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Nevada organization calls for greater Latino engagement in politics; Gov. Gavin Newsom appears to change course on transgender rights; Nebraska Tribal College builds opportunity 'pipelines,' STEM workforce.'

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House Republicans deadlock over funding days before the government shuts down, a New Deal-style jobs training program aims to ease the impacts of climate change, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas appeared at donor events for the right-wing Koch network.

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An Indigenous project in South Dakota seeks to protect tribal data sovereignty, advocates in North Carolina are pushing back against attacks on public schools, and Arkansas wants the hungriest to have access to more fruits and veggies.

Group Urges Arkansas Schools Districts To Focus On Mental Health Support

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Monday, May 15, 2023   

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a national education advocacy group wants school districts in Arkansas to continue focusing on and investing in critical mental health support.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2021 more than a third of high school students said they experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Denise Forte, president and CEO of The Education Trust, said the top concern for parents, communities, and teachers is school safety and students' mental health. She added as a result of the pandemic, they have seen the rate of students' mental health issues increase.

"In states like Arkansas, students have had a really hard time accessing mental health services," Forte pointed out. "One of the things we also know is that student rates of suicide are going up. The terrible stats there say that one in five has seriously considered suicide, and one in 10 has actually attempted suicide."

Forte argued the statistics prove more works need to be done. She added federal funds can go a long way, but the real concern is whether they are being spent effectively. She believes it is important for students to have access to psychologists, counselors, and social workers to help foster social, emotional, and academic development.

Forte contended one way to address students' mental health needs is by making sure they have a culturally relevant curriculum.

"That's really important, which is why it was equally important to have courses on African American experiences," Forte explained. "We think that is a really important course that more students should have access to, not less. And it's not just about history, it's about the full African American experience."

Forte noted The Education Trust urges school districts in Arkansas and across the country to more effectively support the social, emotional, and academic development of all students, which she emphasized means everything from making sure students feel a sense of belonging, to having strong social and emotional support in the classroom.


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