Supporting Education http://www.supportingeducation.org All about education, teachers, and those people who lift students up. Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:00:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 54013835 No Best Choice for Disabled Students in Voucher States http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/26/no-best-choice-students-disabilities-voucher-states/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/26/no-best-choice-students-disabilities-voucher-states/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:00:25 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=3999 Under IDEA, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, public schools across the U.S. are required to provide accommodations to those who need them to access one of our most important rights, the right a free and equal education. For some, those accommodations are aides or interpreters. They can be something as simple as a […]

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Under IDEA, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, public schools across the U.S. are required to provide accommodations to those who need them to access one of our most important rights, the right a free and equal education. For some, those accommodations are aides or interpreters. They can be something as simple as a written copy of the day’s notes for those who have trouble interpreting verbal and visual lessons, or as intensive as a speech therapist. These are free to students, being instead included in the schools’ budgets.

These accommodations are so important to so many. So why do some states want to ensure that those who need them may have to sacrifice opportunities to keep them?

In Louisiana, there is a voucher program to let students in underperforming public school districts apply public dollars towards tuition at a private school, allowing greater choice to medium and low-income families. But for students with disabilities those vouchers come with an often-invisible caveat. Private schools are not required to provide any academic accommodations.

This is a barrier to students with many kinds of disabilities. Since vouchers are only available to students in public schools that are performing at a “C” or lower by state standards, this means that students in need of accommodations will be left in the worst schools.

Louisiana does have a separate voucher program for children with disabilities, but it is far from equal. Only particular disabilities are covered, and only in very large school districts. Private schools may opt in for only the disabilities they choose to serve, under that program. In all of Louisiana, only six private schools participate.

Louisiana is not the only state that allows this deliberate exclusion. Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wisconsin all have similar exceptions in their laws, ensuring that top-quality education is out of reach to the poor and disabled.

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Adults Focus More, Young Children Notice More http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/19/adults-focus-young-children-notice/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/19/adults-focus-young-children-notice/#respond Wed, 19 Apr 2017 15:00:27 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=3994 Although adults are better at paying attention to things, children notice and remember more. A new study from The Ohio State University have found that adults are better at focusing on things they are instructed to focus on than children, but that children given the same tests notice more details overall, and remember them. This […]

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Although adults are better at paying attention to things, children notice and remember more. A new study from The Ohio State University have found that adults are better at focusing on things they are instructed to focus on than children, but that children given the same tests notice more details overall, and remember them.

This study involved 35 adults and 34 children who were 4 to 5 years old. The participants were shown images of two shapes on a computer screen, with one shape overlaying the other. One of the shapes was red and the other was green, and the participants were asked to pay attention to a shape of a particular color. The shapes disappeared for a quick moment and another screen with the shapes appeared, and the participants had to tell the researchers whether the shapes in the new screen were the same as the previous screen.

Sometimes both shapes stayed the same, sometimes the target shape changed, and sometimes the non-target shape changed. The adults were a little bit better at the task of determining whether the target shape had changed, but the children noticed when the non-target shape changed much more often than the adults did.

According to Vladimir Sloutsky, one of the researchers, this may be because “children are extremely curious and they tend to explore everything, which means their attention is spread out, even when they’re asked to focus. That can sometimes be helpful.”

Considering that children need to take in a lot of information quickly in their early lives, this isn’t all that surprising. Imagine how much information comes at them every second of every day, and think about how much of that is actually necessary information. Children may have a harder time focusing on specific details, but they’re better served by taking in a lot of details at once.

But this also means that they’re prone to getting distracted, which can work against them in educational environments. Exactly when children develop the ability to stay focused that is required for hyper-specialized work in modern society is unclear yet. But what is clear is that getting upset with children for being distracted is not only pointless, but most likely damaging.

This new information should give us something to think about, with our detail-focused adult brains, regarding classroom environments. Perhaps it would be easier to teach young children in less stimulating environments, with fewer distractions.

“Children can’t handle a lot of distractions,” said Sloutsky. “They are always taking in information, even if it is not what you’re trying to teach them. We need to make sure that we are aware of that and design our classrooms, textbooks, and educational materials to help students succeed.”

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Teenage Investigative Journalists Make Shocking Discovery http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/17/student-newspaper-principal-fraud-kansas/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/17/student-newspaper-principal-fraud-kansas/#respond Mon, 17 Apr 2017 15:00:31 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=3990 On March 6, 2017, Amy Robertson was hired to be the new head principal of Pittsburg High School, in Kansas. Supposedly, she was vetted by a committee of teachers and staff from the district, selected with all the care due someone who would be so pivotal to the education of so many. At first, the […]

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On March 6, 2017, Amy Robertson was hired to be the new head principal of Pittsburg High School, in Kansas. Supposedly, she was vetted by a committee of teachers and staff from the district, selected with all the care due someone who would be so pivotal to the education of so many.

At first, the staff of Booster Redux, the student newspaper at PHS, just wanted more details to write a bio of their incoming principal. But even that preliminary, casual research began immediately to turn up things that didn’t quite make sense.

“There were some things that just didn’t quite add up,” said Connor Balthazor in an interview with the Washington Post. Balthazor, 17 and a junior at PHS, is a reporter at Booster Redux. Just scratching the surface, they quickly discovered that Corllins University, the private school where Robertson’s CV claimed she had gotten her higher degrees, was unaccredited. A little more research found many references to the place as an online diploma mill. It had no physical address, and appeared to simply sell official-looking diplomas.

Furthermore, Robertson’s work history was unverifiable. She claimed to have spent more than two decades in Dubai as the CEO of an education consulting firm, but that firm, Atticus I S Consultants, only seemed to exist as a single, nearly empty Facebook page.

The student newspaper staff spent weeks chasing down details, tracking down who to talk to in far-flung schools and accreditation agencies. Their adviser bowed out, as she’d helped select Robertson, so they found another mentor in Eric Thomas, who directs the Kansas Scholastic Press Association. And they interviewed Robertson herself.

Robertson did not take these students seriously, and refused to answer many of their questions. But by then, the school district had finally caught up to their students’ discoveries. When Robertson could not produce a transcript from the University of Tulsa, where she said she had gotten her undergrad degree, she resigned.

The faculty of Pittsburg High School has so far had no comment on how so many massive deceptions were able to slide past their selection committee. But they intend to honor the students who saved them from their own mistake.

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Students Who Face Adversity May Be More Well-Equipped for Success http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/14/mehlman-talent-initiative-high-achieving-low-income-students/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/14/mehlman-talent-initiative-high-achieving-low-income-students/#respond Fri, 14 Apr 2017 15:00:36 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=3986 Franklin and Marshall College, a private liberal arts institution located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is introducing a revolutionary new program that seeks to develop a culture of resilience on campus. The program, called the Mehlman Talent Initiative, will empower students with the strength they need to overcome any obstacle. Franklin and Marshall College alumnus and trustee […]

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Franklin and Marshall College, a private liberal arts institution located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is introducing a revolutionary new program that seeks to develop a culture of resilience on campus. The program, called the Mehlman Talent Initiative, will empower students with the strength they need to overcome any obstacle.

Franklin and Marshall College alumnus and trustee Ken Mehlman founded the initiative. Mehlman, who graduated in 1988, put $1 million of his own money towards the program.

If his name sounds familiar, that’s because Mehlman has had quite the high-profile career. Mehlman previously served as director of the White House Office of Political Affairs. He also managed President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign. He later went on to become the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Today, he is the Global Head of Public Affairs at private equity firm KKR.

“Young men and women who have already overcome adversity bring different life experiences and are well positioned for 21st century success, but they need practical tools to flourish,” Mehlman stated. “This initiative will support these students and provide a framework for the rest of us to learn from them.”

His $1 million donation will go towards supporting 10 high-achieving, low-income students who have faced significant obstacles on their journey to success. A specially trained team of faculty and staff members will mentor the students and help them use their adversity as a source of strength and inspiration.

“With this tremendous gift—half of which is dedicated to financial aid—he [Mehlman] further enables the College to cultivate the greatness of high-achieving students so that they will be empowered to achieve big goals in their lives and make disproportionately positive contributions to society,” said Daniel R. Porterfield, president of Franklin and Marshall College. “The Mehlman Talent Initiative will continue to make F&M a stronger school and help us create an even stronger community, and we are immensely appreciative of Ken’s support.”

As generous as Mehlman’s donation is, it is only the first step in a much larger vision. Mehlman is also launching The Slingshot Project, an even bigger program that instills in students the values and characteristics needed to triumph in the face of misfortune.

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Researchers Can Predict Reading Ability Through Genetics http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/12/researchers-predict-reading-ability-genetics/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/12/researchers-predict-reading-ability-genetics/#respond Wed, 12 Apr 2017 15:00:26 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=3981 Researchers at King’s College London have developed a technique to predict the ability of children to learn to read based on their genetics. They found that certain parts of the DNA align with reading performance, and after comparing the genes of students in the Twins Early Development Study with records of their reading ability, they found […]

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Researchers at King’s College London have developed a technique to predict the ability of children to learn to read based on their genetics. They found that certain parts of the DNA align with reading performance, and after comparing the genes of students in the Twins Early Development Study with records of their reading ability, they found that genetics, also known as polygenic scores, successfully predicting that ability.

According to the researchers, students with the highest and lowest genetic scores differed by a whole two years in their reading performance.

They also found that genes explain as much as 5 percent of the difference between student reading ability, which is significantly higher than any other metric by which this has been measured. For example, gender differences account for less than 1 percent of differences in reading ability. Even accounting for cognitive ability or socioeconomic status, the genetic factor remained at 5 percent.

“The value of polygenic scores is that they make it possible to predict genetic risk and resilience at the level of the individual,” said study lead author Saskia Selzam of King’s College London. “This is different to twin studies, which tell us about the overall genetic influence within a large population of people.”

The idea that genes can influence reading ability might seem far-fetched, but if one thinks about the ability to read as in part a physical matter, based on genetics, which leads to children facing various issues which might contribute to reading problems such as dyslexia or vision issues, then it makes a lot more sense.

However, being able to predict what issues a person might face based on their genes is a double-edged sword and raises a lot of ethical questions. As with so many ethical questions, when it comes down to it, we can simply choose to do the right thing. Being able to predict that a child will have trouble learning to read can, for example, allow parents and teachers to plan ahead in order to help that child adapt.

“We think this study provides an important starting point for exploring genetic differences in reading ability, using polygenic scoring,” said Selzam. “For instance, these scores could enable research on resilience to developing reading difficulties and how children respond individually to different interventions.”

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More Salad Bars in Schools Only Help If More Kids Use Them http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/10/salad-bars-schools-marketing-kids/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/10/salad-bars-schools-marketing-kids/#respond Mon, 10 Apr 2017 15:00:05 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=3976 Salads are healthy when they’re prepared well, but even a salad with too much dressing is probably healthier than pizza, right? With that in mind, an initiative called Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools has been working to get more salad bars into primary and secondary schools. As a result, about 50 percent of high […]

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Salads are healthy when they’re prepared well, but even a salad with too much dressing is probably healthier than pizza, right? With that in mind, an initiative called Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools has been working to get more salad bars into primary and secondary schools. As a result, about 50 percent of high schools, 39 percent of middle schools, and 31 percent of elementary schools have salad bars in place. The trick now is getting kids to use them.

But just because a salad bar exists doesn’t mean that students will use it, especially if they can buy soda and candy and eat that instead. However, a study from Brigham Young University has found some information that might help.

BYU health sciences professor Lori Spruance wrote in the study that students at schools with higher salad bar marketing are nearly three times as likely to use them.

Spruance is clear that getting kids to eat healthy at home will have the best effect, as introducing them to food at home in a controlled environment is more likely to get them eating that same food elsewhere. Failing that though, since schools can’t really influence how parents raise their kids, the trick seems to be marketing.

Students need to not only know that there is a salad bar, but they need to be reminded of it often. This is a pretty common idea in marketing, which is why there are so many commercials for fast food restaurants, because constant reminders are the only way to get somebody to pay attention to one restaurant over another. Schools that increased signage for their salad bars, promoted them in newsletters and other publications, or mentioned them in their digital presence, were more successful at getting kids to use the salad bar.

“It takes a lot of effort and time, but most children and adolescents require repeated exposures to foods before they will eat them on their own,” Spruance said. “If a child is being exposed to foods at home that are served at school, the child may be more likely to eat those fruits or vegetables at school.”

Changing trends toward eating in the United States is a constant hurdle. But if we use some of the same tactics that have led to our unhealthy eating habits to get kids and teens interested in school salad bars, we might have more success. Studies like this will help in that process.

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Thousands of Students’ Pell Grant Eligibility Restored http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/07/pell-grant-eligibility-restored-closed-colleges/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/07/pell-grant-eligibility-restored-closed-colleges/#respond Fri, 07 Apr 2017 15:00:23 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=3972 Here’s some good news for students who were attending classes at a school that suddenly closed: the Department of Education has announced that their Pell Grant eligibility will be restored. The department is going to email Pell Grant recipients who went to for-profit colleges like ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges, which closed abruptly after […]

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Here’s some good news for students who were attending classes at a school that suddenly closed: the Department of Education has announced that their Pell Grant eligibility will be restored.

The department is going to email Pell Grant recipients who went to for-profit colleges like ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges, which closed abruptly after declaring bankruptcy, that they will again be eligible for the federal grants.

Unlike most forms of student aid, Pell Grants have a lifetime cap on funding. Students can only receive those funds for a total of six years or 12 full-time semesters. Because of this, many of the more than 50,000 Pell Grant recipients who attended ITT and Corinthian could not enroll at a new college or university.

Education department officials say the change will immediately benefit at least “several thousands of students” who had met or were about to meet their Pell Grant lifetime funding limit, according to US News. It will also benefit students who haven’t reached their limit but who will be able to go back to school with more grant eligibility time.

The Trump administration’s restoration of Pell Grant eligibility carries out a promise made during the Obama administration to help students enrolled at for-profit colleges, particularly those that closed suddenly.

It also brings fairness to a system that allowed students at abruptly closed schools to have their student loans discharged and their eligibility to continue borrowing restored. Now, students will also be able to have their federal aid grants restored, too.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, who was a Pell Grant recipient herself, found a provision in the federal Higher Education Act that would allow the DOE to restore eligibility to students who had used their lifetime allotment of Pell Grant money.

“I am pleased that the Department of Education is taking this step that I pushed for and is finally restoring Pell Grants for students previously enrolled in dishonest, failed colleges,” Murray said in a statement. “This is an important step to provide relief to students, but it can’t be the last one—and I am going to keep pushing this administration to put students and borrowers ahead of for-profit colleges and Wall Street investors.”

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High School Students Get Class Credit for Help Desk Work http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/05/high-school-help-desk-class-credit/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/05/high-school-help-desk-class-credit/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2017 15:00:21 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=3967 All across the nation, students are running help desks at their high schools. And they’re doing so for class credit. It all started in 2011, when Burlington High School in Burlington, Massachusetts, rolled out over 1,000 iPad tablets for student and teacher use. Because the school’s IT department would have been overwhelmed by calls for […]

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All across the nation, students are running help desks at their high schools. And they’re doing so for class credit.

It all started in 2011, when Burlington High School in Burlington, Massachusetts, rolled out over 1,000 iPad tablets for student and teacher use. Because the school’s IT department would have been overwhelmed by calls for help as people set up the devices or worked with them, they relied heavily on tech-savvy students to provide assistance.

This eventually evolved into recruiting a team of students to learn how to troubleshoot and solve tech issues on multiple devices and offer their advice on how to best use the iPad in the classroom.

Since then, Burlington’s program has grown to the point where teachers and students now collaborate on which tech tools are most effective in the classroom. The help desk students are also called on to demonstrate technology tools in their classes. Burlington High School’s help desk is a formal, elective class worth 2.5 credits toward graduation. Students actually apply and go through an interview process to be accepted, and once enrolled, they can take up to two full years (four semesters) of the course.

Inspired by Burlington High School’s success, other schools have replicated the help desk program in ways that meet their individual districts’ needs.

Lake Central High School in Indiana, for example, will launch its computer tech support class in the fall of 2017. Its class will be open to juniors and seniors and will include duties like maintaining the school’s Chromebooks, helping students with tech problems such as getting on the school’s wi-fi or having trouble with any of the software the school uses to manage its educational offerings.

“The whole purpose is for the students to be able to try the career in a more concentrated light to see if this is the career path they want to explore,” Lake Central Principal Sean Begley told the NWI Times. “We are looking for a symbiotic relationship where the students are leaving here with real life skills and helping support the school.”

At Burlington High School, the help desk class also gave students new skills.

According to Andrew Marcinek, who was an instruction technology specialist at Burlington when the program was launched, a lot of the students didn’t know much about technology, but they knew how to research, ask the right questions, find answers, and think on their feet.

The student-run help desk at Bethlehem Central High School in New York provides front end tech support for all the schools in the district. Sal DeAngelo, the chief technology officer at that school, said he thinks the “soft skills” such as collaboration and problem solving may be even more important than the tech skills they learn.

“People who have been somewhat introverted, through our program develop the confidence to be able to interact with their peers and with teachers at a level that some would have thought was not possible for them,” DeAngelo told US News.

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Peers Give Students More Reason to Learn http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/03/peers-give-students-reason-learn/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/04/03/peers-give-students-reason-learn/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2017 15:00:41 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=3963 Students everywhere have wondered, at some point, why they had to learn about some subject. It is perhaps more common in high schools and colleges, especially in general education courses. Why should one learn about American history when they want to study packaging science, for example? Every teacher has a response for these questions, and […]

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Students everywhere have wondered, at some point, why they had to learn about some subject. It is perhaps more common in high schools and colleges, especially in general education courses. Why should one learn about American history when they want to study packaging science, for example?

Every teacher has a response for these questions, and while they make total sense to the teacher, they don’t always get through to the student. When the rationale for studying something comes from a peer, though, it gets through, even if it’s the exact same wording.

A study from Michigan State University has found that students given peer rationales averaged 92 percent on the final grades, while those receiving a teacher rationale only averaged 88 percent. This implies that teachers, while capable of imparting the information that the students need to learn, aren’t as good at telling them why it’s important.

The researchers posit that this might have something to do with the fact that teachers control grades, so their rationale might be seen as simply justifying what they want to teach. However, if a fellow classmate or a young professional tells a student that a subject is worth studying and why, it activates something in that student’s mind. Such people are seen as someone with more directly relatable experience.

“These findings suggest that what instructors were good at was getting across cold facts, while the peers seemed to be tapping into an identification process, said study co-author Cary Roseth of Michigan State University. “In other words, as a student I can identify with my peers and imagine myself using the course material in the same way they do. This gives the material meaning and a sense of purpose that goes beyond memorization. When I hear a peer’s story, it connects to the story I am telling myself about who I want to be in the future.”

This is also supported by the fact that students in the study who received no rationale for why they were studying a subject averaged 90 percent on their final grades. While hearing such an argument from a peer might help, it seems like getting it from a teacher doesn’t, and might even hurt the student’s grades.

This isn’t so say that teachers shouldn’t tell students how or why something they’re learning is important, but that they may want to consider having a peer impart that information so it has a more positive effect on the student.

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Schools Starting to Stock Opioid Overdose Antidote http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/03/31/schools-stock-naloxone-opioid-overdose-antidote/ Fri, 31 Mar 2017 15:00:07 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=3958 It’s an unfortunate sign of the times and a reflection of a growing crisis. School nurses’ medicine cabinets contain all sorts of remedies for minor bruises, headaches, and allergic reactions—and now in some schools, those nurses also have naloxone. Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdoses, can and does save lives. But […]

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It’s an unfortunate sign of the times and a reflection of a growing crisis. School nurses’ medicine cabinets contain all sorts of remedies for minor bruises, headaches, and allergic reactions—and now in some schools, those nurses also have naloxone.

Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdoses, can and does save lives. But are opioids like heroin really being used by high school and middle school students? Not often. In fact, according to a 2015 report by the National Institutes of Health, opioid use among teenagers is at an all-time low.

But when heroin or prescription opioid overdoses occur, the victim stops breathing, and seconds count. School nurses are often the first responders in emergencies that occur in schools, and giving them the tools they need in order to cope with those emergencies has become a high priority in some states.

“We have it in the same way we have defibrillators and EpiPens, the way we have oxygen in our schools,” Adrienne Weiss-Harrison, the New Rochelle School District’s public health coordinator, told The New York Times. “Rarely do we pull a defibrillator off the wall, but it’s there if we need it, and that’s how we approach [having] naloxone.”

Adapt Pharma, a company that makes naloxone, partnered with the Clinton Foundation in 2016 to offer all public schools a free two-dose box of Narcan (the brand name of naloxone) nasal spray. That two-dose packet, which has a two-year expiration date, would otherwise cost $75.

Matt Ruth, Adapt Pharma’s U.S. Chief Commercial Officer, acknowledges that overdoses aren’t frequent on high school campuses, but nonetheless, the company offered the kits to educate school officials and students about opioid use. Educators in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Ohio accepted the drug in 2016. As of March 29, 2017, schools in Connecticut and New Mexico also stock the drug.

New York State has a program that provides naloxone free to schools, and 64 school districts are participating so far. Interestingly, New York City schools aren’t stocking naloxone because officials said they “have not seen the need.”

In Rhode Island, every middle school, junior high, and high school is required to have naloxone in its medicine cabinets, and the New Jersey legislature recently introduced a bill for a similar program in that state.

But is there really a need?

Kathleen Neelon, the nursing coordinator for schools in Wallingford, Connecticut, says there have been many overdoses among young adults in the area, so the district decided to stock naloxone in its high schools.

“We instituted it in December, and I hope we never have to use it,” Neelon told The New York Times.

Generally, the response among communities where schools are stocking the drug has been accepting, with the understanding that it’s a sad statement about the opioid epidemic ravaging some parts of the country.

However, some people have raised an interesting question: If schools were stocking the antidote to, say, crack cocaine overdoses, would the response be different? There has been a lot of conversation about how race has affected the response to opioid addiction. The face of opioid abuse is primarily white and suburban, while other drugs such as crystal meth and crack cocaine tend to be used more commonly among different class and racial demographics.

“If there was an antidote to crack, the argument would be we should just kick these people out of school, rather than trying to deal with them in the school system,” said Daniel Raymond, director of policy and planning at the Harm Reduction Coalition. “It would be about getting tough, cracking down, kicking them off of sports teams, and expelling them.”

What do you think? Does your school stock naloxone? Has your staff ever had to use it? Do you think it’s a good idea to stock naloxone in schools? Is there a racial divide over how different types of drug abuse are treated? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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