Postings for November 2011

Seattle Public Schools renovationsSeattle school daze
Woe is the Seattle Public School District. Many of its buildings are in disrepair. The Council of the Great City Schools recently named the district one of 50 that need substantial renovation and improved maintenance. On top of that, according to a report in the Seattle Times, enrollment in the district has surged over the past few years — a situation the district didn’t see coming. This year’s enrollment is about 1,500 students higher than last, leaving many schools crowded with portables and higher class sizes.

Male fertility = healthy heart
Being a dad can boost heart health! According to an article published in the journal Human Reproduction, fathers are less likely to die from heart-related problems than men who are childless. And fathers who only had one child were at a 13 percent higher risk of death due to heart disease. While the results of the study don’t indicate that not fathering children causes heart problems in men, they do suggest that infertility may be an early warning sign of future heart trouble.

And could they use it!
Who’da guessed? Social and emotional learning coming to the U.S. House of Representatives? Well, yes. Representatives from Illinois, Michigan and Ohio introduced The Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act of 2011 in August. The legislation will increase programs that teach skills such as problem-solving, conflict resolution, decision making, relationship building and self-discipline. The bill amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to allow funding for teacher and principal training and professional development, to be used for social and emotional programming. Hey, it’s a start!

Washington state laws about consumer productsWhat’s in those toys?
Washington state will now require toys, cosmetics, jewelry and baby-product manufacturers to report when their products contain harmful chemicals. These include formaldehyde, bisphenol A and endocrine disrupters. The rule is a step toward making kids’ products safer. Large companies will submit reports by August 2012 and the rule will phase in over the next several years for smaller companies.

Revamping NCLB
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is being . . . left behind. President Obama, in an initial effort to reform NCLB, used his executive authority in September to allow states to opt out of some of the achievement standards of NCLB if states produce other accountability measures for elementary and secondary students. Under the new program, states will be eligible to apply for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that would exempt them from the NCLB standards. Obama noted that the emphasis on standardized test scores forced teachers to “teach to the test,” while other subjects have been edged out of the school curricula.

Gone viral
According to doctors, the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is responsible for one out of every 10 pediatrician visits. RSV “season,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), runs from November to March. Most babies will contract the virus by age 2. Keep your eye out for RSV symptoms, which are often difficult to detect because they are similar to the common cold. The illness, according to WebMD, begins with a fever, runny nose and a cough. Most adults experience RSV infection as a bad cold. But among kids who catch it for the first time, 25 to 40 percent come down with pneumonia or bronchiolitis. And two in 100 kids infected for the first time are hospitalized.

—Linda Morgan

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