The Weekly Connect 9/20/21

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:

Fear of discrimination keeps many LGBTQ youth from participating in sports. 

The White House launches a Hispanic education initiative

School systems weigh the role of police on campus.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Sizing up the new school year

“It is calmer,” Laurie Acker, the City Connects Program in Minnesota, says of the brand new school year.

“When Covid first hit it was an emergency and there was chaos. Then last year was extremely hard for teachers and students. Now this year, there’s science and protocols. We’re following CDC guidelines. If there’s a Covid positive case, we don’t have to shut down a grade or a school. Instead, we can quarantine close contacts.”

But even in this relatively calmer phase, Acker and the City Connects Coordinators she supervises are supporting students and planning ahead.

“We’ve gotten to the point where instead of being reactive, we’re proactive. We’re able to have kids eat in lunchrooms in designated spots. Kids can take their masks off when they go outside. And at some schools, Covid testing for teachers is required,” Acker says.

Coordinators are also much more attuned to signs of anxiety, so they can see when students might need more support.

“We’re running more skills groups for students that focus on coping and calming strategies.”

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The Weekly Connect 9/13/21

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:

A Harvard Education Redesign Lab report on personalized student success planning points to City Connects as a successful, evidence-based model.

As the Delta variant surges, hospitalization rates of children are going up. 

U.S. Department of Education opens civil rights investigations in five states that ban mask mandates in schools. 

Schools across the country are preparing to welcome students who are refugees from Afghanistan

To read more, click on the following links.

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The Weekly Connect 9/7/21

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:

Students who participated in Louisiana’s pre-K program for low income children have better educational outcomes than peers who were not in the program. 

The Biden administration pledges $85 million to support students’ mental health

As the pandemic continues, state and federal governments are investing in community schools to help stabilize students and families.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Renewing our commitment to equity: a message from Mary Walsh

Mary E. Walsh
Mary Walsh

As long as I’ve worked in schools, I have seen and worked against inequity. But the racial injustices of the past year have triggered a national crisis that demands new attention.

These inequities, which date to the country’s birth, have created glaring opportunity gaps that have led to persistent achievement gaps. Along with countless colleagues, I’ve worked to close these gaps, providing support and services to students. 

In 2000, one of the most striking features of many schools was the number of students who were plagued by poverty. They were hungry or homeless or needed eyeglasses or dental care. Here in Boston, there was no systematic and systemic way to meet these needs. School staff spent most of their time assisting students who were “behavior problems.” Students who seemed okay got less attention. If a teacher learned that a student needed winter boots or a coat, there was no clear, systematic way to help.

In 2001, I worked with colleagues in the Boston Public Schools and at Boston College to create a systematic way to address these inequities for every student in a school, because a child who is hungry or cold or in pain isn’t ready to learn. Through a two year planning process with Boston educators, families, and community organizations, we developed City Connects, a model for providing integrated student support that’s based at the Boston College Lynch School of Education and Human Development. City Connects put coordinators, typically social workers and school counselors, into Boston Public Schools. They looked at every student’s strengths and needs and connected each student with a tailored set of supports, resources, and services. The coordinators tracked information and monitored student progress. 

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The Weekly Connect 6/28/21

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:

Failing grades and absenteeism plague Chicago schools that serve low-income students.

U.S. Department of Education says federal law protects LGBTQ students against discrimination at school.

School mental health services can help support equity.

To read more, click on the following links.

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The Weekly Connect 6/21/21

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:

The City Connects model is an example of how schools can provide crucial services as the pandemic recedes.

A Brown University economics professor is preserving data about how schools fared during the pandemic.

Policies can address the systemic racism that school children face. 

As schools return to in-person learning, thousands of “missing” students are not returning.

To read more, click on the following links.

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As the pandemic recedes, schools can do more to support students

As this school year came to a close, most students had returned to in-person school. The pandemic had loosened its devastating grip, although its impact on students remains. Now, as the country moves forward, it’s time for schools to provide a 21st century education by providing integrated student support, the wraparound services – like help with food, health, and housing – that allow kids to thrive.

One example of how to provide this support is City Connects, Joan Wasser Gish writes in a new CommonWealth magazine article, “ ‘Wraparound’ services crucial to school reopenings.”

In the article, Wasser Gish — Director of Strategic Initiatives at Boston College’s Center for Optimized Student Support, the home of City Connects – points out that even before the pandemic, many children faced tough circumstances.

“…52 percent of children were in households with income low enough to be eligible for free or reduced lunch in school. In Massachusetts, child poverty, homelessness, and mental health needs were steadily on the rise. And then COVID-19 hit.”

The resulting devastation was tough for families. But as the country rallies, Wasser Gish explains, there are also opportunities.

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