Celebrate National School Breakfast Week, March 5–9!

Guest post by Alison Maurice

Why celebrate school breakfast? Because it not only fights hunger and improves children’s nutrition, but it is a vital tool for improving the academic achievement of your students.

Tight family budgets and hectic morning schedules make eating breakfast before the school day difficult for too many families. The School Breakfast Program plays (more…)

Redefining the High School Experience: A Trauma-Informed Approach

Guest post by Deborah Moya

What makes ABQ Charter Academy (ABQCA) different from any traditional high school or charter school? I believe our mission statement says it all: “The mission of ABQ Charter Academy is to redefine the high school experience.” Many of our scholars have had very negative experiences in traditional high schools. They seek to find a place where they belong, and we offer an environment that is centered on each individual scholar and their unique differences.  (more…)

Start the New Year Right With Breakfast After the Bell

Guest post by Alison Maurice

What better way for principals to welcome their students back for the new year than by offering them a nutritious, balanced breakfast at the beginning of their school day. With the help of your nutrition department, you can pilot a Breakfast After the Bell program in your school and make sure your students are ready to learn. (more…)

Support Learning With the Breakfast After the Bell Toolkit

Guest post by Alison Maurice

Nationally, on an average school day in the 2015–16 school year, 12.1 million low-income students participated in school breakfast, an increase of nearly 433,000 children from the prior school year. While this is definitely progress, there is still room for improvement, especially at the middle and high school levels, where school breakfast participation has often been lower than at the elementary school level.


A Call for Celebration! National School Breakfast Week

Guest post by Alison Maurice, MSW, child nutrition policy analyst, Food Research & Action Center

Why celebrate the 2017 National School Breakfast Week? School breakfast not only fights hunger and improves young people’s nutrition, but it is a vital tool for improving the academic achievement of your students. (more…)

Poverty: A Reason NOT An Excuse

Top teachers say that poverty is the most important barrier facing them in their classrooms. Reformers insist that those teachers are merely making excuses for poor achievement of low-income students.

Having worked in and with many high-poverty schools I am, on the one hand, discouraged by the current fad du jour of ignoring poverty as a detractor, and on the other hand, inspired by the fact that I know that, if schools do the right things, the right way, long enough, their students can achieve at high levels. Every day, we learn that more and more schools are beating the odds.

While the mantra of education reformers continues to be ‘No excuses, because poverty is not destiny,’ researchers and practitioners know that “socio-economic circumstance matters to education outcomes.”

Blaming Only Hurts Those Most In Need (more…)

If They Don’t Eat At School, They Don’t Eat

When Eric Jones, Principal of J.O. Johnson High School in Huntsville, AL, started a “Breakfast in the Classroom” program, it made me stop and think for a moment. Would the loss of instructional time be worth it?

Don’t get me wrong. Our school had a huge breakfast program. In fact, if you walked into our cafeteria at 7:15 a.m. you would have thought it was lunchtime. The cafeteria was completely full.

After thinking for a moment, a number of points in support of Eric’s approach occurred to me. First, every school has its own DNA. Our students were eating breakfast in the cafeteria. Eric’s students, for whatever reason, were not. If he did not feed them in their classrooms, they would not eat.

Second, I was reminded of Roy Baumeister’s excellent book, Willpower. Baumeister points out that “depletion” weakens willpower. When students don’t eat, their blood glucose levels drop and they become “depleted.” In a “depleted” state, learning will not take place. Feeding students will raise their blood glucose levels, which will help improve their concentration and increase their resilience and willpower. (more…)

PISA: It’s Still ‘Poverty Not Stupid’

PISA: It’s Still ‘Poverty Not Stupid’

Editor’s Note: This is an update of a previous post on the relationship between PISA scores and poverty. Although these figures relate to 2009 scores, little has changed. The U.S. is still in the middle of the pack when compared to other participating nations. Walt Gardner of Education Week and Diane Ravitch have provided similar analysis of more recent PISA scores.

PISA results have provided ample fodder for public school bashers and doomsayers who further their own philosophies and agendas by painting all public schools as failing. For whatever reason, the pundits, many of whom have had little or no actual exposure to public schools, refuse to paint an accurate picture of the state of education.

A closer look at the data tells a different story. Most notable is the relationship between PISA scores in terms of individual American schools and poverty.  While the overall PISA rankings ignore such differences in the tested schools, when groupings based on the rate of free and reduced lunch are created, a direct relationship is established.

Free and Reduced Meal Rate PISA Score
Schools with < 10% 551
Schools with 10-24.9% 527
Schools with 25-49.9% 502
Schools with 49.9-74.9% 471
Schools with >75% 446
U.S. average 500
OECD average 493 

With strong evidence that increased poverty results in lower PISA scores the next question to be asked is (more…)