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Helping Traumatized Children Learn – Trauma-Informed Schools Act of 2019


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Helping Traumatized Children Learn – Trauma-Informed Schools Act of 2019

Teachers cannot teach and students cannot learn in environments void of safety, trust, and positive modeling. Unfortunately, consumed by various pressures, some districts are forgoing mentorship and opting for exclusion.

The US Education Department released a collection of data drawn from 2013-2014 surveys from the majority of the nation’s 95,000 public schools. The data showed that 850,000 high school students didn’t have access to a school counselor. Meanwhile, 1.6 million K-12th grade students attended a school that employed a law enforcement officer but no counselor.

School discipline rates, including suspension, expulsion, and arrests have doubled since the 1970s. The American Psychological Association has found that these disciplinary practices stifle a student’s academic achievement while increasing the chances of being held back, dropping out and/or becoming involved in the juvenile and criminal justice system.

This funneling of students out of school and into the streets and the juvenile correction system perpetuates a cycle known as the “School-to-Prison-Pipeline.” This pipeline can deprive youth of meaningful opportunities for education, future employment, and social relationships.

On July 26, 2019, Massachusetts Congresswoman Katherine Clark, along with Congressmen Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), introduced the Trauma-Informed Schools Act of 2019. This legislation will define “trauma-informed practices” for the first time in federal education law.

The focus of the bill is to promote a school-wide learning environment where all students and adults feel safe, welcomed and supported and to enable students to succeed despite their traumatic experiences. This is done through trauma-informed services, supports, and programs.

“The Trauma-Informed Schools Act will encourage positive, restorative interventions that will give every student a fair shot at success, regardless of the adversity they may have faced,” said Congresswoman Clark.

This bill will allow districts to offer teacher professional development opportunities and after-school programs to provide educators the training and resources they need to utilize trauma-informed care. 

“Providing a greater availability of training and resources to assist our teachers and principals is critical to understanding the impact of traumatic experiences on students’ ability to learn in the classroom,” said Congressman Quigley. “I am proud to support legislation to give every student the opportunity to succeed, regardless of the traumatic events they may have experienced in their lives.”

To read Congresswoman Clark’s press release, please click here.

To read the full text of the legislation, please click here.


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