Beth Anne Cornell Answers Our Question
How Do We Help Students Who Need Support?
Our school system has many students with working class parents who are either unable, or perhaps even unwilling to participate in their children’s education. Many of these children are good students who are are facing strong obstacles to their being able to take full advantage of what our schools offer. Housing, clothing, food, and and steady parental guidance, and holding jobs are some examples of these challenges.
Do our schools have programming in place to adequately serve these students, if not what more can be done?
Throughout the district, we have many school, teacher, and parent-led programs working to support families who struggle to meet their basic needs, and we have some amazing community organizations doing this same work.
But we can always do more.
I’d like to see us grow the City Connects program, which builds a network of support for Salem Public School students, connecting them with programs and opportunities geared toward their unique needs. In part, this requires taking better advantage of the district website capabilities to direct families more clearly to services and opportunities. Families have to be able to access support services online in a user-friendly, multi-lingual, and fully accessible format, and the district has a responsibility to commit the financial and personnel resources necessary to make that happen.
As a district, if we want to have honest conversations about how to support families, we must talk about universal pre-k and extended day. Universal pre-k will benefit our working families and provide the academic foundation all children need to succeed. An extended day throughout the district will provide opportunities for enrichment programming and social and emotional learning during the school day.
Lastly, we have to be practical in our efforts, foregrounding transportation, communication, and flexible pathways for community engagement.