Protecting Youth Mental Health: The U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory

Every child’s path to adulthood—reaching developmental and emotional milestones, learning healthy social skills, and dealing with problems—is different and difficult. Many face added challenges along the way, often beyond their control. There’s no map, and the road is never straight. But the challenges today’s generation of young people face are unprecedented and uniquely hard to navigate. And the effect these challenges have had on their mental health is devastating. Recent national surveys of young people have shown alarming increases in the prevalence of certain mental health challenges— in 2019, one in three high school students and half of female students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, an overall increase of 40% from 2009. We know that mental health is shaped by many factors, from our genes and brain chemistry to our relationships with family and friends, neighborhood conditions, and larger social forces and policies. We also know that, too often, young people are bombarded with messages through the media and popular culture that erode their sense of self-worth—telling them they are not good looking enough, popular enough, smart enough, or rich enough. That comes as progress on legitimate, and distressing, issues like climate change, income inequality, racial injustice, the opioid epidemic, and gun violence feels too slow.

MAKING THE GRADE: HOW FAIR IS SCHOOL FUNDING IN YOUR STATE?

Making the Grade 2021 paints a bleak picture of the condition of public education finance systems across the nation. There are vast gaps in overall levels of school funding among states. Far too many states, primarily across the South and West, have funding levels that are thousands of dollars per-pupil below the national average. And most states do not provide higher levels of funding to deliver the extra resources necessary to educate students from low-income families and students in high-poverty schools and districts. Importantly, many states simply refuse to make the fiscal effort required to adequately fund PK-12 education relative to their economic capacity.

THE  2020 ARIZONA TEACHER WORKFORCE

July 2021 - The Arizona Department of Education collects a great deal of information about teachers. However, that data has never been compiled so that policymakers and the public have a clear idea of who is teaching, which students they are teaching, and where they are teaching. Through a partnership with ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and the ASU Helios Decision Center for Educational Excellence, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) analyzed data from the Teacher Input Application (TIA) database maintained by ADE. This analysis compiles the first comprehensive picture of Arizona’s teacher and certificated staff workforce. Although some teachers are not included in this database, 96% of local education agencies participate – making it the best available information on Arizona’s teacher workforce.

A TEACHER CHASM IN THE GRAND CANYON STATE: ASSESSING ARIZONA'S EDUCATIONAL LANDSCAPE AND THE POTENTIAL OF A TEACHER RESIDENCY

June 2021 - Arizona is in the midst of an enduring teacher shortage, one that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic. As a result, one in four classrooms are either vacant or filled by an individual who does not meet the state’s basic qualifications for teaching. Given that Arizona has the highest rate of teacher turnover in the nation, there is no end in sight to this shortage. The implications of this situation are profound, for both students and for the future of our state, since teachers have more influence over students’ academic and life outcomes than any other school-level factor. Therefore, the state must explore new ways to recruit, prepare, support, and retain high quality teachers for our local schools. Today’s students are tomorrow’s citizens and employees.

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