Safe & Healthy Academic Environments

For the first time in more than 15 years, school meal standards have been changed with a focus on improving child nutrition and reducing childhood obesity.  With the potential to impact more than 30 million students daily, these new guidelines will introduce more fruit and vegetables and reduce fat intake on lunch trays.  State policies and local practices can have a positive impact on the devastating rates of obesse and overweight children as students have an opportunity for more healthful eating.

As noted in CSG Education Policy Analyst Tim Weldon’s blog, preventing bullying remains a top priority for educators and policymakers, whether it occurs in school or cyberspace.  Here are state bills the CSG Committee on Suggested State Legislation reviewed about bullying, cyberbullying, and impersonating someone online, along with related resources about these topics.

Missouri's Amy Hestir Student Protection Act was blocked in court for being too broad.  The Act made it illegal for students and teachers to engage in private communications on Facebook, and it had the consequence of, in some cases, even preventing students who were the children of teachers from using social media to communicate with their parents.  Now Missouri is leaving social media policy to be set by school districts, allowing them to serve as laboratories for implementation. 

On July 21, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the launch of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, a collaborative project to encourage effective disciplinary practices that help make classrooms safer and more conducive to learning. It will also promote evidence-based practices that reduce the likelihood that students disciplined at school will have subsequent contact with the juvenile justice system. The initiative was announced at the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, whose membership includes representatives from 12 federal agencies.

Texas Rep. Jerry Madden, chair of the Texas House Corrections Committee, believes prisoners come in two varieties: “The ones we’re afraid of and the ones we’re mad at.”  He believes students facing discipline in schools fall in those same categories. The problem, he said Tuesday, is that schools often use the same disciplinary action for both categories of students.

Majority of Texas Middle and High School Students Suspended or Expelled: Repeated Suspensions Predict Later Involvement in Juvenile Justice System

In an unprecedented study of nearly 1 million Texas public secondary school students followed for more than six years, nearly 60 percent were suspended or expelled, according to a report released today by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute of Texas A&M University.

In an unprecedented study of nearly 1 million Texas public secondary school students followed for more than six years, nearly 60 percent were suspended or expelled, according to a report released by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute of Texas A&M University.

North Dakota has become the ninth state in the Midwest to enact a law designed to combat the problem of bullying in schools. 

The Act defines harassment as creating a hostile environment that unreasonably and substantially interferes with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being, or conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for their physical safety. 
The bill prohibits harassment and discrimination of students with respect to certain non-exclusive protected classes, including, but not limited to, a student’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex. 
This Act requires school districts to adopt policies to create a school environment free from harassment and discrimination. School districts must also adopt guidelines for school training programs that raise awareness and sensitivity of school employees to these issues and enables them to respond appropriately. Schools must designate at least one staff member in each school to be trained in non-discriminatory instructional and counseling. 
 

Increased concern about the prevalence of sports-related brain injuries has led lawmakers to consider new ways of protecting student-athletes.

Pages