An online newsletter produced by EdSource
with support from The California Endowment 


Nov. 20, 2013 Issue 10

Dear Friends:

Welcome to our latest issue of EdHealth!


Many of you no doubt saw or heard about the PBS/Frontline documentary League of Denial about concussions in the National Football League. In this issue of EdHealth, our feature story looks at concussions in school sports, and the recent California law that requires coaches be trained to recognize the symptoms of this potential traumatic brain injury.  


Among other topics, we also look at the emerging issue of "school climate" -- one of the areas in which schools will be assessed as part of California's new school funding and accountability law -- and the increasing attention that special education is getting in policymaking circles. 


As always, please let us our health and wellness reporter, Jane Adams, know about any student wellness issues and upcoming events you think deserve greater coverage. And if you have not yet subscribed to EdHealth, please click here


Best regards,





Louis Freedberg

Executive Director


Student Health and Wellbeing

New law raises awareness of concussions in student athletes
Football players practice at Oakland Technical High School. Football has the highest incident rate of concussion of any youth sport. Credit: EdSource Today, Jane Meredith Adams.

As high school football players prepare to put their helmets away for the season, athletic officials are hoping that a new law requiring coaches to be trained to spot concussions in players has made the high-contact game, and all youth sports, safer.


The California law, which went into effect in January, is one of a slew of laws and initiatives across the nation intended to address under-reporting and under-treating of youth concussions, a brain injury usually caused by a blow to the head. In August, Tyler Lewellen, a 16-year-old defensive safety at Arlington High School in Riverside, collapsed after a tackle and died following surgery to relieve swelling on the brain, EdSource reports. 

High school football players talk about concussions
Click on the photo above to hear the report "Does Your School Protect Your Head?" by Youth Radio.
Credit: Youth Radio
Youth Radio, our neighbor in downtown Oakland, produced a report about youth concussions, including interviews with players from high schools in Castro Valley and Novato. The story focused on safety measures to prevent concussions and neck injuries, including using hitting techniques that keep players' heads up. The report by Youth Radio's Ike Sriskandarajah and Kendrick Calkins was aired on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." 
Repeal of transgender rights law wouldn't affect interscholastic sports, districts' own protections  
Ashton Lee, 16, an advocate for the law.
Credit: Gay-Straight Alliance Network

As efforts to overturn a new law allowing transgender students to use bathroom facilities and participate on teams consistent with their gender identity gain momentum, repeal of the law would have no impact on many existing policies protecting transgender rights in youth sports, according to legal advocates.


It would also, they say, not affect more comprehensive anti-discrimination policies in four school districts, including Los Angeles Unified. The term transgender refers to those who identify with a gender that differs from their sex; transgender students are at an increased risk of bullying, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, EdSource reports. 

Webinar: Positive School Climate + Effective School Discipline

With the roll-out of the new K-12 California education funding law known as the Local Control Funding Formula, districts are being asked to show progress in reducing expulsion and suspension rates and improving "school climate," a loosely defined term related to how connected and supported students feel at school. Those same goals are the focus of an upcoming webinar on "Creating a Positive School Climate: Implementing Equitable and Effective School Discipline Practices."


The webinar will discuss strategies to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of every student, according to its host, the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington, DC-based national advocacy organization focused on underserved students. The webinar is on Thursday, December 5, 2013, 12 noon to 1 p.m. PST. Register here.  


The Alliance has a related report, released in fall 2013, called "Climate Change: Implementing School Discipline Practices That Create a Positive School Climate."  


Students with Disabilities and High-Needs

Special education, a multi-billion-dollar operation long viewed in Sacramento as too big and confounding to reform, may finally grab policymakers' attention. The education of students with disabilities, including physical, developmental and learning disabilities, is the focus of a new, foundation-funded Task Force On Special Education, EdSource reports.
Senate and Assembly leaders are calling on state education officials to ensure that foster children receive their fair share under the state's new funding formula, according to a letter delivered to the State Board of Education and the California Department of Education last week. Foster youth often have high needs for emotional and academic support, EdSource reports.
New research: Farmers markets, tobacco and fast food
Study: To decrease obesity, money for fresh fruit improves diets
Tobacco use drops slightly for youth;
e-cigarette use rises

Poor nutrition, loads of calories for kids who eat at fast food restaurants

Providing low-income families and individuals with "tokens" to be redeemed at San Diego farmers markets dramatically increased the percentage who described their diets as "healthy" or "very healthy," according to a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control journal, Preventing Chronic Disease. Of participants in the Fresh Fund program, 82 percent had never been to a farmers market before.
Overall tobacco use among students fell slightly in 2012, to 23 percent of high school students and nearly 7 percent of middle school students, according to 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey data analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control. The use of electronic cigarettes that vaporize nicotine doubled for middle school students. This month, the Food and Drug Administration stated its concern about e-cigarettes.
On days they eat fast food, children consume 126 additional calories and
teens consume 310 more calories, according to a new report from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. Fast food offerings include large or extra-large soft drinks (350-850 calories) and large french fries (470-610 calories). Less than 1 percent of kids' fast food meals meet nutrition standards, the report said.

Recent Editions of the EdHealth Newsletter:

EdHealth Newsletter Issue 9: More teens drinking sugary beverages
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 8: Free lunch sign-ups crucial to school funding
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 7: Lunch tally triggers dispute with districts
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 6: Tracking the impact of anti-bullying programs

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