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Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…


‘It’s OK to Not be OK:’ How One High School Saved Lives with a 34-Question Survey

Quote from Article:

It was 10:30 a.m. on a Monday in April. Nine counselors, psychologists, and therapists sat around a table in a conference room at Cañon City High School in southern Colorado.

In classrooms around the building, the school’s ninth-graders whizzed through an online mental health survey that would soon deliver real-time data to the group in the conference room. They were a triage team of sorts — particularly interested in the answers to question 24, which asked how often students had had thoughts of hurting themselves within the past week.

By 10:35 a.m., most of the results were in. Over the next few hours, team members pulled students who had responded “very often” or “often” out of class for private one-on-one conversations.

The overarching message to students, said Jamie Murray, a district psychologist who helped coordinate the effort, was “It’s OK to not be OK.”


Many district leaders are wary of soliciting such sensitive information, fearing they won’t have the tools to help students in crisis or that they’ll be liable if tragedy strikes and they weren’t able to intervene.

“When they let me know they had been working on rolling out this universal screener in the high school, that was amazing to me,” said Brian Turner, CEO of Solvista Health, a community mental health center that embeds some staff members in Cañon City schools.

“We were hearing that no district would touch it because it felt so risky,” he said. “To hear that they weren’t fazed by that … was really refreshing.”


Leaders in the Cañon City district say instead of getting caught up in liability worries over the mental health screening, they focus on their responsibility to students.

“We were totally well aware when we started the [screening] process that we would open a can of worms,” said Brian VanIwarden, the district’s wellness coordinator. “Our job is to help these kids.”

A statewide student health survey given every two years reveals just how prevalent thoughts of suicide are among Colorado youth. The 2017 version found that 17% of Colorado middle and high school students reported considering suicide and 7% reported making one or more attempts.


The district chose a 34-question screening survey called the BIMAS-2. It was co-created by a University of Northern Colorado psychology professor and has been used in Boston Public Schools since 2012-13.

Cañon City high-schoolers took the survey for the first time last October. In April, it was administered again — in one grade each day for four consecutive days. Both times, more than 800 of the school’s 1,000 students opted to take the voluntary survey.

The two BIMAS screenings last year cost the district about $2,000. Next year, district leaders plan to use the tool with seventh- and eighth-graders as well.

The screening survey asks students a range of questions about their thoughts and behavior during the previous week — for instance, whether they felt angry, maintained friendships, had trouble paying attention, or missed school.

And, of course, whether they had thoughts of hurting themselves.

“Research indicates that self-injury is often viewed as a coping mechanism and can be an indicator of depression and anxiety,” Murray said.

District Deeds Synopsis:

What a refreshing story about a school district that “instead of getting caught up in liability worries over the mental health screening, they focus on their responsibility to students”.

That type of institutional bravery is absent in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).

In fact, under the unethical Elementary School (ESS) Superintendent Cindy Marten, the SDUSD does the complete opposite and THOUSANDS of SDUSD Students and Families are suffering because of it.

The disastrous Marten/SDUSD 2 Step formula formula for addressing Student mental health concerns is as follows:

Step 1: Reduce School Site Counseling and Nursing Staff

ESS Marten’s finanacial mismanagment  caused severe cutbacks in English Language Support Teachers (ELST’s), Counseling and Nursing and forces schools to use site funds to fill Counseling and Nursing coverage gaps.  Schools with many support needs may not choose to add days of Counseling or Nursing to their yearly budget and their Students suffer because of it.

Step 2: Litigate, Litigate, Litigate

While cutting back on Student health services, the District increased the budget on both internal and outside legal services.  District Deeds asked one of the many anti-bullying/School Safety Non-Profit vendors what they teach Families and Students to do when confronted with a serious Bullying or health concern on a SDUSD campus.  The reply was “Have them fill out the SDUSD Quality Assurance form”.  That could be the WORST advice given to a Family.

Here is that form:

SDUSD Parents are not aware that the SDUSD QA Department is directly connected to the SDUSD Legal Department and that every confidential form filled out goes to SDUSD lawyers who begin planning the districts legal defense with the families private information.

If the issue is serious enough for the Parent to sue the District, the multimillion dollar SDUSD legal department, with all the family confidential documents already analyzed, fully litigates each and every complaint and uses that confidential information against the Family.  Poorer Families who don’t have the financial resources to fight back just end up losing in court

That cowardice and betrayal of SDUSD Stakeholder trust has become the hallmark of the ESS Marten regime.

What a disgrace!

4 Things Teachers Shouldn’t Be Asking Their Students to Do

Quote from Article:

As teachers, we can make kids do almost anything we want. They’re smaller than us. We have all kinds of power over them, from getting them in trouble at home to taking away the things that make school tolerable, like going outside for recess or sitting with their friends in class. But just because we can make our students do what we want doesn’t mean we should.

Children aren’t just smaller versions of adults. They are their own kind of being. They need to move, talk, question, and explore more than we do, because they’re in the midst of that mind-boggling explosion of cognitive, physical, and social-emotional growth that marks childhood in our species. When it comes to behaviors like staying quiet or sitting still, it doesn’t make sense to hold young children to norms better suited to adults, because the way they experience the world is fundamentally different from the way grownups do.


In school, we often ask children to do things that are unreasonable given their developmental level. Worse still, we sometimes ask them to do things we would never expect of adults.

Take these four examples.


1. Silence

Many schools expect a monastic code of silence while students are traveling the halls. The rationale makes sense at first glance, and it’s one I’ve explained to my class many times: “Other students are working right now, and we don’t want to disturb them.”

We should take a close look at the times we expect kids to be silent in school. We need to distinguish between those times it’s truly for the good of the students, and when it has more to do with the appetite for control so deeply inculcated in adults placed in charge of children.


2. Sitting Still for a Long Time

Teacher Alexis Wiggins shadowed high school students for two days, doing whatever the students did, and was shocked at what she experienced.

“I literally sat down the entire day, except for walking to and from classes. We forget as teachers, because we are on our feet a lot—circling around the room to check on student work, kneeling down to chat with a student … we move a lot. But students move almost never. And never is exhausting.”


3. Forced Apologies

I have definitely been guilty of this one. I’ll break up a heated argument, then immediately demand that one or both kids apologize to one another, while their faces are still flushed with emotion from their recent conflict.

The early-childhood program my daughter attended never made the children tell each other, “I’m sorry,” because an apology extracted by an authority figure isn’t a true expression of remorse.

Forced apologies don’t seem to offer much satisfaction to the child who receives them, either—seeing the other child mutter “sorry” while glowering at his shoes pretty much never makes the recipient of the apology feel better.

Turbulent emotions take a long time to settle. We need to give kids that time


4. Zero Tolerance for Forgetfulness

My friend and 1st grade teacher Cameron McCain has a great line when teachers start grumbling about our students: “It’s like we’re dealing with a bunch of 7-year-olds around here!”

I forget sometimes that not only are my students human, they’re really young humans. When they lose their lunch tag for the third day in a row, or ask the exact same questiontwo other kids asked 30 seconds ago, we need to take a deep breath and offer them a sizeable dollop of grace.

District Deeds Synopsis:

This article was very interesting from a Parent and Student perspecitive.

We will admit, there have been times in raising our kids that we have reverted to all four of these “remedies”.

In retrospect we can see how, from our kids perspective, that taking those actions to discipline them made no sense to them and probably created the opposite outcomes.

The effect on Students is magnified in the classroom setting.  With over twenty of their peers looking on, a Student who is disciplined in these ways can feel shame and may be ostracized from their classmates.

In a classroom environment where social worth is magnified, it is easy to see the huge negative impact on a student who may already have other social burdens (poverty, homelessness, familly issues, etc.) to deal with.

We hope that this article will shed a little light on the Student perspective and allow us to find ways to deal with discpline issues in a kinder, gentler manner, both at home and in the classroom.

Charters Employ More Diverse Teachers Than Traditional Public Schools. Is It Giving Them a Leg Up With Minority Students?

Quote from Article:

Over the past few years, education researchers have coalesced around a striking, if somewhat unpalatable, observation: Kids learn more from teachers of their own race.

A decade of studies from Tennessee, Florida, and North Carolina has shown that K-12 students perform better academically if they’ve been assigned to a same-race teacher. Though the effects have been observed in white students, they are especially pronounced in their black classmates, who are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to complete a college entrance exam if they are exposed to even one black instructor in elementary school. Black educators also issue fewer suspensions to black students, and more referrals to gifted education classes, than white educators.

A study released today from the conservative Fordham Institute adds a notable new facet to the existing research, finding that black students are much more likely to encounter a same-race teacher in a charter school than a traditional public school. And the study’s author, American University Professor Seth Gershenson, says that the greater likelihood of racial matching might help explain charters’ success with minority students.



Those data indicate that, while charter schools enroll a similar percentage of black students as traditional public schools, they employ more black teachers — about 14 percent of their teaching workforce, as opposed to roughly 10 percent of those in district schools. Partly as a result of the greater abundance of black faculty, black students are 50 percent more likely to be assigned to a black teacher in a charter than they are at a traditional public school.


National research has indicated that teacher demographics at charter schools tend to be more heterogeneous than those in traditional public schools. A longitudinal reportreleased earlier this year by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 29 percent of charter teachers were black, Hispanic, or Asian, compared with 19 percent of those in district schools.

Gershenson said that the higher rates of teacher diversity is a largely unremarked-on feature of charter schools, and one that might go a long way to explaining their relative success with students of color. Though practices differ by jurisdiction, charters are generally allowed to hire employees without conventional teacher certifications; the requirement to attain a teaching degree, which can come at substantial cost, has been cited as a hurdle to achieving a more representative teacher workforce.

District Deeds Synopsis:

One of the “secrets” of the SDUSD under ESS Marten is the actual Teacher diversity at school sites.  The actual Teacher diversity percentages are nowhere to be found on the SDUSD website.

Although “teacher diversity” is a 2020 “goal, it is relegated to a single strategy and ZERO data to back it up.  On pages 13 and 14 of the “Vision 2020 Progress Report Sept 2018 Evans” the only reference to Teacher diversity is the following weak, undefined process:

The teacher pipeline, developed between SDEA and district staff, identifies and encourages future educators among our own students. We are developing plans with the San Diego Community College District and San Diego State University to support these students at every step along the way. This is a long term generational project to increase the diversity of our teaching staff.

While Anti-Charter School Trustee John “You Can’t Handle the Truth” Evans provided lots of fake data to support the fake SDUSD graduation rate, he only spoke of Teacher diversity in the short paragraph above pandering to the Teachers Union that got him elected!

Obviously Evans is just an “empty vessel“….just like his fellow empty vessels on the SDUSD School Board and with ESS Marten the “emptiest vessel” of all.

Now for our Quote of the Week:

“As empty vessels make the loudest sound, so they that have the least wit are the greatest blabbers” – William Baldwin

Have a great week!!!



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