School climate surveys

For some time, we have heard that our young people are stressed, depressed and prone to engage in risky behavior. We hear frightening statistics about how often students are medicating themselves, driving while intoxicated — how they feel alienated and worry if they can possibly measure up. Much of the problem seems to be the adults in their lives — parents who either care too much or care too little. We have heard all this before. What can be done?

Mercer Island Youth and Family Services through the Communities that Care project have brought in outside experts to describe the situation for us once again. There were no surprises. But this time, there is something new. YFS aims to pinpoint what will work here, on Mercer Island, to combat these ills in our own very unique community, then set it all in motion.

We already know intuitively what we as adults can or should do — pay attention, be present, engage with our children. But we all know those are good intentions are often tripped up by impossible schedules, weariness or an inability to talk to teens about these thorny issues in a way that lets them know we care at the same time.

But beyond all of those squishy things, there is something small and very concrete we can do right away. The Mercer Island School District is once again setting out to gather input from adults about how they feel about the learning and social climate at their children’s schools. As they have for each of the past seven years, the district is asking for help in shaping the kind of place where students can learn effectively in a safe and caring environment. An online survey that takes 10 minutes to complete is set up on the school district Web site. In the past, response to the survey has been “disappointing,” said one school district administrator. Only about one-quarter of parents or guardians bother to respond.

What?! Let’s change that this year. Spend a few minutes and make a difference.

Go to www.misd.k12.wa.edu to fill out a survey.

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