Don’t Forget the Importance of Breakfast This Back-to-School Season

FRACschoolbreakfast

As adults, we’re told of the importance of starting our days with breakfast — to get our metabolism going, to give us energy, to help us focus. Not surprisingly, these reasons apply to children as well, but far too many of them come to school hungry, which can make it difficult for them stay on task.

Children who start their day with breakfast at school, on the other hand, demonstrate higher achievement, better attendance, fewer behavior problems, and an improved diet. Children who don’t are at a disadvantage, which is why the School Breakfast Program is so important. In light of back-to-school time, we’d like to highlight a few resources that illustrate the impact of school breakfast and the ongoing efforts to deliver it to more students nationally:

  • Learn more about the School Breakfast Program here.
  • See how it’s working in individual states here.
  • Support the #NoKidHungry campaign by signing up here.

Improving the educational outcomes for all students includes a lot of factors, but school breakfast is an easy way to give them the foundation they need to reach success. Let’s not forget that as students head back to school this month.

Help on the Way?

A recent poll by the Education Week Research Center reaffirms what other polls have shown — that teachers are well aware that the textbooks and materials they are expected to use do not line up with the standards they are expected to satisfy.

That was true when there were 50 different state standards, and it remains true now that 43 states have adopted the Common Core.

So it will be interesting to see if EdReports.org, a new nonprofit organization, can provide the kind of help teachers, districts, and states need by acting as a Consumer Reports-like arbiter of quality and alignment of textbooks and other materials. (Full disclosure: Ed Trust Vice President Sonja Santelises is on the board of EdReports.org.)

It will be a while before their first reports are issued, however, and in the meantime, teachers have taken matters into their own hands. The American Federation of Teachers has an online lesson bank, Share My Lesson, that relies on crowdsourcing to validate lessons; and the National Education Association has assembled a team of what it calls “master teachers” to develop lessons on the website, Better Lesson. Both are attempting to provide Common Core-aligned lessons, and both are free to any teacher who wants to use them.

I would love to hear from educators who have used these resources and are willing to share whether they are helpful.

Vote for Ed Trust at SXSWedu 2015!

Every March, Austin, Texas is abuzz with the SXSWedu® Conference & Festival. It brings together educators, advocates, journalists, and others to engage in and collaborate on various education issues. The best part? SXSWedu asks for community input to decide the programming for the conference. So, Ed Trust needs your help! Let’s make sure there are substantive panels about equity in education, led by the Ed Trust team.

SXSWeduClick to read more about our sessions below, and be sure to give them a “thumbs up” so that they’re included during SXSWedu 2015:

From Research to the Field: Closing High-End Gaps: Over the past decade, gaps between students of color and white students at the low end of achievement have narrowed, while gaps at the advanced level have widened. Presenters will highlight strategies used by high-performing schools to push students not just beyond the threshold of proficiency, but to advanced levels of achievement. They will also discuss ongoing advocacy work in communities to ensure that schools are closing gaps at all levels.

Tough Love: Minimum Quality Standards for Colleges: The federal government gives $180 billion (in the form of federal student aid and tax benefits) to U.S. colleges annually. Yet, when the checks are cut, performance on access, completion, and post-enrollment success essentially doesn’t matter. Ed Trust experts will discuss how to protect students and taxpayers from failing institutions, how the federal government can use its existing resources to improve performance, and how to use our interactive tool, College Results Online, to see which schools are already up to par.

Voting (which you can do by creating an account — it only takes a minute!) is open through September 5. We thank you for your support.

Helping the Rich Get Richer — At Every Level

School funding in America is unequal. As a nation, we spend less in the places with the highest percentages of low-income students — not just in states and districts, but also in the specific schools they attend. It’s hard to imagine any additional inequity built into this system, but a new analysis suggests that there is — funding disparities actually exist between classrooms within the same school. Continue reading

A Teacher Who Saw the Tragedy of Harsh and Arbitrary Discipline

I’ve been rereading Up the Down Staircase, the 1964 classic tale of a dysfunctional urban high school, and one of the points that struck me is that one of the students worst served by the school was Italian-American.

In all the current discussions about achievement gaps among ethnic groups, it is often forgotten that back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Italian-American students — particularly boys — were often marginalized and expected to drop out of school before graduation. Continue reading