Our future depends on ensuring successful outcomes for K-12 students, but achieving this is challenging, given intense pressures of modern life and wide inequities in educational attainment here in Bergen County. 30% of U.S. high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for 2+ weeks in a row in the last year. 13% of NJ high school students said they had "seriously considered" committing suicide. School ranking varies hugely in eastern Bergen County—Alpine tops state rankings at 18 while Englewood is near the bottom at 402 out of 610. Bergenfield and Englewood public schools have over 35% of high school students who are eligible for free/reduced lunch (a key poverty indicator), while Tenafly has less than 4%. Children growing up in poverty are more likely than their affluent peers to be exposed to violence and trauma that derails their academic progress. Local educators throughout eastern Bergen County emphasized that stress, bullying, mental illness, and trauma significantly affect their students’ wellbeing, making social and emotional issues a key factor affecting academic outcomes.
Summit Focus Question: How can we strengthen social-emotional development and support of school-age children?