Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
Thirteen public high schools in New York City offer “morning-after” contraceptive pills to girls in a program that has not gotten a lot of attention. NBC News reports:
The program, called CATCH, or Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Healthcare, is aimed at reducing unplanned teen pregnancy. It began in January 2011, but wasn’t publicized until the New York Post reported it over the weekend.
“In any given every year there are about 7,000 pregnancies to girls ages 15 to 17 in New York City, about 90 percent of those are unintended,” said Deborah Kaplan, assistant commissioner at the city health department’s Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health. “We wanted to make sure young people who are sexually active have easy access to contraceptive services and general reproductive health services.”
Oral contraceptives, including the morning-after Plan B pill, have been available to students at most of the 40 schools that have school-based health centers for the last one to four years, depending on the school, Kaplan said. The centers, which serve about one-quarter of New York City’s public high school students, provide primary care health services and are run privately by separate institutions like hospitals.
For the first time, with the CATCH program, the Health Department is making the contraceptives available in schools without the private health centers. The program began in January 2011 in five schools, and is now in 13 schools. The schools were chosen because they are in neighborhoods with high teen pregnancy rates or with limited resources for young people to get contraception. City high schools have long provided condoms.
Image: Girl with nurse, via Shutterstock
Friday, February 10th, 2012
President Obama announced Thursday that he has granted waivers to ten states, releasing them from the tough requirements of No Child Left Behind, the 2001 education reform law.
These states—Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, New Jersey, and Tennessee—are now free to pursue their own plans for raising educational standards.
No Child Left Behind has been unpopular for many reasons, including the fact that it uses yearly standardized tests to evaluate students; educators complain this has led to “teaching to the test.” States also say the law is unrealistic for requiring that all students reach proficiency in reading and math by 2014. From The Associated Press:
The states excused from following the law no longer have to meet that deadline. Instead, they had to put forward plans showing they will prepare children for college and careers, set new targets for improving achievement among all students, reward the best performing schools and focus help on the ones doing the worst.
New Mexico applied for waiver in this round, and didn’t receive one, but is working with the administration to get eventual approval. Twenty-eight other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have said they also plan to apply for waivers. No Child Left Behind has been up for renewal since 2007, but Congress has been unable to agree on how to update the law.
Readers, what do you think: Are these waivers the right step to help schools?
Image: Teacher and student at blackboard via Shutterstock
Friday, September 23rd, 2011
The education law known as No Child Left Behind has some new flexibility, President Barack Obama announced today, in that states can now opt out of some of the law’s elements if they meet certain requirements. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s Flexibility program will allow states to receive waivers protecting them from federal sanctions if their schools do not perform up to the law’s standards.
Ultimately, Obama said in a statement, the changes are meant to free troubled schools to find ways other than standardized testing to raise achievement levels in their classrooms, if those schools do not meet the law’s rigorous standards. “The purpose is not to give states and districts a reprieve from accountability, but rather to unleash energy to improve our schools at the local level,” he said.
Under the plan Obama outlined, states can ask the Education Department to be exempted from some of the law’s requirements if they meet certain conditions, such as imposing standards to prepare students for college and careers and setting evaluation standards for teachers and principals.
Despite allowing states to do away with the approaching 2014 deadline, Obama insisted he was not weakening the law, but rather helping states set higher standards. He said that the current law was forcing educators to teach to the test, give short shrift to subjects such as history and science, and lower standards as a way to avoid penalties and stigmas.
To qualify for a waiver, states would have to show they had a plan to help low-performing schools. A majority of states are expected to apply for waivers, which will be given to qualified states early next year.
(image via: http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/)