Mental health is not a political issue at school

Being a child is hard. Being a kid in school in the middle of a pandemic is harder.

With each generation, children’s challenges change. 24/7 access to information, social networks, video games, the list goes on. It’s clear that children are navigating a landscape that we parents didn’t have the experience of growing up. As a parent of children in School District 6, I was discouraged to read the Hungry Horse News article about school board member Wayne Jacobsmeyer and several parents who voiced their opposition to an undergraduate class of half an hour on social and emotional learning which is taught once a week. They claimed the material was too “progressive” and advice should be left at home.

I argue that this subject should take up more space in our public schools. I also found the juxtaposition of the full-page print ad about helping teens through the recent suicide epidemic haunting.

On one page we have an elected member of the school board saying that the school should not provide guidance and education to young people in the community and literally on the other page the emergency phone numbers to call when a teenager is in crisis.

Mental health is NOT a political issue and I blame Mr. Jacobsmeyer for making one. I hope everyone who votes in school board elections is paying attention. The dictionary defines “progressive” as “using or becoming interested in new ideas, discoveries, or opportunities.”

My respect and support goes out to all of the District 6 staff and Board of Directors who are working hard to learn new ways to reach our children and support them through new and strange times. Who knows, maybe our children can teach us a thing or two about empathy, respect and tolerance. Someone smarter than me once said. “If you don’t like change, you’ll like insignificance even less.”

Let’s keep school relevant for our children.

Rebecca Powell

Columbia Falls

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