The Absolute Best School Climate Blogging (This Week): Taylor Swift Edition

By Evie Blad — October 31, 2014 1 min read
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Happy Friday, Rules readers. I’m here to share some links to good reads for those who care about school climate and children’s well-being. But first, let’s talk about Taylor Swift.

The country-turned-pop singer announced plans this week to donate the proceeds from her new single, “Welcome to New York,” to the public schools in New York City, where she recently moved. I’m sure school leaders around the country would welcome it if other musicians welcomed this act of philanthropy. But maybe T. Swift’s gift would have made a bigger impact on a smaller school system.

Wikipedia tells me Swift grew up in Wyomissing, Penn., which is about 60 miles from Philadelphia. Philadelphia, where the school district’s budget challenges have led to some controversial choices, like closed schools and tiny discretionary budgets. Maybe “Welcome to Philadelphia” would be a good follow-up single?

But let’s get to those links.

This week, we read about violence, drug use, Halloween costumes, and mentoring.

Is there a ‘typical’ school shooter?

There is actually no stereotype. There is a human tendency to look for predictive factors, but if we apply those to the general population, we will find many false positives." —My Education Week story takes a look at the myth of the sterotypical school shooter. Experts say there actually is no reliable profile of students who will harm themselves or others.

Is there a right way to mentor?

You have to find ways to make kids not only think they have a chance to be successful, but make it true that they have a chance to be successful," he says. "You can't just tell them, 'Look, you can do it, you can do it, you can do it,' when they can't because they will figure it out eventually." —The Washington Post takes a look at the effects of successful mentoring programs.

Just say “no” to zero tolerance?

These findings suggest that policies that support a positive school climate and promote students' connection to school may have a stronger influence on youth's use of drugs and alcohol than harsh deterrence policies or in-school substance-use education or treatment programs." —A research brief from Child Trends takes a look at which school policies have the greatest effects on student drug use.

On costumes in the classroom...

One of the more pointed responses this issue comes in the form of the "We're a Culture, Not a Costume" campaign, which was started in 2011 by a student organization at Ohio University. The campaign features posters pointing out that while white students can put on a costume for one night, people of color can never escape those stereotypes." —Teaching Now covers concerns about insensitive Halloween costumes in schools.

Photo: This CD cover image released by Big Machine Records shows “1989,” the latest release by Taylor Swift. —Big Machine Records/AP

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