Archive for the ‘
equity ’ Category
The Distinguished Educators Council (DEC), made up of 13 Oregon teachers recognized for their knowledge and accomplishments, has released its recommendations to ensure Oregon is a great place to teach. “As we work to create a seamless, high-quality system from birth through post-secondary education we know that teachers at all levels will be the real drivers of change in schools across the state. We should all be doing what we can to ensure that teachers’ voices are helping to drive these policy conversations,” reflected Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. “I am glad to see this group of distinguished teachers offering their best thinking and using their expertise to benefit students inside and outside their own classrooms.”
The report outlines five top-line recommendations, each with specific actions policymakers and school leaders should take to improve teaching and learning.
Read the full report, “Making Oregon a Great Place to Teach: Recommendations from the Distinguished Educators Council.”
Read the news release.
For the past few months, in the right hand sidebar we have asked our readers to answer a very important, but challenging, question: If you had to focus Oregon’s investment in public education on one effort, what would it be?
33 readers gave us their answers:
- Closing the achievement gap (30%, 10 Votes)
- Broader school choices (charters, magnets, focus schools) (18%, 6 Votes)
- Professional development (15%, 5 Votes)
- Early childhood programs (15%, 5 Votes)
- Parental support programs in struggling communities (15%, 5 Votes)
- Mentoring new teachers (6%, 2 Votes)
- Higher education (1%, 0 Votes)
According to the poll, focusing on closing the achievement gap in Oregon is what many of you think is most important. The recent release of the data surrounding Oregon high school graduation rates showed only 67 percent of students graduate in 4 years. These results also showed that the achievement gap is narrowing. The 4-year graduation rates for Native American, African American and Hispanic students all increased this year. This is a step in the right direction. Read more.
David Mandell has been with the Children’s Institute since 2006. He leads the Institute’s major research projects and is integral in developing the organization’s policy agenda and strategies. Prior to joining the Children’s Institute staff, David was a visiting assistant professor at Reed College and adjunct faculty at Portland State University. He completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia University and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. David recently served on the Governor’s Early Learning Design team.
On October 17th, Oregon submitted its application for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant.
I had the opportunity to work on Oregon’s application, and witness the dedication that went into it. We had just eight weeks to put together a 300+ page comprehensive plan for Oregon’s early learning system.
If Oregon wins the grant, the benefit for the state will be significant. The grant, a collaborative project of the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to spur states to build comprehensive early care and education systems that promote the school readiness of all children (with a focus on those with high needs). Thirty seven states applied for the small handful of awards. The winning states will be announced before the end of the year and, if chosen, Oregon will receive $50 million over three years.
The collaboration that went into this effort exemplified what we want to see happen in Oregon’s government. Folks from education, health, human services and employment worked together to plan for:
- Common early learning standards that will support the school readiness of all children.
- An integrated data system that will track children’s progress and support quality improvements for programs.
- Early childhood professional development system that will build the skilled and knowledgeable workforce that is needed to deliver results for children. (more…)
Sunny Petit is the Associate Director for the Center for Women, Politics, and Policy which promotes the education and empowerment of women and girls through civic leadership programs and research. Prior to joining the Center, she was Regional Director for a counter-human trafficking organization in South Asia and ran programs in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. She lives in North Portland with her husband and two children.
Remember the posters of US Presidents on your wall in your middle school? It’s the literal evolution of executive leadership in our nation on display. In each photo, you saw the changing social fabric of our country, you saw military leaders and governors and great orators, but there was always something missing. I didn’t see any women on those posters, and thus, I didn’t see myself. While I loved hearing about women like Amelia Earhart and Rosa Parks, the role models offered for girls were minimal- segments on women’s history often felt like a footnote. I managed to make it through a complete K-12 education in Oregon, never knowing the name of Oregon’s first female Supreme Court Justice Betty Roberts, let alone the names of the Oregon suffragists who made that historic event possible.
A few years ago as the Center for Women, Politics & Policy at PSU started planning around the centennial for Oregon Women’s Suffrage in 2012, we discussed what other women’s stories were out there to discover and share. Over the past year, I’ve worked together with Gayle Thieman, an expert curriculum designer and Past President of the National Council for Social Studies, to develop a grade 6-12 curriculum that brings to life the stories and achievements of Oregon’s women pioneers who have shaped our state for generations. (more…)
I like to ask my fourth graders what college they are planning to attend. Of course, they think I’m asking them if they are a Duck or a Beaver. I am really serious about this though. Kids and parents need to know that some sort of post high school education is the goal for all Oregon kids.
This economy has taught us all that education is vital. Economists can debate whether current unemployment is cyclical, a downturn that will rebound, or structural, a result of a tipping of economic needs away from low skilled labor to the need for a more educated workforce. Whatever the case, the jobs of the future will require more advanced math skills and the ability to quickly master new skills. We can’t have kids think that ending their education after high school is an option that will lead to future financial security.
Since post secondary education is a necessity, I like to peruse the web in search of what college prep schools are doing. What are charter school expectations? What are elite schools doing for their students? I checked in with the Dalton School (NYC) to see what their fourth graders will be doing. The Dalton School has a $38,000 price tag and 60 staff for approximately 350 students. It may sound unfair but graduates from these schools will be competing with my students to get into top colleges. Their 4th graders have an hour and half of homework a night and an extensive reading list. We should expect our public school kids to have the same. We should also expect families to realize this new reality and do what it takes to support a more vigorous program and to expect their child to attend college.
In looking further I found charter schools in low income areas with graduates in elite colleges. This week the New York Times reported about efforts in Houston public schools to replicate effective charter schools like KIPP and Harlem Children’s Zone where a high percentage of graduates head to college (“Troubled Schools Try Mimicking the Charters” Sept. 6).
I really appreciate these charters for showing us what is possible. It’s too easy to look at impoverished neighborhoods and think that kids there can’t make it at competitive colleges. With concerted effort effective charter schools are cranking out the productive citizens of the future from some of the least productive neighborhoods.
In the article the author cited the 5 common policies of effective charters.
- longer school days and years;
- more rigorous and selective hiring of principals and teachers;
- frequent quizzes whose results determine what needs to be retaught;
- “high-dosage tutoring”;
- and a “no excuses” culture.
The policies that public school teachers like me can control are limited. Without more support staff, high dosage tutoring is out. Without a better funding structure we are severely limited in the amount of instructional time we can give kids. For example, KIPP kids typically get twice as much math instruction as public school kids. Even the Texas schools mimicking the model of KIPP fell short by 300 hours of instructional time (50 6 hr school days).
My colleagues and I are working hard to tailor instruction to meet individual needs through data collection and targeted standards-based instruction. Along with this comes a beefed-up “no excuses” culture.
Teachers will continue to look at research and mimic what works. Meanwhile, we’ll look to the citizens of this state to fill in the other requirements on the list. How will we provide more instructional time? How will we mobilize tutors to target failing students? When will we start showing kids in Oregon that they are important, and give them the tools they need to make college an attainable goal?
Sadie Feibel Holmes is the Director of Education Programs at the Latino Network, a community-based organization that provides programs and services to support education equity, parent engagement, civic leadership and advocacy in Oregon’s Latino community. Through their Padres Promotores de Educacion (Education Promoters) program, she and a group of Latino parents joined CAUSA’s Advocacy Day in Salem last week (the day after the May Day rally) to share their hopes for education in Oregon with state legislators.
Relentless hope for our children’s future.
Anxiety about entering a government building in a foreign land.
Determination and commitment to stand up for the rights of our community.
Belief in the power of a quality education.
Such was the mix of emotion on the bus ride from Northest Portland to the Capitol Building last Monday, May 2. After two weeks of training, identifying critical issues, and preparing written testimony, a group of 36 Latino parents, children and their allies caravanned from Rigler and Scott Schools to Salem to speak face-to-face with legislators during CAUSA’s advocacy day.
This group of Latino parents is part of a Latino Network project called Padres Promotores de Educacion (Education Promoters), which strengthens the confidence and capacity of Latino parents to become agents of positive change and to promote their children’s academic success. The lobby day represented the first trip to Salem for all but one of the parents, and was the first time any of the participants had the opportunity to share their hopes and concerns directly with a state legislator.
Here’s my bottom line: The most important task of a school leader is to embrace the challenge of having a clear and shared vision of equitable outcomes for all students. It is the democratic principle of fairness upon which our country is founded and the basis for truly changing the achievement gaps that now prevail.
With the recent news that only 66% of Oregon students graduate high school, it’s clear that this vision does not “just happen.” It has to be owned and shared by the whole school community. It must be intentional, planned, implemented and supported to be sustainable. It must be evident every day, every week and every month in every classroom. All students, teachers and parents need to know and own a common vision of outcomes at their school. What must each student know and be able to do when he/she graduates? When this is clear and held dear, there is a true school spirit.
All students come from somewhere special, each with different backgrounds, different experiences and different circumstances. The whole of their differences is the beautiful mosaic of school. And when they come through the school doors, they are in a place where equity can happen. But there must be a roadmap for success for each student in each classroom across these differences.
Teachers must lead the way for the students. They must know their students well, understanding them across all their differences. They must ask the question: What does it take for a student to enter a school at one level of achievement, move forward, and then graduate with the highest potential achievement? That’s the daily challenge of teaching, at every level.
Eliz Roser a MSW student at Portland State University. Before entering the MSW program, Eliz taught 2nd grade in East Oakland, worked as an Area Executive Director for an educational company developing and implementing after school programs for students at low income and low performing schools in the Bay Area. She has also worked as a Program Manager for Girls Inc. of Alameda County, managing after school programs for girls in Oakland that promote self-esteem, STEM, healthy living, and academic achievement. Eliz’s areas of interest include anti-racist educational reform, non-profit development and management, and community outreach through schools.
Let’s get something straight. When we, the people who love to talk about education reform, are talking about educational equity and the achievement gap, we are talking about race and racism. School districts nationwide see glaring academic gaps between white students and students of color. From disparities in education funding to disproportionate numbers of students of color in disciplinary programs and Special Education, to the scarcity of authors of color in language arts curricula, public schools are entrenched in institutional racism.
Racism is a scary word for white people to say. It can be very hurtful to be called a racist, and talking about race opens us up to saying something that might be offensive to someone. When I first started thinking about my own white privilege, and the ways in which I have benefited in my life based on the color of my skin, I was embarrassed and ashamed. It’s uncomfortable for me because when I think about it, I know that I say and do things that are unintentionally racist all the time. I experience power and privilege that is immeasurable based on the color of my skin. I didn’t earn my privilege as a white person, but I have certainly benefited from it.
But the thing is, my discomfort with talking about race and admitting racism is nothing compared with what communities of color face on a daily basis. Because I am not personally subjected to racism, it is easier for me to take a stand against it. I have nothing to lose. As someone who is white, I have a personal responsibility to action. (more…)