Weekly NewsBriefs 3/14/22 - 3/20/22
Federal funds to help thousands of Georgia’s homeless students – By Cassidy Alexander, Atlanta Journal Constitution
Georgia school districts are getting an infusion of cash to help students experiencing homelessness. It’s money some metro Atlanta school districts plan to spend on finding and supporting the students who fell through the cracks during the pandemic.
The aid will be the first time that some districts are receiving funding specifically for those students, said Barbara Duffield, the executive director of SchoolHouse Connection, a national group that advocates for education as means to end homelessness.
And just in time, she said.
The count of students experiencing homelessness dipped during the COVID-19 pandemic, which experts say has less to do with the numbers going down and more to do with schools not being aware of those students. Virtual learning made it harder for school leaders to identify students who needed help.
“The biggest challenge now is identification and outreach,” Duffield said. “Not only for students schools lost track of, but also students who are newly homeless and struggling, and who may not have known that they have rights or protections or services at these schools.”
Illinois teachers would be able to use sick days for mental health. Will it help? – By Samantha Smylie, Chalkbeat
Teachers like English teacher Briana Morales worked overtime to support their students through two years of disruptions and emotional upheaval during the pandemic. Now, Morales wonders who will help those exhausted teachers.
The fifth-year teacher at an alternative high school in East St. Louis District 189 in southern Illinois has provided academic and mental health support for students reeling from coronavirus issues, as well as gun violence and poverty that predate the pandemic. In summer 2020, she attended funerals for three of her students who were killed in shootings.
“In the fall of 2020, I had to just bounce back because my students still needed me at that time. But I had no time to process what I needed for myself,” Morales said. “On top of that no one even asked me, ‘What do you need?”
A bill, SB 3914, in the Illinois general assembly proposes one step to address the needs of educators like Morales — by allowing teachers to use sick days for mental health reasons. It comes in response to the increased demands on teachers over the last two years: shifting instruction from remote to hybrid classrooms to in-person learning while balancing the needs of students who have lost learning and need mental health support.
Arkansas Awards $8M to Workforce Development Programs – By Scott Carrol, Arkansas Business
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday announced more than $8 million in grants for workforce development programs across the state.
Recipients were chosen in a "Shark Tank"-style process that examined 15 proposals from colleges, universities, nonprofits and public entities. They were evaluated based on factors including how effectively and efficiently resources could be deployed, local and regional workforce needs, and program sustainability after grant funding expires.
"We don't have an unlimited source of funds in Arkansas for workforce training, so we want to invest it wisely," Hutchinson said during an event at the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce. "And you do that by partnering with industry to guide our training, our funding, so that it results in jobs."