Public Education Group

Meeting Notes


Notes from 2/11/19

Attendees: Barry Chasnoff, Luann Cohen, Anna Falkenberg, Toni Goldsmith, Debby Kalk and Charlotte Leddy.

Discussion Items:

  • Where should our efforts go? What is already ongoing?
    • Debby cochairs the Social Action Committee (SAC). They SAC is hosting a luncheon on May 4th, with a panel discussion of the pros & cons of consolidating some of San Antonio’s many school districts.
  • “From the Heart”, a pilot program based in Matagorda County, which focuses on reducing school violence. It is raising $500,000 to fund administrative assistances in order to free up school counselors to help teachers identify students who need emotional support or may be prone to violence.
    • Since school counselors are now asked to do so many administrative functions, they need support, so they can focus on the student’s needs.
    • We would need to show proof of concept and develop data as well as buy in from teachers and administration before they try to replicate the program in other counties.  
    • Discussion on the need for more mental health services in schools.
  • The need to distinguish social action from social justice
    • A suggestion of developing groups which would lobby the State Legislature on issues like school finance reform.
    • This would require researching what other organizations exist and if we wanted to affiliate with them.
  • Recommendation came that we ought to find a program that would interest the 40- 50-year-old’s at Temple. -- why they are they not represented in our committee?
  •  “Communities in Schools” or CIS, a dropout prevention program with a focus on keeping students in school through high school graduation. CIS is the only not- for- profit organization allowed to provide school based short term counseling to students and their families during school hours through Project Access.
    • Because so many teenage boys drop out in the transition from middle school to high school, CIS developed a peer mentoring/brotherhood program called the XY- Zone. It is now available in all the high schools served by CIS.
    • At the elementary level, CIS Site Coordinators in conjunction with school Principals have introduced a trauma informed approach to the way teachers handle classroom discipline. The Site Coordinator is the first person called if a student is having a problem or acting out.  The focus is on what may be happening with the child vs. punishment for misconduct.  There is a CIS school visit to Dori Miller Elementary School planned for this Wednesday, February, 13th, from 11:30-1:00. Toni is attending if anyone is interested.
  • New this year is a pilot program which funds a “Wellness Coach" at LEE High School in the NEISD.  Her job is to support and encourage the teachers and other school staff to recognize and reach out to teens who may need support.  
  • Self-paced high school in the area?
    • There are several in different districts.  There are so many issues here. There are other organizations that focus on supporting families in crisis particularly through religious groups.
  • Idea to throw our support behind causes that are already before the legislature. Everyone was in favor of researching the possibility of lobbying for programs on violence prevention and mental health already before the legislature.
  • There was expressed support for programs that kept children in school through graduation or focused on special needs children.
    • Kinetic Kids, which serves special needs children.  
  • Recommendation that we set up a meeting with a few counselors and teachers to hear what they are facing first hand.  
    • What do they need to meet the needs of their students?  We need their feedback.
  • All agreed that providing more mental health services and support was a huge need and that we should look at merging with the mental health group.