Middle school reduces bad behavior dramatically with ‘reverse suspensions’ that invite parents to school when students misbehave – TheBlaze

Administrators at one West Virginia middle school have introduced a new disciplinary alternative to traditional suspension that they believe could be more effective in reforming troubled students.

At Huntington East Middle School, non-violent, non-verbally abusive behavior is handled by offering parents the option of a “reverse suspension.”

Image source: WOWK-TV

In a reverse suspension, instead of sending a child home, the student’s parent is invited to come to school and spend the entire day by his side.

“When we started combining schools we had a lot of kids getting in trouble and getting suspended,” school parent partner Stephanie Powell told WOWK-TV.

Huntington East Middle School student Justin Young shared how the policy has worked for him personally.

“I was suspended multiple times last year. But this year, not once,” Young told WOWK.

Justin explained that when he and his mother got home from their day of reverse suspension, they had a family talk.

“She wanted to know if I acted like that when she was not around, I said, ‘No, because I wanted to be good for you.'” Justin said.

Principal Frank Barnett said the approach has helped the school reduce student suspensions by two thirds and bad behavior incidents by more than half. The school discovered that, for many students, suspensions were seen as a break from school, something they planned for.

“We try to avoid that at all costs, but there are times it cannot be avoided,” Barnett told WOWK.

The principal shared that around 30 families opted for reverse suspensions this year.

“Who as a parent wants to sit in class? It’s embarrassing,” parent Stephanie Howell told WOWK. “It’s a good motivator to not have your parents come and sit with them.”

Principal Barnett explained that the school decides how to address each behavior incident on a case by case basis.

‘Signing Day’ recognizes high school seniors starting jobs, not college | MNN – Mother Nature Network

The familiar high school rituals take place every spring. Athletes sign letters of intent to play for college programs as their coaches beam with pride, the photographs splashed across social media. Other high school seniors wave college acceptance letters as their names are announced at school assemblies.

But one school system in Virginia wanted to celebrate a different life-changing moment for the seniors who were starting careers right after graduation. In Henrico County, public school administrators held a ceremony in late March called “Career and Technical Letter-of-Intent Signing Day.”

“This is a celebration of students who are entering the workforce or post-secondary training with a plan,” said Mac Beaton, director of Henrico Schools’ Department of Career and Technical Education, in a Facebook post. “They’ve chosen to maximize their high school opportunities for career training and industry certifications, with an eye on becoming successful and financially secure much earlier in life.”

The students met with representatives from their future places of employment and both signed letters outlining what they would do before and during employment, as well as what training and compensatory benefits the employer would provide, and an estimate of the position’s overall value.

“Signing Day is a way of recognizing their hard work and the value of the career-preparation training they’ve received through Henrico Schools’ Career and Technical Education program,” Beaton said.

The impetus for the idea

Family members watch proudly as students meet with their future employers. (Photo: Henrico County Public Schools)

More than 5,000 students earn industry-based certifications in Henrico County each year, and that often means a job immediately upon graduation. For this first event, a dozen students were recognized as they signed letters of intent to work as apprentices or machinists for local and national companies.

Beaton said the idea for the recognition ceremony was rooted in a constant battle to show the importance of this kind of training.

“We’re always trying to figure out how to address the skills gap when the general mentality of parents is ‘I want my child to go to college,'” Beaton told Today Parents.

“One way to do this is to help them see the value of career and technical education,” he said. “When you start talking data that affects parents’ pocketbooks, that gets their attention.”

During the event, families and members of the media watched as students signed letters of intent. Just like athletes don caps representing their future teams, these students put on hats and other clothing representing the companies they would soon work for.

Lots of support

It may not get the same media attention, but Henrico County’s approach puts the focus on needed skills. (Photo: Henrico County Public Schools)

The event was a huge hit on social media, with fans praising the celebration.

“This is the best thing I’ve seen in years,” wrote Catherine DeAngelis. “It’s about time we celebrate the skilled workforce. We need to do that here, people need to see how important these students really are.”

Tricia Molloy agreed. “This is fabulous!! The world runs because of our tradesman and women. It’s wonderful to honor and celebrate those who join the trades.”

“College isn’t for everyone, so this is a wonderful way to support those who train vocationally for the workforce,” wrote Jean Mayo Campbell. “Maybe other districts will embrace this.”

Even “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe shared the school system’s post on his own Facebook page, commenting, “This is the way forward. No attempt to close the skills gap will ever succeed, until or unless we celebrate those who are willing to learn a skill that’s in demand. This is not just a terrific idea, it’s a model for every other technical school in the country … Here’s hoping others will follow Henrico’s lead.”

Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.

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‘Signing Day’ recognizes high school seniors starting jobs, not college
Virginia school system celebrates the students who are heading for careers instead of going to college.

Kerry Kennedy: What My Father, RFK, Means Today

Kennedy is the president of the nonprofit Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and author of the new book Robert F. Kennedy: Ripples of Hope.

Think of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson or Richard Nixon. Each, in his own way, is firmly set in a certain era of American history. Yet as vibrant as they were at the peak of their power and influence, none of these men could easily slip into the contemporary political world. Their leadership was unique to their time and place.

That does not ring true for my father, Robert F. Kennedy, who was killed 50 years ago. His appearance is ever modern: the shaggy hair, the skinny ties, the suit jacket off, the shirt sleeves rolled. Beyond appearances, what is striking about RFK are the themes he returned to again and again — themes that still energize the debate and resonate in our own time.

Think of the headlines over the past few years and it is easy to hear Robert Kennedy’s voice and imagine him speaking out in our country — on the madness of gun violence, the shame of police brutality, the need for compassion in welcoming immigrants and refugees, the urgent need to defy the call to war and, where war has broken out, the moral necessity of seeking peace. One imagines him urging us to focus not only on stopping terrorism but also on understanding and addressing its root causes. He would encourage us to focus on the destructive force of hate, the disillusionment of young people, the inherent injustice of a criminal-justice system that discriminates based on race and class and sends thousands to jail simply because they are too poor to make bail — the new Jim Crow. And it is easy to think of RFK reminding us of the duty to address the struggles of those who are not in the headlines, the most vulnerable among us: farmworkers, small farmers, factory workers, people who have seen the jobs that once supported them replaced by cheap labor or technology. He would also remember our duty to Native Americans and those suffering in the hollows of Appalachia, on the Mississippi Delta and in the most destitute slums of our great cities.

In the 1950s, he spent much of his time on the Senate Committee on Investigations fighting the excesses of its chair, Joe McCarthy, and his chief counsel, Roy Cohn — two figures who echo in the news today. He later caused Cohn’s resignation and led to the end of McCarthy’s reign of terror. Asked a decade later by Peter Maas how he could have worked for McCarthy, Kennedy responded, “Well, at the time, I thought there was a serious internal security threat to the United States … [and] Joe McCarthy seemed to be the only one doing anything about it. I was wrong.”

But to leave it at stopping the bullies would not do him justice. On that terrible night when he told a crowd in downtown Indianapolis that Martin Luther King Jr. had been murdered, he included in his remarks a quote from Aeschylus: “To tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the world.” Indeed, my father focused much of his life taming the savageness, and he made gentle the life of the world.

There was no quality my father admired more than courage, save perhaps love. I remember after dinner one night he picked up the battered poetry book that was always somewhere by his side and read aloud Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” We listened aghast to the story of a group of soldiers whose commanding officer orders them to ride into an ambush, knowing they will be slaughtered — yet they still obey the command. My father then explained that he and my mother were going on a trip and challenged us to a contest to see who could best memorize the poem while they were away. I did not win that contest _ my sister Courtney did — but one stanza still remains with me:

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die,

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred

Why would a father ask his ever-expanding brood of what became 11 children to memorize a poem about war and slaughter? I think there were three reasons: He wanted to share with us his love of literature. He wanted us to embrace challenges that appear daunting. But most of all, he believed it was imperative for us to question authority, and to learn how those who fail that lesson do so at their own peril. Now, coming upon 50 years after Robert F. Kennedy’s last campaign, those are among the lessons I think he would have liked to impart to all Americans. We face daunting challenges both nationally and globally. But we must rise to those tasks armed with courage, faith, love and an abiding commitment to justice, yet girded with a healthy sense of skepticism.

Adapted from Robert F. Kennedy: Ripples of Hope by Kerry Kennedy (copyright 2018). Used with permission from Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

This appears in the June 11, 2018 issue of TIME.

TIME Ideas hosts the world’s leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors.

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Thousands of migrant children were sexually abused in U.S. custody, HHS docs say – CBS News

Washington — Thousands of migrant children allegedly suffered sexual abuse while in U.S. government custody over the past four years, according to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) documents released Tuesday by Florida Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch. 

According to the documents, over a thousand allegations of sexual abuse against unaccompanied minors in HHS custody were reported to federal authorities each fiscal year since 2015. In total, between October 2014 and July 2018, 4,556 sexual abuse complaints were reported to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) — an agency within HHS in charge of caring for unaccompanied migrant minors. 

An additional 1,303 complaints were received by the Justice Department, but it’s unclear whether the complaints to ORR overlap with those reported to the Justice Department. 

The documents offer a fragmented portrayal of the allegations of sexual abuse. The overall numbers of the allegations reported to ORR do not reveal specific information about the perpetrator, who may be someone unknown to the child, another unaccompanied minor or a caregiver in a U.S. facility. On the other hand, the data of allegations reported to the Justice Department does provide specific information about who the alleged perpetrator was. 

The documents reveal that over the past four fiscal years, in 178 cases reported to the Justice Department, adult caregivers at U.S. facilities were reported to have sexually abused migrant minors. More specifically, there were 49 allegations of sexual abuse involving adult caregivers in U.S. facilities reported to the Justice Department in both fiscal years 2017 and 2018. 

“The gravity here is a systematic concealment of children being sexually abused, children being exposed to those kinds of acts,” Democratic California Rep. Lou Correa told CBS News Tuesday afternoon, as he left a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Trump administration’s family separation policy near the southwestern border. 

Correa said the government has the legal responsibility to prevent children under its custody from being abused or harmed and accused the Trump administration of a “systematic cover up.” The California Democrat said the government documented these allegations but failed to elevate them to the highest levels of the administration. It was only when House Democrats requested the documents in January that the government revealed the statistics, he added. 

“We’re supposed to have transparency, we’re supposed to work and make things better. If you make mistakes, you fess up to that and you move on,” Correa said. “But to cover up something like this — child abuse — is just beyond my imagination.”

One of the documents, which details the allegations of sexual abuse by adult facility staff during fiscal years 2015 and 2016, describes incidents in which unaccompanied minors reported they had been shown pornographic material, forcibly kissed, or inappropriately touched or fondled. Most of the accused facility members were immediately removed from duty and some cases were referred to law enforcement, according to the document. Some facility staff members were terminated, but others were reinstated. 

According to an ORR memorandum, the agency began collecting sexual abuse data on unaccompanied minors in its custody in October 2014. Per ORR policy, care providers have to report allegations of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and retaliation against allegations no later than four hours after learning of the alleged incidents.

An HHS official told CBS News that, under agency policy, providers have have to report all allegations of sexual abuse to ORR, state and child protective services, the Office of Inspector General for HHS and the FBI. Additionally, the official said, providers must suspend employees accused of sexual abuse from duties that allow them access to minors.

In a statement to CBS News, HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley said background checks for all facility employees are mandatory and that the safety of migrant youth is the agency’s “top concern.”

“These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and ORR fully understands its responsibility to ensure that each child is treated with the utmost care,” Oakley added. “When any allegations of abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect are made, they are taken seriously and ORR acts swiftly to investigate and respond.”

Correa, the California Democrat, said his party will continue to hold the administration accountable on these allegations. He said the House Judiciary Committee, which he is a member of, is actively “looking” at several questions left unanswered by the documents, including the disparity between the number of sexual abuse allegations reported to ORR and the number reported to the Justice Department.

“It is my hope that they understand that there’s a new sheriff in town — and oversight is not a joke,” Correa added.