What do L.A. students want most? Mental health help, an adult to listen, reliable tech.
Students in Los Angeles public schools said they have suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed a “non-negotiable” need for academic success: mental wellness.
Yet 1 in 3 students of color say they don’t have an adult at school with whom they feel comfortable enough to talk about how they are feeling, according to a survey released Wednesday.
The survey of middle school and high school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District drives home their hardships and high-priority needs: access to technology and opportunities for tutoring, extra classes and extracurricular activities.
The survey included input from 769 students and follow-up student focus groups commissioned by a coalition called Communities for Los Angeles Student Success, under the leadership of United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
About half the students said they worried about not only their own mental health but that of parents, other family members and friends. They are stressed about their physical health too.
Among Black students, 71% reported that getting sick at school would be a potential stressor; 60% of white students felt that way.
Latino students, by 10 percentage points, are more worried than non-Latino students about their own physical health, the physical and mental health of their families, and the mental health of friends. By a similar margin, Latino students are more worried about getting good grades as well as taking care of parents, siblings or other relatives.
The survey results underscore the importance of listening to students as the district develops support systems for them — especially in a rare moment when the district is relatively flush with funding, said Norma Rodriguez, director of education programs and policy for United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
“Student input was critical before the pandemic, and it’s even more critical now,” Rodriguez said.