Solving Schools' Most Persistent Problems: Safety and Mental Health Services, Discipline and Disproportionality, Special Education Litigation, and Staffing Shortages
Solutions from Four Recent Education Talk Radio Interviews
Today’s (and yesterday’s) schools have persistent problems that need both short- and long-term solutions.
The most-referenced are:
- School Safety and their Connection with Needed Mental Health Services
- Classroom Disruptions and the Disproportionate Referrals of Students of Color and with Disabilities to the Principal’s Office for Discipline or Suspension
- Preventing and Decreasing Special Education Due Process Hearings and Court Litigation
- Improving the Quality of Staff Hiring, Supervision, and Retention
Over the past year, we have addressed each of these issues in one or more Blog articles—providing sound research-to-practice solutions that differ significantly from those often cited in the “popular press” that do not work.
These issues—and their needed solutions—are so pressing that I often discuss them on the nationally-syndicated Education Talk Radio show with Larry Jacobs.
Today’s Blog will be more auditory than visual.
Today I want to share four recent Education Talk Radio interviews (each approximately 35 minutes long) so that you can listen to the breadth of these problematic issues and the depth of the solutions recommended.
I note the “depth of these solutions,” because these deep and sometimes institutionalized problems need long-term strategic planning, professional development, multi-level and multi-tiered interventions, and dogged determination.
There are no “easy fixes” here. But progress can occur quickly—if schools are courageous enough to commit to the proven approaches that we discuss.
TalkRadio Program #1. School Safety and their Connection with Needed Mental Health Services
In a March 1, 2023 Education Talk Radio national interview, Larry Jacobs and I discussed school safety (and, especially, the devastating impact of school shootings), their connections with needed mental health services, and additional proven solutions.
In this show, we addressed five questions/areas:
- What is the current state of school safety today—as it relates especially to student behavior and discipline, and school violence and school shootings?
- Has there been an overlap between some of the school shootings in this country and the involvement of students with disabilities and/or serious mental health issues?
- Discuss the recent school shooting in Virginia involving the First Grade Teacher and her student—who may have had a disability and certainly needed behavioral services.
- Do schools have difficulty “qualifying” students for special education services when they know they have significant mental health and/or social, emotional, and behavioral needs?
- How does special education funding, state and community mental health funding, and the (lack of) availability of day and residential treatment programs for students with significant needs overlap?
Two Blogs (January 28 and February 11, 2023 related directly to this discussion:
“Was a First Grade Virginia Teacher Shot Because Her Student was Denied Special Education Services? What School Administrators Face that State Departments of Education Ignore”
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“Why “Do” SEL If It Doesn’t Improve Student Behavior in the Classroom and Across the School? Focusing on Individual and Group Skills to Enhance Student Engagement and Cooperative Group Outcomes”
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We hope you enjoy this 36-minute interview.
TalkRadio Program #2. Decreasing Disproportionate Referrals of Students of Color and with Disabilities to the Principal’s Office for Discipline or Suspension
In a September 6, 2023 Education Talk Radio national interview, Larry Jacobs and I discussed the historical (and still present) reality that students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately referred to the Principal’s office for discipline—many times for offenses that other (often White) students commit in the classroom, but are not disciplined for.
We discussed how “systems-oriented” solutions (like disallowing these referrals at certain age levels) have decreased the total number of office referrals, but not the disproportionality.
We then focused on the research-to-practice components and solutions to this decades-long problem, and two recent research studies that validate the root causes of the problem and why our solutions are essential.
Complementing this interview was our June 24, 2023 Blog:
“New Paths to Address Disproportionate Discipline with Black Students: New Directives, Research, Solutions, and Another Example of Racial Hate”
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We hope you enjoy this 37-minute interview.
TalkRadio Program #3. Preventing and Decreasing Special Education Due Process Hearings and Court Litigation
In a November 10, 2023 Education Talk Radio national interview, Larry Jacobs and I discussed expectations that special education litigation will skyrocket due to the direct and/or related services not provided to Students with Disabilities during the pandemic.
This is important because—“win or lose”—special education litigation involves countless staff hours for preparation and participation, and often a significant emotional toll on those involved.
Given my experience as an Expert Witness in many federal and state special education court cases, we discussed seven suggestions to help districts avoid special education litigation with a focus on (a) understanding where parent are coming from when there are significant disagreements over their child’s special education services, and (b) how to approach them with empathy and sensitivity—even when things get tense or confrontative.
Complementing this interview was our September 9, 2023 Blog:
“Seven Suggestions to Help Districts Avoid Special Education Hearings: A Short-Term Win May Be a Long-Term Loss”
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We hope you enjoy this 38-minute interview.
TalkRadio Program #4. Improving the Quality of Staff Hiring, Supervision, and Retention
In a May 8, 2023 Education Talk Radio national interview, Larry Jacobs and I discussed the Four Pillars of Teacher Preparation and Proficiency: (a) Teacher Hiring and Orientation; (b) Teacher Induction and Tenure: (c) Continuing Teacher Appointments and Coaching, and (d) Teacher Leadership and Advancement.
The Four Pillars help guide Novice teachers through the teacher tenure process and beyond such that they (a) effectively teach all students the academic and social-emotional skills needed for success—using the school’s multi-tiered system of supports as appropriate; and—post-tenure (b) continue to serve their school through leadership and specialization. This is accomplished through the scaffolded professional development and growth process discussed.
This discussion was related to a four-part Blog Series that we wrote between April 8 to May 27, 2023. The last Blog of this Series was titled:
“Ensuring that Post-Tenure Teachers Remain Actively Engaged as Collaborative Contributors in their Schools: Aligning the Seven Areas of Continuous School Improvement to Teacher Leadership and Advancement (Part IV)”
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We hope you enjoy this 34-minute interview about this critical issue in education across the country.
One of my primary goals is to help districts, schools, and other education-related colleagues to analyze (a) their goals, needs, and desired outcomes; (b) what is working and not working in their systems; (c) why things are successful and unsuccessful; and (d) how to use sound and proven research-to-practice approaches to enhance their successes and achieve their unfulfilled goals.
As noted, the four areas in this Blog (and our interviews) are the reasons why I often work with schools and districts across the country.
I love my work. . . and it is an honor for me to work with so many dedicated educational professionals.
If I can help you in the areas discussed in this Blog (or others related to (a) school improvement, (b) social-emotional learning/positive behavioral discipline and classroom management systems, and (c) multi-tiered (special education) services and supports—please contact me to see how I can help.
As always, the first discussion with you and your team are “on the house.”