National PTA's Sherri Wilson shares resources to engage families in minimizing summer learning loss.
We hear a lot of debate these days about the merits of business involvement in education. Few of these debates ever touch on a critical element of big business’s influence on schools: the impact of advertising on youth culture.
There are all sorts of forces out there, cultural and corporate, that undermine educators' efforts. There is a multi-billion dollar industry whose primary products are apathy, ignorance and stupidity.
As the father of a two-month-old girl, I've started paying much closer attention to all the media that will compete for her attention over the next 20 years. I do not like what I see: Sexualization of children. Junk food. Vacuous summer movies. Fatuous music. Violent video games. Ads that openly disparage study. Even pink cigarettes for girls. And the list goes on.
Changing the Graduation Equation in a Texas District: A Conversation with Superintendent Daniel P. King
When Daniel P. King came to the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district in 2007, the district’s dropout rate was double the Texas state average. Now, it is half the state average.
How did the district do it? Dr. King and his colleagues created a College, Career and Technology Academy to steer dropouts--some as old as 25--back onto a path towards graduation. Not only do those students gain the skills and course credits they need to graduate, they also gain college credit along the way. (See a story about the Academy in our success stories section).
King recently spoke with us about the district’s remarkable success.
Public School Insights: What prompted you to create the College, Career & Technology Academy in the first place?
King: I was entering new into the district. I was moving from a small district to a large district, and I was overwhelmed when I saw that the district had a dropout rate that was twice the state average. The prior year had seen approximately 500 dropouts.
When I asked for an analysis of the 500 dropouts from the previous year I found that not only was there the typical freshman bubble (where students don't make it past the ninth grade, get stuck there and ultimately drop out), but there was [also] a relatively new phenomenon that I call the “twelfth grade bubble, ” [caused by] exit testing and rising standards.
In a small district I had dealt with [the dropout problem] very successfully, simply through ...
Things are happening in Mobile.
The Alabama district mounted an innovative public engagement campaign early this decade, and student performance has been rising ever since.
Though the district has a larger share of low-income students than does Alabama as a whole, it boasts higher scores on state assessments. We recently profiled two very successful Mobile County public elementary schools—George Hall and Mary B. Austin—on our Success Stories Page.
Last week, we caught up with Mary B. Austin principal Jacquelyn Zeigler, who has worked with dedicated staff and parents to narrow achievement gaps dramatically. She described the ingredients of her success:
Public School Insights: We've heard a lot about Mary B. Austin School, but I thought I'd give you an opportunity to say in your own words what kind of a school it is. Describe the sort of students you serve.
Jacquelyn Zeigler: There are no -- or very few -- new families coming in. So to keep my doors open, 80 percent of the children are on transfer. We get them from all over Mobile County. And because of that, we are right at 50/50 boy/girl, 50/50 black/white, and about 34 percent free and reduced [lunch program]. We have a wonderful cross-section of society.
Right across the street is Springfield College, and then just down the street is the University of South Alabama, so I'm very fortunate because I am able to get their student teachers and their interns; a lot of the volunteers to come and work with my ...
Recent calls for stronger regulation of charter schools have raised the ire of some charter school movement True Believers. Their over-the-top response says more about the limits of their ideology than it does about the dangers of regulation.
Secretary Duncan, hardly an enemy of the charter movement, called for measures to hold low-performing charter schools accountable for their performance. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools followed suit with recommendations to strengthen oversight of new charter schools.
“Blasphemy!” cried the True Believers.
Free marketeer John Stossel tarred the Charter Alliance people as “bureaucrats” for even entertaining the idea:
National Alliance bureaucrats weeding out bad schools will fail as government bureaucrats failed….
Sure, some charter schools are lousy. But failure is part of innovation. Parents will quickly figure out if their kids’ school is lousy, and if they are allowed other choices, they’ll pull their kids out. The weak schools will die from lack of customers. The best schools will grow, and help more kids.
Of course, Stossel has long cherished sublime free market theories untainted by supporting evidence. He's not so concerned about recent findings that traditional public schools perform as well as or better than 83 percent of ...
Editor’s note: Our series of guest blogs in which accomplished teachers offer ideas for how to spend stimulus funds concludes with Susan Graham's thoughts. The opinions she expresses are, of course, her own and do not necessarily represent those of LFA or its member organizations.
Bob Woodruff, the ABC news correspondent who suffered traumatic brain injury in Iraq, didn’t plan to be a journalist. In a recent address to students he recalled that he took a pay cut when he went into journalism, but he went on to say, "I really believe in doing what you want to do. Especially at a young age, do what your heart tells you to do."
What does this have to do with innovative efforts in public school? Before stumbling into journalism, Woodruff spent four years in college and four years in law school. The vast majority of ...
Editor’s note: This week, we’re running a series of guest blogs in which accomplished teachers offer ideas for how to spend stimulus funds. Today, California teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron offers her contribution. The opinions she expresses are of course her own and do not necessarily represent those of LFA or its member organizations.
A knock at my door signals its arrival. “Sign here,” mumbles the delivery guy. At last. My stimulus package has arrived, and I know just how to spend it. My mythical program will solve everything, increasing both morale and teaching quality, and in so doing, increase student achievement. What is this magic bullet of which I boast? The Tapping Teachers Interests Program.
MY PROPOSED STIMULUS INVESTMENT: TTIP (tee-tip) is a teacher-driven elective program that provides funding for each teacher to have one period a day to teach the subject of his or her choice. There is a tangible difference between teachers who teach just because they are credentialed to do so, and those who truly love what they ...
Robert Pondiscio at the Core Knowledge blog recently summed up the findings of a new study on the impact of family conflict on student achievement:
Children from troubled families perform “considerably worse” on standardized reading and mathematics tests and are much more likely to commit disciplinary infractions and be suspended than other students, according to a new study. Writing in Education Next, Scott Carrell of UC-Davis and the University of Pittsburgh’s Mark Hoekstra offer evidence that “a single disruptive student can indeed influence the academic progress made by an entire classroom of students.”
Robert adds his own thoughtful interpretation of the study's ...
My favorite education innovation is better than yours.
That seems to be the reigning sentiment in many policy discussions across the education blogosphere these days. Gotham Schools offers a recent, though relatively mild, example. Together, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and NYU professor Pedro Noguera visited PS 28, a successful Brooklyn elementary school serving low-income children. They came back describing what could have been two different schools.
Noguera praised the school for its focus on both the academic and non-academic needs of its students: The school offers an extended school day, social services, social and emotional learning, professional development for teachers, etc. Klein praised the school for using data to improve instruction.
Frustrated by what he saw as Klein's unwillingness to acknowledge the school's focus on non-academic needs, Noguera told Gotham Schools reporter, "I told him to look at the full picture, all of the things that they were doing.... A lot of people are stuck on this idea that there’s only one way to go about educating urban kids: It’s the KIPP way."
The Gotham Schools story illustrates a common destructive tendency to set apparently successful school reform models in competition with each other. Data-driven improvement can exist comfortably with support for non-academic needs, but you wouldn't know it from much education policy discussion these days.
Happily, both Noguera and many KIPP supporters can see the virtue of multiple approaches to ...
Editor's Note: Yesterday, Hollywood producer turned Montana educator Peter Rosten sent us the following remarks about his school's innovative filmmaking program:
Greetings from Montana!
A friend of mine, Jan Lombardi, is the education policy advisor for Montana’s Governor, Brian Schweitzer. Recently Jan forwarded me a “Learning First” newsletter and pointed to an article titled “Learning in the Community: Teen Filmmakers Talk About Their Work and Its Impact on Their Lives”.
After reading this inspiring story, I reached out to Claus von Zastrow. Perhaps he’d be interested in a pretty cool media program here in the Bitterroot Valley in rural Western, Montana.
Last week, teen filmmaker Jasmine Britton told us about the impact of her filmmaking on her life plans and academic prospects. Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, a Brooklyn-based non-profit organization, has reinforced Britton's academic skills and strengthened her motivation to go to college.
This week, we're sharing our recent conversation with Reelworks filmmaker Isaac Schrem, who expands on themes introduced by Britton. Shrem describes how his school's arts programs, together with filmmaking opportunities through Reel Works, shaped his professional aspirations.
Listen to approximately 5 minutes of highlights from our interview (or read through the transcript below):
PUBLIC SCHOOL INSIGHTS: Tell me about the film you made, The Other Side of the Picture.
ISAAC: I was always interested in filmmaking, but I didn't know exactly what I wanted to with it. I went with the phrase, "Write what you know." The one thing that I knew or wanted to understand, at least, at the time, was the situation with my parents, and my father leaving us and going away to Paris. So I went with that story.
It was a very rough topic for me to tackle because I still ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
On this website, educators, parents and policymakers from coast to coast are sharing what's already working in public schools--and sparking a national conversation about how to make it work for children in every school. Join the conversation!