A growing body of research is highlighting the importance of social-emotional health as a key to creating positive learning environments, calm classrooms, and helping children learn to manage challenges in school and at home.
Too often, children have to live surrounded by violence, neglect, and other circumstances that affect their ability to learn and succeed in school. A symptom of this problem is high rate of misbehavior in school, which research has shown is strongly associated with exposure to childhood trauma. California issued more than 700,000 suspensions in the 2011-2012 academic year, most unrelated to weapons and drugs.
Research has shown that even one suspension in the 9th grade doubles the chances of high school dropout. Children should be held accountable for misbehavior, but we need to embrace common-sense approaches that help kids learn from mistakes while keeping them in school. For students who need more support, guidance counseling and mental health services on school campuses can make a real difference.
A growing number of teachers and school administrators have become aware of the overuse of harsh school discipline and believe we can do better. They are finding success in approaches that teach positive behavior and social-emotional skills – such as learning how to manage your emotions, make better decisions, and resolve conflicts peacefully. These schools are seeing impressive increases in test scores, attendance, and graduation rates, and providing new models for school success in California.
What We’re Doing
- Supporting pilot projects to promote alternatives to extreme discipline that hold kids accountable but keep them in school to teach them responsibility and respect.
- Building momentum for common-sense school discipline in the Central Valley through a new Leadership and Learning Network, including a $1 million grant fund for school districts.
- Promoting a national conversation about mental health care and working to ensure that troubled students and adults can get help before they endanger themselves or others.
Learn about our other Schools Key Issues: Exercise During the School Day, Healthier School Foods and Beverage, and All Aboard the School Success Express