School safety

Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

ESSA Toolkit

Implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) continues to draw nearer. Now is the time for principals to sit down at the negotiating table to make sure their voices are heard. However, effectively advocating for one’s cause is not always easy. (more…)

A Letter to the President-Elect

Reports from around the nation of individuals suffering harassment seem to have grown emboldened since Donald Trump’s victory. In schools, students are bullied for their race, religious beliefs, and many more issues concerning individual identity and expression. (more…)

Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

National Principals Month

Although we are nearing the end of National Principals Month, there is still time to advocate important issues. For example, when Congress passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government up to December 9, cuts were made across the board to a number of key education programs. When representatives return to Washington, D.C. after the election, new funding discussions will begin.

(more…)

Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

Inside the Beltway

What’s going on in Washington?

A potential government shutdown continues to loom on the horizon as it appears that Senate talks for a short-term continuing resolution have broken down. Early last week, all signs pointed to a budget bill that would fund the federal government until early to mid-December. However, by the end of the week Senate Republicans released their own funding proposal that Democratic Senators and Representatives refuse to support. The Senate plans to continue negotiations this week. (more…)

Revamping School Safety: Are You Prepared?

Guest post by Clint Ross

It’s something you can’t imagine happening at your school. But being properly prepared for a crisis situation—both during the emergency and afterward—is critical in this day and age.

In nearly every state, mandates involving school safety reforms have been attached to school funding. The current state of society makes this a very worthy endeavor, but this undertaking comes with some serious consternation for school districts of all shapes and sizes. Since the 1990s, school safety programs have included canned platforms that were slightly adapted to particular communities, districts, and buildings—at best. (more…)

Sign of the Times: Webinars Tackle Terrorism

As we all know, your school’s success is tied to much more than student academic performance. School security, and the emotional and physical well being of your students, staff, and community, are examples of other important issues that must be managed well in our present educational and societal climate. To that end, in December, educators from around the country had the opportunity to tune in to two webinars, courtesy of NASSP, on terrorism—an all too relevant topic today.

Throughout the year, NASSP offers free professional development webinars that provide discussion and instruction on timely topics and tools for education leaders. (Fees for nonmembers vary.) (more…)

Advocacy Update

Supreme Court

Principals in the Central states may now be a bit more confused about their responsibility to report suspected child abuse. The Supreme Court declined to review a 6th Circuit decision allowing parents to sue principals for reporting suspected abuse at home. The allegation by the administrator, the court concluded, was retaliation for a dispute over the student’s IEP. NASSP signed an amicus curiae brief for the case, indicating that “mandatory reporting” now results in mandatory vulnerability to civil suits. NASSP members, remember that your membership provides you with up to $10,000 in legal coverage. Let’s hope you won’t need it, despite the court’s decision. (more…)

Restorative Practices: An Answer to Many School Challenges

Guest post by Steven Korr:

Educators face so many challenges today. The pressure to foster student achievement at higher and higher levels is enormous. At the same time, educators find that students don’t seem to be socially and academically prepared to excel. Students often don’t know how to work successfully in groups. Many lack a sense of caring about others that can result in hurtful and even violent behavior.

The upshot is that we’re all seeing more disrespect and disruptions in classrooms. Many teachers wonder, “How can I teach when the problems are so great?” After all, learning requires risk-taking. But if students don’t feel safe, how can they be expected to take necessary risks?

Clearly, these conditions have a detrimental impact on learning. Still, when educators go into the classroom they are expected to teach. And students, for all their challenges, need them to do just that.

The old answers for handling these problems are failing. The current trend across the country is to repeal zero tolerance policies. The data shows that those policies weren’t working anyway. But if we can’t just throw kids out of the classroom or school when they disrupt learning, what are we going to do? Our answer is to institute “restorative practices.”

At the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), a graduate school based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, we start from the fundamental premise that people are happier, more cooperative, more productive, and more likely to make positive changes when those in authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.

In a school building, this means that we have to take a look at how we can build connections and strengthen relationships between everybody in the school – teachers, students, administrators, staff, and even secretaries, bus drivers, hall monitors and cafeteria workers.

This doesn’t mean instituting yet another new program that’s going to be forgotten in a few years’ time. Instead, restorative practices provide a framework for changing the thinking and behavior of those in authority, to consistently do the things that good educators and leaders have always done—thereby changing the way everyone in the school building relates to one another.

Restorative practices provide ways to address student behavior when things go wrong. More importantly, they improve the learning environment so that kids feel safe and effective learning can happen.

Steve Korr is a trainer and consultant for the International Institute for Restorative Practices (iirp.edu). He was a counselor and principal at an alternative school for at-risk youth for more than a decade. He has helped schools across the country, both urban and rural, implement successful restorative practices programs to improve school climate and positively impact learning. He will be presenting a breakout session at Ignite ’14 on Saturday, Feb. 8th from 8AM to 9:15AM.

To learn more about restorative practices and whole-school change, visit SaferSanerSchools.org. The article “What Is Restorative Practices?” by IIRP Founder and President Ted Wachtel also provides an excellent introduction to the topic.