As social workers in the field of education work to help students return to the classroom during this persistent and deadly pandemic, they are finding students more traumatized and fearful than they realized. The on-again/off-again guidance coming from the adults in the room as to whether masks are required, or vaccinations are indispensable, or social distancing could do it, or if you want to protect yourself and your family just stay home, has raised the anxiety level in students and greatly diminished their trust in their elders.
On a recent call with a professor in the social work department at a large Eastern university, we asked him what he saw as the human race's most vexing social problem. His answer was fascinating and quite unexpected. Below find excerpts from that conversation.
Perhaps with the exception of the travel and leisure industry, the pandemic has disrupted education more than any other area of American public life. From university boards to pre-school administrators, everyone is confused and not sure how to proceed. Parents are desperate to understand how they should continue to best educate their children.
Whether we're threatened by the second or the third spike of this persistent and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, parents are again faced with school closings and re-openings that have them confused and in doubt. Is their child better off at home being schooled on-line or attending their local brick and mortar school with their classmates and teachers?
Only social workers who deal with childhood hunger every day realize how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic has been for millions of everyday school children who attend school with your children and mine. For many of your children’s classmates, not attending in-person school has meant missing 5 essential meals a week and, in many cases, the bulk of their nutrition.
Nation Earns a Grade of C Amid Mixed State Showing
The new Education Week Research Center report, Quality Counts 2019, synthesizes 39 indicators that capture a range of school finance, academic achievement, and socioeconomic factors that affect the quality of state school systems. Southern states with high poverty rates dominate the lower rankings, but overall, 32 states earn grades between C-plus and C-minus. Why does the U.S. educational system consistently get low marks for student academic achievement?
We recently conducted an informal poll of the social workers we deal with every day and asked them what they thought was the #1 social malady threatening the country today. Their answer might surprise you; more than the opioid epidemic; more than veterans affairs; more than homelessness; more than woman’s rights; more than economic imbalance; more than education issues; more than civil rights; more than the environment; the problem that was cited more than any other was – STUDENT DEBT!
A Cultural Collapse
A comprehensive study of newspapers in the United States found that 516 rural newspapers closed or merged from 2004 to 2018. In metropolitan areas, 1,294 newspapers were shuttered during the period, making a national total of 1,810 papers that ceased publication.
At a recent college career day, this troubling question was asked repeatedly; “What do social workers do?” The question was troubling because it came with the realization that most college age students have no clear idea what social workers do. They are, therefore, less inclined to pick social work as a career choice.
Positive Tomorrows, an Oklahoma City non-profit, is opening a private school for homeless children that was designed by the kids themselves. That’s right. A private school for homeless (not privileged) children.