The Absolute Best School Climate Blogging (This Week): Big Bird Meets Billy Edition

By Evie Blad — February 20, 2015 1 min read
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Happy Friday, Rules readers. Before I get to my weekly list of links related to school climate and child well-being, let’s talk about a viral video.

This week, the Obama administration continued its efforts to promote various initiatives through appearances with comedians and pop culture icons. Those efforts have included this funny BuzzFeed video in

which the president promotes the health care enrollment deadline, interviews with Youtube stars, and videos made by the website Funny or Die that allow first lady Michelle Obama to promote healthy eating to kids.

The first lady is back this week, this time appearing in a segment of Billy on the Street with comedian Billy Eichner, Big Bird, and Elena (a reoccurring character on Eichner’s show). Billy on the Street is one of my favorite things, but I’m starting to wonder if the experience seeing important people like the Obama family in informal contexts is becoming too common to be funny. What do you think? Would this video make your students think twice about skipping carrots in the lunch line?

Now for some links. This week, read about restraint and seclusion policies, social media monitoring, a colorful approach to school climate improvement, and more.

On restraint and seclusion policies...

We're going to see those meltdowns from time to time, and in all fairness, the special needs children have more of them. But I've always believed there's a better way to manage the students and those behaviors than to lock them up and isolate." —Education Week's Christina Samuels takes a look at state-level efforts to tighten restrictions on use of restraint and seclusion in schools.

Should schools monitor students’ social media?

Once you get into the business of monitoring, then you're potentially taking on liability for the things you might see." —Education Week's Benjamin Herold explores the legal and ethical issues involved when schools access students' social media accounts for safety and discipline purposes.

On the impact of gender norms in children’s books...

While it may be tempting to say, 'What's the big deal? If you don't like the books, don't buy them,' the problem is that—however subtle they may be— these ubiquitous messages about gender and sexuality have a profound effect on young kids." —Huffington Post Education judges a few children's books by their covers to critique the differing messages boys and girls receive from their reading materials.

On school discipline in New York City...

The plan includes a new review process for suspensions for insubordination, restrictions on handcuffing students, and expanded training for the city's School Safety Agents. The changes came as the city faced mounting pressure to further revamp its discipline code given the disproportionate suspension rates of black and Hispanic students and students with disabilities, which city officials have said they are committed to improving." —Chalkbeat New York details a long-awaited proposal to overhaul the city's school discipline policies.

An unconventional approach to welcoming students...

Students don't flinch much at the sound of gunshots. A number of girls are moms already. Some students are homeless and most can't afford the basics. A few unaccompanied minors from Colombia, who don't speak English, recently showed up and Thompson-Williams said she 'embraced' them with open arms. For the principal, and the other faculty members who learned of her idea, interjecting some color into the school to bridge the communities was their way of showing the kids that there are infinite exits out of their underserved lives." —This principal let graffiti artists decorate the drab exterior of her school building, which largely serves low-income students.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.