This Is Interesting: Parents Help Decide Curriculum & Hire Teachers At Pennsylvania School

State College’s Delta Program middle school off to busy start is the headline of an article about a middle school in Pennsylvania begun by a local district to reduce loss of students to charters.

Here’s an excerpt:

Delta Director Jon Downs said the alternative program for State College middle school students — the complement to the established secondary school — operates on a democratic model where students and their parents have as much of a voice in the curriculum and new hires as teachers and administrators.

“It gives students a greater choice of what they take and study,” Downs said. “They approve their schedule, suggest courses and help hire teachers. That’s a lot of involvement. Our goal is to empower students to make some decisions and to be responsible for their decisions.”

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“Teacher home visits ease kindergarteners’ fears of first day of school”

Teacher home visits are certainly in the news these days!

Here’s the latest article about what’s going on in Tulsa: Teacher home visits ease kindergarteners’ fears of first day of school.

Here’s the final sentence in the story:

“We’re really trying to focus on family engagement, not just involvement,” Velez said. “We really are trying to let them know how they can keep learning going at home.”

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“How to Get Kids to Class: To Keep Poor Kids in School, Provide Social Services”

How to Get Kids to Class: To Keep Poor Kids in School, Provide Social Services is the headline of an op-ed in The New York Times by the president of Communities in Schools.

Here’s the last paragraph:

Putting social workers in schools is a low-cost way of avoiding bigger problems down the road, analogous to having a social worker in a hospital emergency room. It’s a common-sense solution that will still require a measure of political courage, something that all too often has itself been chronically absent.

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

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Nice Piece For Parents: “12 ways to identify a good school”

Jay Mathews has just published a nice post in The Washington Post titled 12 Ways To Identify A Good School.

Here’s how it begins:

Fourteen years ago, I wrote a Washington Post magazine piece about a young couple seeking a school for their daughter, including 12 things to look for in a good school. The article survives online. Parents still ask me if I would change any of those recommendations.

I would, a bit. Here is the original list, with my updates in italics:

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Health Center Planned At Sacramento School

Community health center planned for Sacramento’s Johnson High is the headline of an article in the Sacramento Bee.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t mention any kind of parent involvement in the effort, though it does mention the possibility of starting up a similar project at the high school where I teach. If that happens, I guarantee that parents will be engaged in the conversation — neither our principal or our parent involvement coordinator would have it otherwise!

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools.

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Charlotte Schools Say Undocumented Parents Can’t Volunteer In Schools — For Now, At Least

Here’s how the article, Solutions elude CMS on undocumented volunteers, in the Charlotte Observer begins:

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools team assigned to find a way undocumented immigrant parents can volunteer in schools is running short on time and even shorter on potential solutions to the hot-button issue.

The team’s final meeting is Tuesday, and it has yet to find a quick, easily affordable fix to the current policy, which requires anyone volunteering in schools to produce a Social Security number and driver’s license for a criminal background check.

Undocumented immigrants – people not in the country legally – do not have such forms of identification, making it impossible for them to volunteer in schools where their children are students.

Thanks to K-12 Parents and the Public for the tip.

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One Good Thing Comes Out Of Ill-Conceived CA District NCLB Waiver: LAUSD Not Subject To Parent Trigger

The U.S. Department of Education has granted eight California school district and ill-conceived waiver from No Child Left Behind.

Fortunately, our Sacramento district — one of those eight — withdrew from the group earlier this year.

The whole thing is doomed to fail. However, at least one good thing has come out of it — the Los Angeles Times writes about how, because of the waiver, those districts are now immune from the equally ill-conceived parent trigger law.

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Useful Follow-Up Article On White House Family Engagement Conference

I’ve previously posted about the recent White House conference on family engagement (see “White House Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement” Was Held Today).

Carla Thompson from the Kellogg Foundation, who sponsored the conference, just published a piece at The Huffington Post about it.

Check out Family Engagement: The Top of Everyone’s Back-to-School Checklist.

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Politico Asks:”Can You Fight Poverty by Paying Kids to Go to School?” The Answer Is “No”

I’ve previously published several posts on this blog about the concept of Conditional Cash Transfers, which are basically programs that provide money to low-income families to “incentivize” certain behaviors.

As I shared in those previous posts, I’m all for getting more money into the hands of low-income people and, though I think there are more effective ways to combat poverty, who am I to criticize strategies that result in more cash for them? However, one thing the research has been pretty clear about is that these kinds of programs have no positive effect on actions related to education and, in fact, can have the opposite results.

Now, Politico has published a lengthy article about another experiment that is making the same mistake.

Check out their piece, Can You Fight Poverty by Paying Kids to Go to School?, as well as my previous posts on the topic.

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Ridiculous British Policy Of Punishing Parents For Student Vacations Continues — 64,000 Fines Issued

I’ve previously published a number of posts about the ridiculous British policy of punishing parents for taking their students on vacation during the school year.

Here are two new resources:

Number of parents fined for term-time holidays soars by 70 per cent is from The Telegraph.

School holiday fines in England ‘unfair’, say parents is from The BBC.

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“L.A. literacy program unites families, boosts kids’ reading skills”

L.A. literacy program unites families, boosts kids’ reading skills is the headline of an article in today’s Los Angeles Times.

Here’s an excerpt:

The program, which has operated for nearly 20 years, brings families together for reading lessons, adult education opportunities and parenting techniques. The program aims to provide parents with the skills and knowledge to be successful at school, work and home.

“There’s a saying that if a mother builds her literacy, it builds the literacy of the whole family,” said Sharon Polkinghorn, who has been the Shenandoah Street Elementary School coordinator for six years. She added that families welcome the chance to be together.

“In a big family or a small apartment, they may not have the chance to have that parent-child one-on-one time.”

Polkinghorn said one of the most satisfying outcomes is the relationships built among the families, which have different cultural and religious backgrounds, coming from such countries as Mexico and Egypt.

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Parent Group Organizes In Chicago

In These Times has just published an article headlined ‘Bad Ass Moms’ Defend Chicago Public Schools.

Here’s an excerpt:

Though there are a number of parent organizations fighting for educational justice in the city—including Parents 4 Teachers (P4T) and More Than a Score (MTS), whose membership overlaps with BAM’s—BAM concentrates on a breadth of issues rather than advocacy around any one particular topic, such as layoffs (P4T) or over-testing (MTS).

United behind the idea that all schools should be great schools, not just the ones their kids attend or the ones the Board of Education deems worthy of saving, BAM activists say they want to amplify the voices of working-class families whose schools are being defunded, over-tested and disproportionately closed by the city’s so-called education reformers.

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“More Schools Open Their Doors to the Whole Community”

More Schools Open Their Doors to the Whole Community is a Wall Street Journal article about…community schools.

Here’s an excerpt:

WYOMING, Mich.—On a recent weekday here, a steady stream of people dropped by one central location for food stamps, family counseling and job ideas—their local school.

While instruction has ended for the summer, these classrooms remain open as part of a wider trend around the country of “community schools,” where public and private groups bring services closer to students and residents year round and, in some cases, help boost student performance.

With backing at local, state and federal levels, the decades-old idea for improving schools and neighborhoods is gaining ground despite some funding uncertainties and doubts about community schools’ success.

The largest coordinator of such programs, Communities in Schools, saw a 6% increase in its reach in the 2012-13 school year, covering schools with a total of more than 1.3 million students in 26 states.

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

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“D.C. charter school educates parents alongside children”

D.C. charter school educates parents alongside children is a Washington Post article that appeared a few days ago.

Here’s an excerpt:

The District’s Briya Public Charter School enrolls parents and young children together in the same school, a novel effort to improve children’s prospects by building the skills of those who are closest to them. It’s an approach that an increasing number of researchers and philanthropists are promoting across the country as experts worry that investments in early childhood education or school improvement can only go so far.

“We spend a lot of money on poor children in our schools,” said Sharon Darling, president of the National Center for Families Learning. “But in reality, there are no poor children. They live with poor parents, and they are poor because they have poor skills. You can’t keep putting a Band-Aid on one part of the equation.”

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“Center gets students and parents on track for college”

The Sacramento Bee published this somewhat interesting article, titled Center gets students and parents on track for college.

Here’s how it begins:

Jeremie Elkins wants to be a lawyer. Katrina George plans to be a teacher, and Domonique Craig has set her sights on business studies. All are taking part in the College Bound Babies program at Twin Rivers Housing Complex, but they aren’t students.

The three parents help out at the kindergarten-preparation program every day as a requirement for their child’s attendance. They say their involvement has fostered a sense of community at the low-income public housing complex and has inspired them to continue their own education.

“A lot of families here are struggling,” Elkins said. “A lot don’t know where to go with life.”

The nonprofit Roberts Family Development Center launched the program last year with hopes of getting parents more involved with their children’s education – and getting them to take a good look at their own lives at the same time.


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“Stop blaming black parents for underachieving kids”

Andre M. Perry makes some thoughtful points in this Washington Post piece, Stop blaming black parents for underachieving kids.

Here’s an excerpt:

Clearly, there is widespread belief that black parents don’t value education. The default opinion has become “it’s the parents” — not the governance, the curriculum, the instruction, the policy, nor the lack of resources — that create problems in urban schools. That’s wrong. Everyday actions continuously contradict the idea that low-income black families don’t care about their children’s schooling, with parents battling against limited resources to access better educations than their circumstances would otherwise afford their children.

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