500,000 Kids Could Lose Free School Lunch Under Trump Administration Proposal

By N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA Today - Rep: August 12, 2019

More than 500,000 kids could lose their automatic eligibility for free school meals thanks to a Trump administration proposal to cut access to food stamps made in late July.

Under the proposed rule, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would no longer provide benefits to as many as 3.1 million recipients solely because they are enrolled in food assistance programs run by the states where they live. But when the policy was announced it did not mention the potential impact on free school lunches, according to a letter from Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

“The effect on school meal eligibility represents an important technical finding that must be made public so stakeholders have the opportunity to comment on all aspects of the rule’s impact,” Scott, the House Education and Labor Committee chairman, said in the letter...

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The Best School Lunch News You Never Heard

By Sarah Reinhardt, Food Systems and Health Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists - Rep: July 29, 2019

This spring, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a groundbreaking new study showing that kids and schools alike have benefited enormously from new school nutrition standards adopted over the course of the last seven years. This is the first comprehensive assessment of how schools across the nation have fared since the standards were first rolled out in 2012-2013.

But if you missed the press release, it’s because there wasn’t one.

The report, which should have served as a glowing testament to the bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and the USDA’s subsequent work implementing its improved nutrition standards, was unceremoniously posted in a quiet corner of the agency website, presumably meant to collect the cyberspace equivalent of cobwebs.

Why?...

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Digital Divide Closing at Schools, but Gaps Remain in Homes

April 4, 2019

California has closed the digital divide at its K-12 schools, but internet access at home remains a persistent problem, a new report finds.

Analysis by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that 90 percent of the state’s schools met the Federal Communication Commission’s minimum threshold (100 kbps connectivity per student) for digital learning in 2018, and 59 percent of schools met the FCC’s long-term target (1,000 kbps per student). In contrast, as highlighted in the summer 2017 edition of California Schools magazine, the institute’s 2016 report found that one-third of schools failed to provide adequate access to the internet...

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Cleaning Up Wildfire Ash Safely

CDPH Recommends Ways to Avoid Potential Health Hazards

November 30, 2018

On November 15, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today advised residents of recent burn areas to use caution in cleaning up ash from wildfires. The ash from trees burned in forest fires is relatively nontoxic and similar to ash that might be found in your fireplace. However, ash from burned buildings, vehicles, and similar items may contain many toxic substances, including arsenic, asbestos, lead, and fine particles that can aggravate asthma and other respiratory problems.

"As evacuation orders begin to be lifted, residents should be aware of potential health hazards during the clean-up and rebuilding process," said Dr. Smith. "It is important to limit the amount of ash that gets airborne. Leaf blowers and sweeping may seem like the smart way to clean it up, but this actually stirs the ash up so people may breathe it in, which is dangerous. It's also important to avoid skin contact with ash...

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New Technology Services Division Director at CDE

November 15, 2018

On November 1, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that he has appointed Rodney Okamoto as Director of the Technology Services Division. His division provides the California Department of Education with Information Technology (IT) leadership, technical services, and a state-of-the-art infrastructure that enables it to deliver effective education services in California.

Okamoto most recently served as IT Manager II, overseeing the Information Systems and Services Office in the Technology Services Division. During his more than 20 years at the California Department of Education, he has chaired the multi-state Smarter Balanced Technology Workgroup and served as California’s IT Readiness Coordinator. His efforts were a major reason California was recognized for the most successful implementation of computer-based assessments in the country...

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NSBA Launches Initiative to Help Schools Mitigate Cyber-threats

August 7, 2018

In July, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) launched a Cyber Secure Schools initiative, a key source of information, tools, and resources, to help districts and schools enhance the security of their networks and data systems, and reduce cyber-vulnerabilities.

“Technology continues to change rapidly and with those changes comes emerging and significant cyber-threats,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director and CEO. “Today’s school leaders must be able to familiarize themselves with the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape and take proactive steps to secure sensitive student and staff data and district operations...

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New CDE Mobile App Helps Families Find Summer and Afterschool Meal Program Locations

April 21, 2018

On April 17, the California Department of Education (CDE) released the CA Meals for Kids mobile app. The app allows users to find the locations of California’s Summer and Afterschool Meal Programs, which are spread throughout the state. These programs provide no-cost meals to children aged eighteen and under.

The CA Meals for Kids App draws upon information submitted to the CDE Nutrition Services Division by local program sponsors and provides the most up-to-date information about meal services available in the community. Children and families can use location-based searches to find meal sites, dates, and times. The app also allows for searches by site name, ZIP code, and city...

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Attorney General Becerra Issues Guidance to K-12 Schools on Privacy Rights of All Students, Documented or Undocumented

April 7, 2018

On March 30, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued new guidance to help California’s public K-12 schools and other local educational agencies develop policies to protect the rights of undocumented students and their families. The guide is designed to help schools better understand protections that safeguard the privacy of undocumented students and their families, and to serve as a model for local school districts.

“Every student, regardless of immigration status, is entitled to feel safe and secure at school,” said Attorney General Becerra. “In California, nearly half of all children have at least one immigrant parent. It’s our duty as public officials and school administrators to uphold the rights of these students so that their education is not disrupted.”...

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Many Families with Young Children Still Have Slower Connections, Limited Online Access… Even in Silicon Valley

March 23, 2018

By Lisa Guernsey

Even in Silicon Valley, the epicenter of online innovation, families with young children are experiencing a digital divide. Hispanic families in particular saying that they experience slower connections, more data limits, and more broken computers and devices than their white and Asian-Pacific Islander counterparts. More than 80 percent of educators in the area’s high-need schools say that they are not assigning homework that uses digital media because they worry that families do not have access at home.

And mixed feelings about the benefits and harm of technology and digital media permeate the community...

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Torlakson Announces New Drinking Water Testing for Schools

February 10, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on February 1 that California public schools built before 2010 must test for lead in drinking water.

Last year, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 746, which requires community water systems statewide to complete lead testing in these older schools by July 1, 2019.

Even at low levels, lead may cause a range of health effects including behavioral problems and learning disabilities. Children six years old and younger are most at risk because the brain is still developing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10% to 20% of total lead exposure for young children comes from drinking water...

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