Newark schools had an active week in local news, while New Jersey celebrated its second-place national ranking for high school graduates. National K-12 stories covered a wide range of topics including the need for mental health training for teachers and the role that racial bias plays among educators.



NAER Presents: Crossing the Lines, a Forum Examining Equality in Education for Newark Youth 

Using the arts as a catalyst for meaningful discussion, the Newark Arts Education Roundtable (NAER) presents a staged reading of the play Lines in the Dust by Nikkole Salter. Set in Essex County, the play reflects the realities of post-industrial urban/suburban communities and explores issues of inequitable education; race; identity; opportunity; and the meaning of community – issues that are universal, regardless of zip code. 


Are Charters Only ‘Path to Salvation’? No Way, Says Newark Schools Chief 
Newark Public Schools Superintendent Christopher Cerf says that reform strategies implemented by the district have produced great academic gains for its inner-city students, including a high school graduation rate of almost 74 percent. He argues with critics who say that charter schools are the only bright spot in the district and points to its implementation of well-known education reform strategies which have produced Newark’s encouraging results.

United Way of Essex and West Hudson Receives $4.4 Million Dollar Donation to Implement 3-Year Literacy Program in Newark 
United Way of Essex and West Hudson (UWEWH) will receive a $4.4 million private donation to fund the continuation of the My Very Own Library (MVOL) program, an initiative made possible through UWEWH, the program’s administrator, and Scholastic Book Fairs. 26 schools in Newark are participating in MVOL, an international initiative that encourages literacy by offering students in need an opportunity to own their own books.

Newark Schools Denied Funds to Filter Lead in Drinking Water 
After years of elevated lead levels in Newark Public Schools' drinking water, the NRDC and the Education Law Center have sent a letter to New Jersey agencies on behalf of the City's public school children demanding access to funds for a lead filtration system. The letter, which was sent in collaboration with the Ironbound Community Corporation and other groups in Newark, demands that the New Jersey State Department of Education and Schools Development Authority reverse the agencies' recent determination that a lead filtration system in Newark’s public schools would not be eligible for funding intended to make repairs in schools under State takeover.

Newark Public Schools Recognizes Impact of Afterschool Programs at Lights on Afterschool Event 
Newark Public Schools (NPS) recently participated in a national celebration of afterschool programs called “Lights On Afterschool” highlighting the positive impact afterschool programming has on Newark’s young people. The celebration included a legislative bus tour attended by elected officials, community leaders and philanthropists from across the city to showcase the wide-variety of afterschool programs in which over 7,300 Newark students participate.

Newark Public Schools Teacher Finalist in Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics 
Newark Public Schools teacher Denise Rawding, who teaches at Dr. William Horton School of Arts and Technology, has been selected as one of five New Jersey finalists in math for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the highest honor a teacher can receive from the United States government. The PAEMST program recognizes teachers who are seen as role models in their communities and leaders in the improvement of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.


N.J. Has Country's 2nd-Best High School Graduation Rate 
According to new data released by the White House, New Jersey high schools posted the second-best four-year graduation rate in America in 2014-15.  New Jersey's graduation rate consistently ranks among the highest in the nation and has increased by 6 percentage points since 2010-11.

Educators Gather for NJ Conference to Find Ways to Help Undocumented Students 
140 educators gathered at Rutgers’ Cook Campus Center last week for a conference focused on ways to build coalitions, connections and pathways to help undocumented students in elementary school through college. Many undocumented students face issues including awareness, access and cost when it comes to college and beyond. 

4 N.J. School Districts Sued by ACLU Over Enrollment Practices 
According to the ACLU of New Jersey, four NJ school districts and one charter school have violated federal law by requiring parents to show proof of residency when enrolling a child in school. Two of the school districts claim that this is inaccurate.

How Big is Too Big? N.J.'s 25 Largest High Schools 
A planned addition will make Passaic County Technical Institute one of the largest high schools in the country, with a student body larger than that of some nearby colleges. Decades of research comparing the merits of large versus small schools have led to the conclusion that curriculum and quality matter more than school size in most cases.

300K Low-Income N.J. Kids Missed Out on School Breakfasts This Year 
New Jersey schools this year fed breakfast to nearly double the number of low-income students than six years ago, but a report released Thursday said the state is still failing to reach hundreds of thousands of hungry children. The reasons why so many students miss school breakfasts is twofold: the number of children whose families meet the income guidelines has risen by 21 percent since 2010, and some school officials remain reluctant to offer breakfast "after the bell" — the time when the program is likely to capture the most students.

National NATIONAL 

The New Focus on Children's Mental Health 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 17 million children suffer from a mental disorder in a given year, yet the majority of the nation’s youngest students don’t have access to mental-health resources at school. With a lack of mental-health professionals placed in schools, the responsibility to address the needs of these children often falls on classroom teachers, amplifying the call to incorporate learning that focuses on students’ mental health and well-being into daily classroom activities.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance Encouraging Well-Rounded Education 
The U.S. Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance to help states, districts and schools provide students with a more well-rounded education under Title IV, Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAE). The new grant program in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) focuses on safe and healthy students, and how technology can be integrated into schools to improve teaching and learning in addition to emphasizing access to a well-rounded education that includes a wide variety of disciplines – such as music, the arts, social studies, environmental education, computer science and civics.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance on Supporting Early Learning Through the Every Student Succeeds Act 
The U.S. Department of Education released today non-regulatory guidance to help ensure young children from birth through third-grade get the strong start they need to achieve success in school and in life. This guidance is intended to remind state and local decision-makers about the importance of investing in early learning, highlight the opportunities available under the new law to strengthen early education, and provide examples of how states and local communities can support young children’s success in school.

When is a Student ‘Gifted’ or ‘Disabled’? A New Study Shows Racial Bias Plays a Role in Deciding 
Racial bias among educators may play a larger role than previously understood in deciding whether students are referred for special education or gifted programs, according to new research from NYU. The study, the first of its kind to show a direct link between teacher bias and referrals for special services, found stark differences in how teachers classify students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds showing identical signs of disability or giftedness.

Departments of Education and Health and Human Services Release First Joint Policy Brief on Use of Technology with Young Children 
The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released a policy brief on the use of technology with early learners to help families and early educators implement active, meaningful and socially interactive learning. The brief, which was developed in consultation with the American Academy of Pediatrics, includes a call to action for researchers and technology developers, highlighting topics for further research and encouraging the development of research-based products.

Flint Suit Seeks Aid for Students Due to Water Crisis 
A federal lawsuit in Flint, Mich., alleges that public-school students affected by the city’s lead-tainted water crisis are being denied special education services. Fifteen children are named as plaintiffs in the suit, which seeks class-action status on behalf of thousands of Flint families.

High School Grad Rate Reaches New High 
According to the White House, the number of students in the United States who are graduating high school has reached record highs. More than 83 percent of high school seniors across the nation graduated in the 2014-15 school year, an increase of more than 4 percent from 2010-2011, according to government figures. The highest gains were seen among English learners, black students and Hispanic students.

A Plan to Teach Every Child Computer Science 
More and more jobs are requiring some knowledge about how computers work, yet across the United States, few children are being taught even the basics of computer science. A group of nonprofits, educators, tech companies, states, and districts created the K-12 Computer Science Framework to address this discrepancy, a carefully crafted yet adaptable framework for what computer-science education should look like at each grade level.

LBGT Students Are Not Safe at School 
According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s new report, “Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited,” LGBT youth in middle and high school have lower grades, more attendance problems, and are less likely to complete high school than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. Teachers play an important yet under-discussed role when it comes to anti-LGBT bias and bullying in schools, yet few in the school system feel equipped to handle these scenarios, suggesting that training and development for teachers and staff on LGBT-specific topics may be a necessity to provide equal safety and support for LGBT youth.

How We Teach English Learners: 3 Basic Approaches 
There are five million English Language Learners or ELLs living in the U.S., and and they raise one of the biggest questions facing educators: What's the best way to teach English without losing time on the content students need to learn? Decades of research point to three basic educational models: English as a second language, sheltered instruction and the dual-language model.

For Many Schools the Recession Never Ended 
A new study of state budget documents and Census Bureau data finds that the lion's share of spending on schools in at least 23 states will be lower this school year than it was when the recession began nearly a decade ago. The report, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, suggests that many of the nation's schools are being asked to educate a growing number of students without state lawmakers growing their budgets.