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Early grades become the new front in absenteeism wars
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
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While many think of chronic absenteeism as a secondary school problem, research is beginning to suggest that the start of elementary school is the critical time to prevent truancy — particularly as those programs become more academic. "Early attendance is essential; This is where you really want to work on them," said Kim Nauer, the education project director at the Center for New York City Affairs, which studies attendance issues. Yet statistics show that rates of absenteeism in kindergarten and 1st grade can rival those in high school. An average of one in 10 students younger than grade 3 nationwide is considered chronically absent, defined as missing 10 percent or more of school. That's about 18 days in a normal 180-day year, according to the San Francisco-based Attendance Counts and the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation and others. More

For gay youths, middle school can be toughest time
The Associated Press via Google News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
With recent stories of anti-gay bullying and tragic suicides of gay youth at the forefront of the national conversation, experts say they are increasingly seeing evidence that middle school is the toughest time for gay youth — a time of intense self discovery, but also one when bullying and intolerance are at their peaks. Evidence collected over the past few years indicates it's at this age — 11 to 13 or 14 — when many youngsters realize they are gay and consider coming out. Some take the plunge, and some don't. Yet it's a difficult time for such identity struggles, because it's an age when being different feels the most painful. More

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Preschool educators strive for just the right balance
The Boston Globe    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Play is the occupation of childhood, the way young minds learn, authorities on development say. But as kindergarten programs grow increasingly academic, educators differ on whether preschool play should be molded and focused, or given free rein. Massachusetts Public Schools are required to base their curriculum from kindergarten through high school on frameworks created by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, with children tested regularly beginning in first grade. Preschools, on the other hand, receive guidelines from the state for helping children develop skills and knowledge through play and planned activities. The guidelines cover areas such as language arts, math, health education, and music. More

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Students at a Maryland middle school sing the stories
they see in the news

The Washington Post (commentary)    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Middle school is an unlikely launching pad to musical superstardom, but a group of politically aware students at Charles Carroll Middle School in Maryland might have rocketed ahead of the competition. A music video they wrote and recorded about the life of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor so impressed her that she visited the Prince George's County school in April. They recently released another video about the passage of the health care bill, and they're working on one about Oprah Winfrey. More



Schools begin taking bullying by the horns
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As assistant principal at Jefferson Middle School in Mt. Lebanon, Pa., for four years, Robert Friel was in charge of discipline, and that meant dealing with the school's bullies. He encountered typical bullies — those who push and shove in the hallways and ridicule students in the lunchroom or gym. But just as often, Friel found himself dealing with bullies who aren't so obvious: cyberbullies. Those bullies hide behind their computers, cell phones and other electronics, using them to issue taunts and threats and to spread nasty rumors far more quickly and anonymously than the bullies who act in person. More

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You can lead kids to healthy food, but can psychology make them eat?
USA Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Hide the chocolate milk behind the plain milk. Get those apples and oranges out of stainless steel bins and into pretty baskets. Cash only for desserts. These subtle moves can entice kids to make healthier choices in school lunch lines, studies show. Food and restaurant marketers have long used similar tricks. Now the government wants in on the act. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced what it called a major new initiative, giving $2 million to food behavior scientists to find ways to use psychology to improve kids' use of the federal school lunch program and fight childhood obesity. More



Number of education civil rights complaints on the rise
The Associated Press via Yahoo! News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
African American boys who are suspended at double and triple the rates of their white male peers. The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights received nearly 7,000 complaints this fiscal year, an 11 percent increase and the largest jump in at least 10 years, according to data provided by the department. The increase comes as the office proceeds with 54 compliance reviews in districts and institutions of higher education nationwide, including cases involving disparate discipline rates and treatment of students with disabilities. More

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Study challenges states on 'fairness' of funding
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A new study finds that many states fall short in the "fairness" of their school funding models, measured not just by the amount of money they provide to education, but also by whether they direct sufficient resources to the poorest schools. The study, based on a detailed analysis of pre-recession data, was by the Education Law Center, a Newark, N.J.,-based organization that advocates for equal opportunities and funding for public school students through research, policy development, and legal action. About four-fifths of the states evaluated by the authors received a "C" grade or lower on the extent to which they "progressively" fund education — or channel greater resources to poorer, rather than wealthier, districts. More



Some schools drop anti-drug program to save money
The Associated Press via The St. Louis Post-Dispatch    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
While some Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs in Missouri school districts are expanding — even reaching new student audiences — other districts are struggling and have been forced to cut the course. The Jackson School District, which in previous years brought in a police officer to teach its middle school students, cut DARE from its curriculum this academic year. Jackson superintendent Ron Anderson said the district didn't cut DARE — a program known for teaching students certain skills to avoiding negative behavior — because of its effectiveness but because of budget constraints. A grant had previously covered the cost of DARE for the district, but without the grant it paid around $35,000, according to Anderson. More

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Michelle Rhee's departure isn't expected to slow public school change in Washington, DC
The New York Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
With Michelle Rhee's decision to resign as the Washington schools chancellor, the movement to shake up the nation's public schools is losing perhaps its most visible leader. But changes were sweeping through the halls of public education before Rhee took over the leadership of the Washington schools three years ago. So her departure seemed unlikely to slow that momentum, experts said. "This movement has become so much bigger than one person," said Timothy Daly, president of the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit group Rhee founded in 1998 to help school districts hire more effective teachers. More

Florida class-size debate focuses on flexibility, funding
The Miami Herald    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
"Flexibility" and "funding" are the buzzwords of the debate over a Nov. 2 ballot proposal that would loosen Florida's class-size limits. Amendment 8's supporters say it'll give schools the flexibility they need to avoid such drastic measures as busing kids to other schools and combining two grades in a single classroom to comply with class-size requirements. "By voting for Amendment 8, Floridians can make class sizes more manageable without making them overcrowded," said Larry Wood, managing director of the Florida Association of School Administrators. "Amendment 8 strikes the right balance between achieving flexibility and smaller class sizes." More

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Los Angeles Unified settlement of lawsuit mushroomed into
assault on long-held district practices

The Los Angeles Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
An effort to lessen layoffs at three middle schools became a vehicle to propel fundamental changes, such as requiring layoffs at the same rate campus by campus. A lawsuit filed this year against the Los Angeles Unified School District began with a narrow demand: Stop layoffs from decimating the staff — and harming students — at three of the city's worst-performing middle schools. But when the Board of Education announced a proposed settlement, what emerged was an ambitious assault on some of the district's longest-held practices. More

US Education Secretary helps dedicate KIPP charter school
First Coast News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised the work being done at KIPP Jacksonville in Florida, a new charter school that was officially dedicated. The school is beginning its first year with 92 fifth-graders. The plan is to add an additional class each year. KIPP Jacksonville stresses to children the importance of preparing themselves for college. More



Distinguished principals to be honored this week
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Sixty-two elementary and middle school principals will be recognized this week for their exceptional school leadership during NAESP's National Distinguished Principals (NDP) program in Washington, D.C. Individuals in the NDP class of 2010 exemplify the highest attributes of the elementary and middle-level principalship and demonstrate significant career accomplishments; dedication to education; exemplary leadership; high standards for instruction and student achievement; and lasting contributions to their entire school communities. More

Bullying resources just a click away
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
NAESP's website offers a number of resources you can use to help combat bullying in your school. More

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Before the Bell is a benefit of your membership in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). For information about other member benefits, visit www.naesp.org or contact us at naesp@naesp.org.

Before the Bell is a digest of the most important news selected for NAESP from thousands of sources by the editors of MultiBriefs, an independent organization that also manages and sells advertising. The presence of such advertising does not endorse, or imply endorsement of, any products or services by NAESP. Neither NAESP nor Multiview is liable for the use of or reliance on any information contained in this briefing.

Feedback about an article? Contact NAESP Liaison Kevin Craft at kcraft@naesp.org.
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