For her leadership in the areas of teacher quality and educational equity and reform, the Learning First Alliance has named Stanford professor and accomplished author Linda Darling-Hammond as our 2013 Education Visionary Award winner.
The following blog post is from Samantha Huffman and was written in response to a recent article about a special needs student who was bound with duct tape during school.
Samantha is a former National Youth Activation Committee member and current senior, studying Elementary Education at Hanover College. Samantha has been a student leader in Project UNIFY for many years.
I recently went to a conference where a young man with cerebral palsy kept bringing up how we needed to focus on students with disabilities being tied down to chairs or restrained and/or harmed in some other way by educators. I kept thinking to myself how this wasn’t important because this would never be allowed to happen in a school in today’s society. I’m a senior Elementary Education major and never once in my four years of classes have we addressed the idea of restraining students because that’s just plain wrong, isn’t it? Well, apparently I was living in some kind of dream world and this young man at the conference was living in the real world. ...
A new study that tracks the long-term effects of bullying suggests that intervention efforts are well worth attention and investment. While some consider bullying to be a rite of passage - it is certainly a common occurrence – the behavior adversely affects student learning and can account for higher rates of absenteeism. Nationally, 160,000 students miss school on a daily basis due to a fear of being bullied or attacked. ...
By Rocío Inclán, Director of the Human and Civil Rights Department of the National Education Association
October is Bullying Prevention month, and this year we see signs of progress in the national effort to stop bullying in our schools.
For example, the recently released 2011 National School Climate Survey from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) shows for the first time decreased levels of victimization based on sexual orientation. It also found increased levels of student access to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) school resources and support.
This is excellent news. LGBT students have been a major target of bullying in schools. But the fact that 8 out of 10 LGBT students still experienced harassment in the past year because of their sexual orientation reminds us we have a long way to go.
Here is another encouraging sign: Bullying prevention resources are far more widely available today than in the past. Google “bullying prevention,” and a plethora of resources will open up to you. Indeed, there is so much anti-bullying material out there, it is hard to ...
Did you know that each year more than three million students are suspended from school?
While some of these suspensions are the result of violent or other extreme behavior, others are the result of relatively minor infractions – dress code violations, being late for school and so on.
Should we really be putting students through suspension for a minor infraction? Out-of-school suspension does not benefit schools in terms of test scores or graduation rates. And it can have a very negative impact on individual children. In addition to immediate academic consequences stemming from time out of the classroom (we all know the phrase, “you can’t teach to an empty desk”), suspension is a leading indicator of whether a child will drop out of school. It is also related to risk for future incarceration, part of the school-to-prison pipeline that we often hear about.
And these impacts are not spread equally throughout the student population. A recent report from the Civil Rights Project found that Black, Latino and Native American students are much more likely than their White and Asian American peers to be suspended. Seventeen percent of Black students – that is one out of every six enrolled in K-12 education – were suspended at least once in ...
Last week I had the privilege of celebrating the work of the 2012 School Counselor of the Year, Nicole Pfleger, at an elegant gala event held at Union Station and sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). Nicole is a school counselor at Nickajack Elementary in Georgia’s Cobb County Public Schools and a reminder of how important individual excellence, leadership and enthusiasm are to the success of our students, schools, and districts. Nicole is an impressive young woman with a talent for problem solving in the best interests of the students with whom she works. At Nickajack Elementary she works to create an environment where students are respectful, responsible, and able to work cooperatively with others. She established a school program called Rachel’s Challenge that focuses on creating a culture of compassion through acts of kindness and service projects. This school wide program includes a curriculum, class meetings, service projects, student recognition and a Kindness and Compassion Club.
Pfleger has developed a close working relationship with a community homeless shelter for women and children where some of her students live, helping ...
In 2001, The Learning First Alliance wrote a report titled “Every Child Learning: Safe and Supportive Schools – A Summary,” which advocated for systemic approaches to supporting positive behavior in our nation’s schools. The Alliance argued for school-wide approaches to improving school climate, safety and discipline: “In a safe and supportive learning community, civility, order, and decorum are the norms and antisocial behaviors such as bullying and taunting are clearly unacceptable.” Ten years later, schools across the nation continually contend with the harsh and terrifying realities of bullying and the sad reality is that we still have a long way to go when it comes to ensuring a safe and supportive environment for our nation’s children. Fortunately, recent attention to the issue suggests that we are all beginning to take important steps in the right direction. ...
Sunday’s New York Times Magazine (September 18, 2011), featured a cover story entitled “The Character Test”, suggesting that our kids’ success, and happiness, may depend less on perfect performance than on learning how to deal with failure. The two schools profiled were Riverdale, one of New York City’s most prestigious private schools, and KIPP Infinity Middle School, a member of the KIPP network of public charter schools in New York City. The common factor in each of these schools is a headmaster or charter school superintendent whose leadership is focused on providing an educational experience for the students he serves that encompasses more than academic rigor and achievement. Their strategies are based on the work of Martin Seligman, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, whose scholarly publication, Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification, documents 24 character strengths common to all cultures and eras. The importance of these strengths does not come from their relationship to any system of ethics or moral laws but from their practical benefit: cultivating these strengths represent a reliable path to “the good life,” a life that is not just happy but also meaningful and fulfilling. ...
Editor's note: Our guest blogger today is David L. Kirp, Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Kids First: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children’s Lives and America’s Future (2011).
Schools are just beginning to open their doors, but the education food fights are already underway. I’m not thinking about kids in the cafeteria but adults wielding books and blogs. Amid this tomfoolery among the grownups the critical needs of children are going ignored.
On the one side of the current fight stands the “no excuses” crew, personified by Michelle Rhee, the broom-wielding ex-superintendent of the Washington D.C. schools. To them, and to the producers of “Waiting for Superman,” retrograde unions and bloated bureaucracies are biggest impediments to reform. Turn the schools over to the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) charter school network, make every teacher as well-pedigreed as those recruited by Teach for America and our education problems will be solved. Diane Ravitch was once a dues-paying member of this group. She switched sides—detailed in her recent book The Death and Life of the Great American School System—and since has been on the warpath, staunchly defending the contributions of teachers unions and the quality of public school teachers. From the outset this fight has been nasty, and with the recent publication of Steven Brill’s Class Warfare it has turned downright vicious. Brill makes a big deal of the fact that Ravitch is earning a bundle by (shock, shock!) being handsomely paid to give speeches to organizations that share her beliefs; Ravitch, saying that Brill has got his facts wrong, is threatening a defamation suit. Oy!
What gets lost amid all this “he said, she said” squabbling are the needs of kids. Little attention is getting paid to what’s important, not only to
The Washington Post recently featured an article by Donna St. George that discusses the trend to reevaluate zero tolerance approaches in school discipline. Zero-tolerance policies enacting severe punishments for offenses related to weapons, drugs, and behavioral issues caught on among schools in the early 1990s—aided by federal legislation through the Gun-Free Schools Act that requires students who bring guns to school be expelled, and intensified after the school shooting at Columbine High School. The article summarizes that “over the years, ‘zero-tolerance’ has described discipline policies that impose automatic consequences for offenses, regardless of context. The term also has come to refer to severe punishments for relatively minor infractions.”
Though this approach is still commonly implemented, there is evidence that it can be ineffectual, misapplied, and even counter-productive, leading a growing number of educators and elected officials to scale back on implementation. A University of Virginia education professor (Dewey Cornell) interviewed for the article claims that suspension and expulsion—common punishments in zero-tolerance policies—do not improve student behavior or ...
Editor's note: Our guest blogger today is Melissa Whipple, a District Resource Teacher for the San Diego Unified School District. In her current role, she coaches school staff to help them understand the value of family and community engagement and how to leverage it to boost student performance. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor at USD, teaching a master’s course demystifying Family, School, and Community Partnerships.
I have been teaching in many capacities since 1975, and it seems to me that most educational leaders want to skip to immediate implementation of educational changes or reforms without first building relationships.
They seem to be in such a hurry to prove themselves as change agents or visionary leaders or reformers, they fail to understand that taking time to build consensus and positive relationships with others is just as important (if not more so) as the content of their proposed reforms. John Wooden once said, "It is what we learn after we know it all that matters." I couldn't agree more.
Unfortunately, many educational leaders tend to lead with their mouths (telling others what is going to be done and how) rather than leading with their ears (listening to other points of view and figuring out how best to work in ways that develop a sense of shared responsibility for student success) and proceeding accordingly. It seems the message is, "Just do what we say. Don't worry, we have done all the thinking for you and we have all of the answers. Remember, it is our way or the highway." This doesn't go over well.
In my district, we have had a revolving door of superintendents and their imported administrative teams (we have had four complete turnovers in the last 10 years) who seemed qualified and also personally charming, and yet they each failed to understand that ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
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