When the annual school report cards are issued, many parents eagerly scan for their student’s school to see where it stands, and if it has improved. Yet when they look at the scores, they are often left feeling confused—no more informed about what kind of education their child is receiving than before. As a busy parent, it is convenient to have a simple document that gives a quick snapshot of how your child’s school is faring. But the current report card, which depends exclusively on high-stakes, standardized testing, leaves that picture black and white at best. For the report card to be truly useful as a measure of educational quality offered by a particular school to parents, it needs to give color to the culture of the school. It needs to reflect what the school is like on the inside, not just whether all students have met a predetermined cut score. I am more concerned with the growth of each student from year to year, including both students who have not yet ‘met’ grade level standards and those who have scored high enough to exceed the needed score. A school that is making strides to help students improve year to year seems like a more personalized and relevant marker of whether individual students are learning. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘ equity ’
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.
Last week, Dan Jamison and I were invited to help facilitate the Mid-Valley Boys and Girls Club staff retreat in Lincoln City. This Boys and Girls Club serves kids in the Mid-Willamette Valley area within the Albany, Sweet Home and Lebanon school districts and provides a fun, safe and supervised environment for recreational and educational activities. Dan and I were particularly excited about this retreat because Albany and Lebanon happen to be two of our 18 CLASS districts.
Chalkboard was invited to this retreat to provide the Boys and Girls Club with an introduction to the CLASS Project, share current state and federal education policy issues, and also provide a snapshot of some of Oregon’s student data. And we were happy to join, always wanting to build our outreach and share important education-related information with communities throughout the state. This was also a great opportunity for the Boys and Girls Club staff to gain a better understanding of what’s going on with the students and teachers within their school districts—particularly those involved in CLASS.
It also wasn’t hard to say yes to a day at the coast, in Lincoln City where the retreat was held. The day promised to be full of hard work, creative thinking, and a bit of an ocean breeze. And after teaching for 32 years in Albany and serving as a principal at all three levels in the Greater Albany School District, Dan was excited to engage with the club. He even ran into some of his former students!
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…)
Equity is the new buzzword that pops up in every other article on PPS these days. My simplistic understanding is that “Equity” means social engineering, bussing, gerrymandered district borders, so that rich kids and poor kids will be forced to go to school together.
I get asked not infrequently what would make me send my kids to Public School. Let me tell you one thing that will NOT make me come to PPS: “Equity.” Better academics? Yes. High-quality teachers, world-class facilities? Yes. Small schools with small classes and a gentle, loving, community environment? YES. “Equity”? No, not really on my agenda. Am I supposed to feel Guilt about that statement? Maybe. I’ll leave that to my mother.
I’m just being painfully honest here. Do I believe in Equity as a concept? Sure, sounds great. Am I going to enthusiastically send my child to a school with reduced academic standards (cookie-cutter schools won’t have enough money for full AP course offerings), and a cultural environment that I don’t love? (Again, being painfully blunt: if your mother didn’t go to college, you probably have speech & behavior patterns that I don’t want my child to learn, because it will not benefit him in life.) Answer: No.