What do YOU believe is the role of school districts in providing health care and social services to families?
The Gwinnett Daily Post is reporting that with the failure of the Opportunity School District referendum, some state lawmakers expect the issue of how to improve failing schools to move toward providing more services, social and healthcare in particular, as an operational component of school districts.
Senator Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said one response to the proposed Opportunity School District being voted down in November is that the focus may shift from the academic nature of the issue, to reasons why children are sick, or have poor attendance.
Rep. Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, suggested an audit for schools that have high poverty rates to identify the core issues.
“What are the problems, is attendance bad? Well, what’s causing that,” Coleman said. “Is it illnesses? Are they sick a lot? Is it the fact they’re not getting enough food? Let’s analyze, audit, what do you think is the root cause that your school is failing. … Well, what are you missing, and then analyze and try to provide those services. That’s the first step, is to provide those needs because let’s face it, (if) the child’s not in school, they’re late, if they’re not present, if they don’t feel good, you can’t start the learning. But if they come on time, they come fed, they come without a toothache, they come feeling good, then you can get about the learning.”
Unterman and Coleman each admitted that school leaders and those who work in education would push back at this notion because their main focus is education.
Board Of Education
The DeKalb Board of Education met with the county’s state legislators a few weeks ago. I asked them
1. Does the state believe that tax payers should provide health care and social services to families? If so, then who should do that and how is it funded?
2. What does the state believe is the role of school districts in providing health care and social services to families?
Many school districts across the state attribute poor academic performance to the effects of poverty and family dynamics. Numerous school districts have departments dedicated to “Wrap Around Services” that try to mitigate these effects by providing additional services to students and their family.
Wrap Around Services at DeKalb Schools
DeKalb Schools has created a Student Support and Intervention Division to provide “Wrap Around Services” and address the diverse needs of students and families. The current profile of “Wrap Around Services” available to support students and families in DeKalb Schools include School Counselors, School Social Workers and Homeless Liaisons, School Psychologists, School Nurses, Student Support Specialists, Post-Secondary Transition Specialists, Parent Liaisons, EL Success Facilitators and Check and Connect Mentors.
Furthermore, DeKalb Schools is
• Giving stipends and signing bonuses to attract and retain talented, motivated teachers
• Appropriating $1.9 million for literacy and mathematics initiatives
• Spending $750K for the 10 Horizon schools to partner with Discovery Education
• Spending $398K to partner with IIRP(International Institute for Restorative Practices) to reduce the number of suspensions
I couldn’t disagree more with Sen. Unterman and Rep. Coleman in their assertion that school leaders will “push back” on the notion of adding services via the school district so long as the funding is provided. Mr. Unterman and Mr. Coleman need to refer to the Rules of Bureaucracy.
Rule #1: Maintain the problem at all costs! The problem is the basis of power, perks, privileges, and security.
Rule #2: Use crisis, and perceived crisis, to increase your power and control.
Bureaucracies are famous for their mission creep. Their incentive is always to address inputs and never results. As Thomas Sowell reminds us, “You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.”
School districts that are already large and highly bureaucratic will be quite welcoming to enlarging their reach and responsibility. It makes them more powerful. The state has no enforcement mechanisms of any consequence. Giving the same people more money to do more things without any meaningful accountability measures means that your taxes are just going to purchase more failure.
What are your thoughts?