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The Absolute Best School Climate Blogging (This Week)

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Happy Friday, readers! Here at Rules headquarters, I am digging out of snow drifts from an epic storm (by D.C. standards) and catching up on Al Roker's criticism of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision to keep the city's schools open yesterday morning.

I am also eagerly awaiting the verdict in the Florida trial of Michael Dunn, the man who shot a teen following a confrontation about loud music. The trial has stirred up emotional discussions about violence, race, and self-defense similar to the conversations we had during the George Zimmerman trial. Beyond the facts at issue in the trial itself, could educators use this moment to have important conversations with their students about the reaction it has caused and why?

But let's take a look at some Internet stuff. This week, we bust some stereotypes, talk about gender-neutral toys, and dig into discipline data.

If you care about ADHD or behavior issues:

"By making children less disruptive, ADHD medication could decrease the attention that they receive in the average classroom and reduce the probability that the child receives other needed services."
—The Atlantic dives into a new study about the effectiveness of ADHD medication. The story raises larger questions about classroom management for me. Do we mistake good behavior for comprehension in students?

If you care about cultural and religious diversity:

"I try to be a good role model—especially to girls in this country—to just follow their dreams."
Color Lines interviews Zahra Lari, an 18-year-old figure skater from the United Arab Emirates who competes in hijab. The video is a good way to shatter stereotypes about gender and religion.

If you care about discipline:

"The statistic that officials are playing up is a 23 percent decline in high school suspensions, from 46,000 in the 2010-2011 school year to 36,000 in the 2012-2013 school year. But the drop occurred at the same time that enrollment in traditional, district-run high schools has fallen by more than 6,000 students."
Catalyst Chicago questions whether an overall drop in Chicago suspension rates is really that big of a deal.

If you care about gender issues:

"LEGOs were 'Universal Building Sets' and that's exactly what they were ... for boys and girls. Toys are supposed to foster creativity. But nowadays, it seems that a lot more toys already have messages built into them before a child even opens the pink or blue package. In 1981, LEGOs were simple and gender-neutral, and the creativity of the child produced the message. In 2014, it's the reverse: the toy delivers a message to the child, and this message is weirdly about gender."
The cute girl from that 1980s Lego ad talks to the Women You Should Know website about the evolution of children's toys.

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