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Fargo, ND: 77 new behavior staff ; "behavior issues on the rise" in schools nation-wide

July 17, 2019,, Fargo, N.D.: Around the country, schools look to yoga, meditation instead of discipline In recent decades, schools have implemented social-emotional curriculum and mindfulness to address behavior concerns, instead of using traditional discipline methods. While scientific research is limited, schools say the tactics work. … With behavior issues on the rise and changing discipline policies, schools are employing alternative discipline using social-emotional curriculum and mindfulness through meditation and yoga and conflict resolution programs. These models revolve around strong relationships between teachers and students and aim to help students regulate their emotions and solve their own problems. Schools claim success in behavior, academics and attendance. Fargo currently employs 77 support staff to address behavior. West Fargo has also hired additional staff and implemented restorative justice circles…. Behavior issues stem from a multitude of reasons. However, studies show that students today are more likely to experience trauma and have mental health needs, increasing the likelihood of classroom disruptions and behavioral issues. In a classroom of 20, one or two students on average will be dealing with serious psycho-social stressors relating to poverty, domestic violence, abuse and neglect, or a psychiatric disorder, according to the Child Mind Institute. This type of stress can shorten periods of brain development and limit brain growth in early years, making it harder for students to regulate emotions and concentrate on learning. And while schools can’t control students’ experiences outside the classroom, they can help students learn how to cope with stress and regulate emotional outbursts. Social-emotional curriculum aims to help students recognize and deal with emotions and tackle the increased presence of stress and trauma. Students at Coleman Elementary in Baltimore start and end each day with 15-minutes of guided meditation. Through the loudspeaker, the principal guides students in deep breathing activities…. Does it work? Research on the effectiveness of mindfulness in schools is minimal. A few scientific studies back up the claims, but because the practices differ so widely, it’s difficult to gauge the overall effectiveness, according to journalist Brian Resnick with Vox in an investigation on mindfulness in classrooms. Most evidence comes from schools that have implemented the programs and report lower suspension rate and higher attendance and student performance. However, many parents say schools should include more social and emotional development in schools, according to a 2019 Gallup poll. Of surveyed adults, 90% said they thought schools should increase efforts to foster a positive school environment, and 86% said schools should focus on social and emotional development to address behavior. A little more than half said that stricter disciplinary practices, such as more detentions, suspensions, or expulsions, would be equally effective in tackling behavior. … Karner Blue in Blaine, Minn., serves K-eight-grade students with behavioral and autism spectrum disorders, as well as students with developmental delays. The school boosts natural and therapeutic lighting, classrooms free of environmental noise and flexible learning spaces for small group and one-on-one instruction. Specialized staff and a four-to-one student to teacher ratio provide individual attention to help address anxiety in students and help teach students skills to transfer back to traditional schools…. The Department of Justice found that two dozen alternative placement schools in Georgia violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandates students with disabilities be educated with non-disabled peers. …


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