State Board of Education praises bullying task force report

State Board of Education members Tuesday praised a task force report on bullying that recommends a wide range of strategies to reduce bullying in schools.

Board Chair Kathy Busch said the report “lays out a lot of good recommendations.” Here is a link to the report.

Board member Ben Jones said bullying, “affects every single kid and I’m looking forward to moving the needle on this.”

The 35-member task force was appointed by Education Commissioner Randy Watson in April and held a series of public meetings across the state, hearing from students, teachers, social service leaders and others.

Rick Ginsberg, dean of the University of Kansas School of Education, and James Regier, superintendent of Remington-Whitewater USD 206, served as co-chairs.

Ginsberg told the State Board, “This is an issue in all schools.”

In Kansas, 56 percent of sixth-graders; 63 percent of eighth-graders and 60 percent of 10th-graders and 12th-graders self-reported having seen someone bullied, according to the Kansas Communities That Cares Survey. Overall, 27.3 percent of Kansas students completing the survey in sixth-12th grades reported being bullied at school with 18 percent indicating it was in the form of cyberbullying.

Regier and Ginsberg emphasized that improving school culture is key to reducing bullying, which they said is hard work that requires input from teachers, staff, students, parents and community members.

The task force’s major recommendations are:

— Better support and direction for school districts. A statewide unit should be established to offer guidance and support to school districts as they implement policies, plans and training. A bank of promising practices needs to be collected and available for school districts.

— Continue and develop the state’s focus on social-emotional and character development education to address school bullying. Resources and supports on these initiatives need to be shared through better communication efforts.

— The State Board of Education should examine the current state law on bullying and determine if it requires changes and provide guidance.

— Local policies and plans must focus on relationships, school climate and culture, and the mental health impact of bullying in schools. Schools should strive to have at least the minimum recommended ratio of 1 to 250 school counselors and or social workers to students and a ratio of 1 to 500-700 school psychologists to students.

— The state needs better data on school bullying and measures for assessing program effectiveness. Improvements are recommended for the KCTC survey and school climate and teacher surveys should be considered to determine which bullying programs are evidence-based.

— Districts need to consider specific policies regarding cyberbullying and work with teachers, students, families, caregivers and technology/social media experts in finding effective ends for addressing this behavior.

— Training for in-service teachers and pre-service teachers on issues related to bullying and youth suicide prevention is recommended. The most promising practices to impact bullying behavior are those that are school-wide, universal and involve parents and families.

Share this post