Published Online: February 19, 2013
Published in Print: February 20, 2013, as Blogs of the Week

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| NEWS | SCHOOLED IN SPORTS

Sports-Safety Action Plan Proposed by Youth Groups

A group of more than 100 youth-sports organizations introduced a plan this month to Capitol Hill lawmakers that calls for all schools to have a comprehensive athletic health-care administrative program, safe practice and play facilities, and injury- and illness-prevention strategies.

The Youth Sports Safety Alliance put the finishing touches on its National Action Plan for Sports Safety at the fourth Youth Sports Safety Summit, Feb. 6, then headed to meetings on Capitol Hill.

The plan lays out nine general recommended actions, including the three mentioned earlier, then dives into specific recommendations for four major injury areas: cardiac events, neurologic injuries, environment- or exertion-related conditions, and dietary or substance-induced conditions.

The cardiac-events section, for instance, recommends that schools train coaches and athletic officials in CPR and the use of automatic external defibrillators, requires every child to have a comprehensive pre-participation examination that includes questions on cardiac history, and requires venue-specific emergency action plans to be adopted and routinely rehearsed.

The neurologic-injuries section also recommends a pre-participation evaluation for prospective student-athletes that includes baseline concussion testing when appropriate. It also suggests training teachers, school personnel, coaches, parents, student-athletes, and athletic officials about the signs and symptoms of concussions.

The "training teachers" aspect generated a healthy discussion in the work group. A number of advocates at the summit noted that just because a child is symptom-free from a concussion, there's no guarantee that he or she has fully healed. (A study published in December in The Journal of Neuroscience found this to be true.)

All four groups recommend informing parents, student-athletes, and coaches about a school's policies and procedures regarding sports safety.

Bryan Toporek


| NEWS | POLITICS K-12

Netflix Drama Takes On ESEA Reauthorization

After a great deal of promotion, Netflix this month released the drama series "House of Cards," its first major original TV show. The political soap opera follows South Carolina Congressman Francis "Frank" Underwood (Kevin Spacey, in a role he was born to play) as he and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) deftly maneuver Washington politics.

Denied a nomination to be secretary of state, Underwood channels his ambitions toward passing a major education bill, the Education Reform and Achievement Act. But don't let the name fool you—it's the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in every way that counts. Our real Congress has failed for over five years to reauthorize the ESEA, but Hollywood has numerous advantages over Washington.

Underwood collides with unions, lobbyists, media, and his own party.

It seems Hollywood is more likely to address education than is Washington.

The writers on "The West Wing" focused heavily on education during the final election in that series, while the simultaneous 2008 election did not.

Beau Willimon noted on Twitter that he hinged the plot on education because it affects us all directly and indirectly, and because of the contention that often revolves around education reform.

Technically, the ERAA more closely resembles the No Child Left Behind Act, the most recent iteration of the ESEA, than it does earlier versions of the law. Either way, many of the bill's ideas are very much on the table in reality. The ERAA addresses testing frequency, teacher evaluation, seniority-based exemptions from value-added measurement, financing of nonpublic schools, and accountability for charter schools. Oh, and there's an amendment that would strip federal school funding from unionized districts.

For teachers who are skittish about how their profession is represented on television, breathe. "House of Cards" focuses more on the allure of power and the justifications of its costs than on the good and bad of policy. Frank is the protagonist, but he's not a hero. Frank is not good people.

Ross Brenneman


| NEWS | DIGITAL EDUCATION

Federal Agencies Address Digital Access, Literacy

Two federal agencies have unveiled plans to collaborate on a major effort that they say will bring greater broadband access to families and children in public housing.

The Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last week announced a digital-literacy initiative, in which HUD will join Connect2Compete, a national effort to expand broadband.

As part of the partnership, the housing agency will take part in Connect2Compete's digital network of libraries, nonprofits, and community centers.

C2C will start providing free digital-literacy training at the organization's partner facilities, which will include HUD neighborhood network centers. The initial effort will focus on communities in Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, St. Paul, Minn., and Washington, with plans to expand to more cities later this year.

Sean Cavanagh

Vol. 32, Issue 21, Page 12

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