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


Feb. 17, 2015, Issue 28
In the midst of a nationwide measles outbreak tied to unvaccinated children and adults in California, the nation's leading autism advocacy group has changed its position and now clearly states there is no link between vaccinations and autism.

"Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism," said Rob Ring, chief science officer for Autism Speaks, in a statement posted on the group's website. "The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism."

Got a child who is in, or will be entering, kindergarten? Use our database to see the vaccination rates at your child's school.

The number of kindergarteners in California whose parents opted out of vaccinating them grew from 6,787 (1.4 percent) in 2006 to 13,257 (2.5 percent) in 2014. Opt-out rates are notably higher in rural counties, Marin and Santa Cruz counties, and in charter and private schools.

Many pregnant teenagers in the Central Valley are highly motivated to graduate from high school and continue their education, but some schools make the task more difficult - and violate federal law-- by funneling expectant and parenting students into alternative schools and denying them access to college-track classes, according to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

Read more at EdSource Today.

A parent, left, talks to a health care enrollment specialist at a Natomas Unified health insurance sign-up event.

Update: The deadline to enroll in Covered California has been extended to Feb. 20 for those who have already started their application but have not yet finished it. Medi-Cal enrollment is year-round.

With huge numbers of California children still uninsured, schools are beginning to take the lead in letting families know that affordable health care coverage is available.

Under a new state law, all California schools must include in their 2015-16 enrollment packets information about options for health care coverage and how to get help with the sign-up process.

Social and Emotional Development

Over the past decade, the free instructional website Khan Academy has transformed how tens of millions of students across the globe perceive and approach math. Now, it's pursuing a bigger aim: transforming how students perceive themselves.

The new initiative, known as LearnStorm, builds on research that shows students' perceptions of themselves as learners - whether they are "naturally dumb in math," for example - affect their motivation and their achievement in math. The term "growth mindset" refers to the idea that intelligence is not fixed and that talents and abilities can be developed through effort and persistence.

The initiative, a three-month pilot math competition, comes at a time when the social and emotional underpinnings of learning are drawing increased attention in California, as the state shifts away from a strictly test-based accountability system.

School Climate and Discipline

A behavioral intervention program that encourages male students to be open about their struggles with anger seems to have won the support of school board members in the Santa Ana Unified School District, the Voice of O.C. reported.

The program is called Joven Noble, which means Noble Youth in Spanish, and it uses curriculum from the National Compadres Network, a San Jose-based nonprofit organization devoted to the development of Latino boys and men. Parents and advocates have been asking the district to move away from largely punitive approaches to student discipline in favor of programs that allow students to talk about their challenges and make amends for their actions, according the news report.
Special Education

Children in state-supported, high-quality early childhood programs were less likely to be placed in special education, according to a study by Duke University researchers. The researchers looked at two programs recognized nationally as high-quality intervention programs for young children.

Also in special education: Report: "Equity at Scale: How Public Charter School Networks Can Innovate and Improve Services for Students with Disabilities," by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools.

Other Student Health and Wellness News

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Summer Meals
Planning for a successful Summer Food Service Program starts now, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The department has released its 2015 handbook, Summer Food Rocks!, to guide school food service administrators in providing summer meals to children from low-income families. The department is also hosting a series of Summer Meals webinars, including:
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