Massachusetts Safe and Supportive Schools Act
On May 30, 2013, Committee for Children submitted testimony encouraging the MA Legislature support S210/H520, An Act Relative to Safe and Supportive Schools. The bill:
- Requires all schools, by 2016, to develop action plans for creating safe and supportive environments using the safe and Supportive Schools Framework and Self-Assessment Tool
- Establishes a commission to assist statewide implementation of the Framework in schools and make ongoing recommendations
- Establishes a Safe and Supportive Schools grant program to fund exemplar schools who wish to serve as models in creating safe and supportive schools (subject to appropriation)
- Provides technical assistance to schools and districts
Research shows that safe and supportive whole-school environments are a necessary foundation for improving education outcomes for all students. Educators want a way to align initiatives that make schools safe and supportive: bullying prevention, dropout prevention, truancy reduction, trauma sensitivity, and social-emotional learning.
Committee for Children supports the MA Safe and Supportive Schools Act.
Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act of 2013
Working with CASEL, Committee for Children will be supporting the Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act of 2013 Sponsored by Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), this bill will expand the availability of evidence-based programs that teach students social and emotional skills, such as self-control, goal-setting, collaboration, conflict resolution and problem-solving. The bill will be introduced in Congress the week of May 5th.
A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools
Recently Committee for Children joined the National Association of School Psychologists and hundreds of other organizations in supporting their Framework for Safe and Successful Schools. This Framework will be used to call on Congress and President Obama to enact school safety policies that will genuinely support the well-being and learning of students over the long term rather than reactive strategies that may cause more harm than good.
The Framework emphasizes:
- The importance of establishing policies and practices that are comprehensive, integrated, and multi-tiered
- Facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration across school teams and among school and community providers
- Make the most effective use of school personnel
- Are sustainable.
More than 100 education and children’s mental health groups and experts have endorsed the recommendations.
- Other recommendations include:
- Allowing for blended, flexible use of funding streams to address school climate, safety, crisis response, and mental health needs more cohesively and effectively
- Improving staffing ratios of school-employed mental health professionals to allow for the delivery of a full range of services and the support of effective school–community partnerships
- Employing effective school discipline that promotes positive behavior
- Integrating ongoing school safety and crisis and emergency preparedness and response teams, training, and planning.
Safe Schools Improvement Act
Committee for Children, along with dozens of other organizations who are members of the National Safe Schools Partnership, is enthusiastically supporting the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) as it makes its way through Congress (HR1199 in the House of Representatives and S403 in the US Senate). The SSIA will help educators effectively address the bullying and harassment that creates significant adverse consequences for students. The act will ensure that schools and districts develop policies against bullying and harassment and focus on prevention strategies.
The National Safe Schools Partnership is an informal coalition of over 100 organizations consisting of leading national education, health, civil rights, youth development, and other groups committed to ensure that America’s schools are safe for children.
Seattle FOX News affiliate Q13 interviewed our executive director, Joan Cole Duffell, on March 14. The interview centered on Washington State Senate Bill 5563, which would require training for school staff in preventing child sexual abuse.
In February, Committee for Children and the Conditions for Learning Coalition hosted a Congressional briefing entitled Social and Emotional Learning: Essential Skills for School Safety, Positive Behavior and Higher Student Achievement. Speaking at the briefing were Committee for Children’s Executive Director Joan Duffell; Dorothy Espelage, Ph.D. of the University of Illinois and noted researcher on bullying in schools; Lori Vollandt from the Los Angeles Unified School District; Steve Zimmer, a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s school board; and Michael Searcy of the Detroit Public Schools. The speaker urged members of Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and to include funding for social-emotional learning in the bill. Coming on the heels of the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, the briefing focused on ways to help kids stay safe in school by teaching social-emotional learning. Over 75 Congressional staffers were in attendance. Highlights of the briefing:
In 2011, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the “Successful, Safe and Healthy Students” program as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Very similar to the Safe and Drug Free Schools funding provided for in No Child Left Behind, this bill passed out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pension with bipartisan support. Committee for Children supports the inclusion of this act in future reauthorization of the ESEA or as stand-alone legislation.
On Monday, February 18, Committee for Children Executive Director (and other supporters) testify on behalf of SB5563 in the Washington State Senate. The bill would require the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop and implement a training program for all school employees regarding prevention of sexual abuse; commercial sexual abuse of a minor; and sexual exploitation of a minor. In the bill, Committee for Children is invited to join the coalition of organizations to update existing materials regarding the laws related to sex offenses; how to recognize the behaviors of sex offenders; how to prevent victimization and take advantage of community resources; and how to prevent children from being recruited into sex trafficking. See full video.