%

64%

36%

45%

72%

28%

50%

80%

20%

55%

88%

12%

60%

96%

4%

65%

100%

0%


 What can I do right now?

 Start planning for the 2017–2018 school year today. Find out which school districts and schools in your state have implemented community eligibility or were eligible during the 2016–2017 school year using FRAC’s Community Eligibility Database .

 Check out these resources to learn more about community eligibility:

 By adopting community eligibility, you can increase participation in school breakfast and lunch, ensuring your students the nutrition needed to succeed in school.

 Is there a deadline for my school district to apply for community eligibility?

On May 1, 2017, your state’s education agencies will publish a list of schools and school districts that qualify for community eligibility. Review the list to see which of your schools qualify for the 2017–2018 school year.

The deadline to apply to use community eligibility in the 2017–2018 school year is June 30, 2017.

 For more information on community eligibility, reach out to Alison Maurice , child nutrition policy analyst at the Food Research & Action Center .

EQUITY SERIES: Many Miles to go on the Equity Journey

(Equity Series) Permanent link

The following is a guest cross-post by Jimmy Minichello, AASA's Director of Communications and Marketing. The original post is on the AASA website homepage under Top News

 blogeduradiomattbryan

The day Matthew Utterback was named AASA’s 2017 National Superintendent of the Year, he said, “I don’t think there is anything more important in our work than to honor a student’s history, culture and identity, and affirm who they are in our public school systems.”  

Equity is a key issue for Utterback, the superintendent of Oregon’s North Clackamas School District. That was the topic of conversation when he appeared on Education Talk Radio earlier this week.

“It’s really been a wonderful opportunity for us to share some of the good work that’s been happening in our school district for the last four or five years,” said Utterback, who leads a district comprised of 17,000 students. “A really concentrated effort on equity which we’re finding has had pretty dramatic influence on improving student achievement.”

Accompanying Utterback on the program was Bryan Joffe, AASA’s project director for the organization’s Children’s Programs Department.

“Equity is really about all ensuring that all children have great access to a quality education,” said Joffe. “It’s really trying to change what we have in this country—that demographics is a (constant) predictor of student success. That has to change.”

At North Clackamas Schools, Utterback said 33 percent of the student population are students of color, with 40 percent on free and reduced lunch. “Our staff has remained traditionally White. There is a disconnect for many of our students. They don’t see themselves reflected in the curriculum and they don’t see themselves on our staff. Given that, how do we, as a school system, respond to that disconnect. That has been our focus in North Clackamas.”

Utterback added, “Our job then as educators is how do we bring in the culture, history, experiences of our students into our school system? How do we affirm students for who they are and what they’re bringing to us? How does that reflect into our curriculum and how does that reflect itself into our teaching strategies and our practices?”

Joffe affirmed that through various initiatives administered by AASA’s Children’s Programs, the work to address these critical issues is underway. These initiatives include School Breakfast, School Discipline and Coordinated School Health.

“It shouldn’t be the district (with high concentrations of) poverty also has low achievement,” he said. “It’s all about trying to give children an equal and fair chance.”

Although great strides are underway at North Clackamas Schools, Utterback said much more work needs to be done. “We still have many miles to go in this journey.”

Asked about being named the 2017 National Superintendent of the Year, Utterback said it’s an “amazing opportunity to share our stories in our work. We do have a story to share. I’m excited to represent AASA and superintendents across the country and bring to life the amazing work that public schools bring to this country every day.”

 Click here to listen to the program.