Our Advice for NYC’s Decision Makers
As New York City schools move to the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS), all schools will be held accountable for developing the social-emotional competencies of their students. This is particularly challenging in high-need communities, where children face a set of social and emotional needs that present barriers to attending school regularly, learning effectively, and graduating career- and college-ready.
Furthermore, a small percentage of students have even greater needs that may result in serious behavioral difficulties that affect the entire school negatively, and may require mental health services. Many schools in high-need communities do not have the personnel or skills to deal with these issues and, without outside support, may become reactive, chaotic, and instructionally ineffective. For many years, non-profit and community-based organizations have been partnering with schools to deal with the effects of high levels of community and family poverty. They provide critical counseling, social work supports, and staff development to schools in high-need communities to address the students’ social-emotional support and learning (SESL) needs. As representatives of these organizations, we operate in close partnership with the Department of Education and are an integral part of the city’s school system.
The support provided by partner organizations like ours is an indispensable asset to New York City public schools and has proven critical to efforts to increase student achievement—especially for the sixty-seven percent of New York City public school students who are living in poverty. Without our support, many schools cannot provide an education that equips young people with the skills they need for life success and engaged citizenship. Quite simply, these schools cannot succeed. We urge policy makers to recognize and support the important collaborations between schools and partner organizations such as ours.