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INDIANA: 'Kids with mental health /social-emotional issues' biggest concern for schools

May 22, 2019, Fort Wayne (IN) Daily Journal: Lawmakers leave schools ill-prepared on mental ills http://www.dailyjournal.net/2019/05/23/lawmakers_leave_schools_illprepared_on_mental_ills/ Less than a year after a student shot a classmate and teacher at Noblesville Middle School, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a school safety bill incorporating recommendations from a task force formed after the shooting. … Better prepared, perhaps. But not best prepared. Bowing to pressure from powerful conservative groups, legislative leaders stripped language from the bill that would have allowed school safety grant dollars for mental health services. Advance America, a special-interest group, claimed in a post-session message to followers that the legislation “would have forced students to answer very personal and inappropriate questions from a federal government survey about their sexual activity — without prior written parental consent!” In fact, the language reflected recommendations from the months-long work of the governor’s task force and referenced mental health more than 100 times. Task force members rightly observed that enhanced mental health services are key in preventing school violence — ahead of safety equipment, technology, tools and training. But the outside influence of a small group of powerful conservatives prompted lawmakers to ignore the counsel of educators and public health and law enforcement officials. State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick, speaking at Ivy Tech’s Coliseum campus last month, said her Department of Education staff had to “literally beg” to get references to social-emotional learning in any bill. It’s important because educators now recognize students’ success hinges on preparing them for real-world experiences — managing emotions, adapting to change, handling relationships and more…. “There is no greater need in schools today than someone to help teachers, help our kids with mental health issues and social-emotional issues,” said Rep. Wendy McNamara, the author of the bill and a high school principal. The new law allows grants from the state’s safe schools fund to pay for training school personnel in “evidence-based practices that contribute to a positive school environment, including … social-emotional learning.”…