Learning is difficult or even impossible for students when the emotional noise of their circumstances consumes their thoughts.
If the district is going to be successful in preparing students academically, the social and emotional health of students cannot be overlooked.
That's why Fresno Unified has prioritized meeting students' social and emotional needs and strengthening students' interpersonal and coping skills.
These district priorities are evident in two ways.
First, the district's own report card, the School Quality Improvement Index (SQII), includes indicators that assist the district in assessing the overall social-emotional health of students and tracking progress.
Second, the district's board of education invests Local Control Funding Formula dollars into social-emotional services for students.
The services include child welfare and attendance specialists at school sites, social workers to support foster and homeless youth, partnerships with city and county agencies, mentoring programs, bullying prevention, restorative discipline practices, social-emotional counseling for students, and many others.
For example, the 2016-17 Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) will invest $1.3 million in social emotional supports to help students stay in school, on track, to graduate.
This investment includes placing a resource counseling assistant (RCA) at six comprehensive middle schools. The district chose middle schools specifically for RCAs because of higher rates of behavioral challenges stemming from social-emotional stressors.
These RCAs will be trained in conflict resolution, mediation, and de-escalation techniques.
RCAs will assist the social emotional support specialists at these middle schools and work closely with the school site team to deal with lower level behavioral issues, which will also reduce the demand on teachers and principals.
While personal and societal pressures continue to weigh on students, the district is committed to meeting the needs of students so they can learn and then graduate ready for college, career, and life.