Archive for the ‘
minorities in education ’ Category
As a first generation Cambodian American student, I had a difficult time believing that I was capable of handling advanced placement (AP) courses in high school. I was overwhelmed with feelings of fear and self-doubt: “Should I sign up for an AP class? Do I belong there? Will I be able to handle the work? What happens to me if I fail?”
During my junior year, my guidance counselor noticed that I was getting good grades in my other classes and wondered why I wasn’t challenging myself with more rigorous coursework. She encouraged me to put aside my fear of failure and enroll in my first advanced placement course, AP Government. This course not only inspired my later work in policy, it also served as a gateway to other AP courses that boosted my confidence, pushed my critical thinking, and prepared me for college-level work.
Education research affirms my experience. Two landmark studies conducted by researchers at the University of Texas found that “students who took one or more AP tests and courses had higher college GPAs, earned more credit hours, and were more likely to graduate in four years or fewer.”[i]
In Federal Way Public Schools (Washington’s eighth largest school district), Superintendent Rob Neu and Assistant Superintendent Josh Garcia took this research to the next level by implementing Academic Acceleration in 2010, an advanced placement policy that works by automatically enrolling students in grades 6-12 into advanced classes when they score proficient or better on the state exams. For example, if students meet the standard for math, they are automatically enrolled in an advanced math course that their high school offers. (more…)
TIME magazine’s feature story declared, “Not Legal, Not Leaving” after President Obama issued an executive order June 15th, 2012 stating certain undocumented immigrants would no longer be deported. According to reports, this affects over 800,000 public school students in the U.S., although the exact number is unknown and could be much higher. Some undocumented students have uncertain ID making the exact numbers difficult to calculate. The main benefits of the President’s mandate on deferred deportation status surround work provisions as the qualifying undocumented immigrants can now get legal work visas. The effect in education is secondary but profound.
Last year a student in my high school class seemed troubled. Suddenly she started crying and bolted from the room. I followed her into the hall where she simply sat on the floor crying. I asked what was wrong, and she looked up and said, “I want more. I want so much more. I want to go to college.” She then proceeded to tell her story as an undocumented student. She came here from Mexico at the age of six. She attended school in Oregon since first grade. Now a junior, she wanted to go to college, but had little money and did not have a social security number. A sophomore male Hispanic student stood quietly at my desk this year. He didn’t need help with the assignment, however. He wanted bigger help. He quietly said, “I don’t want to be a farmer all my life. Can you help me do something else?” He had been in the U.S. since he was a small child. Another undocumented male student asked why he should try to do well in school because all he would be able to do was work on a farm for cash. He angrily spoke of his frustration with his U.S. status. When one student spoke openly about her undocumented status, I asked if she was sure she wanted to tell people. She replied, “I am so tired of this; I don’t care anymore.” All of these students have been school and community leaders. One of these students won a student of the year award and an outstanding youth community award. Another was a church summer camp leader for elementary children. These students typify many undocumented immigrants. (more…)
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.
Nearly 60 years ago, the court ruling Brown v. Board of Education recognized that “education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. It is the very foundation of good citizenship.” The ruling also made the claim that desegregation would benefit all students and that providing students with inclusive educational opportunities from an early age is crucial to achieving the nation’s educational and civic goals. Years later, however, we continue to struggle with this issue. Some people still ask the question: what kinds of benefits stem from a diverse classroom?
As a product of a racially diverse public school system outside of Chicago, I believe that my classroom experience provided me with incalculable educational and civic benefits. However, I find measuring and identifying those benefits extremely difficult. While growing up, it never occurred to me that I was actively breaking down racial stereotypes or becoming a more culturally sensitive person. Instead, I found that being around students and teachers who were different than me was just the norm. In a way, I believe that that is the overall intended outcome: being comfortable and motivated to participate in a heterogeneous and multifaceted society. Right?
In 2005, I taught 2nd grade in East Oakland, California. I had enthusiastically accepted a teaching position at a school with a predominately African American and Latino community, where most families were living under the poverty line. As a young, white, middle class, female, I had little knowledge of the experiences of the families at the school, but I wanted to learn.
There was coursework in my credential program designed to teach me how to work with families. I learned that family members who were involved behaved a certain way – they would come into the classroom and help me staple papers, attend field trips with the class, and bring food to class parties. I was also told to expect that most parents wouldn’t return my phone calls or come to school-wide events. At the time, I didn’t realize that this style of family engagement wasn’t inclusive of all families.
I still think back to one student named Rachel. Rachel’s mother was raising seven children as a single, working parent. I had met her on the first day of school and was so excited to get to know her and her daughter. Throughout the school year, I did everything “right.” I called her to let her know how Rachel was doing in school, I sent personalized invitations home to school family events, and I made sure to offer plenty of time slots for parent-teacher conferences so she could attend. She never came. I was really disappointed and felt that Rachel’s mother just didn’t care about her education.
The recent release of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) provides results that should give all Oregonians cause for great concern. Most NAEP measures for Oregon students are disheartening. Oregon is now one of five states where the overall achievement gap widened between 2003 and 2011. Additionally, low-income students in Oregon rank among the lowest performing in the nation and have lost ground since 2003. This information invites questions that should be in the forefront of Oregon’s attempt to restructure educational delivery. What will it take to declare a statewide breakdown? What is Oregon’s commitment to close the achievement gap?
NAEP Report Overview
Also known as the Nation’s Report Card, NAEP is the only tool we have to assess which states appear to be making progress in academic achievement. While we recognize the limits of NAEP, simultaneously the results should not be ignored. One advantage of this national assessment is the opportunity to assess progress over time. Another dimension of interest is the opportunity to disaggregate results and examine how different student subgroups fare compared to others across the country.
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.