Feds Open Civil Rights Investigation Into What’s Going On In Newark

I’ve published quite a few posts about the craziness that’s been going on in Newark schools — the misuse of Zukerberg’s millions in donations, their “Twilight Zonish” perspective on parent engagement, their banning of a parent leader from school grounds.

Well, now the U.S. Department of Education has begun an investigation:

The deeply flawed state school reorganization plan known as “One Newark” faces a federal investigation. In response to a detailed request for a probe from PULSE New Jersey, a parent activist group founded by Johnny Lattner and Sharon Smith, the U.S. Department of Education will determine whether the plan–which has confused the lives of thousands of city children and their parents–violates the civil rights of Newark parents.

Lattner and Smith, joined by national Journey for Justice director Jitu Brown, will announced the details of the investigation Wednesday at noon during a press conference scheduled for the steps of City Hall.

“We made the case that One Newark’ discriminates against children, parents, and teachers, especially in the South Ward,” said Smith, who has been working on bringing the feds into Newark for months.

Smith says she hopes the investigation, authorized by Title 6 of the federal Civil Rights statute, will be prelude to suspending the “One Newark” plan and replacing it with what Brown calls “sustainable school transformation.”

Read more about it at:

Feds will investigate “One Newark” by Bob Braun

Civil Rights Officials Investigating Complaint Against ‘One Newark’ Plan at Ed Week.

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New Congressional Effort To Generate Funds For Community Schools

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill. have announced they are introducing a Congressional bill that would generate funds to support the development of community schools.

You can read more about it at:

Bipartisan House Bill Would Boost Community Schools at Ed Week

Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Expand Community Schools at the Coalition For Community Schools.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools.

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British Prohibition On Taking Kids Out Of School Reaches New Low: “Mother of terminally-ill boy fighting fine for taking son on ‘last holiday’”

I’ve posted a lot about the ridiculous British policy of fining parents if they take their kids on a trip while school is in session.

The Telegraph reports on a new low in this article: Mother of terminally-ill boy fighting fine for taking son on ‘last holiday’

The headline says it all…

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“Want More Kids to Graduate? Report Suggests Starting with Mom and Dad”

Want More Kids to Graduate? Report Suggests Starting with Mom and Dad is the headline of a post over at Education Week.

Here are a some excerpts:

A new report released today by the Foundation for Child Development and CLASP, a Washington think tank, finds that although parents’ education has a huge effect on their children’s future health and educational attainment, there are very few programs focused on improving education for the entire family….

The report called for policymakers and education officials to look for ways to develop more-holistic “dual generation” anti-poverty programs to educate parents and children at the same time.

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Odd Question: Are Parents “Assets Or Liabilities”?

John Merrow, who produces education-related segments for the PBS News Hour, recently published a post about parent engagement titled Assets or Liabilities?

Though certainly there are teachers who are not very positive about working with parents, my suspicion is that they are in the distinct minority. Merrow appears to think otherwise.

His post is a prelude of sorts to a segment about a parent involvement program in Philadelphia. It’s supposed to air in a few weeks. It should be interesting.

You might also be interested in The Best Reasons Why Parents Should Be Looked At As Allies & Not Targets Of Blame.

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“Engaging Immigrant Parents with Improved Systems of Interpretation & Translation”

Engaging Immigrant Parents with Improved Systems of Interpretation & Translation is a useful short explanation of how and why one school district makes it a priority to offer several different types of translation services available.

The article includes research references and links for more details on how the system operates.

Thanks to Edublogs for the tip!

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“Learning Walks…More Than a Tour of the School”

Learning Walks…More Than a Tour of the School is the title of a post at Edutopia by Gwen Pescatore, where she offers an idea for parent involvement called “Learning Walks.”

Here’s an excerpt:

What is a Learning Walk?

It is an invitation to parents to come to the school for a set period of time (an hour or two), to go on a guided tour of the school/classrooms during the school day. Not to look at the decor – but to learn more about the learning happening or explore other topics revolving around education and the school. Each tour/learning walk, would have a topic or theme to guide the discussion and help with selection of which classrooms to visit. The thought is more about giving parents an opportunity to witness what a “real” lesson looks like and not a “dog and pony show” lesson. These are also not about a parent sitting in on and observing THEIR child…but to learn more about a topic or the school through observing in them in action. Following the Learning Walk, the group would sit down to talk more in depth about what they’ve observed and answer questions.

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El Paso Teachers Union Recognized For Parent Engagement Work

The El Paso Teachers Union was recently honored by the National Education Association for its parent engagement work.

Here’s the announcement from the NEA:

The Rosena J. Willis Memorial Award will be given to the El Paso Teachers Association (EPTA) for the work it has done to restore public confidence in the public school system after former superintendent Lorenzo Garcia was sentenced to more than three years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud in order to raise standardized test scores. To re-engage the public, the district sponsored a public forum called, “Social Justice in Public Education: A Call to Action from Ground Zero,” attended by more than 400 parents, students, educators, and concerned community members. NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen-García was the keynote speaker and during the course of two days, difficult but necessary discussions were held on how to meet the needs of the most economically disadvantaged students, many who are English language learners. Since the forum, a Parent Task Force has gone door to door interviewing parents on what needs to change so that public schools can better serve their children. EPTA is an outstanding example of not only how to work proactively to change the narrative and image—but how to reconnect with parents and the community.

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“Donation inequality felt among Santa Rosa schools”

Donation inequality felt among Santa Rosa schools is the headline of an article appearing in the Santa Rosa (CA) Press Democrat.

It’s fairly lengthy, and highlights an ongoing issue in many schools in the inequity of private fundraising. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seriously discuss potential solutions.

I’m still adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Parent Fundraising & Equity Issues.

Thanks to Laura Gonzalez for the tip.

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“Community Schools Will Succeed If Parents Are Engaged”

Community Schools Will Succeed If Parents Are Engaged is the headline of an article written by a parent leader discussing the planned opening of 100 community schools in New York City.

He echoes the concerns I’ve expressed often times about the lack of parent engagement in many community schools.

Here’s an excerpt (the author begins by talking about the community school his children now attend):

The key to the success of this school, which should be applied to each of the mayor’s 100 community schools, is strong parent engagement from the beginning in both design and evaluation. Unlike at PS 73, parents at New Settlement are treated as full partners. The doors are open, there is mutual trust among teachers, administrators, and parents, and constant outreach is made to parents to get us involved.

In the mayor’s initiative, each school will receive a full-time resource coordinator. They will recruit partnerships and resources for the school, working with the principal and school community to create a well-designed and effective community school. I strongly believe that this is a job for people with passion—for individuals who truly believe transforming education is possible.

The engagement of parents must be a large part of measuring the success of these resource coordinators. They must meet parents where they are, and reach out especially to parents who aren’t involved in the school through home visits, phone calls, community meetings, whatever it takes. They should listen to parents’ ideas, their anxieties and their vision. Parents should be offered clear pathways to become leaders in the school and the community.

I’m adding this to The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools.

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