Advocating for more Social Workers in the Oklahoma City School District
School social work has been dated as far back as the 1900s when its services was implemented into schools in the northeastern parts of the US, such as New York. During this time the need for school social workers was evident due to the Great Depression and the increase in federal legislation concerning school laws (Dupper, 2003, pg.12). As time progressed the use of school social workers became more useful in schools, although currently there is a shortage in the number of school based social workers. According to Dupper, the educational system realized that the social and mental health needs of students should be considered first and then their academic needs can be better assessed (pg. 12). Viewing students holistically is a skill that school social workers must have because it helps other helping professionals understand the student as a whole. For this reason, school social workers have come from a history of proving their importance in the educational system (Johnson, 2012).
Even though school social work has continued to grow throughout the United States, it has only recently been implemented in Oklahoma City Public Schools. As recognition of the need was raised, a few school social work positions were created to work with children living with disabilities. While this area of the school system has a great need for social workers, there are needs throughout other areas of schools for social workers as well. In a recent interview, State Representative Jason Nelson explained that the state government sets aside a certain amount of money for education each year but schools are beginning to deal with more human service issues than it has the means to. He also stated that this has led to a sincere group of people recognizing the need for the expansion of school social work (J. Nelson, personal communication, November 2009, 2012).
There needs to be a link between the school and the home and school social workers can be the link that helps students be successful in school. “School social workers are often called on to help students, families, and teachers address problems such as truancy, social withdrawal, overaggressive behaviors, rebelliousness, and the effects of special physical, emotional, or economic problems” (Barker, 2003). Considering what Baker has said, there are certain issues that a school social worker can address that other helping professionals cannot.
Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) in one of the many school districts in the state of Oklahoma. According to Greater Oklahoma City Chambers (2012), “the district cover 134 square miles and includes 60 elementary schools, 17 middle schools, and 13 high schools.” The OKCPS is stationed at an administrative building that has a number of departments that serve the students in the district. One of the departments is special services and they work with students who have disabilities and in a special education program in the schools. In this department there are 5 master level social workers that are either licensed or under supervision. These social workers work specifically with students who are in special education and who are on a Individualized Education Plan(IEP). “In the Oklahoma City School District, 12% of students have an IEP” and these 5 social workers are assigned to work with this 12% of students(NCES, 2010).
Schools in the Oklahoma City School District are apart the Priority Schools Campaign and according to the NEA, they are “focusing attention on raising student achievement in struggling schools” (National Education Association, 2012). This has an impact on the current social workers that are working in the district of Oklahoma City schools because they have each been given a list of priority schools that they now work with (P.Holloway, personal communication,...