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School Social Workers as Beacons of Hope in Addressing the School Dropout Crisis

The School Social Work Association of America is preparing for its 23rd National School Social Work Conference in Baltimore, MD in a few weeks. One of the highlights in this year’s conference will be to help School Social Workers understand the extent of the dropout problem in our Country, and what you can do to be part of the solution.

Every year somewhere between one half and one million students walk out of the schoolhouse door, never to return. As a society, we all pay the price. For these young people, their chances of gainful employment and a livable wage are significantly reduced. The statistics show that many turn to crime and land in prison….some 80% of those in prison have not earned a high school diploma. Many will need social support programs that are being significantly cut back.

Most often, it is not a single event that causes students to drop out of school, but rather a “diming” process, as students slowly become disengaged from the educational process. Early warning signs are there, and some early identification and intervention strategies and promising practices do exist. Both in the keynote address and workshop offered by Howard Blonsky, and in his new publication for the SSWAA Workshop series, The Dropout Prevention Specialist Workbook, the role and actions of School Social Workers that contribute to solutions will be shared.

What will you receive as a part of the conference and this important presentation?

1. You will receive a copy of 50 Strategies for Increasing Student Attendance.

2. You will learn that working at both the client and system level are important to reduce dropouts.

3. You will learn how disaggregating the data can lead to a cycle of inquiry and improvement process at your school.

4. You will learn about the Early Identification and Intervention process, including how its full implementation can contribute to more students staying in school.

5. You will learn about how a School Social Worker can help make the team structures of the school more effective.

6. You will learn about one state who undertook a critical look at how their policies, practices and procedures may be contributing to the number of dropouts and what they found.

7. You will learn about the six grouping of factors that can contribute to a student dropping out, and some strategies for addressing each of them.

8. You will learn about the early warning signs and risk factors, and how our schools can tune into, and address them.

9. You will learn about the difficult terrain of the 9th grade, and some programmatic strategies to keep more students moving on to the next grade.

10. You will learn how the climate and culture of the school can both contribute to, and prevent dropouts.

11. You will learn about the “dry cleaning model” and how some incorrectly perceive the role of the School Social Worker.

12. You will learn about the potential to outreach to, and bring back those young people who had already dropped out.

13. You will have an opportunity to brainstorm with your colleagues to learn about their own experiences and strategies that may be employed in your own local situation and reality.

14. You will learn about what power we do have in a world where we increasingly feel powerless to address the problems of the world.

The teamwork needed at the local level is analogous to the teamwork of a national organization that provides an enriching conference where you have an opportunity to share with and learn from your colleagues.


Howard Blonsky, Keynote Presenter and Author of The Dropout Prevention Specialist Workbook

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