What Is the Role of Public Schools in Helping Children Succeed In and Out of School?
From 1999 to 2000, the National Association of State Boards of Education, Alexandria, Va., studied the roles and responsibilities of public schools in addressing health and related social problems confronting today's children and youth.
Many educators believe that they are compelled to intervene in the health and social environment affecting students, their families, and the community, even as a strong "back-to-basics" reform movement denies any role for schools outside of academics.
- The National Association of State Boards of Education which represents state boards of education nationwide formed a 16-member study group (including 15 members of state boards of education) to conduct the study, which included three formal meetings and the preparation and dissemination of a project report. (See the Appendix for a roster of study group members.)
During its first meeting in January 1999, the group discussed the impact of family, community, and social dynamics on child and adolescent development and educational achievement.
At its second meeting in March 1999, the group explored the budgetary implications of schools' attempts to address these health and social issues, and to develop strategies for building partnerships needed to form a common understanding and vision for the schools.
At its third meeting in June 1999, the group drafted recommendations on the role of state boards of education in promoting school attention to health and other social issues affecting students. At each meeting, the group heard presentations from a number of educators, practitioners, and researchers. (See the Bibliography for more details.)
- In its final report, entitled The Future Is Now: Addressing Social Issues in Schools of the 21st Century, the study group concluded that:
- Schools have an important role to play in addressing the needs of students by helping them succeed academically and by supporting the growth that will enable them to lead successful, productive adult lives. The question is not whether schools should address nonacademic barriers to learning, but instead, what can schools do both alone and with others to support learning?
- The group recommended that state boards of education:
- Set standards for creating positive school environments that foster academic achievement and support the development of children and youth. Examples include setting high academic standards for all students, providing academic support services for students at risk of failure, and reducing class and school size.
- Take a leadership role in creating a shared vision and sense of responsibility with others for helping children and youth to succeed academically in school and to become productive members of society.
To this end, they should foster collaboration with other state policymakers and agencies and initiate a dialogue with schools, families, and communities to develop a local understanding of what is needed to support student learning and a successful transition to adulthood.
- Work collaboratively with other policymakers in the development and implementation of early childhood and prekindergarten programs. Children with a strong and healthy developmental foundation are more likely to come to school ready to learn.
- Work with schools and others to combine and coordinate resources across agencies and public/private sectors in support of children's success. They can help schools maximize funding in support of students by reviewing and streamlining regulations and policies; targeting funds to schools serving populations more in need; providing technical assistance to help local schools to identify, access, and best utilize additional resources; and providing guidelines for pooling resources with other entities.
- As of November 2000, the National Association of State Boards of Education had distributed or sold approximately 1,300 copies of the report, including 750 copies to members of state boards of education and 100 to state departments of education across the country.
The Coalition for Community Schools, the National Governors Association, and the Public Education Network, among others, helped disseminate the report.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided a $5,000 grant between March 1999 and December. The National Association of State Boards of Education contributed $25,000 to support the bulk of the project.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, provided in-kind staff support.
GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION
Study of Schools' Roles in Resolving Health and Social Issues Confronting Youth
National Association of State Boards of Education (Alexandria, VA)
Dates: March 1999 to December 2000
Carlos A. Vegas-Matos, M.P.A.
Study Group on Confronting Social Issues National Association of State Boards of Education
Dorothy Beardmore, Chair
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Las Vegas, Nev.
Florham Park, N.J.
Evelyn "Ebbie" Monroe
West End, N.C.
Orrs Island, Maine
Cyrus Richardson, Jr.
Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
St. Paul, Minn.
St. Louis, Mo.
The Institute for Educational Leadership
Carlos A. Vegas-Matos
(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)
National Association of State Boards of Education. The Future Is Now: Addressing Social Issues in Schools of the 21st Century. Alexandria, Va.: National Association of State Boards of Education, 1999. 1,300 distributed as of December 2000.
Sponsored Study Groups
"Study Group on Confronting Social Issues: The Role of Schools," January 2223, 1999, Alexandria, Va. Attended by members of the NASBE Study Group, representing 14 state boards of education. Three presentations.
- James Garbarino, Family Life Development Center, Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.), "Raising and Educating Children in a Socially Toxic Environment."
- David Grissmer, RAND Corporation (Washington, D.C.); and Cindy Wolford Symons, Kent State University (Kent, Ohio), "The Impact on Student Achievement."
- Evangeline Wise, Challenger Campus Instructional Center, (Adelphi, Md.), "What Is the Role of the Education Community in Addressing the Social Issues That Face Today's Children and Youth? A Local Response."
"Study Group on Confronting Social Issues: The Role of Schools," March 1213,1999, Washington, D.C. Attended by members of the NASBE Study Group, representing 14 state boards of education. Two presentations.
- Cheryl Hayes, The Finance Project (Washington, D.C.), "What Are the Budgetary Implications of Confronting Social Issues?"
- Martin Blank, Institute for Educational Leadership (Washington, D.C.), "Building Partnerships to Help Schools Confront Social Issues."
"Study Group on Confronting Social Issues: The Role of Schools," June 1112, 1999, St. Louis, Mo. Attended by 15 members of the NASBE Study Group, representing 14 state boards of education. One presentation.
- Joan Solomon, Caring Communities and School Improvement Initiatives, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Jefferson City, Mo.), "Caring Communities."
World Wide Web Sites
www.nasbe.org/HealthySchools provides information about programs aimed at helping educators and policymakers create safe, healthy, and nurturing school environments. Alexandria, Va.: National Association of State Boards of Education.
Press Kits and News Releases
NASBE broadcast an electronic news release on the Future is Now report to education media during October 1999. It also publicized the report through electronic bulletin boards, such as one run by the Comprehensive Health Education Network; and trade/organizational online newsletters, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics' School Health News.
Report prepared by: Jan Hempel
Reviewed by: Patricia Patrizi
Reviewed by: Richard Camer
Program Officer: Terrance Keenan