WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES DECEMBER 5, 2019 15
We must invest more in our children’s futures
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BY COREY JOHNSON
Poverty. Housing instability.
Food insecurity. Bullying.
Gang violence. Complicated
family dynamics. Imagine battling
with these stressors while trying to
focus on your algebra or chemistry
All of these issues can have a traumatic
eff ect on students, and we must
recognize and address that trauma if
we expect them to focus in school.
Part of making that a reality is
ensuring that every NYC student has
access to school staff who can provide
the necessary social and emotional
support they need.
Students are bombarded with
confl icting ideas on social media on
a daily basis, and they are also grappling
with ever increasing everyday
societal pressures. All of this can and
does spill over into a student’s school
life, with adverse consequences that
can include absenteeism, failing
grades and student-to-student confl
ict, among others.
Teachers do an amazing job juggling
all these diff erent concerns,
but doing so oft en takes away time
from instruction. Teachers need
support from other professionals
who are experts in addressing these
Students need access to social
workers. Social workers are pivotal
to creating a healthy learning environment.
Research shows that social
workers, guidance counselors and
school psychologists are benefi cial to
students’ social and emotional health,
as well as their academic outcomes.
The comprehensive services that
social workers provide can address
many barriers to student learning.
And, currently, too many schools
don’t have a social worker or too few
Social workers provide critically
important services directly to students
and sometimes to teachers and staff .
They help address many of the
out-of-school needs that can hinder
a student’s learning. They help
bridge the gap between school, home
and community for students. They
work to prevent school violence,
improve school climate, provide
early intervention for students and
assist teachers with better classroom
But these professionals do more
than create healthier and happier
students. In some cases, they make
the difference between life and
This is what happened to me.
As a teen dealing with depression
and feeling scared about coming out,
a guidance counselor helped me sort
through my feelings and gave me
the confi dence to talk to my football
I’m not sure what would have happened
if that guidance counselor
had said, “I don’t have time to talk to
I was lucky, but so many are
not. Suicide rates are too high, and
students are suff ering. They need
This year, the Council heard
teachers, staff and students loud and
clear: our schools need more social
So we fought for and secured $29.7
million to support 269 full-time social
workers in schools, up from 200 last
year. This includes 100 Bridging the
Gap social workers in schools with
the highest numbers of students
experiencing homelessness. But
our school system serves 1.1 million
students, and they all would benefi t
from having social workers.
An investment in our children’s futures
is an investment in the future of
our city. We are heading in the right
direction, but we absolutely must do
Corey Johnson is the Speaker of the
New York City Council.