An online newsletter produced by EdSource
with support from The California Endowment 


August 29,
Issue 53
The edible garden at the Argonne Elementary School in San Francisco. Credit: Jane Meredith Adams/ EdSource

School districts across the nation that participate in the National School Lunch Program are required to revise their "wellness policies" during the 2016-17 school year -- a move intended to build support for healthy eating and physical activity.  


The new directive was adopted in late July under a provision in the federal child nutrition law known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The revised school wellness policies must be completed by June 30, 2017.

Wellness policies are formal statements that outline the latest school nutrition standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and set school or district-specific goals for how to spread the word and get students and families to eat well and be active. Wellness policies first were required in 2006-07 for schools that participate in the federal meals program, which more than 90 percent of public and private schools do. 

School Wellness Committees, including parents, physical education teachers, community members and food services staff, are to be convened to update the policies with the latest nutrition standards for school meals, snacks and on-campus fundraisers.

Their tasks might include publicizing the rule that only low-fat, low-sugar food and drink that meet the "Smart Snacks in Schools" standards are allowed at classroom birthday parties, for example. The committee would promote fundraisers that rely on "fun runs" rather than cupcakes and support student and community activities, such as planting a vegetable garden and eating the results.

The new outreach requirement gives families and community members "tangible ways they can provide their support to improve school nutrition and physical activity for students and staff," said
Michelle Owens, a national policy advisor at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

The California Department of Education is required to evaluate every three years how districts are doing with setting and achieving nutrition education and physical activity goals. Owens said:
"The Alliance for a Healthier Generation strongly encourages schools to annually assess their implementation, create an action plan that fosters implementation, generate an annual progress report and document their progress on an annual basis."


Model School Wellness Policies

Webinar: Local Wellness Policies with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, hosted by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Wed., Sept. 7, 10 a.m. PT. Register here. Click on the tab for "Upcoming Webinars" and select Local Wellness Policies, Sept. 7. 


Social and Emotional Learning
California and seven other states will work together to promote social and emotional learning in classrooms through a partnership with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, a nonprofit organization that announced the partnership. The partner states are Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington, Education Week reported. Among the issues to be discussed: how and whether to create standards for instruction in social and emotional skill-building and how to measure the results.
Here we go. The era of "personal belief exemptions" to vaccinations has ended across California, and as schools open, parents who once declined to vaccinate their children are making their choices: vaccinate, home-school or seek a medical exemption.

And public health officials are waiting for the data.

California's new vaccination law, which often is called by its legislative title Senate Bill 277, went into effect July 1, 2016. To recap: Parents do not have to immunize their children. But under the new law, children must be immunized against 10 serious communicable diseases if they want to attend public or private schools and child care centers. If unvaccinated, children must be home schooled or enrolled in independent study with no classroom instruction. Go to the EdSource FAQ.
Special Education Services
The federal investigation involved one school district, one private special education subcontractor and one student. But advocates say they are hoping that the probe of the Oakland Unified School District, the Anova Center for Education Contra Costa and the education of 9-year-old Stuart Candell - which included a finding that Oakland Unified violated federal education law - will prompt districts everywhere to think twice before outsourcing the education of students with disabilities to private schools that routinely use harsh behavior control techniques.

Read more at EdSource.

School Climate
A first-year teacher keeps it fresh and friendly

First-year teacher Dwayne Reed took the traditional newsletter up a notch and sent out a "Welcome to the Fourth Grade" video to his class at Jane Stenson Elementary School in Skokie, Ill, the Huffington Post reported. Using catchy lyrics and a bouncing beat, Reed told his students to look forward to a community based on learning, respect and fun. Watch the video here.

School Discipline
Physical punishment of students is hardly a thing of the past. An analysis of federal civil right data by the Education Week Research Center found that in U.S. schools in 2013-14, more than 109,000 students were struck with paddles or subjected to other forms of physical punishment.
Webinar on Social and Emotional Learning
This webinar will be a conversation about the connection between student behavior, social and emotional learning, school culture and academic success -- and what schools can do drive improvements.

What: "The Missing Link: School Climate and Culture and Solutions for Student Success"
Jonathan Cohen, president and co-founder of the National School Climate Center, and David Hardy, deputy superintendent of academics at St. Louis Public Schools, hosted by Education Week
When: Wed., Sept. 7, 11 a.m. PT. Register here.

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