PGP News

Eleven civil rights groups urge Obama to drop test-based K-12 'accountability' system

President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan
Eleven national civil rights groups sent a letter Tuesday to President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and congressional leaders saying that the current standardized test-based “accountability system” for K-12 education ignores “critical supports and services” children need to succeed and discourages “schools from providing a rich curriculum for all students focused on the 21st century skills they need to acquire.” The groups make recommendations on how to revamp the system in a way that would improve educational opportunity and equity for students of color.

Project Fit celebrations planned

Project Fit America
Two separate celebration events will be held next week to recognize a pair of elementary schools that are the first in Oklahoma to be awarded physical fitness grants. On Tuesday, Dewey Elementary School and Jane Phillips Elementary School in Bartlesville will welcome a variety of dignitaries to commemorate their selection to participate in the Project Fit America program. Jane Phillips Medical and ConocoPhillips have committed funds that will provide curriculum, training and equipment as part of a local health initiative, JPMC officials announced recently.

Vote for Your Favorite 2014 STRIVE Organization of the Year

Project Fit America, STRIVE award sponsored by AIG
The National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) thanks AIG for presenting the 2014 STRIVE Organization of the Year Award. This award recognizes organizations that embrace a "kids first" approach, evidenced by their implementation of recognized best practices and policies that protect kids by promoting responsible health and safety within their organization.

Living Schoolyards for California: Exciting New State Resolution Will Bring More Children Outside at Public Schools

School gardens and ecological schoolyards improve children’s well-being and provide vibrant environments for hands-on education, recreation and community building. Sharon Gamson Danks
While students were enjoying their summer vacation this year, the movement to green school grounds and connect children with nature took an important leap forward with the adoption of a new California state resolution that encourages school districts to design and construct schoolyard green spaces and use them to teach academic curricula outdoors. Authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco (D), the Living Schoolyard Month resolution (ACR-128) adopted on June 16, 2014 also establishes an annual, statewide celebration of school grounds to be held each year in May.

Poll: Most Americans Want to Criminalize Pre-Teens Playing Unsupervised

Capture Queen / Flickr
A whopping 68 percent of Americans think there should be a law that prohibits kids 9 and under from playing at the park unsupervised, despite the fact that most of them no doubt grew up doing just that. What's more: 43 percent feel the same way about 12-year-olds. They would like to criminalize all pre-teenagers playing outside on their own (and, I guess, arrest their no-good parents).

Pediatricians Officially Want High Schools To Start Later

Studies have shown that it helps, top education officials have recommended it, and now doctors are officially saying the same. On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement recommending that middle and high schools delay the start of class until after 8:30 a.m. About 40 percent of high schools in the country start earlier than 8 a.m., a phenomenon that has negative effects on teens’ safety, well-being and education, according to Dr. Judith Owens, the director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C.

New Research: Majority of Students Like New Healthier Lunches

Let's Move
This week, research was released from the first national studies to examine students’ reaction to healthier school meals after the U.S. Department of Agriculture improved nutrition standards through the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act.The research is encouraging because school leaders across the country report that students like the healthier lunches, and they aren’t reporting widespread challenges with kids buying or eating the meals.

A new study about what makes sports fun for kids finds that winning isn't everything

(John Dorton Photography/For US Youth Soccer)
Turns out, winning really isn’t everything. Dozens of other factors are more important for keeping kids interested in sports, according to a study published earlier this month in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health. Author Amanda Visek, an assistant professor in the department of exercise science at George Washington University, set out to understand why so many young people abandon athletics.

Students becoming more aware of nature, declining environmental health

Nature Conservancy interns work to pinpoint the coordinates of native plant plots with compasses, GPS and tape measures. Photo: Nancy Crowley/Nature Conservancy
At dusk on the Cosumnes River last week, a group of teenagers paddled their canoes under a bridge and then heard some squeaks and flaps above them. Curious, the paddlers looked up, and in the next few minutes, witnessed the fly-out of clouds of bats as they emerged for their night flights. The bats darted about as they used echolocation, where they bounce ultrasonic sound waves off flying insects, to track their prey. A dusk fly-out is one of the great spectacles of summer. This group of paddlers had a perfect view as part of a nature-based program for youths.

Getting some fresh air

Getting some fresh air
Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted those small pleasures that come with living in the suburbs or rural areas, such as trees, backyards and even simple quietness. Children who have grown up in major metropolitan areas have often never experienced those things. Their world can be busy, noisy and without much for kids to do outdoors. Forget having a backyard to play in. As an effort to get children out of the big city and give them a chance to spend part of their summer playing outside, the Fresh Air Fund brings New York City kids to stay with host families for a 10-day trip to a place which is vastly different from their usually surroundings.

Natural Leaders Network Builds Momentum in Movement to Increase Diversity in the Outdoors

Natural Leaders Network Builds Momentum in Movement to Increase Diversity in the Outdoors
The Natural Leaders Network, an initiative of the Children & Nature Network, is building momentum around the need for increased diversity in the outdoors. Partnering with the Office of Senator Patty Murray (WA), who has consistently demonstrated active leadership in conservation, outdoor recreation and Latino leadership issues, the Natural Leaders Network convened a panel of experts to discuss this issue with a standing-room only crowd in a hearing room within the Senate Office Building on June 24th.

Ohio 8-Year-Old Wins CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year Contest

Ohio 8-Year-Old Wins CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year Contest
CLIF Kid®, maker of organic snacks for active kids, today named “Shadow Jumpers” as the winning game of its fourth annual Backyard Game of the Year contest. The young game creator, Ella, an 8-year-old from Wadsworth, Ohio will take home the grand prize — a $10,000 educational scholarship, a bike and helmet, plus a fun block party so she can share and play games with family and friends.

The Value of School Nurses: An Alarming Reminder

The Value of School Nurses: An Alarming Reminder
At the heart of HSC’s work is a belief that the school environment is central to children’s health and that all schools in all communities should be able to provide safe, healthy environments. Our approach to advocating for healthy changes relies on a long-term view and an understanding of the real costs and benefits. However, the need for school health services is also urgent, real and substantive in the short term.

Secretary Jewell Announces $43 Million to States for Parks, Outdoor Recreation through Land Water Conservation Fund

U.S. Department of the Interior
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, co-chair of the bipartisan coalition of Mayors for Parks, to announce that $43.38 million will be distributed from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to all 50 States, the Territories, and the District of Columbia for state-identified outdoor recreation and conservation projects. The Secretary’s visit to Fort Worth’s Gateway Park is part of a weeklong series of events across the country by Administration officials to highlight the fund’s successes on its 50th anniversary.

DOE Issues Finding on St Johns County School Playgrounds: CalRecycle Publishes Best Practices for Playground Owners

Big news is making its way across the internet to public playground owners. In the first ADA-complaint of its kind specific to the maintenance of playground surfaces, the U.S. Department of Education has issued findings regarding four playgrounds operated by the St Johns County (Florida) School District. Meanwhile, the State of California's CalRecycle has published a new document of best practices for the use of recycled tires as playground surfaces.