The Weekly Connect 12.5.22

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:

Higher youth suicide rates linked to mental health staff shortages.

School budgets should not rely solely on local property taxes; they also need flexible state aid. 

Programs for gifted students need more support. 

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Historic Rise in Child Bereavement as COVID, Drugs, and Guns Claim Parents’ Lives
The 74 Million: During the pandemic, child bereavement rates increased dramatically, a trend only partly explained by deaths due to Covid infection. In 2020, the most recent year for which data on all manner of caregiver deaths are available, the annual number of children who experienced the loss of a parent spiked by 25%. Between 2016 and 2019, the number averaged roughly 260,000 annually; by 2020, it had reached more than 325,000, according to a report from Judi’s House, an organization that supports bereaved children. Only 5% of parent deaths in 2020 were from COVID, while 4% were from homicides by gunshot and 22% were from accidental drug overdoses. The latter two causes increased by 41% and 34%, respectively. Parent deaths from health conditions like diabetes and cancer also rose.

What Schools Can Do to Ease Students’ Anxiety
Education Week: Rates of anxiety in students have skyrocketed in the last few years. Studies find this chronic stress not only interferes with learning and memory, and social-emotional development but can lead some students to avoid school entirely—worsening chronic absenteeism. To ease anxiety and other mental health burdens for students, educators and researchers at an Education Week virtual summit recommended several ways to boost learning and social engagement. Experts recommend 1) analyzing attendance data, 2) monitoring how students who show signs of anxiety and other mental health issues are being disciplined in the classroom or referred for special education, and 3) regularly interviewing students to find out student needs. 

Remote Learning Linked to Declines in Achievement, Enrollment
The 74 Million: Districts where students spent the most time in remote learning during the 2020-21 school year lost at least half a million more students than they would have if they’d stayed open, a new report shows. Schools that offered mostly in-person learning during the first full school year of the pandemic not only lost fewer students but were more likely to recover enrollment the following year. Young children, however, are now contributing to some enrollment growth. Data compiled show that pre-K students boosted enrollment last year in multiple districts. In others, pre-K enrollment softened the blow of declines. 

Higher Youth Suicide Rates Linked to Mental Health Staff Shortages
K-12 Dive: A new study links increased youth suicide rates with mental health workforce shortages — at a time when two-thirds of U.S. counties faced such shortages. Researchers found the adjusted suicide rate rose 4% with each one-point increase in the workforce shortage score, according to the study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study analyzed suicide data among children and teens ages 5-19 between 2015 and 2016 in 3,133 U.S. counties. As researchers looked at the relationship between youth suicide rates and workforce shortages, they controlled for factors such as the presence of children’s mental health hospitals, health insurance coverage, education, unemployment, income, poverty, race, and ethnicity in a county.


Schools in Crosshairs of Growing Political Conflict, Report Finds
K-12 Dive: Growing political conflict is harming efforts at respectful dialogue in schools and causing barriers in addressing misinformation, according to a recent report based on a survey of nearly 700 high school principals conducted by the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access at the University of California Los Angeles and the Civic Engagement Research Group at the University of California Riverside. School principals in politically divided communities were more likely than those in liberal or conservative areas to report acute levels of community conflict on many measures. Those actions include parental challenges to media sources or information used by teachers, as well as students making derogatory comments to liberal or conservative classmates. 

Property Taxes Fuel K-12 Budgets. How Well Does That Work?
Education Week: Local property tax revenue covers more than a third of all of America’s annual spending on K-12 public schools. But is that a best-case scenario, a necessary evil, or an outdated relic? A new report from the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, a nonprofit think tank based in Massachusetts, poses those questions by examining the landscape of school funding in five states. The authors conclude that it makes sense to continue using property taxes to pay for public education—but with some reforms to eliminate existing inequities. The authors recommend a nationwide school funding system that combines progressive property tax programs with robust and flexible state aid that accounts for financial disparities among districts, the evolving pressures of inflation, and variable needs among diverse students.

Around the Nation

When the ‘Gifted’ Kids Aren’t All Right
Deseret News: A group of U.S. children could be set up for failure, despite the fact that they have a notable academic advantage over their peers. Gifted children fall victim to a belief shared by parents, educators, and legislators alike that they “will be fine on their own.”Experts say the issue boils down to lack of money and other resources to build robust education programs for them. Nurturing bright minds requires more than just harder homework. The Deseret News spoke with experts who assert that improved outcomes for gifted children demand proper state and federal resources, quality emotional and academic education, and the creation of classrooms where these children can grow at rates matching their abilities.

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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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