New York City Lays Out Limits on Restraints and Suspensions
Amid recent calls for reform, New York City’s Department of Education is introducing new restrictions on suspending and restraining kids in city schools
 
New York City educators will face new restrictions on handcuffing students or suspending them from school, as part of regulations proposed earlier this month by the city’s education department. If the proposals are adopted as expected, schools will also have to begin tracking the number of times students are tied down or otherwise restrained.
 
Last year, an investigation by ProPublica and NPR showed that restraints are frequently used in schools across the country. Hundreds of students are injured each year. Our reporting also found that many of the nation’s largest school districts, including New York City, do not report the number of restraints to authorities despite being required to do so by the federal government. Los Angeles and Chicago, the country’s second and third largest school districts, also reported zero restraints.
 
New York City’s new regulations would require school safety agents to file monthly reports with the mayor’s office on the use of restraints. It would also aim to reduce schools’ reliance on 911 calls to manage disruptive students. The city’s education department plans to give de-escalation training to more than 1,500 educators across the city.
 
“We need to try to establish a system that both improves safety for teachers and kids in schools, and increases decency and learning,” Vincent Schiraldi, senior advisor to the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, told ProPublica. 
 
Restraint practices would change, as well. The city’s specialized school safety agents and police officers would no longer be able to restrain students under 12 in handcuffs, except as a last resort. For children of all ages, school security agents will not use any restraining device when alternatives are sufficient.
 
New York’s reforms are part of a wider nationwide move to decrease the use of restraint in public schools. Over the past several months, a number of states have proposed changes to their schools’ discipline policies. 
 
In late 2014, Massachusetts set new limits on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. By the end of this year, state educators will be prohibited from holding students facedown on the ground in all but the rarest instances and they will need permission from principals to give students “time-outs” that are longer than 30 minutes.
 
Virginia legislators also approved a bill earlier this year that will require state leaders to set limits on the use of restraint and isolation in public schools. If approved by Virginia’s governor, the state education board will be required to enact new regulations that align with the federal guidelines on these behavioral interventions.
 
Aside from restraints, New York City’s proposed code would also reform suspension policies, requiring schools to get permission from a central office before suspending a kid for “defying authority.” During the 2013 school year, more than 8,800 kids were reportedly suspended for defying authority, which can include talking back to a teacher or missing several days of class.
 
The city has committed over $5 million dollars to support the reforms. The Department of Education expects the changes to go into effect soon after a public hearing in early March. 
 
Education attorney Nelson Mar of Legal Services NYC–Bronx told ProPublica that while he applauded the reforms, their value will depend on how they are implemented. 
 
“You can put a lot of good things on paper but at the end of the day, if there are no structures put in place to ensure compliance or enforcement, it could be meaningless,” said Mar.
 
Related stories: For more, read ProPublica’s investigation into the widespread use of restraints at public schools across the country. And meet the players fighting to keep the tactics legal.
 
Courtesy: ProPublica.org
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    US Lawmakers Renew Call for Labeling of Genetically Altered Foods
    Congressional bill introduced for clear identification of foods with genetically altered ingredients
     
    Federal lawmakers are making a renewed push for the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods and beverages. A bill proposed earlier this month by three Congressional Democrats would require clear labeling of GE foods and ban them from being called natural.
     
    Genetically engineered foods are at the center of a battle across the country. Plants are often genetically modified to become more resistant to herbicides and insects. At issue is not only whether scientists should be mucking with the genetics of living organisms, but also whether it’s deceptive to consumers if genetically altered foods are not labeled as such. Corn, cotton, soybeans, and sugar beets are among some key foods that have been genetically modified. Almost 80 percent of processed foods have genetically engineered ingredients.
     
    (How much do you know about GMOs? Click here for TINA.org’s quiz.)
     
    Three states — Connecticut, Maine and Vermont — have passed GE labeling laws and more than 30 state have considered bills and ballot initiatives on the issues. (Though Connecticut’s law does not take effect unless four other states in the region with a total population of 20 million pass similar requirements.) More than 60 countries require labeling of GE foods.
     
    “Consumers have a right to know what is in the foods they eat and parents have a right to know what they are feeding their families,” said U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who first introduced a similar bill in 2013 that died in committee. Boxer’s home state of California has twice rejected GE labeling initiatives.
     
    Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, co-founder of Food Policy Action and owner of Craft Restaurants who also stars on the television show Top Chef, joined the lawmakers in supporting the bill.
     
    GE labeling advocates were disappointed when the FDA last year declined a request made by three different federal judges to determine whether food products containing ingredients with GMOs may be labeled “natural.” Currently, the FDA does not have a formal definition of “natural” with respect to foods other than to state that the term on food labels means the product must not contain anything artificial or synthetic. But food companies are facing an increasing amount of class-action lawsuits alleging deceptive advertising of modified foods.
     
    For more coverage of genetically modified foods click here
     
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    ASOS.com: Does This Look Like a Ski Jacket to You?

    When a Google ad offers something the advertiser can't deliver

     

    (Three of the eight results when you type in “ski jackets” on ASOS.com, an online fashion store.)

     

    The closest thing to a ski jacket on the online fashion store ASOS.com is a designer raincoat that even on the more mild slopes probably wouldn’t stave off the cold for long. So why then is there a Google ad saying, in part, “Ski Jackets at ASOS – Shop The Latest Jackets”
     
    That’s exactly what Twitter user Chris Toogood was musing on this morning after googling “ski jackets” and seeing the ad pop up. Frustrated, he tweeted at ASOS:
     
     
    Companies that use Google AdWords select keywords that relate to the product or service they offer. (Staples, for instance, might choose, well, staples.) When there’s a match with a term someone has googled, the company’s ad, which companies can write themselves, will appear at the top or side of the page along with other search results.
     
    TINA.org reached out to ASOS for comment but has yet to hear back. We also contacted Google to inquire about whose responsibility it is to ensure that information in its ads are accurate. The company hasn’t immediately responded.
     
    In the spirit of full disclosure, though, we wanted to share how TINA.org presents its Google ads via AdWords.
     
    Click here for more of TINA’s coverage on Google ads.
     
    Courtesy: TruthInAdvertising.org 
     

     

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