Our nation and the entire world are changing rapidly. With the rise of threats to our children’s safety like depression, lack of mental health resources, familial disruptions, and school violence and shootings, it is imperative that we equip teachers and school personnel with the tools they need to recognize and respond to all students, in all classrooms.
In today’s schools, students are suffering from a variety of issues; one that arises too often is mental health. Unfortunately, it is not always apparent what these students are experiencing. Depression is rampant. Emotional stress stems from a variety of external factors including depression, divorce, social media anxiety, lost friendships, bullying or simply feeling out of touch with others. It is imperative, now more than ever, that our teachers are prepared to notice when students are experiencing these types of trauma. Trauma informed practices allow teachers to be trained well beyond the obvious clues and prepares them to be aware of early, less apparent warning signs, so they can successfully and swiftly intervene to help a student in need.
During the month of October, AACTE has addressed the importance of school safety in its recent Thought Leadership series. AACTE Dean in Residence Leslie T. Fenwick took time to share in this video how she led a new approach at Howard University to prepare teacher candidates for ensuring safe learning environments in classrooms. In 2010, Howard’s College of Education innovated its undergraduate elementary education program by focusing on ways to better meet the safety needs of local students in its Washington D.C. community.
To evaluate the impact of the new program, “Teacher Talks” were convened with faculty members and novice teachers who were recent graduates of Howard’s College of Education. The graduates shared case studies about their students during the meetings and stories about how many of their children were exposed to violence either in their home or community, oftentimes with a relative being shot. The graduates also reported that their training in human development, with an asset lens, and the knowledge base they received from courses outside of the college of education helped them to reach their students individually as a teacher or connect them to resources in their community.
As educators, protecting and nurturing the health and well-being of our nation’s most precious investment—our youth—is always top of mind. Safeguarding their welfare and creating supportive learning ecosystems should be national priorities. Unfortunately, no one piece of legislation, no one initiative, no one activist, or caring teacher can bring that umbrella of safety to every student, everywhere, all the time. What we need to be talking about openly and often across the nation is prevention: training, learning, and preparing. This begins at the federal level with funding to equip our state and local leaders with the tools necessary to create and foster a safe and balanced learning environment for all students.
There are classrooms and schools in this country where teachers are armed with weapons. It is a dark reality, and one that AACTE does not support. Federal funds should not be used to arm teachers. Funds should instead be used to incentivize building learning communities through supportive training in social and emotional learning, and to prepare profession-ready teachers. Federal money
Around the country, regulators and legislators are demonstrating that they understand the urgent need to promote school safety. The 2019 state legislative session was an active one on the subject. Hundreds of bills were introduced covering every aspect of the matter from prevention to response. Join me as I present a wide-ranging overview and analysis of some of the most noteworthy school safety bills introduced over the year, with a particular focus on legislation impacting student and teacher mental health, in an upcoming State of the States webinar.
We encourage you to register in advance for the member-exclusive State of the States webinar, which will take place Thursday, October 31 from 11 a.m. to noon ET.
There will be time at the end of the webinar for questions and answers. The webinar will be recorded and posted on the website for future viewing.
For questions, please contact me at email@example.com.
America is a country of immigrants. Through each wave of immigration, our public schools incorporate immigrant children into the fabric of our country. Our public schools serve as a cultural incubator to aid and nurture acceptance of diversity. Our local classrooms should be a microcosm of a global demographic. We, as educators, need to harness that belief for our teachers and the students they teach and guide.
How do America’s immigration challenges impact schools?
The challenge is that there are undocumented students entering U.S. schools, colleges, and universities who were not given the option to decide for themselves whether they wanted to come to this country. They have been incorporated into society, but are affected by current practices that impact their safety and security. It is projected that by the year 2040, one in every three children in the United States will grow up in an immigrant household (Suárez-Orozco, Suárez-Orozco, & Todorova, 2008). It begs the question: How do we work with those students?
Educators, school support staff, and service providers are often the first individuals in whom a student and/or family confides and reveals that they are undocumented. Recent efforts to identify undocumented parents and children in the United States challenge public schools in their efforts to meet the needs of all children residing within their school districts. Public schools are often embroiled in politically and legally sensitive situations, in which they must balance their responsibilities to serve immigrant and undocumented children, while meeting the expectations of local authorities to identify undocumented individuals.
What role do educators play in supporting immigrant children and their families?
This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide update information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
Congress is heading out of town—the House leaving today for a six-week recess and the Senate leaving at the end of next week. With the amazing budget deal headed for the finish line, September promises to be full of appropriations bills, including the education funding bill we’ve all been waiting for.
Unbelievable: Congress and the White House Make a Deal on 2 Year Budget Caps and Debt Ceiling
In a stunning proactive bipartisan move, the Congress and the White House have agreed to a two-year budget deal. This frees up all lawmakers and the president to focus on the 2020 elections without the threat of a government shutdown. Key features of the deal include the following:
The Education Commission of the States (ECS) recently released a report regarding college campus safety policies, based on its research gathered from statutes in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Though it does not include postsecondary board or institutional policies, the 50-State Comparison: Postsecondary Campus Safety report provides an overview of relevant laws in each state. However, this resource does not reflect on how these laws may interact with other state or federal policies.
Key takeaways from the report include the news that 22 states have codified a campus sexual assault policy; five states have defined affirmative consent; and 22 states have written into statute a prohibition for individuals to carry firearms on public college or university campuses.
This resource reviews state statutes that explicitly address sexual misconduct on college campuses or off-campus incidents that involve at least one student. It also examines state statutes that explicitly allow or prohibit guns on college campuses and those states in which statute allows guns in locked vehicles on college campuses. Follow this link to download and review this important report.
For questions about this announcement or other offerings by ECS, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The members of the Learning First Alliance (LFA) will host Public Schools Week, March 25-29, 2019, to show the great things happening every day in public schools–and show the potential for greater things.
This second annual event encourages school leaders to invite community members, lawmakers, parents and others to visit and see the wide array of programs and high-quality opportunities offered, honor students’ accomplishments and see the joys and challenges of teaching and learning in public schools.
“Public education is the foundation for students’ success, the growth of communities, and our nation’s future,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, executive director of the National PTA and 2018-19 chair of the Learning First Alliance, a coalition of 12 national education organizations representing more than 10 million parents, teachers, administrators, specialists, school board members and teacher educators. “Public schools educate 90 percent of our nation’s students and are providing talented professionals for jobs in the corporate and public sectors as well as the military. It’s vitally important that we have a strong system of public schools across the United States.”
AACTE and fellow members of the Learning First Alliance issued a joint statement on December 19, 2018 that emphasizes the Federal School Safety Commission should help schools provide mental health resources to prevent violence. LFA members said the federal government should focus its next steps on resources and training more mental health specialists to ensure safety of students and school staff:
A new federal report misses a high-profile opportunity to bring leadership and resources to social-emotional and mental health needs in K-12 schools, the Learning First Alliance, a coalition of 12 major national education organizations that represents 10 million parents, teachers, administrators, school counselors, specialists, teacher educators, and school board members, stated in response to recommendations by the federal Commission on School Safety, led by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Simply talking about the need for something to be done without creating the ability for schools to have the tools to reach more students in need avoids a core responsibility.
AACTE President/CEO Lynn M. Gangone issued the following statement on December 20, 2018 regarding the latest Federal School Safety Commission report:
On December 18, 2018, the Federal School Safety Commission released its final report, outlining the background of its work and providing recommendations for action across three broad areas: 1) prevent, 2) protect and mitigate, and 3) respond and recover. While AACTE appreciates the effort of the current Administration to explore the critical issue of school safety, the report raises significant concerns and poses further questions.
The Commission’s report talks about the social-emotional and mental health needs of our K-12 students; however, it does not address capacity building for schools to have the tools to reach more students. The recommendation to rescind the current guidance on school discipline, created to combat the disproportionate suspension and expulsion of students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ youth, is also highly problematic and contrary to our Association’s values of equity and inclusion. AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone testified before the Commission and joined others in strongly discouraging the use of federal funds to arm teachers as a solution to ensure school safety, yet the report does not eliminate the option of training and arming school personnel with firearms.