Public support for providing students needed services

It’s not surprising that a recent poll on public schools found that people think schools should do a better job of preparing students.

What’s striking is the finding on how to do this work.

“More than 85 percent of all Americans believe schools should provide mental health services, according to the latest PDK poll, a survey of the public’s attitudes about the nation’s schools,” the website RealClearEducation reports.

“What’s more, 79 percent think schools should provide general health services to students who need them, according to the survey. Support for wraparound services was even high across party lines, with 68 percent of Republicans—and 65 percent of “strong conservatives” —agreeing that schools should provide them.”

In addition, 92 percent support the idea of public schools offering after-school programs.

This finding comes from the “49th Annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools,” which “is based on a random, representative, 50-state sample of 1,588 adults interviewed by cell or landline telephone, in English or Spanish, in May 2017.”

A report on the poll explains:

“Wraparound services — such as mental health services and after-school programs — are receiving increasing attention as schools seek to ensure that students have the full range of supports they need to succeed. Americans generally say that public schools should provide such services to students who don’t have access to them somewhere else and that schools should be able to seek additional public funds to do so.”

Here at City Connects, we are showing how comprehensive services can be integrated and provided in a way that is both effective and cost-efficient. Research on City Connects shows that providing students with the right services at the right time can have a substantial positive impact on academic outcomes.

Describing the policy context, RealClearEducation calls comprehensive student supports “the next phase of education reform.”

“The past decade of education reform rightly focused on setting standards for what students should know and designing systems to hold teachers, schools and districts accountable for students meeting expectations,” RealClearEducation explains.

“But this traditional policy framework often neglected some of the out-of-school factors that impact student learning. Poverty presents serious challenges for learning and education.”

“These types of out-of-school factors put low-income students at huge disadvantages before they even start school, and studies show that such achievements gaps only grow over time.”

RealClearEducation goes on to cite a study of City Connects’ work with more than 7,900 students whom we connected to services.

“These students started with low grades but had much higher outcomes at the end of fifth grade than students who attended other schools. The achievement gap between English Language Learners and native speakers was also eliminated by third grade. Students who received services attended school more and dropped out of high school at half the rate of students who did not.”

The PDK poll — supported by PDK International (also known as Phi Delta Kappan International), a nonprofit group of education associations — amplifies the public’s voice.

Joshua Starr the CEO of PDK International explains in the poll report: “This year, as in many recent years, the poll showed a wide gap between what the most strident policy makers and reformers are advocating and what the American public actually wants and believes.”

We’re glad to see public opinion lining up with what we know: when low-income students get services and supports that meet their comprehensive needs, they can succeed in school — and in life.

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