Officials in some US schools are introducing mindfulness practices in the classroom as an alternative to traditional discipline. At one Baltimore elementary school that has adopted this approach, officials report fewer trips to the principal's office and no suspensions over the past two years.
There are eight indicators that signal whether students are engaged in a classroom activity, suggests John Almarode, an associate professor at James Madison University and co-director of the school's Center for STEM Education and Outreach. If at least three of the indicators are visible, he says, the activity is more likely to have engaged students.
Teachers at a Mississippi elementary school have adopted the My Classroom Economy program, which teaches students real-world lessons about finances. Under the program, students perform such tasks as paying rent on their desks and buying supplies to learn about financial literacy and the consequences of making unwise decisions.
Fifth- and sixth-graders at an Ohio school recently interviewed a panel of local leaders about issues in their community, including poverty and homelessness. The students developed questions after reading about problems in their local newspaper and wanted to know how they could help.
Five students with special needs are playing in an orchestra at their Texas high school, each utilizing the help of three peers to guide them in playing instruments. Their school is among those in the US that work with the Arizona nonprofit United Sound, which provides resources to schools to offer inclusive music programs.
Students at eight schools in Baltimore will have access to on-campus washers and dryers as part of a pilot program aimed at improving attendance. Officials plan to study the connection between clean clothes and school attendance by tracking the results for 10 students.
Boston Public Schools is planning to expand the district's innovation schools program, which allows schools more flexibility with their calendar, curricula and spending. Plans call for one school to focus on social-emotional health and project-based learning and another school to engage students in social justice.
The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights received 16,720 complaints during the 2016 fiscal year -- more than twice as many as it received in 2009, according to its annual report. The office touted increased efforts to investigate complaints and enforce civil rights over the past eight years during the Obama administration.
The US Supreme Court is expected to hear a case that would determine whether students with special needs are entitled to "some educational benefit" or to a higher standard -- "meaningful benefit" -- in public schools. The case could have financial implications for schools, officials say, by forcing them to either spend more on in-school therapies or pay for the student to attend a private school.
In states that have acted to legalize marijuana, school officials say they need additional guidelines to address marijuana possession and the problem of students or staff being under the influence at school. In Colorado, a recreational marijuana pioneer, school officials now treat possession of marijuana like possession of alcohol.
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