State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the California Department of Education (CDE) secured $1 million in grant funding under the federal STOP School Violence Act. The funds will be used to provide violence prevention and mental health training to students and staff in school districts that have been the most affected by violence on their campuses.
The CDE will partner with Sandy Hook Promise, a national nonprofit led by family members who lost loved ones in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, to implement the Project Cal-STOP training initiative.
“We are pleased to receive this grant and to partner with Sandy Hook Promise on the joint mission to keep students and schools safe,” said Torlakson.“These funds will allow us to provide the training and support to those districts battling high rates of violence and suspensions. Our goal is to stop acts of violence on campuses and allow schools to be what they should be—safe places for students to learn and thrive.”
Source: Violence Prevention and Mental Health Grant – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urged educators, parents, school board members, community leaders and all residents to voice their support for state legislation that will improve mental health services for students.
Torlakson is putting a major focus on mental health awareness and treatment, suicide prevention, and school safety as the Legislature reconvenes August 6 for the final weeks of the 2017–18 session.
“Students need to have good mental health to succeed in the classroom and in life. Schools can help by creating a caring and supportive environment and by working to help identify mental health problems early so students can receive the treatment they need,” said Torlakson, who started his career as a high school science teacher and served as a track and cross country coach.
Source: Torlakson Urges Support for Mental Health Bills – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
A discussion of 2018-19 budget priorities will be among the more significant items of an otherwise relatively light agenda when Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.
Michelle Henson, assistant superintendent of business services, will lead the discussion, which will be based on Gov. Jerry Brown’s $190 billion 2018-19 state budget proposal, released in January and due for revision in May.
Her presentation, casting an eye on the impact of the state’s numbers on the district’s, will come two weeks after she led a budget presentation at the trustees’ Jan. 25 meeting.
Specifically, Henson will note that projected average daily attendance (ADA) funding for the coming year will be about $9,450 for each of the district’s estimated 20,550 students, yielding some $194 million in state funding under Brown’s landmark Local Control Funding Formula. Additionally, she will tell the seven-member governing board, one-time discretionary funds from the current year will account for some $6 million in additional funds spent on students.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District to discuss 2018-19 budget priorities
By Richard Bammer
Tom Torlakson, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, Tuesday urged Congress to reject President Trump’s federal education budget proposal, which includes cuts that he described as “deep” to teacher training, after school programs, mental health services, advanced coursework, among others.
“I give this budget an ‘F’ grade for failing public school students in California and across the nation,” Torlakson, who leads the country’s largest public school system with more than 6.2 million students, said in a press release. “We need to invest more in our public schools, not slash away at programs that help students succeed.”
A former East Bay high school science teacher and athletics coach, he noted that the proposed federal education budget heads in a completely different direction than the California approach to education funding.
Source: State school leader gives fed ed budget proposal a failing grade
By Ryan McCarthy
Providers and a consumer were honored Wednesday at a Solano County Behavioral Health event to kick off mental health awareness month with its theme of “Break the Stigma.”
Annette Williams of the Matt Garcia Career and College Academy in Fairfield was a Community Hero award winner in the event held at the county offices on Courage Drive in Fairfield.
“It’s just a pleasure to be able to help students,” Williams said.
Source: Three honored during kickoff of ‘Break the Stigma’ mental health event
By Cody Fenwick
Children in foster care in the United States experience serious mental and physical health conditions at a much higher rate than those in the general population, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics found. Anxiety, behavioral problems, depression and attention challenges are all much more prevalent among foster kids, as well as asthma, obesity and hearing and vision impairments.
Kristin Turney, a co-author of the report and associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine, noted that the study is the first to make this kind of comparison.
Source: Foster Kids Face Worse Mental and Physical Health Challenges, Study Finds – Benicia, CA Patch
By David Bulley
When Jimmy, a 6th grader with significant social and emotional disabilities, was sent out of English class every day one week, he devised a plan. On Friday, he smuggled a pair of handcuffs into school, and upon arriving at English class, instead of grabbing his “do now” and sitting down, he ran straight to the teacher’s desk and handcuffed himself to it.
The teacher, a kind and in many ways excellent instructor, was shocked. The teacher and I unlocked Jimmy soon enough, but later, when we had a quiet moment to reflect, I said, “You teach English. Can you see the symbolism here?” Jimmy desperately wanted to stay in class but did not know how. And to compound this tiny tragedy, it seemed obvious he had no one to ask.
Source: Helping Troubled Students, One Relationship at a Time | Edutopia
By Richard Bammer
Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this week signed a law that requires schools that serve students from grades seven to 12 to adopt suicide-prevention policies beginning next year.
The bill, Assembly Bill 2246, by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to develop and maintain a model suicide-prevention policy.
“With this change, we can better identify students in need, get them help, and keep them safe,” Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a press release issued Tuesday. “One of my top priorities is serving the needs of the whole child, including their mental health needs. This bill is a big step forward in our ongoing efforts to help our students.”
Source: Gov. Brown signs student suicide prevention bill
By Julia Steiny
Naturally, Faina Davis, a lawyer and head of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY), would have a happy-ish story about what happens when troubled kids connect with adults who practice Restorative Justice. Far more often, kids misbehave, get punished, misbehave, get punished, in an endlessly destructive cycle. But Restoration works to interrupt this cycle by solving whatever was driving the misbehavior in the first place.
An 11th grader, whom Davis calls Cameron, transferred into a Restorative Oakland high school. He’d already become, as she put it, one of those “scary-dude kids” with saggy pants, a black hoodie and a horrible attitude. Such charmers come to her through the Oakland’s schools, which have become demonstration sites for restorative justice.
On his first day at the new school, Cameron met with the school’s Director. Cameron probably expected, per usual, to get yelled at, berated, and threatened with dire consequences for any more misdeeds. Instead, this Restorative Director put aside the thick folder of records of Cameron’s academic failures, suspensions and arrests. Start fresh. Cameron couldn’t suddenly become an angel. But together he and the Director would deal with the obstacles in the way of building a brighter, healthier path for this angry adolescent.
Source: Chronically Misbehaving Kids Suffer Mental and Social Disease
By Linda Flanagan
By the time he entered second grade, Eric had already witnessed graphic violence and watched as his family fell apart. He’d been moved to a new state and a new home, but he wasn’t thriving, especially in school. Eric’s reading level was measured in single digits — that is, below the 10th percentile for children his age.
“He was so preoccupied by the trauma he’d experienced that it was impairing his learning,” says Steve Lepinski, who followed Eric’s progress.
Lepinski runs the Washburn Center for Children, a mental health provider in Minnesota that handled Eric’s case. After receiving intensive therapy, Eric (not his real name) saw his reading level jump to the 90th percentile for his age group. Now “he’s just doing normal third-grade things,” Lepinski adds.
via How Schools Can Help Nurture Students’ Mental Health | MindShift | KQED News.
By Jane Meredith Adams
Sweeping national reforms in children’s mental health care have yet to materialize in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, but a group of high-profile educators and policy analysts in California is mapping a plan to transform student mental health services in the state.
Tens of thousands of students with emotional disorders, including clinical depression, chronic anxiety and post-traumatic stress, sit in California classrooms each year, posing a widespread challenge to teachers’ and administrators’ efforts to improve academic outcomes.
Task force recommends including mental health training in teacher credential | EdSource Today.
By Jane Meredith Adams
President Barack Obama on Monday asked teachers to help identify and seek help for children who are suffering from mental health disorders, saying that it was time to bring “mental illness out of the shadows.”
More than 75 percent of mental illnesses, including depression, panic disorder, schizophrenia and anorexia nervosa, emerge when children are school-aged or young adults, Obama noted. But he said that only about half of children who need mental health treatment receive it. The untreated disorders can lead to poor academic performance, behavioral issues in the classroom, social isolation at school, and in the most extreme cases, suicide and violence.
via President Obama calls on teachers to help identify mental health disorders in students – by Jane Meredith Adams.
President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan again appealed to Congress to come up with the money to pay for more counselors, social workers, and psychologists in schools during a national conference on mental health at the White House on today.
Obama promised to launch a “national conversation” on mental health after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. in December.
via Obama Presses for Mental-Health Care for Students, Cutting Its Stigma.
Millions of American children live with depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders, Tourette syndrome or a host of other mental health issues, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note in a new report.
The agency says this is the first-ever report to describe federal efforts to monitor mental disorders in children. It provides estimates of the number of children ages 3 to 17 with mental health disorders from 2005 to 2011. In all, the agency said, 13 percent to 20 percent of U.S. children experience a mental disorder in a given year.
via A New Census of Mental Health Disorders in Children.
California has one of the lowest rates of diagnosis in the nation of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, raising questions about the role of regional, economic and cultural differences in identifying what scientists regard as a brain disorder.
Over-diagnosing ADHD and over-prescribing medication to children has been the cause of considerable concern in education and other circles. But some researchers interviewed by EdSource Today say that the state’s relatively low rates may indicate that the condition is being under-diagnosed among some demographic groups. They suggest that some students aren’t getting the treatment they need to succeed in school.
via California ranks low in rates of attention deficit disorder – by Jane Meredith Adams.