Schools today face a slew of threats to student safety, including cyberbullying, school violence, and mental health issues and suicides. Since students rely on online tools for most of their communications, their threats or cries for help can go undetected by school administrators and teachers. Technology can help pinpoint potentially harmful situations, but funding that technology requires dollars many schools don’t have.
No Child Left Behind gave educators access to safety and technology funding, but only for specific programs. Many educators complained about the rigidity of the NCLB legislation because it dictated exactly how safety programs should be implemented, prohibiting adjustments for particular circumstances or needs.
The current version of the legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act, has eliminated 49 programs created under NCLB, including the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities State Grants, and the National Center for School and Youth Safety. Instead, the Title IV, Part A component of ESSA provides one large block grant and allows educators and policymakers to decide how best to use designated funds, which includes ways to prevent school violence.
Uses for Title IV funding
Congress government has designated Title IV funds for three main purposes:
- Providing a well-rounded education
- Supporting effective use of technology
- Supporting safe and healthy schools
Congress has stipulated that at least 20% of a district’s Title IV funds must go toward safe and healthy schools, and another 20% must go to a well-rounded education. The remaining 60% can be used on any priority that falls within the three categories. This means if a district is looking to implement solutions to prevent school violence, up to 80% of Title IV funds can be used for these purposes. Some of those allowable uses include:
- Purchasing technologies that monitor learning platforms and alert schools about students whose communications indicate that they are in crisis
- Providing school-based mental health services and counseling
- Implementing systems and practices to prevent bullying and harassment
- Promoting supportive school climates to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline and promoting supportive school discipline
- Developing relationship building skills to help improve safety through the recognition and prevention of coercion, violence or abuse
You can find these and other allowable uses in our white paper and webinar, both sponsored by Gaggle. Links are available in our bio.
Resources for developing your Title IV program plan
So how do you get started? We recommend you begin by checking your state's website; some states have added their own requirements to those of the federal government. You’ll have to fulfill those requirements in order to receive funding.
Additionally, there is now an emphasis on incorporating high-quality research into program plans. Fortunately, many agencies and organizations make quality research available on their websites. Here are our picks:
- Annenberg Learner funds and distributes courses and workshops to help teachers keep current on the content they teach.
- ASCD helps educators develop effective learning systems
- Aspen Institute Education & Society Program has research on Title IV programs that is highly vetted and done in partnership with well-known organizations
- CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, shares information about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning
- Common Sense research-backed entertainment and technology recommendations for families and schools
- ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education, provides resources on technology for learning and teaching. If you need details that are behind the membership wall, please reach out to us
- Google Scholar is a web search engine for academic literature
- US Department of Education technical assistance page provides links to recommended research and can help you decide whether your prospective plan is on the right track.
We recommend you build your strategy around intersecting components of Title IV, including technologies that support safe and healthy school environment and nurture SEL. The more integrated your programs are--and supported by sufficient evidence--the more likely your district is to obtain the funding.
Kecia Ray is a graduate instructor of education at Johns Hopkins University. Susan Gentz is the founder of education leadership and technology consultancy BSG Strategies. Ray and Gentz authored the white paper, Opportunities to Enhance Safe Learning Spaces, and spoke at the webinar, Securing Title IV Federal Funds to Safeguard Schools, both sponsored by Gaggle.
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