Education Week - October 24, 2012 - (Page 24)

24 EDUCATION WEEK n OCTOBER 24, 2012 n COMMENTARY THE ELECTION: Debating Education University, co-hosted a debate last week between F. Philip Handy, an education adviser to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, and Jon Schnur, an education adviser to President Barack Obama’s campaign. Moderated by Teachers College President Susan H. Fuhrman, the 90-minute session covered a range of topics on which Mr. Handy and Mr. Schnur squared off, including the No Child Left Behind Act, the Common Core State Standards, federal formula-grant programs, school choice, the teaching profession, early-childhood education, and college and career readiness. (See related story, Page 18.) The following edited excerpts from the Oct. 15 event reflect the candidates’ positions on four of the key issues of the debate. To watch an archived video of the debate and a postdebate analysis, go to NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND “ We think that these waivers that are being given in lieu of reauthorization—if anybody hasn’t seen a waiver, it’s not about flexibility. They’re very prescriptive, and we think that they have led to a very unfortunate result, which is just starting to play out right now, where we’ve given states the ability to set their own accountability standards. ... We would reauthorize No Child Left Behind. And, by the way, as it relates to waivers, they’re presidential orders or executive orders, essentially. I think in a Romney administration we’d review all executive orders and determine whether they made sense or not.” PHIL HANDY Schools Can Be the Difference in Preventing Suicide A By Genevieve LaFleur & Scott Poland s increasing attention has—rightly—been paid to the issue of school-related bullying, growing attention, too, has come to the relationship between bullying and suicide. We’re doing more to address bullying with our nation’s youths, but we’re not yet doing enough to address the problem of child and adolescent suicide. Millions of 10- to 24-year-olds will attempt suicide this year. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people in that age range. Research from Yale University’s school of medicine suggests that victims of bullying are between two and nine times more likely to consider suicide than nonvictims. Furthermore, according to the 2008 Washington state healthy youth survey, which involved nearly 200,000 students, nearly one-quarter of 10th graders reported a history of being bullied while half of 12th graders reported feeling sad and hopeless almost every day for the previous two weeks. More than 45 states have passed legislation requiring bullying-prevention programs in schools serving grades K-12, but legislation requiring suicide prevention in schools has been enacted in only a few states. Yet, almost no problem confronting our nation’s schools is more urgent than suicidal behavior in our children. In the past decade, more youths died by suicide than from the combination of cancer, birth defects, stroke, aids, pneumonia, chronic lung disease, and influenza. Why should schools accept any responsibility for suicide prevention? According to the National Association of School Psychologists, the reality is that every five hours, a child or adolescent in the United States dies by suicide. This is an issue that must be addressed in the place that young people spend most of their time, at school. According to a report released this year by the federal [Suicide] is an issue that must be addressed in the place that young people spend most of their time, at school.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, providing a safe environment is part of a school’s mission. Students’ mental health affects academic performance, and the suicide of a student will significantly impact the school community. Some schools have even been sued following student deaths by suicide. Some schools are accepting more responsibility for prevention; for example, last year Texas passed a state law requiring that every school include suicide prevention in its campus-improvement plan for the 2012-13 school year, and that schools identify a suicide-prevention liaison. The bill also required the Texas Education Agency to provide a list of recommended best-practice prevention and earlyintervention initiatives in the public elementary, middle, and high school systems. The legislation also identified bul- “ lying victims as potentially being suicidal. A three-tiered public-health model of prevention, intervention, and follow-up with the school community after a suicide is encouraged to decrease suicidal behavior among school-age youths. Suicide prevention starts with providing teachers and students with the skills necessary to identify and respond to individuals who are at risk for suicidal behavior. These include knowing warning signs such as: talking and/or writing about suicide and death, giving away prized possessions, exhibiting dramatic changes in behavior, and making out a will. A suicide-prevention gatekeeping program includes training all school faculty and staff members to recognize these warning signs and to work as a team with key personnel, such as counselors and administrators, to secure the needed services for suicidal students. Personnel such as school counselors, social workers, and psychologists need to be trained to conduct thorough suicide assessments, and procedures need to be developed that require parent notification when a student is believed to be suicidal. Schools have been successfully sued by parents in the aftermath of a child’s suicide when the school failed to provide appropriate supervision and to notify parents of the suicidal behavior. The only exception to parent notification is when the school believes that the parents are abusing the student; then, the school’s first call would be to the local protectiveservices agency. Middle and high schools are strongly encouraged to investigate depression-screening programs. Two of these programs—Teen Screen and Signs of Suicide—are cited by the national nonprofit Suicide Prevention Resource Center as evidence-based resources. We also recommend that schools link with community resources for suicide prevention and provide educational forums to inform parents Emile Wamsteker for Education Week Education Week and Teachers College, Columbia

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 24, 2012

Education Week - October 24, 2012
‘Smart Pills’ Promising, Problematic
At S.C. School, Behavior Is One of the Basics
Obama Finding Teacher Support Secure, if Tepid
Focus On: Curriculum: Calif. Laws Shift Gears on Algebra, Textbooks
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
‘Value Added’ Use at Secondary Level Questioned
National Board Seeks to Revive Impact on Profession
Industry & Innovation
Blogs of the Week
Debates Push Fate of NCLB Waivers to Fore
Policy Menu Varies in State School Board Elections
Policy Brief
The Election: Debating Education
Genevieve LaFleur & Scott Poland: Schools Can Be the Difference in Preventing Suicide
Kenneth Wesson: From STEM to ST2REAM: Reassembling Our Disaggregated Curriculum
Top School Jobs Recruitment Marketplace
Erica Frankenberg & Gary Orfield: Diversity or Resegregation? Why Suburban Schools Need a Plan

Education Week - October 24, 2012