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Keep Kids in Class: Building Positive School Climates

MA Appleseed hosted its 3rd annual conference on May 2, 2014. A diverse audience of educators, advocates, state agencies, and community service providers attended! The conference sparked much discussion about strategies we can employ now to cultivate positive school climates as a reality for all of our children!
The keynote speaker, Dr. Robert Brooks, gave an engaging and galvanizing presentation about the power of mindsets. Using the notion of the "charismatic adult," Dr. Brooks explained what it means to have a positive mindset and how mindsets impact teachers, students, and the overall school climate.
The following two presentations provided a national context for a discussion of school climate and school discipline. Kate Upatham, an attorney with the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), spoke on the federal school discipline guidance, and Dan Losen, from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, presented the most recent OCR school discipline data.
The educators' panel was the conference highlight! Sara Burd of the Reading Public Schools, and Ricci Hall of Worcester Public Schools, inspired educators, advocates, and community partners alike, when they shared their concrete and practical experiences working with teachers, students, parents, and community members on a daily basis to improve school climates. Anne Gilligan of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provided an overview and moderated the panel discussion.
The breakout sessions covered topics ranging from principles of culturally responsive practice to implementing the new school discipline law (Chapter 222).

Conference Materials


Conference Agenda
Keynote Address:
The Power of Mindsets: Creating a Positive School Climate, Dr. Robert Brooks
Supplemental Materials from Understanding and Managing Children's Classroom Behavior: Creating Sustainable, Resilient Schools (2007) by Sam Goldstein, Ph.D. and Robert Brooks, Ph.D. published by John Wiley & Sons
Developing the Mindset of Effective Students
Developing the Mindset of Effective Teachers
Zero Tolerance" in Schools: How Effective Is it? Dr. Robert Brooks
School Discipline and Data Presentations:
OCR and DoJ's joint January 2014 Dear Colleague Letter on Race and Discipline
OCR's Civil Rights Data Collection webpage
The U.S. Department of Education Discipline Guidance Package
Federal School Discipline Data, Daniel J. Losen, UCLA, The Civil Rights Project
Breakout Session Presentations and Handouts:
How to Use Data Well and Recognize the Disparate Impact Based on Race, Gender and Disability, Daniel J. Losen, UCLA, The Civil Rights Project
Implementing the New School Discipline Law: Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012, Deborah Dorfman, Center for Public Representation
Not Present, Not Accounted For: Trauma, Learning, and School Discipline; How to Create Buy-in for Change, Jennifer Davis Carey, Worcester Education Collaborative
Crisis in School Suspensions, By Jennifer Carey Davis and Mary Jo Marion Farrell
Focusing on Suspensions, By Jennifer Davis Carey
Additional Resources:
Keep Kids in Class: Alternatives to School Discipline by MA Appleseed
Keep Kids in Class: Perspectives on School Based Referrals by MA Appleseed
Parent Guide to School Discipline by MA Appleseed
MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: 2012-13 Student Discipline Data Report (DISTRICT)
Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012, An Act Relative To Student Access To Educational Services and Exclusion from School
Arrested Futures
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Targeted Interventions: Meeting the Needs of Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

MA Appleseed hosted its second annual conference on November 15, 2012. A diverse audience of policy advocates, legislators, state agencies, service providers, and educators attended. The keynote speaker, Christina Murphy, Director of Policy for the National Center on Family Homelessness, spoke on youth homelessness, provided national statistics, and spoke to the urgent needs of homeless youth. Edwin Darden, Director of Education Law and Policy at national Appleseed, presented a synopsis of the findings of recent our policy brief on unaccompanied homeless youth. The conference included a panel discussion addressing the unique vulnerabilities related to education, health, housing, and social justice. The breakout sessions covered topics ranging from appropriate methodologies to count this highly mobile yet invisible population to the importance of wraparound services. The conference created an excellent platform to discuss areas ripe for positive change and potential advocacy strategies to create meaningful improvement in the lives of these children.

Conference Materials

Conference Agenda
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Invisible Faces on Facebook
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Report from the National Center on Family Homelessness: America's Youngest Outcasts
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MA Appleseed Policy Brief: Unaccompanied, Unidentified, and Uncounted: Developing Strategies to Meet the Needs of America's Homeless Youth
> Download policy brief
Presentation from breakout session #1: Creating a Comprehensive Definition of Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
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Presentation and supplemental materials from breakout session #2: Identifying Unaccompanied Homeless Youth: Deriving Data from an Accurate Count
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> Download supplemental materials
Presentation from breakout session #4: Comprehensive Programs and the Importance of a Wrap-Around Approach
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