Student Union celebrates new supports for students

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Students at ten neighborhood high schools will have a new source of support in their schools this fall as a result of the research and organizing efforts of high school students in the Philadelphia Student Union.

The result of months of working with the School District’s Office of High Schools on ways that schools can support – rather than criminalize – students, the newly established Student Success Centers at these schools will offer students help with school- and non-school-related problems.

The centers will offer a wide range of supports from professional counseling services to help with rostering problems. Each center will also be staffed by a social worker or, in some cases, a coordinator and will also develop a cadre of student volunteers who are trained in peer counseling and mediation. Students will receive school credit for their work at the centers.

"We feel like this is one of the biggest victories we’ve ever had," said Student Union Director Eric Braxton.

Led by members from the Bartram High School chapter, the Student Union developed a proposal for the centers in response to surveys they conducted. Surveys showed that nearly 70 percent of students said that no one in school provides support for their personal problems, and over 40 percent of students in neighborhood high schools had never met with a counselor. Students also found that such lack of supports contributes significantly to high school students dropping out of school.

For more information, contact the Philadelphia Student Union at 215-546-3290.