March 22, 2019


Kansas City Education News

The 2019 Spring Break Literacy Fair

By Luther Okeyo,  KCPS Communications – The Plug


On Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at Manual Career and Technical Center. The fair was free and open to the public. Attendees had an opportunity to access a wide range of community support and services. The fair also featured a book fair and storytelling. (Control + Click to start video)

National Education News

Statehouse hearing to highlight education funding fight

By Education Week


Advocates are expected to pack a Statehouse auditorium as a legislative committee weighs proposals to overhaul the way the state provides funding for public schools.  The debate over education spending has been dragging on, unresolved, since 2015 when a special commission determined school districts were being underfunded by as much as $2 billion. The report found that low-income and immigrant students were bearing the brunt of the shortfall.  The Education Committee will hear Friday from lawmakers, mayors, educators, parents, students and even several New England Patriots players.  Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has filed a bill he says addresses concerns with a 25-year-old education formula while providing an additional $1.1 billion over seven years. But many activists say Baker’s plan doesn’t go far enough and support competing legislation offered by several Democratic lawmakers.

Chicago’s massive $32M programming expansion aims to make neighborhood, magnet schools more attractive

By Amilai Harper, Education Dive

  • In an atmosphere of declining enrollments and multiple options, 32 Chicago schools will share $32 million in new funding to expand programming choices designed to help draw students to struggling neighborhood and magnet schools in the largest expansion of programming in the history of Chicago Public Schools, Chalkbeat reports.
  • Seven of the schools are adding some form of International Baccalaureate programming, six schools are adding fine and performing arts programming, six are adding dual-language or world language programming, six are adding STEM programming, five are adding STEAM programming, and two are focusing on personalized learning. One of the new IB schools is also adding a gifted program that begins in kindergarten.
  • The school district has also just released its second Annual Regional Analysis, an inventory report of schools in the district designed to help both parents and the district make planning decisions by dividing the massive school system into 16 “planning regions” and providing information about the location of schools, their attendance, their performance ratings and the programming options they offer.
  • Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which was labeled the worst school district in the nation 30 years ago, was cited in a 2017 Stanford University study as one of the leaders in academic growth. The third-largest school district in the nation, the district includes more charter schools and magnet schools than most of its peers — a factor some say has spurred its academic improvement. CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson also attributes the improvement to increased accountability, data-driven decision-making and greater principal autonomy than in the past.
  • However, the wide range of school options has created challenges for the district. Its popular selective-enrollment schools have been controversial, and some studies suggest these types of schools don’t provide as much academic benefit as expected.


Bill allows cameras in special education classrooms

By WSAZ Channel 3 News


An incident between Berkley County educators and a special education student, caught on a recording, got major attention this legislative session.  “I’ll punch you in your face,” the instructor said. “I ought to back hand you right in the teeth.”  Senate Bill 632 was passed with that incident in mind. It allows cameras in special education classrooms. The camera must be requested by a teacher, parent or school official. It would be used to review any reported or suspected incident in a special education classroom.  All parents, students and teachers would be notified before the camera was installed and it would remain in place for the remained of the school year.  Lawmakers in support of the bill said this is a step in the right direction.  Tracy White, a parent of three children with Autism and disability advocate, said she wanted security in classrooms, but she’s worried it will hinder inclusion.  “We worry that parents will be told, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t put them in general education with their peers. Maybe you should keep them in the autism room or mentally impaired room to keep them safe because we have cameras there to watch them,'” White said.


Peer mentoring helps fill mental health support gap

by Amelia Harper,

  • Amanda Novak, an assistant principal at Westgate Community School in Thornton, Colorado, shared with EdSurge the story of her K-12 school’s struggle with an insufficient number of counselors to meet students’ needs. So, school leaders decided to start a peer mentoring program more than three years ago to help provide extra support and guidance to students who needed it in navigating the school environment.
  • The program started as a piece of an already existing service learning course that met once a week. Selected students were trained in basic counseling and mentoring skills, observed counseling activities in action, and were able to work and build supportive relationships with peers in an authentic, unscripted way, EdSurge notes.
  • This approach has freed up time for counselors and administrators to deal with more crisis situations and has prevented some low-level concerns about at-risk students. In addition to its growth over the years, the school has also expanded partnered with special education teachers to build peer mentoring into some student Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) as a social-emotional learning (SEL) component.

Peer mentoring and counseling programs can help address these less urgent needs by providing an additional layer of support in schools and by closing the mentoring gap. Many times, students simply need a safe space to share their thoughts and concerns and an understanding person to point them in the right direction. English-language learners, students with special needs, and others who may feel alienated at school also need extra support connecting with their peers. And cross-age peer counseling can offer younger students a guide to transitioning to higher grades.