News Briefs
August 19, 2019
FYI
Evaluate your school’s stock of epinephrine auto-injectors
California Education Code Section 49414, as amended by Senate Bill 1266, effective Jan. 1, 2015, requires school districts to provide emergency epinephrine auto-injectors to school nurses or trained personnel who have volunteered, and provides that school nurses or trained personnel who have volunteered may use epinephrine auto-injectors to provide emergency medical aid to persons suffering or reasonably believed to be suffering from an anaphylactic reaction. The intent of this law is to protect not only children with previously diagnosed allergies, but also children who do not know they are allergic and who therefore may not have prescribed epinephrine. Auto-injector manufacturer AUVI-Q is offering a free carton of auto-injectors to schools who place orders by Aug. 31. For more information, visit auvi-q.com/order. Online assessments not available during transition All components of the CAASPP and ELPAC online assessments will be unavailable from 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, through 8 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, for a scheduled downtime to transition to the 2019–20 school year. Following this downtime, both the CAASPP and the ELPAC programs will be managed through the same Test Operations Management System. In addition, the new single sign-on feature will be implemented, which will allow users access to all components available on the CAASPP Portal or ELPAC website after entering their login credentials a single time. For actions and information to consider before, during, and after the system downtime, refer to the information in the email sent to local educational agency (LEA) CAASPP coordinators on July 17 with the subject line, “CAASPP: Preparing to Transition to the 2019–20 Administration.”
Students could lose free school lunches under proposal A proposal by the Trump Administration to change Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program rules would limit California students’ access to free school lunches. According to California Food Policy Advocates, the change seeks to end the broad-based categorical eligibility option, which allows California to let families who already qualify for other federal benefits to be automatically enrolled in nutrition assistance, known as CalFresh. Students who are eligible for CalFresh automatically receive free school lunches. Forty-three states, including California, use categorical eligibility to also allow families that make more than the income threshold — 130 percent of the federal poverty level — to receive benefits, as long as their net income after housing, childcare and other basic expenses is below 100 percent of the federal poverty level.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this change would save the government $2.5 billion a year by closing a loophole that allows families to receive benefits without verifying their income and assets. California Food Policy Advocates estimates the proposal would affect 120,000 California households, most of them working parents.  “This policy makes hunger even more likely,” said Jessica Bartholow of Western Center on Law & Poverty. “It’s a step in the completely wrong direction.” A 60-day public comment on the proposed change is open through Sept. 23. 
Study: No evidence ‘hardened’ schools safe from gun violence Efforts to “harden” schools may not be effective in preventing school gun violence, according to research from Ball State University. “School Firearm Violence Prevention Practices and Policies: Functional or Folly?”  is a comprehensive review of the literature from 2000 to 2018 regarding school firearm violence prevention. It found no programs or practices with evidence that they reduced such gun violence. “It could be the rarity of school shootings that makes it extremely difficult to prove that any combination of interventions in schools would be effective,” said Jagdish Khubchandani, a Ball State health science professor who partnered with University of Toledo professor James Price on the research project. The paper was published in a recent edition of the journal Violence and Gender. Khubchandani said American schools use a variety of “hard” campus strategies, including monitored or locked doors to the building, security cameras, metal detectors, hiring resource officers, and random checks of lockers. “To the extent that schools adopt ineffective firearm violence prevention measures, they are creating a false sense of security,” Khubchandani said. “School systems need to engage in collaborative research for evidence-based practices and policy advocacy through coalition building to address state firearm laws. Schools also need to expand their mental health services and cost-effective educational interventions for reducing violence.” He warns school officials should not give in to political pressures to “do something” when that “something” is likely to be ineffective, deceptive, and wasteful of limited school resources. The researchers also noted that more research funding is needed to pursue definitive answers regarding what is effective in substantially reducing school firearm violence and preventing youth from carrying or using guns.
CDE launches media literacy resources for educators As required by a 2018 law, the California Department of Education has created a new online media literacy resource page. The webpage provides access to free K-12 resources, instructional materials, lesson plans, and curriculum curated by a variety of recognized experts in the area of media literacy. “These resources will assist educators in the classroom as they teach students how to access, use, evaluate, and integrate the information they read or hear online,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “Students are bombarded by information from a wide range of sources. Being media-literate is a skill that can not only help them become critical thinkers, but can also help in all areas of their education and future as informed and active civically engaged citizens.” The CDE worked with the California School Library Association and public broadcast station KQED in choosing the resources, which are aligned with the California Model School Library Standards. KQED provided access to comprehensive, free training resources and professional development for digital media educators through its online platforms. The Media Literacy Law (Senate Bill 830) was signed in 2018 by former Gov. Jerry Brown and was introduced by Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, who was inspired by a Stanford University study that found 82 percent of middle school students struggled to distinguish between advertisements and news stories. The Media Literacy Resources page is available at www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/ml/.
Lynwood USD launches mental health intervention program Lynwood Unified School District will provide occupational therapy and assessments to a select group of elementary and middle school students and their families starting in September through the Early Individualized Mental Health Project, an early intervention program. The district’s Student Services Department developed the 16-week health and wellness program with Los Angeles-based pediatric clinic Therapy West Inc. as part of the district’s ongoing Health Collaborative. The program is funded by a $45,000 grant from the Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center. “Lynwood recognizes that not all students learn at the same pace or socialize in the same way, yet every child deserves the same opportunity to receive an education,” Lynwood Superintendent Gudiel Crosthwaite said. “Our goal is to give these students and their families the resources they need to live a full and happy life.” The Early Individualized Mental Health Project will be administered twice-weekly to two groups of approximately 30 students, who will receive occupational therapy in a combination of individual, two-child and small group activities, building mindfulness, self-determination, self-awareness, self-assessment and introspection skills. The program will treat students for a period of nine to 16 weeks. Therapists will meet with parents to assess their ability to aid and support their children’s development and teach them exercises and techniques to use at home. Therapists will also meet with teachers to assess each student’s classroom behavior and provide teachers with tools and strategies to reinforce the use of the new skills.
Congressmen introduce bill to restore IDEA funding Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced the Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act (H.R. 4107), a bipartisan bill to restore full funding for education and services for children with disabilities. Both federal grant programs assist states with early intervention services for children with disabilities ages 3-5 and 0-3 — Part B, Section 619 and Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act respectively — are in high demand and are woefully underfunded.  The number of students requiring the services they provide has been increasing at a faster rate than the funding the programs are receiving. Adjusted for inflation, per-child funding for both Section 619 and Part C have decreased from their peaks by more than 64 percent. The Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act would restore funding back to where it belongs. “Early childhood interventions are crucial for a child’s development, and every child, regardless of disability status, should have an equal opportunity to obtain high quality early childhood services,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “These programs deserve increased federal funds to prove that Congress is dedicated to promoting inclusive, appropriate, and quality education for infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and supporting the schools that do this important work.” Several educational organizations and nonprofits have expressed support for the bill, including First Five Years Fund, The Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, IDEA Infant and Toddler Coordinators Association, California School Boards Association and ACSA. “Fulfilling the promise of IDEA includes providing sufficient funding for early intervention and pre-school special education services for children and their families,” said ACSA President Linda Kaminski. “The Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act is an important step in the right direction. We thank Congressman DeSaulnier and Congressman Davis for their work on this bill, and hope the relevant committees will give it close attention.” This bill serves as a complement to the IDEA Full Funding Bill (H.R. 1878), which has bipartisan support from Congress, as well as from educators and disability advocates. 

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