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Rethinking School Discipline (Afternoon Session)


Kalisha Dessources: I was
able to jump around from room to room during both of
our breakout sessions, and heard just incredible
conversation taking place. So we have remarks from a
few more speakers from the administration today, but
we are also going to share whole-group some of the
action items that came out of our breakout sessions. So I’m extraordinarily
excited for that. Our next speaker, Vanita
Gupta, has served as the head of the Civil Rights
division at the United States Department of
Justice since October 2014. As the Chief Civil Rights
prosecutor for the United States, Miss Gupta oversees
a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts,
to ensure equal justice and protect equal
opportunity for all. Under her leadership, the
division continues its critical work in a number of
areas, including ensuring that policies and practices
around school discipline and school climate comply with
federal law, in order to support all students
around the country. It’s a privilege to welcome
her here to stage — Assistant Attorney
General Gupta. (applause) Vanita Gupta: Hi everyone. It’s great to be hear. I heard it’s been a pretty
powerful day, and I want to thank you, Kalisha, for the
introduction and for the welcome. I guess I want to just start
by thanking my outstanding colleagues here today,
including from the White House Council on Women and
Girls, and my team from the Civil Rights division,
from the Educational Opportunities section, and
the Special Litigations section. These two sections at the
division work day in and day out tirelessly to protect
the rights of all children, so that they can be in safe
and secure and productive and constructive learning
environments, and successful schools. And I’m glad that so many
of them were able to help facilitate a number of the
breakouts today as well, because it really enures to
the benefit of our work. I also want to acknowledge
— I know that Secretary John King is going to be
speaking here shortly, before all of you, and his
extraordinary leadership really motivates all of us
to work harder, to ensure that our schools are serving
all of our country’s children. I also want to thank all of
you, as policymakers and researchers and advocates,
for your steadfast commitment to supporting
girls of color, and to protecting the rights of all
children in our schools. You know, really throughout
American society, from our schools to our communities
to the juvenile justice systems, we can see how
trauma can really inflict a devastating impact
on young women. Whether that’s due to
bullying, or sexual assault, or discriminatory
discipline, really the trauma of injustices and
indignities can reverberate for years. And I’m sure that today’s
series of conversations have really focused on the
devastating impact. Trauma can invade nearly
ever area of a girl’s life. It impacts family
relationships. It interferes with
schoolwork and academic performance. It carries into
one’s social life. Even at awkward stages of
adolescence aren’t bad enough, it makes everything
all the more difficult. And there’s no question that
it can leave an emotional and psychological toll, that
may not be the most visible harm, but that can linger
painfully for years. And I want to thank the
young women who spoke here earlier today about these
experiences, and about the importance of the work that
we’re all committed to doing. A trauma-informed approach
to addressing sexual harassment and school
discipline and violence means really developing
strategies that are centered around caring for children
with compassion, with support, and with dignity. And it means addressing the
root causes of traumatic events, for example, by
preventing sexual assault, and eradicating hostile
learning environments. It also means, though,
recognizing how to sensitively and effectively
support students who have experienced serious
trauma, and integrating a trauma-informed approach
into our collective response. And in the Civil Rights
division, we are advancing that mission to create safe,
supportive, and inclusive schools across the system. A core part of this work is
combating discriminatory discipline and policing
practices that too often fail to recognize or
address behavior that is trauma-driven. That lapse can fuel a prison
— a pipeline to prison, where children in
particular, of course children with color and
children with disabilities — who have already suffered
the harm of trauma at school or at home — ending up
getting a sentence of incarceration rather
than a diploma. We have a matter. It’s very active in
Meridian, Mississippi, where among a host of due process
violations, we found students suspended from
school, and some later incarcerated in a juvenile
detention facility — for behavior as mundane as
violating the dress code by wearing the wrong color
socks, or leaving their shirts untucked. And these actions
disproportionately impacted children of color, and
children with disabilities. In 2013, we reached an
agreement to address discriminatory school
discipline practices, including referrals to law
enforcement by the Meridian public school district. And under the consent
decree, the school system agreed to provide all
students, including girls of color, with positive
behavior interventions and supports, before removing
them from school. It also agreed to establish
clear guidelines for the limited circumstances that
require law enforcement intervention, and it agreed
to ensure discipline measures are fair,
equitable, and consistent, based largely on some very
troubling facts that we found in the district. And last year, the court
approved other agreements with the Meridian police
department in the State Youth Probation agency. The police and youth
probation agreement similarly seek to avoid law
enforcement involvement in alleged school-based
misconduct whenever possible. And this Meridian agreement
was really important, because it allowed us to
kind of do work across a spectrum of systems that
have impact on kids’ lives. Not just in school, but also
in the juvenile justice system, and in the probation
systems, and beyond. And when youth encounter the
juvenile justice system, the Meridian agreements really
work to ensure that their civil rights are respected. And so together, our
agreements in Mississippi focus on appropriate
responses and resolutions, rather than escalations of
school-based incidents. We’re also advancing these
systemic reforms around the country, including in Palm
Beach county, Florida, the nation’s 11th largest
school district. A settlement agreement that
we reached there required the district to remove
language barriers to students, and prevent police
involvement in routine disciplinary matters. And we’re enforcing other
agreements elsewhere as well, from Tucson, Arizona,
to St. Martin Parish, Louisiana. We’re also working to combat
the scourge of sexual assault and harassment that
threatens the security of our schools, as well as the
foundation of a free, open, and safe society. And in Allentown,
Pennsylvania, where we reached a settlement to
address allegations of sexual harassment in public
schools, we found multiple cases of security guards
harassing female students with inappropriate sexual
comments and touching. And one security guard
even tried to exchange inappropriate sexual contact
for a promise not to report the girl’s disciplinary
violation. As a result, we required the
school district to intervene promptly and effectively,
with strict guidelines and robust training for
security guards. And the agreement also
mandates that the school demonstrate a firm
commitment to investigate any complaint of abuse
or unlawful conduct. But beyond the K through 12
context, we’re also working to address sexual assault at
colleges and universities. And for example, we’ve
crafted impactful settlement agreements with state and
local jurisdictions in Missoula, Montana, where
we worked to promote a victim-centered,
trauma-informed approach to sexual assault and
domestic violence. And to help law enforcement
around the country advance this same approach, late
last year we released a guidance on
gender-bias policing. And the principles in our
guidance include using trauma-informed interview
tactics that encourage victim participation,
replacing prejudice statements that assume what
happened with neutral, open-ended questions that
are focused on learning what actually occurred. The principles also advise
police officers to adopt a victim-centered approach
that addresses the medical and emotional and safety
needs of victims, including referrals to
appropriate services. And in the juvenile justice
system as well, we’re working to protect the
rights of all youth to be free from violence
and abuse. In 2007, a Justice
Department investigation uncovered juvenile
correctional institutions in Ohio falling painfully
short of their legal responsibilities to support
the safety and health and educational needs of
detained children. And there was a particular
youth correctional facility in the city of Delaware,
Ohio, where they were holding youth in seclusion
for actions as mundane as refusing breakfast, and
cursing, and talking in class. And in one instance, a
youth endured 14 hours in seclusion for arguing
and using a racial slur. And state experts also
concluded that Marion, Ohio — the correctional facility
in Marion, Ohio, their mental health care system
was failing to meet minimally acceptable
constitutional requirements. These alarming and
ineffective and frequently unconstitutional practices
demand widespread reform. And over the past decade,
we’ve responded with comprehensive approaches. After years of thorough
investigation and effective litigation and independent
monitoring, we agreed to terminate our consent decree
with the state last year, after it successfully
implemented transformative reforms to their juvenile
justice correctional facilities. And these reforms spanned
a whole bunch of different areas, including eliminating
the use of solitary confinement for punishment,
and ensuring individualized mental health care, and
dramatically reducing the population of youth in the
facility to begin with. At the Civil Rights
division, I think we’re really excited about
this convening. And you know, the reality is
we’re continuously seeking to improve the ways that we
incorporate trauma-informed practices into our
settlement agreements, and into the work that we’re
doing around the country. And as we assess
the disparities and discriminatory practices
that too often inflict trauma on our children,
especially children of color, and leave them with
a disadvantaged future, we need to continue responding
with urgency and with action. Because the reality — and
all of you know this — is that if we don’t address the
harm, and if we don’t deal with the trauma, and if we
don’t really respond and understand the pain that
young people experience in school, where do we honestly
expect them to end up later on in their lives? How do we expect them to
succeed when the deck is so stacked against them, and
the system offers so little support to help? And these questions are not
just rhetorical questions that I’m asking here today. These are real questions,
and these are urgent questions, and they are
essential, really, to building the future that all
of our children deserve. A future of fairness and of
safety, and of inclusivity. And so look, I know we all
have a lot of work to do ahead, but I’m really glad
to be here today, to talk with all of you about the
tough issues, and to know that we’re working together
on the path forward. And so I just want to thank
you all for your commitment to justice. So thank you. (applause) Kalisha Dessources: And
so I know that there are commitments that states are
going to share, but we also have some external
commitments that are being made today to this work. So I just want to invite to
stage Rebecca Epstein again, who will invite to stage
two others, who are making tangible commitments
out of this work today. Rebecca Epstein: The
Georgetown Law Center on Poverty is going to build
on the momentum of this conference, by pivoting from
its role as a co-host, to serving school system
reformers who seek to implement trauma-informed
approaches that are responsive to the unique
needs of girls of color. So we’re going to be
inviting state teams that are here today, and others
who want to participate, to provide more in-depth
information about their needs in creating
trauma-informed schools, with the ultimate goal
of the Center on Poverty serving as a central
convener of these groups. So we’re proud to make that
announcement today, and you can look forward to hearing
from me in the upcoming weeks. (applause) Rebecca Epstein: Allison
Brown, are you here? (laughs) The Executive
Director of Communities for Just Schools Funds, Allison
Brown, has an announcement now. (applause) Rebecca Epstein: And
Elizabeth Prewitt, if you want to come on up as well. (applause) Allison Brown:
Good afternoon. Hi. I am so excited to announce
today that the Communities for Just Schools Fund is
launching a new fellowship program. The Education Anew
fellowship will be a 12 to 18-month fellowship, and
will be housed at the Southern Education
Foundation based in Atlanta, Georgia. The Education Anew fellow
will work closely with the Communities for Just Schools
Funds staff and grantee partners to develop a best
practices institute, to develop — that will be for
educators, from a youth and community-centered
perspective, to support the implementation of
alternatives to exclusionary school discipline, and the
creation of healthy school climates. Our intent is to eliminate
inequity in schools and nurture holistically healthy
learning environments. The Education Anew fellow
will work closely with the Southern Education
Foundation’s soon-to-be-launched Racial
Equity Leadership Network for school district
superintendents. So within a frame of racial
equity, the Education Anew fellow will represent youth
and community members to identify, shape, and help
implement best practices that also are gender-aware
and gender-specific, including trauma-informed
practices. The Education Anew fellow
will foster conversations and collaborations between
the organizers that the Communities for Just Schools
Fund supports, and the educators with whom
the Southern Education Foundation works — all
for the greater benefit of education, justice
advocates, and school discipline reform
efforts nation-wide. We will soon be accepting
applications, and we strongly encourage youth
leaders — especially youth leaders who have been
impacted by exclusionary discipline practices, and
toxic or traumatic learning environments — to apply. Thank you. (applause) Elizabeth Prewitt:
Hi everybody. This is a great group. This is a wonderful
conference. I’m enjoying every
minute of it. I’m Elizabeth Prewitt. I’m the Policy Analyst for ACES Connection Network, and that of course stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. When someone early in the
conference asked, you know, “who knows about the A. study?” And practically every hand
went up, that’s so unusual, and it was so
heartening to see that. We wanted to invite
everybody in the room, if you’re not already a member
of ACES Connection, to join. We have recently
restructured our education — ACES in Education group,
so that we can share more resources more efficiently. And so we’d like for you to
join the overall network, and also to join the
ACES in Education group. So ACES Connection Network
is two — has two parts. One is ACES Too High, and
this is a new site geared to the general public. People that are just
interested in the topic overall, and they can learn
about what people and organizations and systems
and communities are doing to implement best practices
that relate to ACES sciences. And then the companion
network, which is really where a lot of the work gets
done, is acesconnection.com — and we now have
about 10,000 members. We started off with just,
you know, a couple of hundred. Jane Stevens is the
founder and co-editor. Many of you
probably know Jane. It was her sort of
inspiration, and she made it happen. Both of these sites
are commercial-free. It doesn’t cost anything to
join, and part of the reason for that is that we are
generously supported by the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation and the California Endowment, where
a lot of the reporting is done. So ACES in Education group
within acesconnection.com — we have about 300, mainly
educators, and it’s really the go-to place for
anything that relates to trauma-informed schools. Resilience-building is —
and solutions-oriented is sort of how we see things. It’s not all doom and gloom,
and our focus really is on telling the stories
about the movement. So if you, you know, if you
join the group you’ll get information about webinars,
tool kits, research studies, books — anything that
relates to this topic. So I invite you to join. Thank you. Kalisha Dessources:
Thank you Elizabeth. (applause) Kalisha Dessources: And
thank you to all three – Rebecca, Elizabeth,
and Allison. And a special thanks to
Allison with the Communities for Just Schools Fund, for
bringing in our girls this morning, which were
definitely a very important part of today’s discussion. So we are going to move into
our state team deliverables and do-outs. So you should have the one
person identified from your team who’s going to
come and step up. It’s going to be
15 of you guys. If you guys just want to
make a nice line over here, we’ll pass this mic down,
and we just want 60 seconds of what are the action
items coming out. That’s one minute each. (laughter) Kalisha Dessources: — of
what are the action items coming out of
today’s convening. And of course we have a
very special guest here listening, before he gives
remarks — our Secretary of Education, John King. So Colorado, come on
up; D.C., Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland,
Minnesota, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New
York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee,
and Virginia. And please just kick us off
with your state, and if you’re representing a
district, what district you’re representing, or what
entity you’re representing from your state. Brittany Marigo: Hi,
I’m Brittany Marigo. I’m from the Ohio
Department of Education. Ohio spoke a lot about
really getting the message out statewide, and to do
that we have to help people understand the urgency of
this issue, and help them understand why girls of
color need to be understood in a different way. And to do that, we are
talking about cultural competency training, and
really letting districts know that it’s okay to have
implicit biases, but you have to be able to identify
that you have them, and how to get past that. During our state session, we
broke it out into what ODE is going to be responsible
for doing, and what districts can do to move
this message forward. ODE is interested in
partnering with institutions of higher education, so our
teachers are prepared, and they understand mental
health issues and trauma before they get into the
classroom, so they can hit the ground running. We would also like to
convene a group of stakeholders, so statewide
agencies can collaborate and partner, and share some data
so we can have a statewide message. And we would also like
to review our existing structures, to get all of
this work integrated into one consistent plan,
especially as we’re working through the Every
Student Succeeds Act. Our districts are looking
into more sustainable family engagement, and that’s
mainly through partnerships with the community members,
so they can actually target resources that are necessary
to get these kiddos focused. And lastly districts have
talked about reviewing their discipline policies, and
coming up with creative solutions to keep
kids in school. Female Speaker: I’m thankful
for my Montana team for joining me here today. They all exemplify
compassion in their work every day. I think we’re all going to
talk a lot about similar planning. You know, these things kind
of need to scale up and roll out in similar fashions. One of the things, I think,
that we talked about specifically for Montana, is
our need to bring in focus groups of girls of color in
particular, to really get their earnest and honest
feedback about what sort of supports they need
in their communities. Each community is very
diverse ethnically and geographically in our state,
and so we want to make sure that we’re very
specific and targeted. We’re fortunate in Montana
that we have a large growing community that’s becoming
trauma-informed and invigorated about this work. So we would like to, you
know, find our partners, find our stakeholders, and a
coalition including tribes, schools, you know,
mental health entities. Everybody and anybody,
to fold this work into already-existing and ongoing
efforts, because this can’t simply be another add-on to
what we’re already doing in schools. They need to see it as
something that can become integrated into
their existing work. And really this isn’t about
tinkering around the edges. This is about reform. This is about thinking about
a new way in which we work with schools; the way
schools are structured; the way school calendars exist;
the way school schedules exist; the ways we interact
and work with parents and communities. It’s about rethinking all of
that on a much larger scale. Female Speaker: Ditto. (laughter) Female Speaker: I’m
representing District of Columbia public schools,
where we have been leading the nation in
education reform. One of the ways we’ve
done that is through the combination of
trauma-informed practices, and increasing our school
mental health work force from about 80 to 100, to
about 300 now, so that we can actually increase access
to school mental health services, so that at least
10 percent of our population has a clinician available to
serve them if they need it. We’ve also married the
school mental health work with the school climate
work, because one cannot exist without the other. We have a transient
population that moves between charter schools and
public schools, and so one of the things we hope to do
is to increase the district conversation around
trauma-informed schools. We also intend to look at
the model that we use for our military population, our
students that are coming from military families who
need that extra touch when they’re going into a new
building, going into a new state, and treating all
of our students, that are transitioning and moving
from school to school, with that same compassion. One of the other things we
heard a lot about today, that is a part of our
developing comprehensive trauma-informed schools
work, is that of self-care. We have, you know, battle
fatigue if you will, because our teachers are struggling. Our principles are
struggling, and so we want to incorporate that
important part of trauma-informed practice
to include the staff that support the students. And so those are just a few
of the things that we plan to do in D.C.
public schools. (applause) Ines Diavez: Good
afternoon everyone. My name is Ines Diavez , and
I’m from New York state — the great state of New York. (applause) Ines Diavez: Our discussion
was quite lively and energetic, as you can see. (laughter) Ines Diavez: And you all
have heard the statement, that they say
“be the change.” Well we are the change. So we decided that the first
thing we had to do was create an infrastructure,
and this team that was invited to come here to
D.C., we’re going to stay together. And we represent, you know
— we start out in New York City, all the way up to the
Western part of New York state. So we are talking about a
meeting schedule, and really what some strategies are for
changing New York, and some of them will include really
gender-responsive training for our teachers, trauma
training for our teachers and staff. And not just, you know
— just because you’re trauma-informed doesn’t mean
you’re trauma-responsive. Right? So we want to make sure that
when we train our folks, that we also give them the
tools and the strategies so that they can engage
with the young people. Continuing our work with
girls of color and LGBT youth as well, addressing
issues of race and gender, harassment, bullying, and
building a structure for transnational service, as we
have a representative here for juvenile justice. So we won’t forget them. Did I forget anything? Alright, good. Thank you. (applause) Female Speaker: Good
afternoon everyone. I’m here representing the
great state of Maryland, and we are so fortunate to be
joined here today by our colleagues from
Baltimore city. So we had a very reflectful
and engaging conversation today. We have a very
diverse state. We have 24 (inaudible),
all different needs. But really there’s a common
theme across our state of mental health needs,
especially for children of color. And our colleagues in
Baltimore city really are kind of leading the
way with that charge. They’ve just recently
received a 2.3 million dollar grant for promoting
resilience, and they’re coming up with an
implementation plan of best practices and training for
— is it — 13 different schools across the district. And so we work in very —
collaboratively with our systems, and so we’re
looking to learn from them, just as they’re looking
to learn from us. At the state level, we are
continuing to meet with our state-level partners, so
that we can look at what — take a census really, of
what the resources are that are in our state, how
effectively those resources are being delivered, and if
they’re really having an impact on the students they
are being delivered to. And we’re looking at how to
collect those data, and look at those data for
effectiveness. We’ve also been the
recipient of a, you know, “Now is the Time” Project
AWARE grant, and to-date we’ve trained over 2,000
educators in youth mental health first aid. And so we feel this is a
great step toward helping to educate teachers, staff,
community, and families when it comes to the needs,
especially of children of color. Like many states, we really
struggle to keep a balance. You know, we’re a very
high-performing state, and so we want our kids to do
well academically, but we are really changing and
really sort of turning the corner, in terms of how we
look at students with mental health services. So we were very pleased at
— two months ago our state Board of Education really
declared a focus on looking at students with mental
health, and so now we can really freely allocate more
resources toward that. Thanks. Female Speaker: Hi, I’m from
New Jersey, and we sort of developed two goals. We have folks here
from our state agency. We also have a
representative from a district. So one of the main themes of
what we discussed was how to weave this into work that
we’re already doing, so that it’s not just another thing. Right? Avoid that sort of jumbled
schoolhouse reform thing that we see so often. So in terms of our state
goal, we talked about — New Jersey is about to roll out
a tiered system of support. This will be part of
our ESSA state plan. And so how can be build out
a component of NJTSS that focuses specifically on this
trauma-informed approach that we’ve heard so much
about today — that we know is so critically important
— with a particular eye toward girls of color
and their needs. So we’re excited that the
timing is good, since we’re doing some sort of
(inaudible) outreach for ESSA anyhow. We’re hoping to convene some
groups that can give us some insight as to their needs. So we also talked about the
fact that, as a state, we have a responsibility, we
think, to sort of synthesize the information that we
gather, put it into a format that is easily digestible
for districts that we roll it out to, and be really
mindful about how we roll out resources that we
develop, and not just have it be sort of a mass email
that could be easily missed. We’re also going to reach
out to other agencies and institutions across the
state, and determine what work they’re already doing
that we may be able to support, and mutually
support one another. Center for Supportive
Schools comes to mind. You know, there are a
bunch of other out there. So our next steps are to
go back and share this information internally. We actually have an NJTSS
leadership meeting tomorrow, so we are going to start
tomorrow in sharing this out. And then the district goal,
that our superintendent who joined us came up with, was
that — she has a component of her district strategic
plan that is fits into quite nicely. And so she’s going to make
sure that this is, you know, deliberately discussed with
her staff, followed up through walk-throughs and
other mechanisms, and not sort of lost in the shuffle. So kind of, you know,
striking that balance between not having it be
yet another thing, but also emphasizing the importance. (applause) Kate Anderson Foley: Hi
everyone, I’m Kate Anderson Foley, and I’m from the Illinois State Board of Education. And we have taken the
opportunity through ESSA to really reflect and look
at the whole child. Our state’s goals are very
supportive of that, safe and healthy schools. Within the capacity of ESSA,
we have built out some of the elements of a
system-wide system of support. Within that then, nested,
is a multi-tiered system of support. And really looking at it,
again, through the lens of the whole child — and what
are those non-academic skills, if you will, that
will lead to the outcomes that we want. It’s not just about the
academic outcome, but to see outcomes that we
talked about today. So we’ve — in a second
round of interacting with our stakeholders, gathering
their feedback, as our writing team for NTSS, which
kicked off on Friday — they are also going to be
holding some focus groups. This will be a part of that,
so we can bring a full educational system
to our students. Thanks. Jim Palmiero: Good
afternoon everybody. My name is Jim Palmiero. I’m representing the
Pennsylvania base team, which is sitting over there. So hello to my colleagues. And I’m really pleased to
say that we had multiple stakeholders from the
commonwealth here with us today. And we were pleased to be
able to be part of this whole collective of people. The learning that we grew to
come to appreciate today was really enhanced by the
conversations and stories that started with the youth
voices this morning, and went all the way
through the day. So we thank you for
this opportunity. As we reflect on what our
walk-away considerations are, I can’t help but frame
it from the perspective of promotion, prevention,
intervention. What are we going to do to
promote these key concepts and considerations, that
we must keep in front of ourselves as we set our
goals around ensuring equity for all? And in particular
focusing on issues around trauma-responsive approaches
to supporting all children, including youth
and girls of color. One of the things that we
are very committed to is continuing our work that
we’ve already begun, with regard to considering the
implications associated with the work that we’re doing
within the commonwealth — around preparing ourselves
for the implementation of ESSA. One of the other things that
we think is very important — from a large state-level
perspective — is the advancement of our
Secretary’s commitment to community-based schools, and
looking at how community resource and assets — at
the state and regional level — are critical in terms
of providing the kinds of supports that are necessary
in order to provide opportunities, and to reduce
these issues that we see are so often complicating
matters, with regard to supporting students
struggling with trauma. We believe that professional
development tools, and a continuum of tools and
resources, are absolutely necessary — not only for
in-service teachers, but for pre-service teachers. At the state level, we spent
a great deal of time talking about what we can do with
our partnering institutes of higher education — who are
those pre-service teacher training institutes — in
preparing the new generation of educators to understand
the implications of this kind of work, so that we
have good teachers entering profession — every bit as
much as growing the good teachers that we already
have practicing in our commonwealth schools. One of the things that we
also recognized at the state level is that we have a lot
of assets in play that do align with supporting and
advancing this work – whether it’s our statewide
implementation of PBIS, Positive Behavior
Interventions and Supports, and the work that we’re
trying to do through PBIS, with regard to teaching
people about vulnerable decision-making points, and
how to respond appropriately in the context of the
classroom or school settings. Every bit as much as our
relationship with our county partner in human service
agencies, and our community-based resources
that are all around us. And so we have a lot of
consideration to do, and a lot of work to be done with
regard to lining our assets, to making sure that we
are working smarter, not necessarily harder, in
aligning our efforts. And taking lessons
from our LEA’s. And two of them were here
today, and I’d like to announce them by name — the
school district of Lancaster and the school district of
Philadelphia, who are every bit as much teaching us at
the state level what we need to do to best support
them and their efforts. So it’s with that I’d like
to turn this over to you. Joyce Harris: To the
great state of Oregon. (laughter) Joyce Harris: So my
name is Joyce Harris. I’m with Education
Northwest. I’m a former director of
Region 10 Equity Assistance Center for 21 years. And we have a unique team. I have a judge here. I have someone from the
Oregon Department of Education, and we also have
a county commissioner. And so our whole approach is
to look at, collectively, what we need to do in our
state to ensure that our young women are achieving
to the highest potential. We need to focus on
everything other people are not focused on, across
all of our systems. We need to teach accurate
historical knowledge of students of color — and
examine where we were, where we are now, and what we’re
doing now, and where we want to go. That’s what we want to do. We want to convene a panel
of experts, and this would include researchers, college
professors — and in our world, our community
members are experts. (applause) Joyce Harris: Our
girls are experts. And we need to change the
culture, not only in our schools, but in our
communities — and in all of the systems that impact what
goes on in schools, starting with early childhood,
through post-secondary. We plan to use evidence,
practice, as compasses to help direct state policy on
the need for culturally and trauma-informed
interventions and services — once again, across
all of our systems. We plan to do listening
sessions and focus groups with our young women, and
even with the younger ones. You know? It’s not just the teenagers. The little ones have
something to teach us too. We want to do an assessment
and need-sensing. We want to talk to people. We don’t want this to be
an effort where you do something to fix the
community, but you do it in partnership with
the community. And so we want to bring the
faith community in; our law enforcement;
culture-responsive social service organizations; the
DELTAs; other social groups; the black studies programs
in our universities; the teacher ed programs; and
we’re going to give a special invitation
to our governor. We want her at
the table with us. And other legislators. And based on my experience
as an EAC director, I want our community to know the
resources that are available from the U.S. Department of Education,
Office for Civil Rights, as well as U.S. Department of Justice —
because that’s where I found a lot of the work that I was
able to do with schools and districts, came
from those sources. So that is the great
state of Oregon. (laughter) Female Speaker: Thank you. (applause) Female Speaker: Great. I’m representing the
Colorado team in Denver public schools and we’re
going to move from really tactical to longer term. So the first thing that
we’re going to do, that we want to have completed
by next month, is really thinking about how to
incorporate ACEs into our expulsion process, knowing
that our girls of color are disproportionately expelled
even as we close our gaps, to really think both about
information for our hearing officers, but also ensuring
we leave those students with the proper supports that
they really need to be successful. Then, thinking both about
Denver and across the state, we really want to think
about the alignment of our school-based health centers
and the youths of ACEs and overall understanding of
trauma in those services that are being offered; it’s
something that we really feel can expand
statewide very nicely. We want to really think
about Title IX, it’s connection with our
comprehensive health education focus and really
looking at schools where we have over-reporting,
under-reporting and really having of the important
conversations about what’s happening to our girls in
our schools and then we want to really make sure that, as
we move this work forward, we don’t just take the easy
way out and implement a bunch of universal supports,
but that we really keep the spotlight, as it was today,
on our girls of color and with that frame in mind
we’re going to think about all of the networks that we
already have statewide and how we really raise this
message up and even hopefully move towards a
statewide convening at some point in the future. Sarah Bird: Good afternoon. I’m Sarah Bird. I am here representing our
district from Massachusetts; I’m here from Reading, Mass,
but I also have the pleasure of being able to serve on
our statewide Safe and Supportive Schools
Commission. So in Massachusetts we are
really blessed to have a lot of the policy at the state
level in place to clear the way for districts. We have some laws that have
been placed for the past few years that are going to
help us really focus on our discipline, rethinking
discipline; our Chapter 222 has really reframed how a
lot of our districts are approaching that. Additionally we have a law
that’s all about building Safe and Supportive Schools
and requiring that every district has a Safe and
Supportive Schools plan districtwide and then
building-wide, which is tremendous because then it
allows our superintendents and principals to be
able to do the work. So at our state level we
really want to increase the emphasis on this topic. We have historically
been very focused on the academics, even with
building our multi-tiered system of support which I’ve
heard many of my colleagues speak about. It’s been really, surely
focused on the RTI side of things, looking at the
academics and how do we interweave the PBIS but also
that overarching piece of how do you look at the
embedding of all of them together. We’ve been lucky enough in
Reading to have one of the School Climate
Transformation grants as well as the Project AWARE,
so we’re using the next three years that we have
remaining to leverage that locally and then how do we
build capacity at our state level? If we have — we have three
communities of practice in the state that have this
time to focus on that as a priority. How can we inform at the
state level so we can help build communities of
practice regionally and make sure that people have peers
that they can — you know in education it’s beg, borrow,
and steal from those who do the work already. So how can we do that
for our colleagues? Similarly, we are really
lucky to have — the Safe and Supportive Schools
commission has put a framework together and a
self-assessment tool for schools and it’s all
publically available and free for them all and it was
really started by Harvard Law’s Trauma and Learning
Policy Initiative. Susan Cole was here speaking
in a couple of the breakout sessions from that. So when we’re thinking about
infusing trauma into things, it’s nice in Massachusetts
it was kind of done the other way around, that the
trauma work really informed our Safe and Supportive
Schools framework. So how do we get
back to our roots? I think we take that for
granted and I think we try to use this generic Safe and
Supportive Schools and we often lose the
trauma-informed side of things. So how do we continue to
bring the attention back to that and my last other
thought is we have Lesley University — brings the
education to the educators. So instead of requiring
educators who’ve gone through their education prep
programs and haven’t gotten any information on this,
they’ve actually put professors all over the
state to bring Helping Traumatized Children to
Learn four-part certificate programs to our educators. So how do we continue to
expand that program and share that with other states
and share that with other communities so that
everyone can have the same information and
sense of urgency? Female Speaker:
It’s okay to clap. (applause) Sarah Bird: Thank you. I feel heard. Alicia Modley:
Hello, everyone. My name is Alicia Modley and
I’m here representing the great state of Minnesota. Multiple Speakers:
(inaudible) (applause) Alicia Modley: I
got a little clap. New York, you guys kind
of took the room here. (laughter) Alicia Modley: (laughs) Multiple Speakers: (inaudible) Alicia Modley:
But I’m excited to tell you about the work that we’re
going to be doing in collaboration. I’m here also representing
Saint Paul public schools; I’m the interim special
education director and so one of the things I’m going
to share is the work that we’re doing where
trauma-informed schools does not exclude our scholars
with disabilities, nor does it exclude our multilingual
learners as well. So one thing I wanted to
share: first and foremost I wanted to thank the school
social workers who helped us launch and continue to — I
think we need to just give it up for the folks who are
on the ground every day — (applause) — doing the work and so in
Saint Paul it’s the school social workers and we’ve
been leading the work for four years, doing
trauma-informed schools to increase the knowledge of
what trauma-informed schools are and what they’re —
what they are not, most importantly as well and
teachers simply just want to know “What do I do?” and so having the space to
have that conversation and providing the tools is
something that we’re doing now. Continuing to walk to work
cross-departmentally is what this work has to be
sustainable and there has to be continuity in the work. There is no one group who
can do this alone and so we’re doing that in our
state and more specifically in Saint Paul by isolating
race in these conversations. Race a lot of times gets
left out of the conversation and so when you bring in
race, you bring in a part of the discussion that has led
to some of the disparities that we see. In addition to that we’re
also making sure we’re specifically talking about
our girls, our girls, our scholars, our girls. So for next steps: so we’re
going to continually engage our district leadership,
building that sustainability and continuity, also engage
our scholars and most of you guys have said — guys and
girls and ladies have said — making sure that our
scholars’ voices and narratives are at the table
is how this work is going to be sustainable. I’m going to say that one
more time: making sure that our scholars’ voices are at
the table and our girls’ is going to make the
work sustainable. So in Saint Paul we’ve
already trained almost 3,000 teachers as part of, you
know, our induction and coming back to school for
our new teachers and our old teachers. All teachers were required
to go through a module informing them of the
basic principles of trauma-informed schools;
2,600 teachers. You want to learn
more, let me know. As in — (applause) As of October the 1st, we
will have 30-minute — nine 30-minute sessions on
everything including self-care to historical
trauma and we’re also not excluding our
para-professionals, our bus drivers, folks who make sure
that our scholars are safe and welcomed
every single day. So how do we do this? We move from — we move from
being reactive to proactive and so one of the things
that we’re doing is — similar to what one of my
colleagues said is we’re going to do the same thing
for our state, so we’re taking your idea, we’re
moving into the state of Minnesota and eventually our
goal is to have this meeting in Minnesota in the
summer, in the summer. (laughter) Multiple Speakers: (inaudible) Alicia Modley: So far our
State Department offering ACEs training and education
on what that is and making sure that’s available for
all; also continuing to work interdisciplinary — working
with our interdisciplinary teams for collaborative
trainings. How can we work
together as a state? In addition, I don’t know
how many of you folks in the room met before you came
here, but we’re going to continue this when we leave
the White House, of course, and that’s how to make the
work more sustainable. Most importantly, we’re
thinking about doing a youth summit and making sure that
our work does not exclude, once again, our scholars and
also does not include our scholars with disabilities
and our emergent bilingual scholars as well. So we’re excited and we are
also bringing together all the folks in Minnesota to
say “Hey, we’re going to lead the nation.” We lead the nation in so
many things in the state of Minnesota and when we
desegregate, guess what? For our folks of color, not
so much, not so much, and so we’re going to
continue the work. Female Speaker:
Good (inaudible). (applause) Pat Conner: I’m Pat Conner. I am the director of Safe
and Supportive Schools for the Tennessee Department of
Education, the great state of Tennessee. Multiple Speakers: (inaudible) Pat Conner: And it really struck me
listening to all of you folks, we do not do enough
at the state level to support our districts in
this work at all and so one takeaway that we have moving
forward: in two weeks, and Jim will be there as one of
our keynote speakers, we have our first ever
statewide conference on trauma-informed schools and
to create compassionate schools. We do not have any training
as of yet for our teachers on trauma and so I have the
information about trauma, now what? How do I apply that
in my classroom? What do I do? What are the tools? What are the resources? So that’s in progress. We have not looked at our
discipline, our student code of conduct at the state
level for several years and we are in the process
of doing that as well. We haven’t really examined
our chronic absenteeism rate, but we’re
doing that now. So we’ve got a lot of
positive things that are going at the state level,
that will take time and resources and lot of man
power and when I say those, I get really overwhelmed,
but you have to start somewhere in this. Our commissioner of
education, Candice McQueen, her strategic goal has
one section — goals, one section is “All means all,”
it’s girls of color, boys of color, people who are
orange, red, purple, every student in Tennessee will
receive and be treated the same way, but we are not, as
you said, looking at girls of color and exactly what
are we doing to them and not with them? We do have student and
advisory councils that we meet across the state and
one takeaway I have from today is we are not meeting
with girls of color in these student advisory councils
and we have got to do that. So I think our districts,
Memphis and Nashville, are some really bright spots in
our state, are doing some really great work around
trauma and around those disparities, discipline and
disparities, but again I think it all — it comes
from the top down, it needs to come from the
state and work down. We’ve got to support our
teachers and our districts. We have 144 districts; 88
percent have 10,000 or less students in them; very rural
state, so how do you reach those rural pockets and
that’s our challenge, but you know what? We’ve got a positive
attitude, we’ve got hardworking people who love
students and care about kids and we can do it. (applause) Female Speaker: Everywhere
we go we (inaudible). Female Speaker:
(inaudible) we are. Female Speaker: Pat and I
have known each other for a long time. I’m from the wonderful state
of Virginia, just down — round around the corner here
and I bring with me two individuals that I work real
closely with at the State Department. I’m the director of student
services and I have three awesome school division
leaders here: Richmond city schools, Petersburg city
schools, and Norfolk city schools. Let’s give those schools
a round of applause. (applause) They work really hard and
the reason they came here was because of
their hard work. At the state Department of
Education we — I’ve been in my position a little over
a year and a half now and we’ve really done some —
taking it to the tipping point and we’re
about to go there. Three years ago we
got a School Climate Transformation grant and a
Project AWARE and we opened up a center at one of our
universities called the Virginia Tiered Center of
Support, Research, and Implementation Center and
what we’ve been doing there is not talking about
necessarily all topical issues, but how do we
transform the way we do work and it’s really about
building systems and building capacities so that
as issues come up — and so that we can address the
things that are in our data. It’s all about data-driven,
it’s all about the tiered systems, but we’ve
integrated the whole behavior thing, we have
looked at social emotional, we’ve had lots of
professional development and we have developed
coaches for our state. So we have about 50 coaches
that we’ve trained, that go through a training and part
of their job for three years is to work with a school
division, we have 132 school divisions, to help them
transform the way they do work and the way they look
at their data and that data means disproportionality,
looking at girls of color, looking at academics,
because what we don’t want to do is to put another
thing on their plate because we’ll just — they’ll shoot
us and then we’ll have a lot of problem in Virginia. So how do they — and how do
we empower our local school divisions to use that
information to build the capacity that they need in
their division with their communities? A big part of what we’re
doing is looking at how to reach out to the community. Who are your community
partners that you need to be working with and what are
those efforts and how can you do those wraparound
services and how do we, most of all, take care
of our staff? You know, children — I mean
I love them to death, but they’re going to go through
the system; our staff is going to be there forever. How do we take care of the
staff, to bring back to them the love of being able to
teach, so it’s not just about academics and not just
about testing, but that whole, human, social
emotional piece of being a teacher and bringing that
piece back to what we’re about? Dr. Bedden from Richmond
really kindly said, “Remember: we’ve got —
we have been focused for several years on academics
and just testing and we’ve almost gotten — we’ve
gotten to be like little robots and we’ve gotten away
from that social emotional piece of connecting as human
beings and before we can teach, before we can learn,
we’ve got to do that connection.” So when we get back to
the state, we’re going to incorporate what we have
learned today, bring our three leaders from our
school divisions together — they’re all doing little
pilots — and see how that goes and how we can create
that through our systems of care, kind of process and
our VTS systems framework to take that throughout
our state. I’m really proud of where
Virginia is; we fought hard to get where we are today
and so thank you and thank you for all the
people from Virginia. (applause) Tarence Wheeler:
(inaudible) Thank you, thank you. Female Speaker: (inaudible)
Tarence Wheeler: My name is Tarence Wheeler. I represent River Rouge
school district, but also the great state of Michigan. Go blue. Multiple Speakers: (inaudible) (applause) Tarence Wheeler: We’re also
representing Flint, so I would be remiss if we didn’t
acknowledge the Flint crisis. It’s unlike anybody in here
in terms of the healthcare and water crisis. That pain is going to be
generational; we don’t know the effects of those — that
outcome in terms of the water poisoning. Also from the state level
we’re looking to address the truancy and have flexibility
in our zero tolerance, create trauma-informed
schools and approaches that work with our existing
systems, deepen our partnership with healthcare
and mental health systems to collect data on ACEs. We also realize that it’s
not the conditions of our young people, but the
decision-making of adults that determine
their destiny. Multiple Speakers: (inaudible) Tarence Wheeler: Their success is predicated on our participation. We’ve got to do all that we
can for as many as we can and, Mr. King, we invite
you to River Rouge school district and walk the halls
to meet and greet our young people. All lives can’t matter
until black girl’s matter. Thank you. Female Speaker:
That’s right. (applause) Multiple Speakers: (inaudible) (applause) Female Speaker: Thank you. Thank you to each
of our states. Multiple Speakers: (inaudible) Female Speaker: And I hope that with the work that Georgetown plans to do moving forward that
we can hold each other accountable for the
commitments made today. There is no better way to
close out the conversations, collaboration, and
commitments that have taken place here today than with
our last speaker, a former Massachusetts teacher and
school leader and former commissioner of education
from the great state of New York. Multiple Speakers: Yeah. (applause) Female Speaker: A product
himself of New York City schools, this individual has
had to think about school discipline on the classroom
level, the school level, the state level, and now at
the national level as our nation’s Secretary of
Education, not to mention, perhaps most importantly, as
a father of two school age girls himself in the
home level as well. Please welcome to the stage
a leader who is committed to ensuring excellence and
equity for all students, our Secretary of
Education John King. (applause) John King: Good
afternoon, everybody. Multiple Speakers:
Good afternoon. John King: So I come to
this conversation both from the experience of an
educator focused on our kids who are most at risk and
trying to support their success, as a parent of two
girls, but also a child who experienced trauma in his
life, was saved by school. My mom passed away when I
was eight, October of my 4th grade year. I lived, after my mom
passed, with my dad who was quite sick with undiagnosed
Alzheimer’s and lived with my dad till — as he got
more and more sick; he passed away when I was 12. I moved around after that
between family members and schools, but at the end of
the day what saved my life, the reason I’m standing here
today, the reason I’m alive today, is the work of New
York City public school teachers, who saved my life. What they did for me was
they — they could have looked at me and said,
“Here’s an African American, Latino male student, family
in crisis, going to a New York City public school,”
and they could have assumed that I couldn’t possibly be
successful, they could have given up on me, but instead
they didn’t and they made school a place that was safe
and supportive and nurturing and engaging and interesting
and challenging and compelling every day. We read the “New York
Times” in 4th grade; we did productions of “Midsummer
Night’s Dream” and “Alice in Wonderland” in
elementary school. I had teachers who, when I
finished a book, they were there with the next; when
I finished a math problem, they were there with the
next one that was a little bit more challenging and
teachers who made school a place where I could be a kid
when I couldn’t be a kid outside of school. I can remember I had a
teacher, Miss Dee, my 7th grade social studies teacher
and I had the chance when I was commissioner of
education in New York to go back to my Mark Twain Junior
High School classroom with Miss Dee, who was still
there teaching middle school social studies. I walked into Miss Dee’s
classroom and 7th grade was when my father was most sick
and I worried every day, I would sit in class and I
would wonder if he was okay and what had happened at
home and I didn’t know why he was sick and I didn’t
know why life at home was so unpredictable and it was
during that period that my father once woke me up, two
in the morning, telling me it was time to go to school
and I didn’t know why and I remember hanging onto the
bannister in the house saying, “Daddy, no, it’s
not time to go to school. It’s not time to go
to school,” and not understanding what was
wrong, but in Miss Dee’s class I was focused on what
Miss Dee was trying to teach and what we were trying
to do in 7th grade social studies. I came to her class, walked
into her classroom on the day that I was visiting and
she said, “Oh, I want to show you something,” and
she went to the back of the classroom and she climbed up
and, you know, in New York City public schools are big
closets in a lot of old classrooms — she climbed
up on top and she started rifling through papers — Female Speaker: (laughs) John King: — and she
pulled out the project from 7th grade social studies. The project where I was so
focused on being the best Aztec newscaster that — (laughter) — best Aztec — the best
Aztec sportscaster there had ever been — (laughter) — that I was
able to really be a kid and be a learner in her
classroom and she’d saved that project and she did not
know then the difference that that project, that
experience was making in my life and so today’s
conversation is about policy, it is about our
Every Student Succeeds Act implementation plans, it
is about how we support professional development for
new educators and current educators, but ultimately
it is about how we create school environments that
save kids’ lives, how we create community
environments that save kids’ lives and this isn’t about
the heroic act of a single individual, it
can’t be, all right? We have to create systems of
support for our kids and so this conversation — I want
to just take a few minutes to review the importance of
today’s conversation because it is about all of us
leaving here and asking what can we do to strengthen our
systems of support around our young people. You’ve talked today about
the notion of adverse childhood experiences, what
those mean in young people’s lives, the effect of trauma
on young people’s lives, and we have to remember that
every day educators and mentors and school
counselors and bus drivers and the school secretary,
they are experiencing with kids the effects of
those adverse childhood experiences on those
children and the results of the experiences that they’ve
had and they may not know. I often say to folks, I’m
the first secretary of education to have been
kicked out of high school, but I hope not the last. Right, and I was kicked out
of high school because even despite all the investment
that teachers made in me, all the hope that they gave
me, when I was a teenager I was still mad, mad about
things I’d experienced, confused about how — my
relationship with adults and I acted out and rebelled
against adult authority. So when you think about
what trauma means, what trauma-informed education
means, it means all of us as adults understanding the
impact that those traumatic experiences are having
on young people and understanding their actions
in that context and if people had not given me a
second chance, I wouldn’t be here today either, right? So it’s not so simple as
invest in children a sense of hope; it’s how you
sustain that even when they push against it for reasons
they may not themselves understand and so this work
is about how we build those systems that create those
meaningful second chances for young people, the kinds
of second chances that saved my life. Now you’ve talked today
about what it looks like to do trauma-informed care as
a community, how we have to bring together schools
and community-based organizations to
address students’ need. I think Dr. Burke Harris
referred to it as the need for a movement around this
work on students’ behalf. Well, so we’ve got to ask
ourselves what does it mean to be a movement, right? In part what it means to be
a movement is we have to think beyond our silos,
beyond just our functions, beyond just our
institutional loyalties. We have to ask: how do
we connect across the intersectionality of
challenges that our students face? How do we connect across
education and healthcare and housing and transportation? How do we connect mental
health service providers with schools in an
ongoing partnership? Right, not just refer out,
but ensure that there’s a continuing partnership in
support of our children and we focus particularly on the
challenges facing our young women of color because we
know how significant the obstacles are in
too many schools. I’m sure today you talked
about our civil rights data collection, survey data that
shows we have 1.6 million kids who go to a school that
has a sworn law-enforcement officer and no school
counselor and those are disproportionally students
of color, low-income students, that is young
women of color in schools who have no one to go to for
support, but see that sworn law-enforcement officer
every day at the door. Right, we know that — also
from that same civil rights data collection, we know
that African American girls represent 20 percent of the
girls in preschool, but 54 percent of the girls who are
suspended from preschool; four-year-olds suspended
from preschool — disproportionally young
women of color and we’ve got to confront that; we’ve got
to ask what are the systemic interventions that will
change that reality? We know that six percent of
the kids in K-12 experience out of school suspension,
but that for African American girls that’s 10
percent and for white girls it’s two percent and we’ve
got to confront that, we’ve got to confront those
challenging issues around race and around class and
the impact that they have on our young people. You’ve talked today about
the sexual abuse to prison pipeline. That’s a conversation some
folks are uncomfortable having, but we’ve got to
have it for the sake of our kids and you’ve talked
today about the power of trauma-informed schools, but
acknowledge that there are still only a few hundred
schools that are deeply engaged in that practice. We have a lot of work to do. So I’m thankful to the
folks who are in this room; grateful to the Council
on Women and Girls for organizing us and the staff
at the White House; grateful to our colleagues at the
justice department for their partnership in this work;
grateful to the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and
Inequality for being a partner in this work;
grateful to our many speakers today; grateful
to the AFT and the NEA for their partnership and
supporting teachers around this work; grateful to my
colleague Catherine Lhamon and our team at the Office
of Civil Rights who are fighting every day to ensure
that districts and states fulfill their
responsibilities to our young people and grateful to
all of you for gathering for this important conversation
and I want to flag and it was powerful to hear the
accounts of what you are committed to do and I hope
in the moments as you are listening to other states
and districts, you are also thinking about, “Oh yeah,
that’s something they came up with that we didn’t have
on our list; we’re going to add it to our list,” and
I want to — I want to reference some of the
resources and tools I hope that you will take advantage
of and some of them you’ve heard about today and
some of this may be reinforcement, but I want to
make sure that you make use of these tools. One of those is our Healthy
Students, Promising Futures toolkit which is about how
we connect schools and health and one of the
realities is schools are today leaving money on the
table that could support school-based
healthcare services. I know folks from
Pennsylvania talked about community schools; well, you
don’t have to wait for a Promised Neighborhoods
grant or some other kind of federal grant to create
community schools. There are community school
resources that can be taken advantage of under the
Affordable Care Act and Medicaid today and so what
that toolkit talks about are two things: one, how you
can get reimbursement for school-based provision of
health services, including mental health services,
also it talks about the importance of using the
enrollment process and other administrative interactions
of schools with families to make sure that families
are enrolled in health insurance, even though
low-income families are guaranteed access to health
insurance due to the Medicaid program, we know
that there are children who are not receiving regular
healthcare and we engage in a partnership with the
Children’s Defense Fund and the National Superintendents
Association just to say we need to take that step at
the beginning of the school year to make sure we simply
ask families the question: is everyone enrolled
in health insurance? All right? Making sure that folks are
taking advantage of those health insurance dollars. There are school improvement
grant dollars and School Climate Transformation grant
dollars that you’ve heard about today. As states think about their
implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act,
there’s an opportunity to think about how they better
leverage school improvement dollars in support of
this work, how they might leverage those dollars to
support school-based mental health services, leverage
those dollars to hire school counselors, leverage those
dollars to provide training to school staff. There are the SERV grants
that you heard about, our School Emergency Response
to Violence grants that are specifically targeted to
school communities that have experienced significant
trauma and there are lessons learned from those grantees
that can be shared. There’s our work on
rethinking discipline, that is part of the work of the
Council on Women and Girls and also part of the work of
the President’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, but
through the — through the rethink discipline effort,
we’ve organized regional convenings to share best
practices and I hope you will take advantage of some
of the resources developed there to help schools find
alternatives to exclusionary discipline and as we do
that, we have to remember it’s not just about the
policy change, it is about culture change. It’s not just about saying
don’t suspend, it’s about helping support teachers
and principals with the practices that will allow
them to create safe and supportive communities
instead of using suspension and expulsion. We recently put out a joint
policy statement with our other federal partners
around the importance of eliminating exclusionary
discipline practices in early childhood; I hope you
will use that as a resource. We also just recently put
out guidance on the role of school resource officers to
reinforce for all school communities that discipline
should be done by educators, not by police in schools. Discipline should be done by
trained educators, not by police in schools. There may be — (applause) That’s right. (applause) There may be ways to
proactively engage police officers as mentors and
participants in the school community, but it is not as
the folks responsible for day to day discipline of
students and we put out that guidance to support that. We also put out companion
guidance to higher ed institutions about the
importance of campus police receiving the same kinds of
training and best practice that the taskforce on 21st
century policing recommended for police departments,
because on too many campuses the campus police are
sending the message to students that this is not
a place for them and so changing practice of campus
police is also critical. We have resources and
Catherine described the Safe Place to Learn resources
that we released today, but resources around enforcement
of Title IX, around strategies to combat sexual
violence and sexual assault. We have our project on
chronic absenteeism, Every Student, Every Day. We’ve got 30 communities
around the country that are engaging thousands of
mentors to help 10s of thousands of students get to
school and the challenge of chronic absenteeism
is a huge one. Even the best teacher can’t
succeed with a kid who’s not in class and so the question
becomes how do we support — how do we get at the root
causes that are getting in the way and support students
in getting to school and so I hope you will take
advantage of those resources and join that effort. We talked today — several
of the states talked about the role of the Every
Student Succeeds Act conversation. There is a tremendous
opportunity in the new law to focus on a broadening
of the definition of educational excellence. Yes, we know students
need English. Yes, we know they need
math skills; those are foundational, but they are
necessary, not sufficient for success. Students also need science
and social studies and art and music and opportunities
for socio-emotional learning and states can stand up for
that broader vision through the Every Student Succeeds
Act process, but it won’t happen if you’re not at the
table and so one of the things to think about with
your teams that are here: who’s voice is in those
Every Student Succeeds Act implementation
conversations? How are you helping to shape
the implementation of the law? The law also creates an
important flexibility around the interventions in
struggling schools. A struggling school could
take advantage of the resources of our PBIS
technical assistance center. A struggling school
could use federal school improvement dollars to
create a community school with extended day programs
and healthcare programs and dental services, but that
won’t happen unless you are actively engaged in those
state-level conversations. Ultimately what we’ve been
talking about today is a public health crisis that we
can solve together through systemic strategies that
support our students and you heard about examples of best
practice, you heard about schools that because of
their trauma-informed approach are seeing gains
in graduation rates and academic outcomes. This is solvable. We can do better by our
students, but we have to do it together and we have to
do it in a way that cuts through some of the
bureaucratic obstacles that sometimes get in the way
and so I want to close with this: I’m joined here by my
wife who came and she came today because she has spent
her career researching these very issues, but began as
a first grade teacher in Harlem, realizing that she
was underprepared by her teacher preparation program
— which was very good, by the way — to confront the
challenges of the trauma her students had experienced and
she’ll describe the story of a student who would hide
when something got difficult in the classroom and then
coming to understand that the reason he would hide was
because he had witnessed his parents — was it one of
his parents, both of his parents? — both of his parents being
killed and so his reaction to stress in the classroom
was to go hide, but as a new first grade teacher she
didn’t necessarily know that that was why he was doing
that, nor have great strategies for how to
respond to that situation and so she ended up getting
a doctorate in human development and psychology
to try to better understand how to address — that very
challenge, but our systemic challenge is we know there
are boys like that young man in classrooms all
across the country. We know there are girls in
classrooms all across the country who have been
victims of abuse. We know there are boys and
girls in classrooms all across the country who are
dealing with their parents’ substance abuse, with
domestic violence in the home, who’ve lost a parent
or both parents, children who are homeless, children
who move between foster care families, children who have
a parent or parents who’ve been incarcerated. We know those children are
in our classrooms and yet we are not doing enough to
equip new teachers or current teachers with the
tools they need to support them. Shame on us as the adults
if we don’t take that on. So our collective challenge
is to make it different; make it different tomorrow,
make it different next month, make it different
next year and the President has charged us to do as much
as we can to support you every moment, all the way
through January 20th — (laughter) — and we intend (laughs) — (applause) — (inaudible) and we
intend to do exactly that. Thank you so much. (applause) Female Speaker: Thank you
so much for joining us today. Have safe travels home and
onward with the work ahead.

Reynold King

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