Eastern States

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Boston Public Schools Offer Free Lunches
Kids in Boston Public Schools will enjoy free lunches this year, thanks to participation in a federal program that cuts out paperwork required to prove eligibility for the free lunch program.
Free lunches for all kids at Boston Public Schools
This year, Boston Public Schools students will be returning to free lunches when they return to school. The large district recently joined a national program that serves free meals to all students, regardless of income level. This program eliminates the need for families to complete paperwork involving sensitive information like income amounts and ensures every student has access to a hot, nutritious lunch as part of their daily learning experience.
 
No Paperwork Required
 
The Boston Globe reports that the district has signed on to a federal initiative designed to simplify the process of offering free or reduced-price lunches to low-income students in a district. In some cases, the process of qualifying for affordable meals in school meant filling out complex paperwork that families might not always understand. For example, families in Boston Public Schools speak as many as 100 different languages, which meant that even forms completed in English might be difficult for some parents to comprehend completely.
 
This video explains how the Community Eligibility Option works in detail.
 
 
In addition, the process of receiving free lunches can create a socio-economic divide in some schools, as some students got free food and others had to pay for it. While many students used identification cards that made the process more discreet, some students still pay for their meals with cash. By allowing every student access to a free meal, needy students are no longer singled out in the lunch line.
 
Capitalizing on Success of Breakfast Program
 
According
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Soda Ban to Expand at Some Fairfax County Schools
Seven schools in this large district will be piloting a new soda ban that will keep the bubbly stuff away from students during school hours, as well as during afterschool activities.
Students heading back to school in Fairfax County may be doing so without access to some of the sugary drinks they love most. This large school district is experimenting with a pilot program that bans sugar-filled soft drinks on school property – both during school hours and after. If the pilot program is a success, sodas may be removed from schools on a larger, county-wide scale.
 
Banning “Public Enemy Number One”
 
The new soda ban comes on the heels of recent media reports likening soda to “public enemy number one.” Studies continue to support the fact that soda consumption is linked to the obesity crisis in the United States, as well as a host of other potential health problems.  A recent report at Fox News cited a study from Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City that showed precisely how the body responds to soda consumption.
 
“The main thing is excess calories,” Dr. Christopher Ochner, assistant professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, explained to Fox. “If everything else in their diet is equal, a person who has a can of coke a day adds an extra 14.5 pounds per year, just from the calories alone.”
 
Ochner adds that some studies have suggested that all calories are not created equal in terms of how the body processes them. Those that come directly from sugar may be more easily turned into fat by the body than calories from other food sources. The
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More than 100 New Jersey-ites Face Possible Prosecution after Lying to Get Free School Lunches
A probe in New Jersey has revealed more than 100 public employees and their family members, including school board members, lied about income amounts to qualify their children for free lunches at school.
A recent probe of 15 school districts in New Jersey has resulted in the finding that more than 100 government employees in the state have lied on applications to score free school lunches for their children. The findings could lead to the prosecution of at least some of these individuals, who appear to have used their knowledge of the system to take advantage of it. The findings also point to the need for tightening up of a federal system that seems to lend itself to easy and widespread fraud.

Investigation Turns Up Disturbing Findings
 
The Huffington Post reports that the investigation was conducted by the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller. The recently released report on the investigation shows that 109 public employees and their family members lied about income amounts on free lunch applications - some by thousands of dollars. All of the individuals have now been referred to the Division of Criminal Justice for possible prosecution.

According to NJ.com, at least some of the 83 public employees were school board members or teachers at the schools where the free lunches were offered. The other 26 individuals were family members of those employees. All intentionally misrepresented how much income they actually made to qualify for free lunches under false pretenses.
 
Excuses, Excuses
 
The excuses some of the individuals involved in the probe gave to investigators might have been funny, if the situation had not been so serious. One school board member said she wasn’t able to
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Science Genius Launches Hip Hop Cypher in New York Schools
We take a look at a new craze sweeping science classrooms across the country, highlighted by a recent “rap-off” in New York City Schools.
For those who relied on Schoolhouse Rock to memorize important facts like the Preamble to the Constitution and the meaning of a conjunction, there’s a new kid in town. Rap meets rock in Science Genius, a new way to help kids get excited about subjects like atoms and DNA. The program has recently been tested out on schools in New York City – with great enthusiasm and success. Read on to discover how hip hop and science facts collide to create a whole new generation of science-mania.
 
Music Meets Academics
 
Science Genius is a collaboration between rapper GZA from Wu-Tang Clan, and Columbia University Teachers College professor Christopher Emdin. The unlikely pair teamed up to use hip hop music to teach a wide range of science subjects to students. According to a report at PBS, the effort began as GZA’s attempt to “bring order to the chaos.”
 
Emdin explains that the new curriculum is designed to address achievement gaps in science and mathematics that are particularly prevalent in areas like New York City. More importantly, the program was created to inspire an interest in science that has been lacking, using a culturally relevant form of music many students in the New York district can relate to.
 
“The people who most embrace hip-hop culture are the same populations who are most disinterested in school and disinterested in science,” Emdin told the Huffington Post.
 
Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S.
 
Emdin and GZA took their idea to the next level by forming Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. (Bringing
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Philadelphia School Labeled One of the Most Dangerous in America
ABC News recently spotlighted Strawberry Mansion High School as one of the most dangerous schools in the country. We take a closer look at how this school achieved such notoriety and what school staff is doing to keep students safe.
In neighborhoods across the country, students spend a significant portion of their waking hours in their public schools. Most of these students worry about how they will do on their next math test or whether their parents will let them go to the upcoming school dances. Few fret about whether they will get physically harmed by simply walking through their school hallways. However, in one of the most dangerous schools in Philadelphia, physical safety is a top concern for the students that attend that institution day in and day out.
 
Introducing Strawberry Mansion
 
Strawberry Mansion, a public high school in North Philadelphia, consistently makes the list of the most dangerous schools in Pennsylvania. According to Philly.com, the school has reported 10 violent incidents for every 100 students every year for the past five years. In this school year alone, 49 reports of everything from fires to teacher attacks have been documented either inside or just outside the school building.
 
With a student population of 435 students at the beginning of this past school year, Strawberry Mansion is located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Philadelphia. The community also has a high crime rate, an influx of illegal guns and frequent property damage. In the midst of this environment, high school students head to school each morning, unsure what the day will hold for them.
 
A High School or a War Zone?
 
Inside Strawberry Mansion, ABC reports there are 94 security cameras, six school police officers and two metal
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Eastern States