Session: Institutional Sources of (In)Equity in PreK-12 Education: Systems-Change Social Work Research, Policy, and Practice (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

149 Institutional Sources of (In)Equity in PreK-12 Education: Systems-Change Social Work Research, Policy, and Practice

Friday, January 13, 2023: 3:45 PM-5:15 PM
Valley of the Sun C, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: School Social Work
Symposium Organizer:
Melanie Sonsteng-Person, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
Susan Stone, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
The impact of COVID-19 and police murders of Black individuals led several U.S. professional associations to declare a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. Experiences of trauma and post-traumatic stress trickle down into schools perpetuating the inequities that uphold marginalization. While schools are rapidly implementing trauma-informed practices to support student socio-emotional and academic needs these practices often fail to address the impact of disproportionality in school discipline and misdiagnosis of trauma among Black, Native American, and Latinx students. To that end, this symposium brings together researchers who delineate the impact of current policies and practices in schools among systemically marginalized students. We highlight four projects that confront institutional factors that exacerbate societal inequality to advance school social worker's understanding of how to advance racial and social justice in mental health and disciplinary practices in schools.

The symposium starts with a quantitative paper that highlights that as scholars and educators strive to become more trauma-informed, it is critical that the integral role of sexism, racism, and systemic oppression. We recognize trauma is not neutral and, consequently, educational responses to trauma likewise cannot be neutral. Using ACEs data from the National Children's Health Survey, this study presents how Black girls are overrepresented in 7 out of 9 measures of ACEs. Implications for intersectional and responsive trauma-informed practices are discussed

The next paper builds on this through a grounded theory multiple case study that explores how teachers and school staff perceive, are impacted by, and respond to the manifestation of trauma. The resulting conceptual framework challenges the individual-deficit approach to trauma by illuminating the nexus between teacher education programs, district policies, resources, staff experiences, and collective well-being in schools. Implications call for schools to dismantle the institutional conditions that (re)produce harm.

Focusing on school discipline, the third paper critically examines the disproportionate impact of exclusionary discipline on preschoolers through the use of a narrative analysis. Analysis of interviews with preschool teachers, administrators, and staff highlight five distinct themes of extra-exclusionary discipline in preschool contexts: disenrollment, early release, in-school, referral, and virtual measures. Findings build a blueprint of trapdoor exits that estrange children and families from early care and education.

The last paper concludes the symposium through a phenomenological analysis of the district wide implementation of restorative justice at three high schools to address discipline disparities between Native students and White students. Interviews with principals, assistant principals, school social workers, and students inform if and how a restorative justice approach improves school based relationships and garners a sense of belonging for students. Findings highlight the challenges of RJ being vested in one school social worker. The discussion focuses on what is needed to ensure system wide changes occur.

Taken together, this symposium describes how social work researchers can contribute to systems-change solutions toward PreK-12 educational equity. Through policy and practice improvements, the creation of a new conceptual framework, and a critical program evaluation, this symposium will provide guidance for advancing racial and social justice in PreK-12 schools.

* noted as presenting author
Addressing School Pushout of Black Girls: Towards an Intersectional Approach to Trauma Informed Practices in K-12 Schools
Andrea Joseph, PhD, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Patricia Bamwine, PhD, University of Tennessee; Jane Sanders, PhD(c), MSW, University of Toronto
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