The Washoe County School District’s social and emotional learning program, which integrates lessons in emotional management and interpersonal relations into the curriculum, has gained national renown everywhere from Education Week to the RAND Corporation. Last month, a much-vaunted report from the Aspen Institute on SEL, "From a Nation At Risk to a Nation At Hope," highlighted Washoe’s Damonte Ranch High School as a case study in “Transform(ing) learning settings so they are safe and supportive for all young people.”
Sounds great, but there’s just one problem: according to students, Damonte has become a danger zone, and Washoe County schools, writ large, have become dramatically less safe.
When Damonte students were asked in 2015 whether they feel safe at school, 93 percent said yes. By 2018, that number plummeted to 70 percent. Compared to 2015, the percentage of students who said they had witnessed a fight was up 30 points (from 55 to 85 percent); the percentage who said they were the victim of violence was up 12 points (from 23 to 35 percent); and the percentage who said they’d seen a deadly weapon on campus was up 10 points (from 12 to 22 percent).
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