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State Lawmakers Recognize Education of 'Whole Child'

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A new Arkansas law will require schools to consider children's health, safety, engagement, adult support, and intellectual stimulation in their education.

Arkansas Gov. Michael Beebe, a Democrat, last week signed Senate Bill 1051, which outlines a plan for Arkansas that aims to provide a whole child education for all of the state's students.

The new law lists ways for educators, parents, and policymakers to meet "the comprehensive needs of Arkansas children at each stage of a child's development from birth to postsecondary education or career." And it encourages Arkansas residents to "help create pathways and opportunities to spur systemic cooperation, collaboration, and coordination within and beyond schoolhouse doors and promote a shift from the narrowly defined student achievement and traditional education reform to broader, more comprehensive efforts."

It mentions professional development organization ASCD's Whole Child Initiative, launched in 2007, by name.

"We believe this bill is the foundation for ensuring that each child, in each classroom in Arkansas receives a world-class education and is supported and challenged in his or her learning," said Arkansas ASCD Legislative Chair Matt McClure and Cross County district superintendent, in a press release.

ASCD notes that Missouri lawmakers are also working on a whole-child bill. And earlier in April, Rhode Island passed a joint resolution supporting a whole-child approach and last year, Illinois designated March "Whole Child Month."

Follow Rules for Engagement on Twitter @Rulz4Engagement and Education Week Staff Writer Nirvi Shah on Twitter @NirviShah.

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