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The 'Moral Imperative' of School Climate

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School climate has the potential to shape students in many ways: The temperature of the rooms they inhabit, the quality of their vision, the nutrients coursing through their arteries, the friends they talked to before class—all of it can make a difference in how students do in class.

Some schools nail it. Others don't.

The Alliance for Excellent Education issued a new report last week that offers a layout for addressing school climate problems. The Alliance plans for the report, "Climate Change: Creating an Integrated Framework for Improving School Climate," to kick off a series of papers that dissect various issues pertaining to school climate.

The central issue is equity: What the best schools have that the worst ones don't.

The idea behind the series, as this report makes clear, is to support a kind of Venn-diagram approach to student engagement, recognizing the numerous reasons that children stay in school and succeed.

"School climate—the totality of factors that affect a learning environment—is talked about much less often than any of these individual factors, despite research showing that a school's climate, whether positive, negative, or somewhere in between, is connected to the level of students' engagement in their coursework and, consequently, to student success," the report says.

The series plans to investigate equity in discipline, in rigor, and in instruction, with special emphasis on how school unfolds for minorities and children in lower socioeconomic conditions.

"Preparing all students to succeed in life is both a moral and economic imperative," the report continues. "High school graduates earn more, have better health and longer life expectancy, are less likely to engage in criminal activity or require social services, and are more likely to be engaged in their communities, including higher rates of voting and volunteering, than those who do not graduate from high school."

But, ya know ... no pressure.

Follow Rules for Engagement on Twitter @Rulz4Engagement.

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