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


July 16, 2015

Issue 35

School Climate
Map of schools in Oakland receiving funds for restorative justice, trauma-informed care, community schools coordinators and more.

An anonymous donor seeking to improve Oakland is investing in education. Nearly a quarter of the donor's $34 million gift to city organizations this week is targeted to school discipline reform, trauma care for students and early education teacher training and materials.

The donor reportedly cold-called the San Francisco Foundation earlier this year to float the idea of the gift and to ask Fred Blackwell, chief executive of the philanthropic foundation, to help disperse the funds. The focus of the grants is on "scaling proven solutions" to academic and economic obstacles faced by Oakland residents, according to a news release from the foundation, which donates grant money to nonprofits throughout the Bay Area.

The upshot is an $8 million gift to Oakland schools for what the foundation described as "a preK-12 system of support." The donor requested that the funds be put to work this summer.
 Read more at EdSource Today. 
Barbara McClung, director of Behavioral Health Initiatives for the Oakland Unified School District

In case you missed it -- Check out this 55-minute video presentation by Oakland Unified School District administrators, including Superintendent Antwan Wilson, talking about results of the district's restorative justice program and participating in a question-and-answer session about school discipline.

As defined by the district, restorative justice is a set of principles and practices used to address student misconduct and build community. Restorative justice circles allow students to make amends for harm they have caused and take steps to prevent future harm.

In the video presentation, "Progress Report on Restorative Justice Approach to School Discipline," staff discuss the 10-year introduction of restorative practices in Oakland Unified classrooms, starting at Cole Middle School in West Oakland in 2005.

"Something special happened at Cole Middle School that has actually changed the course of our history in Oakland Unified School District," said Barbara McClung, director of Behavioral Health Initiatives for Oakland Unified. In three years at Cole Middle School, she said, the disproportionate rate of suspension for students of color was eliminated.

Improvements in attendance and academic achievement have followed in the district schools -- now numbering nearly 30 - that use the restorative justice approach, either school-wide or in a more limited way, according to a 2014 report written by Sonia Jain, an Oakland-based researcher and the lead evaluator of the program. Jain's findings were prepared for the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. 

McClung said that Oakland schools have not been required to adopt restorative practices, but instead
some teachers, administrators and staff have voluntarily sought the program. "We just offered training for any teacher, any administrator or any staff that wanted to learn about restorative practices," McClung said.

"What happened was a sort of grassroots expansion," she said. "It kind of caught fire." 

David Yusem, manager of the district's Restorative Justice Initiative, said the program works in sync with other student support initiatives, including the Office of African American Male Achievement, positive behavior interventions and supports, pathways to college and career, and

social emotional skill-building. 
Attorneys are seeking a preliminary injunction that would require the Compton Unified School District to train all teachers, administrators and school-site staff on how to recognize the effects of chronic trauma on students' ability to learn, think, read, concentrate and communicate.

Read more at EdSource Today.

Across California and the nation, educators say the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage stands to improve, over time, the way gay and lesbian people are talked about at schools, both in the hallways and in the curriculum.


"I think we've crossed a threshold toward acceptance and welcome," said Todd Savage, president of the National Association of School Psychologists.



Read more at EdSource Today.


When the nation's top teachers were asked about the biggest barriers to students' success, most didn't point to reasons inside the classroom. Instead, they ranked family stress and poverty as the main issues facing students, according to a survey of the 56 winners of Teacher of the Year across the country.

California's Teacher of the Year, Maggie Mabery, works as a science teacher at Manhattan Beach Middle School in an affluent, beachside community in Los Angeles County, so poverty isn't a core issue there. But she said her students feel the stress of homework and the pressure to achieve.

"Half of my time is teaching my curriculum," Habery said. "That (other) 50 percent is teaching the kids to be humans. How are you going to be an adult? How are you going to collaborate with other students? That is a life skill that there is no measurement for."

Read more in EdSource Today.

Now that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that says parents can no longer refuse to vaccinate their children based on their personal opposition and enroll them in public or private schools, schools and parents are parsing the fine print to put the new law into practice.

Most school districts in California will be affected, with 47 out of 58 California counties in 2014-15 reporting they had kindergartners with personal belief exemptions to school-required vaccinations. (To find out how many kindergartners opted out of vaccinations at your school, click here.) Read more at EdSource Today.
An effort to stop the enactment of the new vaccination law is underway as opponents have been cleared to begin collecting signatures to overturn the law through a ballot referendum.

The new law, which goes into effect July 1, 2016, allows only children who have been immunized for various diseases, including measles and pertussis (whooping cough), to be admitted to a California public or private school, unless they have a medical exemption.

The referendum, called the Referendum to Allow Personal Belief Exemption from Mandatory Immunization Program for Schoolchildren, seeks to put the public health issue before voters. Its aim is to reinstate the personal belief exemption that allows parents to opt out of school-required vaccinations.

Opponents of the vaccination law, known as Senate Bill 277, must gather the signatures of 365,880 registered voters on petitions by Sept. 28 for the referendum to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. The referendum drive is led by Tim Donnelly, a former assemblyman from Twin Peaks and a 2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate.

If the referendum is approved for the ballot, implementation of the law would be suspended.

State Sen. Dr. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, a pediatrician and co-author of SB 277, said in a statement, "My bill was thoroughly vetted in the Legislature with about 20 hours of debate and testimony analyzing every aspect of the law.

"Californians will support protecting our schools and communities over promoting anti-science myths that endanger our children," Pan said.

Related from EdSource Today:

Using current events to build Common Core-aligned skills with a social justice lens

Ninety-four percent of teachers teach their students about current events, with 45 percent of them teaching current events at least a few times a week, according to a survey of 400 elementary, middle school and high school teachers by the Anti-Defamation League.

Now a webinar from the Anti-Defamation League delves into how teachers can build Common Core-aligned skills, such as critical thinking, discussion and close-reading of text, using current events as viewed through a social justice lens.

The news of the day can be an entry point for instruction about history, speech-writing, statistics, the reliability of sources and more, said Anti-Defamation League staff members Jinnie Spiegle, director of curriculum, and Beth Yohe, director of training.

Spiegle and Yohe hosted the live webinar, which is now archived in the Anti-Bias Summer School Series that allows educators to take in information at their leisure.

What: "Using Current Events to Teach About Bias, Diversity and Social Justice"

Who: Jinnie Spiegler, director of curriculum, and Beth Yohe, director of training, at the Anti-Defamation League

When: Anytime. The Anti-Bias Summer School Series webinars was recorded live and is archived here.

Recent Editions of the EdHealth Newsletter

EdHealth Newsletter Issue 34: After Charleston killings, teachers prep for classroom discussions
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 33: Facebook photos tied to binge drinking?
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 32: Judge rules medically accurate sex ed is 'an important right'
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 31: State vaccination bill to get 3rd hearing this week
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 30: How healthy is your county?

Go to EdHealth Archive

Want to receive a free online subscription to EdHealth? Click on the button below.   
to EdHealth
Stay Connected