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Michigan Unveils School Climate Improvement Initiative

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Flush with $24 million in sweet, string-attached federal money, the Michigan Department of Education launched an initiative today that hopes to bolster student achievement by working physical and social-emotional learning into instruction.

The pilot program will begin with 23 schools, according to today's press release from state Superintendent Mike Flanagan. Over a three-year period, schools will implement programs that promote positive living, whether physical, mental, or emotional. (Tip 1: Don't eat your entire stock of Oreos "because there's a hurricane." You're welcome, children.)

"We are hoping to learn some new lessons associated with a holistic approach to education through the course of this unique new grant," said Flanagan in his statement.

Michigan received its money through a Safe and Supportive Schools grant, a project of the U.S. Department of Education that aims to ameliorate nonacademic factors capable of positively influencing learning. Eleven states in total won grant money.

The Michigan program, officially named think.respect, allows pilot institutions a good deal of flexibility in how to implement their school climate-enhancing ideas. Interventions may include anti-bullying programs, restorative justice, parent and youth engagement, and community involvement, among others. The Michigan education department will monitor the programs to see if they get results, and will determine whether "effective" programs can be implemented statewide.

If it doesn't work, of course, there's always 'smart' drugs.

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