Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Social Work & School Reform

Reading Beth Fertig's excellent piece on Turning Around Failing Schools from Within:

GREICIUS: The critical issue is being able to separate out which ones really are the highest-need kids, which ones really need mental health services, which ones need support from a social service organization, which ones’ parents need housing, which ones need help from an immigration lawyer.

Turnaround for Children started working with PS 85 last fall. Its coaches created an intervention team and taught the school how to sort out which students needed what kind of help, and how to link them with services from local providers. The school was also required to hire a full-time social worker.

Made me flash back to this DC story:

There's a knock on the door, and a parent whose child is causing trouble at Truesdell Educational Center warily opens up. Six Truesdell employees, loaded with pizza for dinner and plans to change the child's direction, trundle into the apartment -- the boy's teacher, two social workers, a psychologist, a behavior specialist, and the principal, Brearn Wright.

So much of the story in this current wave of school reform, to the extent it is successful, is really about student behavior and discipline, but we're mostly dancing around it. And it isn't just "Can't you be stricter?!" You need social workers, you need a strategy, training and support. Schools too often have none of the above.


Chris Lehmann said...

Not for nothing... but while I respect and admire those educators who show up with pizza at students' homes and such... I'd like to avoid having to be one of the homes they need to go to. To do that, I need to be home at dinnertime more often than not so that I can be a parent to my children. When are we going to deal with the fact that the only way to make school reform sustainable is NOT to ask teachers and administrators to work 70 hour weeks in some sort of messanic zeal to "save" the youth of America?

Tom Hoffman said...

Yeah, I wasn't thinking so much about the going to the home part as the existence multiple social workers, a psychologist and a behavioral specialist in the school.