Editor’s note: The piece was originally featured on Philly in Focus.
For nearly three years I, along with a small circle of thought-leaders, have discussed the need for more social service integration in public schools, considering that most students come to school ill-prepared to learn and the teacher usually ends up playing the parent by proxy.
In a recent premium post on Niuzly.com titled “What Teachers Really Need but Sadly Aren’t Getting” I outlined the solution: separate teachings and its academic purpose from in school social services.
It’s been my long-held belief that as the social service needs of students have moved into the classroom they’ve consumed the scarce resources allocated to teaching, thus ambiguity ensues when trying to measure the effectiveness of the school to accomplish its academic function.
In an effort to address this long-standing problem the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services and the Mayor’s Office of Education announced today their action plan: station social workers, called Education Liaisons, in public schools with high-concentrations of DHS-served youth to help support their learning needs for the 2014-2015 school year.
The innovation was a result of a report: Supporting the Needs of Students Involved with the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice System in the School District of Philadelphia, which found that the population of students who have ever been involved with the child welfare and/or juvenile justice system across the School District of Philadelphia is substantial and that Educational outcomes (measured by Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores, high school credit accumulation, and grade promotion) and attendance rates were poorer among students ever involved with the child welfare and/or juvenile justice system.
The report, which describes the level of DHS involvement in public schools and helps to better illustrate students’ educational needs, notes that enrollment of students ever involved with DHS is geographically dispersed across the School District of Philadelphia and almost half of the high schools in the School District of Philadelphia have more than 100 students ever involved with DHS or more than 20% of the population ever involved with DHS—with some schools having both.
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The study was conducted as the next step in Mayor Michael Nutter’s effort to reduce the City’s dropout rate, which was the subject of a recent investigation by 6abc. It’s worth noting though that Philly’s high school graduation rate is 64%, an increase of 11 percentage points over 2007, Nutter points out.
“Our Administration is committed to supporting the academic, emotional and physical well-being of all Philadelphia youth. But, it is particularly important that we focus on the needs of our most vulnerable young people,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “This study details the educational needs of young people in the child welfare and juvenile justice system. For me, it also highlights the need for a statewide, student-weighted funding formula that takes into account the tremendous needs of our some of our public school students.”
While neither the report or the accompanying press release mention anything about the Education Liaisons staying in the school past the 2014-2015 school year, I must agree with Mayor Nutter and say this is a step in the right direction; now its up to the people to ensure when fair funding does eventually come to town that monies are allocated to these types of programs first, as they work.
Philly, particularly its schools, is far from anything to write home about, but this action taken today to ensure positive education outcomes for the City’s most vulnerable youth should be celebrated and acknowledged.
About Christopher Norris:
A Philly drummer playing a global beat, Christopher A. Norris is an award-winning journalist, online content producer and professional drummer endorsed by TRX Cymbals. An American businessman, Norris currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Techbook Online Corporation, overseeing a strategic initiative of mobilizing local, regional, national and global communities by encouraging the production, safeguarding and dissemination of diversified contents in the media and global information networks. Norris, known on stage as Flood the Drummer®, has launched a campaign to raise awareness regarding the health benefits of drumming.
View original piece on Philly in Focus.-30-
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