December 2018
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Federal Report Misses Opportunity for Leadership on School Violence Prevention 

The new report by the federal Commission on School Safety misses a high-profile opportunity to bring leadership and resources to social-emotional and mental health needs in K-12 schools.  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, the Learning First Alliance said in a response to the December 18 report.

“The federal commission should have put forth a more comprehensive effort that supports schools in their attempts to prevent violence and address the mental health needs of their students and staff,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, executive director of the National PTA and 2018-19 chair of the Learning First Alliance. “We are hopeful that the federal agencies will go further than issuing a report that will not only recommend best practices, which well-resourced districts can adopt and implement quickly, but also dedicate federal funds to ensure underserved districts get the support they need.”

Several of LFA's 12 member associations released statements that found both praise and criticism for the 177-page report, which included many recommendations advocated by LFA members, including a federal clearinghouse of information, support for school counselors, improved access to school-based mental and behavioral health services, threat assessments protocols, and comprehensive school safety plans.

Many LFA members were disappointed to see that the report recommended rescinding 2014 guidance on student discipline that sought to protect students of color and special needs students from being unfairly targeted. Most criticized the panel’s perceived lack of leadership on guns and the issue of allowing teachers to be trained to carry firearms in schools. And all were concerned that the recommendations did not include funding and other resources. Read more.

Steven Spielberg Chats About Teaching Tolerance 

It's been 25 years since film director Steven Spielberg released the groundbreaking  “Schindler’s List." With Anti-Semitism incidents on the rise, the American Federation of Teachers recently co-sponsored a webinar featuring Spielberg to help teachers to use the film to discuss the Holocaust, build lessons of b/w photo with girl in red coattolerance and give students tools to become changemakers in their communities. Spielberg said he was particularly inspired by the activism by the student survivors in Parkland, Fla.  Read more on Spielberg's remarks.

Meet the 2019 School Counselor of the Year 

The American School Counselor Association named Brian Coleman, a school counselor and counseling department chair at Jones College Prep in Chicago, Ill., the 2019 School Counselor of the Year. Coleman, a former actor, discovered his love for teaching and working with young people while working in theater. Coleman now works to ensure his school provides interdisciplinary social/emotional learning supports for all students and sponsors the school's LGBTQA+ organization for students.
Suicide Prevention
There are important clues to recognizing students who are at risk for suicide, says the father of a 13-year-old who committed suicide.

Data shows that suicides and attempted suicides dipped but began climbing upward again around 2009—around the time smartphones became mainstream. Anxiety and stress are also on the rise, with cell phones and “hyperconnectedness” deemed a root cause.

Learn more about the research on cyberbullying, social media, and other school issues and how educators can help students at risk in this blog.
Kindness in Motion

In LFA's latest story from the field, Joe Masi, an Assistant Principal in Winsted, Connecticut, writes about his school's Kindness in Motion project, which recognizes and gives grants to students who take on exemplary projects that help their communities. In addition helping the community, students learn that they have the power to impact others in a positive way.  Learn more.

girls filling bags with books
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