FOR RELEASE: September 5, 2017
CONTACT: Al Marlin
(518) 783-3723 or (518) 527-6933 cell
As students return to the classroom, local school boards are preparing to deal with new initiatives, including issues dealing with equity and hate, mental health regulations, shortages of qualified instructional staff, and new science standards.
"These are issues in all school districts – upstate and downstate, wealthy and poor, big and small, relatively homogenous or very diverse. School boards must be prepared to address these issues in the coming year," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer.
In particular, the Association identified five pressing issues that school board members should pay attention to this year:
- Bullying, discrimination and the spread of hate. Especially in light of Charlottesville, schools must renew their commitment to give all students a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, harassment, and bullying. Tools such as school policies and the Dignity for All Students Act can help districts reinforce that these behaviors will not be tolerated.
- Students' emotional well-being. Beginning in July 2018, state law will require that schools include mental health in their health education programs. This year, school leaders should begin putting in place policies and programs that will help remove the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health issues common among students, including depression and other highly treatable disorders.
- Equity in allocating resources. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act will require school boards to provide building level per-pupil financial information by June 30, 2019. In the interim, school boards should consider having community conversations that focus on district resource allocations.
- Possible teacher shortages in certain subject areas. Schools may experience shortages in certain subject areas such as science, special education, foreign languages, mathematics, and English instruction for students whose primary language is not English.
- New science standards. New York will transition in 2017-18 to new science standards modeled off the national Next Generation Science Standards. There will be challenges to teaching these new standards, which include climate change.
"The start of the school year always brings a renewed focus on the hopes and dreams of our public school students," Kremer added. "While the world is full of tumult, school boards can make schools safe havens for learning, growth and development."