Weekly News Brief 10/1-10/7 Department of Justice Announces More Than $70 Million to Support School Safety | Early STEM exposure is key for the future of the workforce

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Department of Justice Announces More Than $70 Million to Support School Safety and $64 Million to Improve State Criminal Record Systems – From the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

The Department of Justice today announced more than $70 million in grant funding to bolster school security, educate and train students and faculty, and support law enforcement officers and first responders who arrive on the scene of a school violence incident. These grants are in addition to the funding to the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), announced by Attorney General Sessions last week, to expand and update their curriculum to better support training programs. These grants combined will better protect students, teachers, faculty, and first responders across the United States. Additionally, the Department is awarding more than $64 million to state agencies to improve the completeness, quality, and accessibility of the nation’s criminal record systems, which will help law enforcement and increase the effectiveness of background checks.

"President Trump and his administration will ensure the safety of every American school," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. "Earlier this year he signed into law the STOP School Violence Act, which provides grant funding to develop anonymous school threat reporting systems, to implement school building security measures, and to train students, school personnel, and law enforcement on how to prevent school violence. Today I am announcing $70 million in these grants to hundreds of cities and states across America. These grants will go a long way toward giving young people and their families both safety and peace of mind."

The Office of Justice Program’s (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) together are making more than 220 awards to jurisdictions across the country to help make schools more secure. The awards, granted through three funding streams, will provide new technology for reporting systems and other threat deterrent measures and create school safety training and education programs for school administrators, staff, students, and first responders. This includes the support for existing crisis intervention teams and the creation of new ones.


Early STEM exposure is key for the future of the workforce – By Laura Ascione, eSchool News

More than half of today’s adult workers (62 percent) say they were never exposed to STEM-related studies and career possibilities in elementary school, according to a survey from littleBits and YouGov.

The findings support other research indicating that early exposure to STEM courses helps students stick with these studies even as the material becomes more challenging in high school and college.

U.S. workers with 1-2 years of STEM workforce experience say they had the highest exposure to STEM concepts in elementary school–46 percent of adults in this group experienced a science-or math-related track in school, and 53 percent of this group are working in a job that either entirely or heavily involves STEM.

Much research points to the worrisome prediction that the U.S. will not have produced enough highly-skilled workers to fill STEM jobs in the next few years. Those worries are compounded by the fact that many STEM jobs in the future don’t exist today–the Department of Labor estimates 65 percent of today’s students will find themselves in such jobs. Students will need an array of STEM skills to tackle those positions.

Two out of five Americans believe the STEM worker shortage is at crisis levels, according to results from the fourth annual STEM survey by Emerson, released in August.

Students today are twice as likely to study STEM fields compared to their parents, the number of roles requiring this expertise is growing at a rate that exceeds current workforce capacity. In manufacturing alone, the National Association of Manufacturing as well as Deloitte predict the U.S. will need to fill about 3.5 million jobs by 2025; yet as many as 2 million of those jobs may go unfilled, due to difficulty finding people with the skills in demand.


A Glimpse Inside the Transition to Trauma-Informed Practices – From KQED News

Educators are increasingly aware of how trauma that students experience in their lives outside school affects learning in the classroom. And while this isn't new information, focusing on how to make the learning environment a safe, nurturing place where those students can succeed has become a robust topic of conversation in many districts. Some teachers worry that trauma-informed practices will mean more work for already overburdened teachers, but others respond that using a trauma-informed approach makes the rest of their job easier.

"There was a big mind shift for me especially," said Natalie Vadas, an exceptional education teacher at Fall-Hamilton Elementary School in Nashville, Tennessee. "My students might have had a bad day, something might have happened at home, no one was home last night. You can't just be like, come in and do math now. So, when they know they can trust you and they start to talk to you, their academics start to blossom."

Edutopia profiled Fall-Hamilton Elementary for a series on shifting to trauma-informed practices and the impact it has made on learning there.

"The old approach was you're at school, you need to be at school, and play school," said Fall-Hamilton Principal Mathew Portell. "And it was compliance-driven. But the trauma approach is taking a completely different lens. They have to feel safe. They have to feel nurtured. And they have to feel supported."

The school's neighborhood near downtown Nashville is seeing a lot of gentrification, which means many students and their families are being displaced. Understanding that these young people can't leave those traumas at the door, and that they are still developing emotionally and cognitively, has been a bedrock of this school's shift to trauma-informed practice.


Kentucky advances new standards for high school diplomas – By Adam Beam, The Herald Dispatch

Kentucky graduates nearly 90 percent of its high school seniors every year, one of the highest rates in the country.

But last year, state officials said, only 65 percent of those graduates met standards preparing them for college or a career. That's why the Kentucky Board of Education voted Wednesday to adopt something many other states are abandoning: exit exams.

The board, appointed by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, voted unanimously to give key approval for new minimum high school graduation requirements. State officials will next take public comments on the new rules, with the board scheduled to vote on any changes in December.

The new rules mean that, to graduate, students must meet college or career readiness standards, like completing advanced placement courses or an approved apprenticeship program. They would also have to take a test beginning in the 10th grade to measure their math and reading skills. Only students who show "minimum competency" can graduate, with some exceptions. The tests would begin in 2022.

Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, citing research from the Kentucky Center for Statistics, said of the more than 26,000 Kentucky high school graduates in 2010 who went to college, more than 16,000 of them did not complete any programs. That group now has average salaries of about $20,000 a year, while the 6,800 students who completed four-year degrees have average salaries of more than $31,000.