The Weekly Connect 4/11/23

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:

Girls say social media is hurting their sleep and their mental health.

School districts are suing social media companies, claiming they have contributed to the teen mental health crisis.

This year, the number of school shootings may be higher than last year, according to a researcher who tracks this information. 

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

What Girls Say Social Media Is Doing to Their Sleep and Mental Health
Education Week: Many teen girls say they spend much more time on social media—especially TikTok—than they intend to, interfering with their sleep and in some cases, their mental health, according to a survey released by Common Sense Media, a research and advocacy organization that studies the impact of technology on young people. The survey of nearly 1,400 girls ages 11 to 15 was conducted in November and December last year. Almost half of the teenage girls surveyed said they are addicted to TikTok or spend more time on the social media video platform than they intend to at least once a week. About a third of girls said the same about Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. One in four girls say that TikTok interferes with their sleep at least once a week. By comparison, a little less than a third of girls surveyed said that Instagram, Snapchat, or YouTube each interfere with sleep at least once a week.

Michele Borba: Thrivers Are Made Not Born
SmartBrief: During her keynote presentation at the 2023 ASCD Annual Conference, educational psychologist Michele Borba asserted that test scores and grade point averages alone will not help students thrive in the world. She outlined skills educators can weave into their instruction that will help boost students’ resilience, academic performance, and mental health. Borba recommends that educators focus on fostering students’ self-confidence, empathy for others, self-control, perseverance, curiosity, integrity, and optimism. For example, to foster self-confidence in students, Borba recommends establishing an environment of care and trust by recognizing students’ strengths and giving them meaningful praise. To facilitate the development of curiosity, Borba recommends that educators normalize taking risks and being open to new experiences and ideas. 


Teen Mental Health Crisis Pushes More School Districts to Sue Social Media Giants
The 74 Million: The teen mental health crisis has so taxed and alarmed school districts across the country that many are entering legal battles against the social media giants they say have helped cause it, including TikTok, Snap, Meta, YouTube, and Google. At least eleven school districts, one county, and one California county system that oversees 23 smaller districts have filed suits this year, representing roughly 469,000 students. Eleven districts in Kentucky voted to pursue similar litigation, as did Pittsburgh Public Schools. According to a lawyer representing a New Jersey district, many others across the country are on the verge of doing the same. Districts in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, New Jersey, California, and Florida, Alabama, as well as one Pennsylvania county, say tech companies intentionally target young users, exacerbating depression, anxiety, tech addiction, and self-harm, straining learning, and district finances.

Following Covenant Shooting, Tennessee Senators Propose Bills To Increase School Security
K-12 Dive: Tennessee’s two Republican senators introduced legislation Thursday to provide $900 million in grants to harden school security, just days after a mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville took the lives of three 9-year-olds and three adults. The Securing Aid For Every (SAFE) School Act would send grants to public and private schools to fund school safety officer training for veterans and former law enforcement officers. The grants could also go toward physical reinforcements such as securing access to school entry points. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, one of the bill sponsors, said in a statement she hopes the funds would “help protect our precious children and secure our schools.” Blackburn and fellow Tennessee Sen. Bill Hagerty, the other bill co-sponsor, both voted against last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the gun control bill signed into law by President Joe Biden to improve school safety and expand mental health support for children. 

The Massive ESSER Experiment: Here’s What We’re Learning.
Education First: An historic, massively expensive experiment is nearing its home stretch. In March 2021 the federal government sent $112 billion out to 14,000 districts with almost no strings attached. The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, funding came on top of another $60 billion from two earlier waves of pandemic relief dollars for schools (in sum, roughly three times the annual federal investment). With 18 months to go before this grand experiment ends, here’s what we’re learning: 1) districts are now on track to spend it all, with only a small window left to correct course, 2) many states have fallen short on tracking what districts are buying or what’s being delivered, 3) investments in social-emotional learning are more popular than expanded learning time, 4) half of relief funds are paying for labor, setting the stage for a painful fiscal cliff, 5) ESSER fueled a large jump in vendor contracts, and with it a burden on districts to ensure these dollars deliver value, and 6) amidst mixed messages on what ESSER was for, districts are spending steadily on facilities. 

Around the Nation

Will School Shootings In 2023 Outpace Last Year’s Record High?
K-12 Dive: If trends from the past five decades continue for the remainder of the year, there would be about 400 shootings in 2023, outpacing last year’s record high of 273. Based on 53 years of data, a predictive model estimates “approximately 400 shootings this year, which follows the observed trend of increased gun violence at schools since 2018,” said David Riedman, founder of the K-12 School Shooting Database, which is updated daily. Though Riedman’s data collection dates back to 1970, he acknowledges it is still a relatively small dataset for applying predictive statistics. “There is no way to know for sure” what the final number will be, Riedman said. But there have already been more shootings, with more victims, so far in the first three months of 2023 than during the same time frame last year.

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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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