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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“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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“Family Writing Project: Sanctuary and Source of Support”

Family Writing Project: Sanctuary and Source of Support is a very interesting article about joint parent/student writing projects The National Writing Project is supporting in Phoenix.

They’re doing it with English Language Learners and their families.

Here’s a short excerpt:

The initial idea for this program stemmed from Tracey’s belief that her second grade students, although placed in a sheltered ELL program, had incredible strengths as writers. She also knew they had supportive and engaged families who wanted to support their children as writers and readers, but needed a safe space, strategies, and invitations to write alongside their children.

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British Mother Fined For Taking Son Out Of School To Attend Her Wedding

Earlier today, I posted about a new parents group in England organizing for more parent engagement in schools and against that country’s ridiculous law of finding parents for taking their kids out of school during the year.

Now, The Telegraph has run a story about:

Clare Whitelegg has been told she cannot take her son out of school for her wedding as it does not amount to ‘exceptional circumstances’

Just bizarre…

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“Parents Want A Say” Is New British Group Formed To Give Parents A Voice In Ed Policies

The Guardian reports on a new British parents group called Parents Want A Say.

Its initial impetus was fighting what appears to me a ridiculous policy of fining parents when they take their kids on vacation while school is in session, but they’re not stopping there:

While the group’s initial focus is on changing the policy on term-time absences, Langman says it is only one of many areas where parents feel that they are not consulted in decisions about their children’s education. Ultimately, he says, Parents Want a Say will branch into other issues, aiming to “bridge the gap between parents and education”.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

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Parents Organize Charter School With Support Of Teachers Union

Many parents — and teachers — were rightfully upset last year when our Sacramento district closed a number of elementary schools, especially because the district wasn’t transparent with the decision-making process they used.

Now, a very large group of parents, with the support of our teachers union, has gotten approval from the School Board to start a “dependent” (in other words, committing to hire teachers covered under the collective bargaining agreement) charter school in one of the closed schools.

You can read more about their efforts in this Sacramento Bee article.

It’s another example of why Why Parents Should Be Looked At As Allies & Not Targets Of Blame.

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“Truancy court: Parents get support, kids get to school”

I’ve previously posted about a number of punitive actions districts have considered or taken against parents in order to get actions taken by them.

Truancy court: Parents get support, kids get to school is an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that takes a different approach:

Here’s an excerpt:

In the past 10 years, 740 parents have been prosecuted and charged with truancy infractions and 85 to 90 percent of their 1,000 children have shown improved attendance.

“I think it is a combination of the power of a courtroom and the justice system coupled with the assistance that’s provided through all of the case management and health care providers plus the fact the parents are mandated to come back to court on a regular basis,” she said. “What it shows is that the justice system, over and above everything else, is powerful and doesn’t necessarily need to be punitive.”

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“Big Brother: Meet the Parents”

Big Brother: Meet the Parents is an article at Politico.

Here’s an excerpt:

A months-long review by POLITICO of student privacy issues, including dozens of interviews, found the parent privacy lobby gaining momentum — and catching big-data advocates off guard. Initially dismissed as a fringe campaign, the privacy movement has attracted powerful allies on both the left and right. The American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for more student privacy protection. So is the American Legislative Exchange Council, the organization of conservative legislators.

The amateur activists have already claimed one trophy, torpedoing a privately run, $100 million database set up to make it easier for schools to share confidential student records with private companies. The project, known as inBloom, folded this spring under tremendous parent pressure, just 15 months after its triumphal public launch.

Now, parents are rallying against another perceived threat: huge state databases being built to track children for more than two decades, from as early as infancy through the start of their careers.

You might also be interested in The Best Posts On The inBloom Data Fiasco.

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Surprise! Study Finds That Chicago Parents Unhappy With School Closures — Moratorium Urged

Report Calls for Moratorium on Chicago School Closures is the headline of an Ed Week article.

Here’s an excerpt:

A new report from the University of Illinois, Chicago, calls for a moratorium on school closures, turnarounds, and the expansion of charter schools in the city, citing the disruptive nature and harm those actions cause families and the lack of evidence that they have improved education.

The report, “Root Shock: Parents’ Perspective on School Closings In Chicago,” looked at parents’ view on the massive school closures of a year ago, when the Chicago Board of Education voted to close nearly 50 schools, turn around another five and co-locate 17 elementary schools in other school buildings—the largest single action on school closures in the country at the time.

Researchers Pauline Lipman and Kelly Vaughan found that parents felt the closures negatively impacted their children and the new schools to which they were sent were not an improvement; they felt excluded from the decisions to close the schools; and the closures left a deep distrust between parents and the Chicago Public Schools.

I’m adding this info to The Best Posts & Articles On The Impact Of School Closures.

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Proposal to Let Principals Levy Fines On “Bad Parents” In Britain – That Sure Will Help Develop Parent Engagement

The Director of Ofsted (which I think is close to the equivalent of the U.S. Department of Education in the United States — correct me if I’m wrong) in Britain wants to give head teachers (principals) the right to fine “bad parents.”

What is a bad parent, you might ask:

Wilshaw, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said in an interview with the Times that heads needed to demand more from parents, saying: “If parents didn’t come into school, didn’t come to parents’ evening, didn’t read with their children, didn’t ensure they did their homework, I would tell them they were bad parents.

“I think headteachers should have the power to fine them. It’s sending the message that you are responsible for your children no matter how poor you are.”

You can read more about it at The Guardian and at The BBC.

I’m adding this proposal to The Worst Parent Engagement Ideas.

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