The Weekly Connect 12.19.22

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:

LGBTQ students face more hostility and less support in school.

Federal government expands access to STEMM: science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine. 

Building social-emotional skills for English Learners

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

A ‘New Normal’: National Student Survey Finds Mental Health Top Learning Obstacle 
The 74 Million: Depression and anxiety continue to plague many middle and high school students, particularly LGBTQ and students of color, hampering efforts to boost learning since pandemic losses. Secondary students at every grade level cite depression, stress, and anxiety as the most common barriers to learning. And fewer than half of them, regardless of gender, sexual, and racial identity, have an adult they feel comfortable talking to when stressed or upset, according to a new report from YouthTruth. The report also reveals drastic mental health disparities, with white students at least 7% more likely to access a school psychologist, counselor, or therapist than their Black, Latino, and Asian peers. LGBTQ youth experienced suicidal ideation at more than double the rate of their peers. See related articles: “Education Week: 5 Ways School Districts Can Cope With Student Mental Health Challenges and K-12 Dive: 9 Essential Mental Health Supports for School-Based Programs.”

More Hostility, Less Support: LGBT Youth Poll Finds Rampant In-School Harassment
The 74 Million: The vast majority of LGBTQ students who attended school in person during the 2020-21 academic year experienced some form of harassment or assault, according to the most recent National School Climate Survey conducted by GLSEN. More than 75 percent of those who responded said they were called names or threatened, while almost a third were shoved, punched, kicked or even assaulted with a weapon because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ students of color and those with disabilities reported the highest levels of in-school hostility. Additionally, the number of students who said their school offers supportive LGBTQ resources, such as gay-straight alliances, decreased. In 2021, a third of students said their school had such a club — half as many as 2019 — and these were more likely to exist in hybrid or online-only environments than in person. 

When Confronting Poverty, Think Abundance, Not Scarcity
ASCD: Poverty-informed instruction starts with seeing students’ intrinsic strengths, despite systemic challenges. Educators that serve students from low-income backgrounds must be intentional about avoiding reinforcing a “scarcity mindset,” write education consultants and classroom management experts Megan Kizer and Jesse Hinueber. By honoring their students’ intrinsic strengths actively and verbally, teachers can better support every learner, including those living in poverty. To avoid a scarcity mindset, Kizer and Hinueber recommend engaging with students as individuals, validating students’ backgrounds, and leveraging them in curriculum and instruction, designing high-quality curriculum and figuring out how to adjust instruction to meet the needs of students, and finding ways to help students feel connected to the classroom community and find joy in learning.


The Biden Administration’s New STEM Initiative: What Will It Mean for K-12 Schools?
Education Week: A new Biden administration initiative aims to expand access to science, technology, engineering, math, and medical career fields (STEMM) through partnerships with universities, companies, and nonprofit organizations. The initiative outlines five action items the government and its partners will take to improve STEMM equity. The five action items are 1) providing holistic support for students, teachers, workers, and communities to participate in STEMM, 2) addressing STEMM teacher shortages by recruiting and retaining teachers, 3) closing STEMM funding gaps and supporting students, researchers, and communities who have historically been excluded from access to resources, 4) rooting out systemic bias, inaccessibility, discrimination, and harassment in STEMM spaces, and 5) promoting culture and systems of accountability across STEMM communities, workplaces, and education fields.

‘You Don’t Get That Time Back’: Parents Seek Special Ed Services Lost to COVID
The 74 Million: In a 2020 survey, just 20% of parents of students with disabilities said their children were receiving required services, and a 2021 report said the pandemic was exacerbating learning gaps for those students. District officials say they can’t be blamed for a public health disaster that was out of their control. They insist teachers did the best they could under extraordinary circumstances. Federal officials see things differently and launched civil rights investigations in three districts and one state. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education reached an agreement with the Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, requiring them to identify which students they failed to serve and begin to make up for it.

Around the Nation

These 4 Charts Illustrate the Pandemic’s Impact on Homeless Students
K-12 Dive: As schools worked to provide meals, laptops, hotspots, and other basics for students during the first full school year of the pandemic, homeless student liaisons at school districts reported having a difficult time reaching and providing for homeless students. The National Center for Homeless Education, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, released numbers confirming what liaisons had been reporting anecdotally since the start of the pandemic. National data from the 2020-2021 school year reveals that the yearly change in enrollment is more volatile among students experiencing homelessness, enrollment of this student population in the school year decreased more than in previous years, chronic absenteeism increased to higher rates than prior to the pandemic, and the majority of states showed a decrease in the identification of students experiencing homelessness. 

4 Ways to Build Social-Emotional Skills for English Learners
Education Week: Social-emotional learning (SEL) is particularly powerful for English learners. However, schools with high populations of English learners face the challenge of building students’ mastery of a second language while teaching SEL skills like persistence, collaboration, and stress management. Experts from an online panel on SEL hosted by Education Week recommend four tips for helping English learners–and students more generally–develop SEL skills. First, experts recommend making SEL both a regular part of the school schedule and part of each academic class. Second, schools should provide more hands-on learning opportunities for students building English proficiency and SEL skills. Third, teachers should share relevant human experiences with their students to normalize emotions. Lastly, schools and teachers should create regular opportunities for students to provide feedback about their experiences at school.

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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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