The Weekly Connect 5/9/22

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Over the past year, nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ youth could not access mental health counseling.

Millions of students lack access to the broadband internet services that a 21st century education requires. 

Some cities are hiring more social workers to help students cope with Covid-driven behavioral and mental health challenges.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Empower Girls to Explore STEM Careers in 4 Steps
Smart Brief: By implementing STEM programs and initiatives as early as middle school, school districts can increase young women’s exposure to STEM career opportunities. This will help close the gender gap in these fields and provide more opportunities for women to succeed in well-paid careers. School districts should focus on encouraging more young women to pursue STEM education and careers by facilitating hands-on learning, increasing engagement, providing support with scholarships, and investing in tools that can help students identify their talents and start thinking about educational and career pathways.

Concerns Raised Over Reading Recovery’s Long-Term Effects
Education Week: “Reading Recovery” was considered one of the breakout stars of the federal Investing in Innovation program after a study found the literacy program helped struggling first graders gain significant ground in reading. But new findings suggest that by third and fourth grades, former Reading Recovery students performed significantly worse than their peers who did not participate in the program. The results come as districts across the country search for ways to help advance students who lost ground in reading during the pandemic. One-to-one interventions like Reading Recovery have shown significant benefits in prior studies, but can be among the most expensive to maintain, both in training and staff time.

LGBTQ Students Face Increasing Access Barriers to Counseling
K-12 Dive: Nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ youth could not get the mental health counseling they sought in the past year, up from just under half the year before. This increase comes despite a majority of schools offering in-person learning and mental health services this school year. It also comes after 70 percent of LGBTQ youth stated last year that their mental health was “poor” most of the time or always during COVID-19 — a percentage that improved to 56 percent this year. LGBTQ students who found their schools to be supportive of their identity were less likely to attempt suicide, according to the report. While 55 percent of LGBTQ youth found their school to be affirming, nearly 4 in 10 LGBTQ youth reported living in a community that is somewhat or very unaccepting of LGBTQ people.


Broadband Access and the Digital Divides
Education Commission: Education in the 21st century increasingly relies on strong, reliable access to the internet at school and at home. However, millions of students throughout the United States are unable to connect to the internet outside of school to complete coursework and actively participate in class. This issue exists throughout educational settings, including K-12 schools and higher education institutions; and the lack of access disproportionately affects Native American, Black, and Hispanic students; students in families with low incomes; and students in rural areas. There are three unique digital divides that may prompt different policy solutions: the lack of availability of local broadband infrastructure, the lack of affordability of an adequate internet subscription, and unequal access to devices that can adequately connect to the internet.

USDA: States Can Still Apply for Limited School Nutrition Waivers
K-12 Dive: National pandemic-era waivers are set to expire June 30 unless Congress reauthorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s authority to extend these emergency provisions. That’s why the USDA has been speaking with state agencies and school meal program operators to understand their concerns and get feedback. A spokesperson for the School Nutrition Association (SNA), noted that the USDA has provided states with a checklist of waivers for which they are still eligible. These waivers will allow districts to still implement summer grab-and-go meals. But this will still result in fewer opportunities to serve meals to low-income students who need them, according to the SNA. See related article: Education Week “Inside Latino Parents’ Push for Healthy, Culturally Appropriate School Lunches.”

Around the Nation

‘Handle With Care’ Helps Schools Address Growing Student Trauma
K-12 Dive: The San Antonio Independent School District has turned to a support model, known as Handle With Care to support children and teens exposed to traumatic events. Since the 2019-20 school year, Handle With Care has helped San Antonio schools quickly connect students to needed resources, particularly those addressing mental health, said Estella Garza, director of the district’s family and student support services. Under the program, when a child faces a traumatic event involving emergency responders, the responder provides the child’s name along with the phrase “Handle With Care” to their school. No other details are given about the traumatic incident. Schools using the program train all staff to be sensitive to and aware of the signs of a student going through trauma so potentially damaging effects from the event are not worsened.

A Day in the Life of School Social Workers
Hechinger Report: Although the Covid-driven need for mental health support is high, some school districts are cutting social worker positions due to budget constraints. But other districts, like the Schenectady City School District in New York, are ramping up social work services to address the need, including a relatively new diversion program targeting kids who land in trouble for their sometimes destructive reactions to the trauma they’ve experienced. Nathaniel Wylie, a social worker trained in therapeutic crisis intervention, now works with kids in grades 6 to 12 who have been suspended from their home schools. He helps students learn to manage the behavior that led to their suspension — usually fighting, drug or weapon possession, or assaulting a school staff member or administrator.

With Mentors, Support and Community Cooperation, Schools Can Help Stop Youth Violence Before It Starts
The 74 Million: Schools can be the starting place for forging relationships with community partners to meet the needs of individual children and help them navigate challenging environments, preventing them from descending into a cycle of violence. The most promising school-based interventions enlist mentors or counselors who are relatable to the kids they serve, who look like them, and who have experience that allows them to speak credibly to specific children’s struggles and hopes.

Homework Hotline Gives K-12 Students Support for Tricky Assignments
K-12 Dive: The Harvey Mudd Homework Hotline is a free, phone-based call center that aims to guide K-12 students through methods and formulas so the callers can determine the correct answers on their own. It is just one of a handful of college-based free homework help services across the country. Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, for instance, runs an “AskRose” homework helpline. Texas A&M University in College Station hosts the on-demand “Aggie Homework Helpline” for Texas families with pre-K-12 students who need homework help, review sessions for an upcoming test, or even practice with reading skills.

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Author: City Connects

City Connects is an innovative school-based system that revitalizes student support in schools. City Connects collaborates with teachers to identify the strengths and needs of every child. We then create a uniquely tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services located in the community designed to help each student learn and thrive.

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