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Over the past seven years, every state in the Midwest has established policies that aim to prevent bullying in the schools. But how detailed and far-reaching should these policies be? On that question, there is considerable variation among the states, especially in light of new laws now in place in Minnesota and IllinoiIn both of those states, the legislatures chose this year to significantly expand the role of states — and their local school districts — in bullying prevention and intervention.

A new Idaho law went into effect yesterday. Senate Bill 1254 permits individuals with concealed carry licenses to carry firearms onto university and college campuses in order to promote public safety on campuses.  However, firearms are not allowed in dormitories or public entertainment facilities such as an arena, stadium, theater or other such facilities that seats more than 1,000 persons. Violators will lose their concealed carry license for three years. The law also prohibits individuals from carrying weapons while intoxicated and carries a penalty of a misdemeanor.

The Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Lunch Program allows schools with high concentrations of poverty to feed their entire student body at no cost to the students. More than 28,000 schools serving over 44 percent of all students will be eligible for the program in 2014-2015, the first year it is available nationwide. 

In 2011, some 5 percent of high school students reported carrying weapons to school. Between the 2000-01 and 2010-11 school years, 468 deaths occurred at school, during school events or when the victim was traveling to or from school. Schools use many methods to protect students, staff and visitors, including controlling access to the school building and the use of security guards. Following the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., several states have also enacted legislation to formally regulate firearms in schools

During a national briefing call on June 3, Texas Sen. John Whitmire noted that, in his state, 84% of African American boys had received one or more suspensions in their educational career.  This was a startling wake-up call for policymakers and is now a priority as they work to create welcoming school cultures and effective learning conditions to keep students in the classroom.

A report released this week by The Council of State Governments Justice Center details more than 60 evidence-based recommendations on how states and communities can make their schools safer and help students succeed. "The School Discipline Consensus Report" is the result of a three-year effort involving a 100-member working group comprised of experts in the field of school safety, behavioral health, juvenile justice, social services, law enforcement and child welfare.

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center released a comprehensive report providing school leaders and state and local government officials more than 60 recommendations for overhauling their approach to school discipline. The recommendations focus on improving conditions for learning for all students and staff, strengthening responses to student’s behavioral health needs, tailoring school-police partnerships, and minimizing students’ involvement with the juvenile justice system.

The Farm to School program seeks to improve the health of children by bringing locally produced foods into school cafeterias and providing educationally enriching experiences such as farm field trips, school gardens and nutrition classes.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted a survey of school district participation in the program, and estimates as of the 2012-2013 school year, over 3,800 school districts representing over 21 million students are buying local products.  These school districts collectively purchased more than $350 million of locally produced foods. 

The rate of child poverty has only slightly lowered since the 1960's when President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty and currently hovers around 22 percent.  In 2012, 1 in 5 children were identified as poor.  Good nutrition, especially in the early years of a child's life, is vital to create the foundation for future physical and mental health.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 16 million chlidren under age 18 live in homes where they can't consistenly access an adequate amount of healthy and nutritious food.  However, trillions of calories are wasted or lost on a yearly basis.

The United States Food and Drug Administration released data of 13,000 public school districts to determine the use of local foods and nutritional education under the Farm to School Program. The program was created under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

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