Transgender YouTube Personality Furry Potato Shot Outside Los Angeles Synagogue

Transgender YouTuber “Furry Potato” was shot in the leg by a security guard on Thursday while livestreaming outside a Jewish synagogue and high school in Los Angeles, police said.

Zhoie Perez (a.k.a. Furry Potato), 45, was treated for a “non-life-threatening” gunshot wound and released. According to the Los Angeles Times, she described the wound as a “deep graze.”

Police arrested the security guard, who was identified as Edduin Zelayagrunfeld, 44, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. Investigators also asked witnesses to come forward with any additional information about the incident:

Perez’s recording, which was taken in front of the Etz Jacob Congregation/Ohel Chana High School on Beverly Boulevard, shows an armed guard behind gates at one of the entrances. It was unclear what started the confrontation, but at one point, the guard told her to leave while holding a gun in his hands.

Synagogues are increasingly hiring guards in the wake of a mounting number of anti-semitic attacks, including the mass shooting last October at the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh which left 11 people dead.

Perez is a self-described “First Amendment auditor.” She and supporters often stage provocative appearances in public areas with police, security guards and others while filming what happens and posting the videos on YouTube. Perez said she wasn’t staging an “audit” while hanging out in front of the synagogue.

“I was just filming the exterior of the synagogue here, and getting a lot of like, the architecture, and all that, and the guard came out and just started freaking out, started putting his hand on his gun,” Perez told the Times.

The guard’s gun, which was pointed at the ground, suddenly discharged and Perez shouted that she was struck. The guard fired the shot from the synagogue property onto the public sidewalk where Perez was standing, LAPD spokesman Sgt. Barry Montgomery told the Times.

It’s possible Perez was struck by a ricochet of a bullet or a fragment of a bullet. Perez also filmed a tiny, nail-size hole in her pants where she said the bullet entered. The guard said it was a warning shot.

The synagogue and school could not immediately be reached for comment.

Perez was arrested last summer on suspicion of “terrorizing” after a confrontation at a California Marine Recruiting Station in Valencia. Perez pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace and was ordered to pay a $100 fine, per the Signal of Santa Clarita Valley.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

‘School Hardening’ Not Making Students Safer, Say Experts

It may be no surprise that 2018 was the worst year on record for school shootings. According to federal data, there were 94 gun incidents at U.S. schools last year. That’s an increase of almost 60% over the previous high, recorded in 2016.

One of those incidents of course was the horrific shooting on Feb. 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and staff members. This attack – and the many school shootings that followed –  galvanized a long-dormant national debate over gun violence. Students  mobilized across the country, demanding elected officials step up and fix the nation’s lax gun laws.

While the debate over access to firearms dominated headlines, the discussion over how to create safer schools has addressed a number of issues, including school climate, the scarcity of mental health services, threat assessment, the role of school resource officers, and professional development for school staff.

Something else, however, has been happening on the ground in a growing number of districts. It’s the proverbial “Quick Fix,”  in the form of millions of dollars allocated to “target harden” schools. Eager to demonstrate decisive, quick action to understandably anxious parents, officials have purchased products ranging from mega-expensive state-of-art surveillance technology, metal detectors, facial recognition software, bullet-proof whiteboards, and fortified entries.

Ken Trump, a school safety expert, calls it the triumph of the “wow over the how.” And it comes with a cost beyond what is recorded on a district’s bottom line.

“A skewed focus on target hardening neglects the time and resources needed to spend on professional development training, planning, behavioral and mental health intervention supports for students, and other best practices,” Trump explains.

But research and experience consistently shows that a comprehensive approach is needed for school safety programs.

Students are demanding from the adults in the school system to keep them safe and to provide the resources and supports they need, says National Education Association Vice-President Becky Pringle, and “we can’t be afraid to take all the issues on.”

“It’s absolutely essential that everyone is at the table talking because it’s complex. And we have to attack it and solve it in a thoughtful and comprehensive way.”

The School Security Industry

Marking the somber one-year anniversary of the Parkland school shooting this week, Pringle joined Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and John Feinblatt president of Everytown For Gun Safety in unveiling a new report that provides a policy blueprint to curb gun violence in schools and support safe and healthy learning environments.

The report identifies the need to increase mental health services and social emotional support in schools, and design focused intervention strategies that can be implemented by districts.

But preventing gun violence in schools  also requires a concerted effort to keep firearms out of the hands of  individuals who shouldn’t have them in the first place. NEA, AFT and Everytown call for the passage of  “red flag” laws that allow families and law enforcement to intervene and temporarily restrict a person’s access to guns when it is evident they pose a threat to themselves or others.

“Red Flag laws are a proven tool,” the report states, “and because they are drafted with strong due process protections, they enjoy strong bipartisan support.” Currently, 13 states and the District of Columbia have these laws on the books and more are expected to follow suit in 2019.

The report also calls for passage of the Bipartisan Background Checks Bill which would require background checks for all guns sold as well as most transfers.

While improving physical security in schools is essential (specific recommendations in the report include installing internal locks and limiting the number of entry points), “we cannot convert our schools into prisons and treat our students like prisoners,” said Pringle.

“We need to balance the improvement of the physical security of the schools without compromising our principles and our values around learning.”

In many schools that balance has been obliterated by the school security industry, according to a recent investigation by the Associated Press. While educators, school leaders, and school safety experts are championing proven best practices, the $2.7 billion security industry is working overtime – with noticeable success –  to convince districts that sophisticated and expensive products and services are the answer to their problems.

According to AP, security firms in 2018 “helped Congress draft a law that committed $350 million to equipment and other school security over the next decade. Nearly 20 states have come up with another $50 million, ad local school districts are reworking budgets to find more money.”

“School safety is the wild, wild West,” security consultant Mason Wooldridge told AP. “Any company can claim anything they want.”

Bullet-proof whiteboards are just one of the many products security companies are selling to school districts.

The security hardware and product industry has hijacked school safety, says Ken Trump.

“They have become increasingly organized in their lobbying of Congress and state governments. Their focus includes taking school security out of the hands of education agencies and put under the authority of homeland security departments, which, by their nature, tend of focus on the physical security measures and infrastructure hardening,” Trump says.

According to available research, as a school safety strategy, target hardening doesn’t work and is likely counterproductive. A new study out of Ohio State University finds that students and staff in schools that employ hi-tech security measures experience higher levels of fear. Furthermore, the authors could not point to any demonstrable gains in student safety through target-hardening – a startling conclusion given the immense financial costs associated with this approach.

“Instead of simply hardening schools against attack,” the researchers write, “educators should focus on building school environments characterized by mutual trust, active listening, respect for student voices and expression, cooperativeness, and caring relationships with and among students.”

Arming Educators – The Bad Idea That Hasn’t Gone Away

Last year, the Florida Legislature considered a bill that would allow educators to carry firearms on school property. After considerable pushback from the public, the proposal was scaled back to cover certain trained school personnel, not classroom teachers.

One year later, the same lawmakers have revived the measure, and this time they may succeed. Legislative committees recently approved expanding the “guardian” program to include educators.  Doing so, Sen. Bill Montford warned,  would signal “a monumental change in public education. We are shifting the mission of public education from being one of teaching to being one of teaching and law enforcement.”

arming teachers

A teacher attends an NRA shooting training session(Photo by Sebastiano Tomada/Sipa USA)

Arming educators – a dangerous and reckless idea overwhelmingly opposed by educators – gained traction among state lawmakers after President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos endorsed the idea soon after the Parkland shooting.

If its guardian program is expanded, Florida will become the ninth state  to specifically allow school staff, including teachers, to carry firearms, joining Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

Sarah Lerner, a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, believes armed educators would not have made any difference in reversing the horror her school experienced on Feb. 14 2018.

“There’s nothing that a gun could have done in those six minutes .. a handgun would not have been any match for an AR-15, which is a weapon of war.  They’re not equal.”

And during a normal, run-of-the-mill school day, the risks are just too high.

“If the gun falls in the wrong hands, if you mistakenly shoot the wrong student who you think is armed and dangerous, if your gun goes off in class … it is probably the most ridiculous solution I have heard,” says Lerner.

‘We Don’t Need to Reinvent the Wheel’

While arming teachers and turning our schools into fortresses may be misguided knee-jerk responses to school violence, they haven’t succeeded in completely overshadowing the more expansive strategies that focus on mental health, positive school climate and community partnerships.

The most effective programs pool resources, expertise, and training, making it easier to recognize when a student is troubled and requires help. Partnerships between schools and community organizations can facilitate connections and provide a continuum of preventative care services.

A Virginia educator calls for more school counselors at a #RedforEd rally in January. (photo: Virginia Education Association)

But districts, after more than a decade of budget cuts, have to replenish the ranks of school psychologists and counselors.  The counselor-to-student ratio has widened to exceed 1:700 in many states. (The American School Counselor Association recommends a minimum of one counselor for every 250 students.) #RedforEd protests have spotlighted this gap, with striking teachers in Los Angeles recently winning a concession from the district to bring the city’s ration down to 1:500.

Communication and interaction between students, principals, teachers, school support staff, and their neighbors is a  pillar of the school safety strategy of the Radnor Township School District, profiled by NEA Today in 2017.

“A school can have the most sophisticated safety measures in place and still not be truly safe,” said David Wood, president of the Radnor Township Education Association. “We take pride in building trust in our students so they feel confident enough to come forward and tell an adult if they sense another student is struggling.”

Training staff to cultivate a trusting relationship with students, says Ken Trump, is the kind of straightforward best practice that, despite its success, hasn’t been embedded in enough districts over the years.

“The most effective school safety strategies are less visible or even invisible when compared to trendy, quick-fix fads,” he explains. “We do not need to reinvent the wheel. We simply need to implement and sustain the best practices consistently and in a balanced, comprehensive approach over time.”

Security in Numbers
At a social justice training session, Illinois school security officers discuss strategies for exploring the impact of social justice issues on students and educators with the goal of ensuring a safe school climate.

How to Become One of the Safest School Districts in the Nation

Radnor Township has the equipment, training and and emergency drills, but it’s the interaction between community members that has been the ultimate deterrent to school violence.

mental health in schoolsAre Schools Ready to Tackle the Mental Health Crisis?
The growing crisis around students’ mental health, and the scarcity of available care, has long been a concern of many educators and health professionals. With one in five children living with a mental health condition, more schools are creating comprehensive, systemic programs to address the problem.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

What Howard Schultz Means When He Says He Grew Up In The Projects

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz likes to frame his story as one of rags to riches, a classic tale.

“I’m self-made,” said Schultz on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last month. “I grew up in the projects in Brooklyn, New York. I thought that was the American Dream.”

But when Sheryl Boyce, 64, hears him tell it, she cringes. Boyce and Schultz both grew up in the Bay View Houses of Brooklyn’s Canarsie neighborhood in the 1950s and ’60s. At that time, the housing development was considered the “country club” of projects, Boyce told HuffPost.

“To say he came from nothing,” said Boyce, now president of the Bay View Houses Community Association, “it is very disingenuous.”

Schultz has been publicly weighing a 2020 bid for president of the United States, releasing an autobiographical book and launching a media blitz. His Horatio Alger story has been a central part of his publicity tour, using his childhood in the projects as proof of his humble origins.

But academics, and residents like Boyce, take issue with Schultz using Bay View to describe his youth as coming from “nothing.” A 1958 article in Progressive Architecture, as reviewed by HuffPost, called the housing development “middle-income,” saying it was designed to “alleviate the shortage” of housing for people in this wage class.

And while Schultz’s family may have struggled financially during his childhood ― he says in his memoir that his father hopped from job to job, at one point relying on a charitable organization for food ― families living in the Bay View Houses at the time were far from destitute.

In 1970, when Schultz lived there, the average family income in the area was nearly $12,000, or $70,000 in today’s dollars. Today, the median household income for this area is only $23,000, according to the census.

It was “definitely a more working, middle-class housing program,” said Nicholas Bloom, a professor of social science at the New York Institute of Technology, who has written extensively about housing in New York City. “He moved into a new, really nicely built” development.

During Schultz’s childhood, the Bay View Houses were “kind of a stepping stone to suburbs and higher-quality housing,” Bloom said.

In his book, From the Ground Up, Schultz echoes this view, providing a more nuanced version than he has in interviews, saying the housing project was “not designed to be dead ends but to jumpstart lives.”

Howard Schultz strolls through the Bay View Houses during a recent episode of “60 Minutes.”

But Boyce sees Schultz as paying only lip-service to his childhood community while also mischaracterizing his childhood there, noting that, although Schultz has given substantial donations to a local public school, the housing development has not seen the fruits of his philanthropy.

“The worst playground in Bay View is the playground in front of the building where Howard Schultz grew up,” Boyce said.

She has tried twice to get support from the billionaire, Boyce told HuffPost, writing to the Starbucks customer relations department for help with Bay View Community Association projects in 2012 and 2014.  

In a letter dated Jan. 31, 2012, reviewed by HuffPost, she asked for several hundred dollars worth of Starbucks gift cards for the local Mother’s and Father’s Day celebration. The customer relations department wrote back in 2013 with a generic response and declined, suggesting she try a local Starbucks. Boyce noted to HuffPost there isn’t a Starbucks in walking distance of the housing development.  

Two years later in 2014, Boyce’s organization wrote to ask permission to include Schultz’s name on a fact sheet for kids about successful leaders who grew up in the Bay View Houses. They had also reached out to athletes like former NFL player John Brockington.

The reply from Starbucks came with a rote response about how the company was not seeking opportunities for national or local partnerships.

But a spokesperson for Schultz noted that the businessman has given substantial donations to the community. Indeed, through the Schultz Family Foundation, a local elementary school has undergone nearly a million dollars worth of renovations, and local football and basketball teams have also received tens of thousands of dollars. All proceeds from his latest book will also be going to the Brooklyn Public Library, a library representative confirmed.

The Bay View Houses have become so central to Schultz’s narrative that he visited them during a January “60 Minutes” episode, in which he announced he was considering running for president.

“This place has never left me. It has defined my character, my vulnerability,” Schultz said as he strolled through the development with CBS anchor Scott Pelley.

A spokesperson for Schultz maintains that within the Bay View community, Schultz and his family were at the bottom of the totem pole.

“Other families at Bayview may have had more money than his family or better jobs, but the Schultz family was poor, period,” the spokesperson, Tucker Warren, told HuffPost in an email.

An aerial photo of the Bay View Houses.

An aerial photo of the Bay View Houses.

Boyce has seen the housing development transform over the years, in the decades after Schultz left for college and later became a household name.

When Schultz and Boyce were children, developments like Bay View were socially engineered. There were specific admission standards ― often based on social factors, like family stability and apartment cleanliness. New York City Housing Association documents from 1965 reviewed by HuffPost show that only 4 out of 1,608 families living in Bay View at the time were considered “problem families,” meaning they could have, for example, had contact with social service agencies, according to Bloom, the professor of social science.

“They were very selective in who got into these places,” Bloom said. “To call it the projects and have people in their mind think of Queensbridge and Nas, it’s not equivalent in that way.”

In his memoir, Schultz provides more detail than the television sound bites that describe him as living in destitution. He describes an environment that was tough but safe and community-oriented.

The projects I grew up in may have been safe from crime, but there were no soft landings,” wrote Schultz.

That’s the type of environment Boyce remembers when she thinks back on her adolescence ― a community where doors were left unlocked and children would flock to the development’s playgrounds.

Now, Boyce says, families in the area can’t enjoy the fruits of Schultz’s labor. The closest Starbucks is several bus rides away.

“We all flock across the street to Dunkin’ Donuts,” Boyce said.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Inside ‘Sesame Street’ And Its Mission To Raise Resilient Kids

Sesame Street” premiered 50 years ago this year, and from the start, its mission has been to make quality early education accessible for every child. The show’s idea of education isn’t limited to just letters and numbers: It means empathy, kindness, resilience and the other social and emotional skills kids need to thrive.

To celebrate the milestone, “Sesame Street” and the nonprofit behind it, Sesame Workshop, are hosting a yearlong celebration filled with celebrity cameos, social media campaigns and even a nationwide road trip. Over the last five decades, the Peabody Award-winning show has tried to put kids first with its purposeful writing and direction that tackle tough topics in the life of a child.

There was the “Sesame Street” special in 1983 when the show grappled with addressing the sudden death of Will Lee, the actor who portrayed the neighborhood’s beloved Mr. Hooper.

The death of Mr. Hooper led “Sesame Street” to help kids learn about grieving. 

The Sesame Workshop team met with child psychologists, religious leaders and other experts to create a special so the show’s little viewers could say goodbye to Mr. Hooper. In it, the other characters had to teach Big Bird that his friend wasn’t coming back, but that he’d still have his memories of him.

“And we can remember him, and remember him, and remember him as much as we want to,” Big Bird said in the episode. The special aired on Thanksgiving, when Sesame Workshop knew many parents and caretakers would be home to talk with their kids about the episode.

That same decade, the show changed one of its characters’ plots amid a growing cultural awareness of the problem of child sex abuse. Originally, Mr. Snuffleupagus was a character who would enter and exit the scene before anyone but Big Bird could see him. That meant other characters didn’t believe Big Bird when he’d tell them about his friend. Not wanting to discourage kids from coming forward for fear of being doubted, the show decided to introduce Mr. Snuffleupagus to everyone else, and Big Bird’s friends assured him they would believe him from then on.

The show's first season aired in 1969 with a diverse cast.
The show’s first season aired in 1969 with a diverse cast.

And then there was 9/11. After the terrorist attacks in New York City, where “Sesame Street” is filmed, the show aired an episode in which Elmo becomes traumatized by a fire at Hooper’s Store and is frightened by the firefighters. He then visits a fire station where he learns more about their jobs as well as fire safety tips. The interaction served as a way to help kids struggling with the real-life events, and as a nod of appreciation to the FDNY for its indispensable help during the attacks.

According to Sherrie Westin, president of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, it’s this effort to see the world through the eyes of a child that has helped “Sesame Street” become one of the longest-running shows in history.

“One of the most impressive things about Sesame to me is that we’ve always stayed true to our origins, our basic DNA in terms of addressing the needs of young children,” she said. “And I think the reason we stay relevant is because by always focusing on what those needs are, as the needs change, we step up.”

Throughout its five decades, the series has not been without its controversies. It’s also been the site of the occasional culture-war battle: In recent years, there’s been an ongoing debate in the fandom about whether the characters Bert and Ernie are gay, an idea many people reject and plenty of people argue passionately for. (Brown Johnson, executive vice president and creative director at Sesame Workshop, shrugged off the question in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month. “People can think whatever they want” about Bert and Ernie, she said. “You want to think they’re gay? OK. You want to think they’re not gay? They’re not gay.”)

Still, the show has remained a favorite in many homes, even after a move from PBS to the subscription-based HBO in 2015. For parents who grew up with the series and now get to watch it with their kids, the 50th anniversary season is a reminder of what their families have learned together.

Courtney Leonard told HuffPost that watching “Sesame Street” is “a family event” in her home. She loved the series as a child, and her son now enjoys it, too. She said the show has helped her tackle common parenting struggles like picky eating, sharing and going to bed. She also appreciates the show’s dedication to creating a world that reflects the one she’s raising her son in.

“The show and its characters are so diverse ― Abby has a stepdad, Rosita speaks Spanish to her abuela, Julia is autistic ― but everyone is friends,” she said. “So for my son to see that, I think, has a profound impact on him, and it will continue as he grows up.”

Leonard said she thinks the show is setting her son up “to be a person who celebrates diversity later in life.”

For its 50-year anniversary, the show has a yearlong celebration planned, with celebrity cameos and a nationwide road trip.
For its 50-year anniversary, the show has a yearlong celebration planned, with celebrity cameos and a nationwide road trip.

Denise De Robles credits “Sesame Street” with teaching her English as a child. When she started kindergarten, she knew only Spanish, and at the recommendation of a teacher, her parents had her start watching the show. She told HuffPost the series proved to be an education in all kinds of ways.

“I’m sure I would have learned English regardless, but somehow I feel that learning through ‘Sesame Street’ taught me more than the language,” she said. “It taught me about being caring and compassionate. To this day the show continues to help parents help their kids understand the changing world. Like the whole Julia storyline. It helped me understand how I could explain autism to my daughter.” De Robles said she’s “grateful” her daughter can enjoy “Sesame Street” as much as she did as a kid.

Sesame Workshop now has a presence in more than 150 countries. Its South Africa co-production features a Muppet with HIV, and the nonprofit’s first original Afghan Muppet promotes girls’ empowerment and education. Sesame Workshop is also working on content for refugee children around the world, thanks to a $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation, and another $100 million from the Lego Foundation.

Across the globe, the value of “Sesame Street” and its sister productions doesn’t only lie in its colorful characters and entertaining songs. As Westin said of Sesame Workshop’s mission for its young viewers: “‘Smarter, Stronger, Kinder.’ It’s not just a clever tagline. It’s literally true.”

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Substitute Teacher Under Fire After Telling Class Martin Luther King Jr. Killed Himself

A substitute teacher in North Carolina is under fire after she reportedly told a class of elementary school students that assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. killed himself.

The teacher is also accused of telling the kids that if anyone who didn’t support Donald Trump was not a real Christian and told one child that the athletic gear he wore to school was “prison attire.”

It happened Friday during a music class at Rand Road Elementary in Garner. The sub, later identified as Elizabeth Temple, was apparently having a hard time getting the kids to settle down, according to parent Billy Byrd, whose son, Nathan, was singled out for his clothing.

Temple was supposed to show a video to the class but had a hard time getting the students, including Nathan, to settle down.

For some reason, Temple went on a different tack and told the student that King’s assassination was a complete fabrication.

“What book is she reading and obviously it’s not the right one, and for her to say this to a classroom full of kids, giving them that misinformed information is just bogus,” Billy Byrd told local station WTVD. “We can’t afford to have anybody in the school system that is teaching this damaging rhetoric to any kid ― white or black.”

In a Facebook post, Byrd said that instead of teaching music, the sub “constructed her own lesson plan that glorified President Trump and his love for God, country and all Americans.”

Byrd also said the teacher ”found the need to comment on my son’s appearance and the clothing that he was wearing” and “told my son and his fellow male peers of color that their clothing marked them for PRISON…..YES PRISON!”

To wear athletic apparel while being BLACK is obviously a MARK for long term imprisonment these days by racist radicals portraying to be godly and upright conservative Christians.

Nathan Byrd told Raleigh station WRAL that he stood up for himself when the teacher singled him out.

“She basically targeted me,” Nathan said. “She said, ‘If y’all keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to go to jail’. So, I stood up in front of the class and I said, ‘So, you’re basically going to predict my future that hasn’t even happened yet?’”

HuffPost reached out to Temple, who did not immediately respond.

Timothy Simmons, the chief of communications for the Wake County Public School System, sent this statement to HuffPost:

The school became aware of the students’ concerns Friday afternoon as classes were ending. The principal and staff talked with as many students as possible before the day ended. Based on those conversations, the substitute teacher was contacted over the weekend and immediately resigned. She is no longer eligible to teach in the district.

Billy Byrd told the station that he doesn’t hold any hatred toward the teacher who singled out his son but said he doesn’t feel she should be teaching children until she gets “necessary help.”

This story has been updated to include a statement from Timothy Simmons.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Don Jr. Gets An ‘F’ On Twitter After Slamming ‘Loser Teachers’ At Campaign Event

Donald Trump Jr. took a shot at “loser teachers,” who he claimed are indoctrinating children into socialism from the moment they’re born. 

“You know what I love? I love seeing some young conservatives, ’cuz I know it’s not easy,” he said at a rally in El Paso ahead of a speech by his father, President Donald Trump, who was promoting his proposed border wall. 

“Keep up that fight, bring it to your schools. You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth. You don’t have to do it.”

The dig didn’t sit well with educators and those who support them: 

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Florida School Hires Combat Veterans To Patrol Campus To Prevent Mass Shootings

Thursday is the first anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Now a school in Palmetto is trying to make sure a similar tragedy doesn’t happen there.

By the end of this month, the Manatee School for the Arts will have hired two combat veterans whose sole job is to patrol the campus with semiautomatic rifles and stop any active shooters.

Bill Jones, the school’s principal, hopes publicizing the new hires will deter anyone who might be thinking about shooting up the school.

“If someone walks onto this campus, they’re going to be shot and killed,” he told the Bradenton Herald. “We’re not going to talk with them. We’re not going to negotiate. We are going to put them down, as quickly as possible.”

In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, many Florida schools tightened their security.

The Manatee School for the Arts is a charter school that’s allowed to make its own rules about security. Officials chose to have the school guardians carry both a handgun and a military-style long gun, according to local station WWSB TV.

Jones said it’s important the guardians have the tools to take down a shooter on their own.

“We’ve had a couple of incidents and we just called and they’re here in three minutes,” Jones told the station. “Unfortunately, you look at parkland and in three minutes how many people were killed. So you know you can’t expect much more from the police, there’s only so much they can do and the rest of it is your responsibility.”

But Jones’ plan is getting some backlash from security experts like Walt Zalisko, a retired police chief who now owns a Daytona Beach–based global investigative group and police management consulting business.

“You don’t walk around with an assault rifle strapped to your chest in a school. That is not the normal policy of police agencies,” he told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

He said school guardians are more effective when they engage with students and form positive relationships rather than focus only on stopping mass shootings — which, while tragic, are relatively rare.

“His job is to protect the kids, and he can do that with a handgun, but it is also to form positive relationships,” Zalisko said. “Develop information on who may have drugs or weapons. There is a lot involved.”

Manatee’s first hire, a combat veteran with 15 years of infantry experience, has been on campus for a couple of months. 

Another guardian, also a combat vet, will begin working this month after he completes the required 132 hours of firearm safety and proficiency training, according to The New York Times.

Jones told the paper he wanted guards who have experience with being shot at and won’t hesitate to go after an active shooter.

Although Jones said “most parents have been very accepting,” the school is hoping to quell safety concerns by requiring the guardians to keep the chambers of the rifles empty. In addition, the guns are not stored on campus.

You can see a segment on the school’s guardians in the video below:

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Denver Teachers Strike for Fair, Livable Pay

Teachers carry placards as they walk a picket line outside South High School early Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Denver. The strike on Monday is the first for teachers in Colorado in 25 years after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

After 15 fruitless, frustrating months at the bargaining table, Denver teachers and education support professionals went on strike Monday, in an all-out effort for a fair, transparent, and professional salary plan that pays all teachers a living wage at the base level.

“For 15 months, we have shouted this injustice from the rooftops, but the district has chosen to ignore us… We have been saying for a year, ‘Our students deserve teachers who can afford to stay in Denver. Our teachers and SSPs [specialized service providers] deserve predictable, livable salaries,’” said Denver teacher Rachel Sandoval.

“You chose to ignore us for 15 months—but can you hear us now?”

By mid-afternoon Monday, after morning rallies and marches across the city, thousands of Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) members, parents, students, and other supporters had gathered on the west steps of the state Capitol where DCTA’s “#Red4Ed Rally Band” rallied the crowd and speakers included NEA President Lily Eskelsen García and Colorado Education Association (CEA) President Amie Baca-Oehlert.

“Let me tell you..the union is your power,” Eskelsen García told DCTA members. “The power of this union is to love somebody else’s child, to care about the future of Denver public schools. You should be so proud of yourselves! You are going to win!

This is the first teachers’ strike in Denver in 25 years, and it follows #RedforEd strikes and rallies last year in West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma, Washington, Alabama, and elsewhere, and a six-day strike last month by the United Teachers of Los Angeles that led to class-size reductions, limits on testing, and increased access to school nurses, counselors and librarians.

“I’ve been to West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Los Angeles. You are a little bit unique here in Denver. Here you’re saying, ‘Can I just know what I’m going to be paid?’” said Eskelsen García. “But let me tell you what you have in common. You’re part of a powerful national movement, and what I’ve seen across the country, from the poorest rural communities in West Virginia to the inner-city of Los Angeles, I have seen people who have worked, in good faith, and been ignored… and they’re taking their voice to the people.”

In Denver, much of the problem stems from its commitment to a complicated, unique-to-Denver pay plan called Professional Compensation System for Teachers, or ProComp. Started in 1999, ProComp aims to use salary bonuses to reward teachers for performance. But the bonuses have proven to be unpredictable and confusing, and overall pay remains low—even as Denver becomes one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S.

As a result, too many Denver teachers are leaving their students and classrooms to go to higher-paid districts nearby, or leave the profession altogether. This kind of teacher turnover is harmful to their students, union leaders point out.

“Bonuses have not proven effective, and our students are paying the price,” said DCTA President Henry Roman. And yet, said Roman and DCTA lead negotiator Rob Gould, DPS has refused to accept the union’s proposals at the bargaining table, which would fix ProComp.

Consider DCTA member Katie McOwen, a sixth-grade math teacher who also nannies during the summer, who told CNN this week that she’s moving into a friend’s basement at the end of this month to save money. She drives a nearly 20-year-old Honda with 310,000 miles, and says, “I know if something really happens, I will be in big, big trouble.”

On Tuesday, the union’s bargaining team and a DPS team return to the negotiating table. “Bring us a proposal tomorrow that has a fair, transparent, and competitive salary schedule, that prioritizes base salary over bonuses that disrupt our students’ education!” said Baca-Oehlert. “Settle this contract now, so that we can go back to doing what we love, to our students who we love!”


Source link


Related Posts

Share This

NEA Foundation Celebrates 50th Anniversary and Public School Educators

Cicely Woodard (center) is presented the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence.

A record-breaking number of educators were recognized at the annual NEA Foundation ‘Salute to Excellence’ Gala on Friday, February 8, 2019.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the National Education Association, 46 educators from across the country, nominated by their state affiliates, were awarded for their excellence in public schools at the National Building Museum. The evening was hosted by Soledad O’Brien and Malcolm-Jamal Warner, with performances by the Resistance Revival Chorus and FunkyWunks.

“It has been the honor of my life to lead the Foundation for 14 years, helping give voice to the aspirations of the millions of educators committed to public education and the students they serve,” said Harriet Sanford, who celebrated her last gala as President and CEO of the NEA Foundation.

“A firm belief in the promise of public education is what drives the NEA Foundation’s work, and it is a commitment that I am proud to have helped shape. As we celebrate the Foundation’s 50th Anniversary this year, I’m excited to see the organization continue to keep the promise — for today’s students and tomorrow’s — under the leadership of Sara Sneed.”

Five educators received the 2019 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, each receiving $10,000.  They arrived in Washington, DC from Oregon, North Dakota, Maine, Hawaii, and Tennessee. The recipients include Matthew Bacon-Brenes, a dual language immersion mentor teacher at Mt. Babor Middle School; Leah Juelke, a 9th to 12th grade language arts educator for English learner students at Fargo South High School; Dan Ryder, a 9th to 12th grade language arts educator at Mt. Blue High School; Cynthia Tong, an 8th grade social studies educator at Ewa Makai Middle School; and Cicely Woodard, an 8th grade mathematics educator at West End Middle School.

During the event, Cicely Woodard was presented the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence, accompanied by a $25,000 prize.

“The impact we make on the lives of students and that they make on us is powerful, life-changing, and enduring,” said Woodard prior to the gala.

Education First, an organization dedicated to combining language training with cultural exchanges, was also honored as a leader in international education. President and CEO of the NEA Foundation Harriet Sanford said about the organization, “EF understands the importance of global learning in the life of students and educators. They are committed to making a positive contribution to the global community through partnerships and experiences, and we are thrilled to honor their efforts.”

The first annual Harriet Sanford Award, in honor of the outgoing president, was awarded to Minnesota educator Luke Merchlewitz.

Other awards went to:

  • Benita Moyers, Kindergarten educator at Mt. Carmel Elementary School in Meridianville, Alabama. 
  • Ben Walker, 7th grade science educator at Romig Middle School in Anchorage, Alaska. 
  • Melanie Donaldson, 6th grade language arts and social studies educator at Centennial Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona. 
  • Brian Chance, 6th to 8th grade educator at Kaiserslautern Middle School. 
  • Jamie Stearns, 8th grade language arts educator at Benton Junior High School in Benton, Arkansas. 
  • Christina Randle, 1st grade language arts and social studies educator at Soaring Eagles Elementary School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 
  • Virginia Forcucci, 10th grade language arts educator at Sussex Technical High School in Georgetown, Delaware. 
  • Lissa O’Rourke, pre-Kindergarten educator at Wards Creek Elementary School in Saint Augustine, Florida. 
  • John Tibbetts, 11th to 12th grade social studies educator at Worth County High School in Sylvester, Georgia. 
  • Kelly Garey, 2nd grade arts, language arts and social studies educator at Van Buren Elementary School in Caldwell, Idaho. 
  • Louise Stompor, 4th grade language arts educator at Washington School in Schiller Park, Illinois. 
  • Debbie Argenta, Kindergarten to 4th grade Arts educator at Jonas E. Salk Elementary School in Merrilleville, Indiana. 
  • Kathy Kleen, 10th to 12th grade science educator at Spirit Lake High School in Spirit Lake, Iowa. 
  • Bradley Weaver, Kindergarten to 5th grade music educator at Atchison Elementary School in Atchison, Kansas. 
  • Susan McLaughlin-Jones, 9th to 12th grade science educator at Lafayette High School in Lexington, Kentucky. 
  • Jonathan Cole, 9th to 12th grade social studies educator at Lafayette High School in Lafayette, Louisiana. 
  • Staci Lamb, 9th grade language arts educator at Elkton Senior High in Elkton, Maryland. 
  • Cara Pekarick, 9th to 12th grade science educator at North Quincy High School in Quincy, Massachusetts. 
  • Laura Chang, 2nd grade educator at Sunset Lake Elementary School in Vicksburg, Michigan. 
  • Scott Noet, 7th to 8th grade social studies educator at Owatonna Middle School in Owatonna, Minnesota. 
  • Woodrow Price, 1st grade language arts and mathematics educator at Sherman Avenue Elementary School in Vicksburg, Mississippi. 
  • Beth Davey, Kindergarten to 5th grade arts educator at Iveland Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri. 
  • Melissa Romano, 4h grade educator at Four Georgians Elementary School in Helena, Montana. 
  • Doreen Sweet-Ainslie, 7th grade social studies educator at Robin Mickle Middle School in Lincoln, Nebraska. 
  • Pilar Biller, 9th to 12th grade and Higher Education arts educator at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno, Nevada. 
  • Amy Anderson, 9th to 12th grade American Sign Language educator at Ocean City High School in Ocean City, New Jersey. 
  • Cheryl Carreon, pre-Kindergarten special education educator at East Picacho Elementary School in La Cruces, New Mexico. 
  • Christopher Albrecht, 4th grade educator at Fred W. Hill School in Brockport, New York. 
  • Lisa Godwin, Kindergarten educator at Dixon Elementary School in Holly Ridge, North Carolina. 
  • Jonathan Juravich, Kindergarten to 5th grade and Higher Education arts educator at Liberty Tree Elementary School in Powell, Ohio. 
  • Aaron Baker, 8th grade educator at Del Crest Middle School in Del City, Oklahoma. 
  • Matthew Hathaway, 4th grade social studies, mathematics and science educator at Owatine Creek Elementary School in Reading, Pennsylvania. 
  • Michael Alston, 6th to 12th grade social studies educator at Detention Center – SCDJJ in Columbia, South Carolina. 
  • Jessica Zwaschka, 11th to 12th grade science educator at Spearfish High School in Spearfish, South Dakota. 
  • Tara Bordeaux, 9th to 12th grade cinema and media arts educator at Lanier Early College High School in Austin, Texas. 
  • Jenny Atcitty, 4th to 5th grade educator at Montezuma Creek Elementary School in Montezuma Creek, Utah. 
  • Katherine McCann, 9th to 12th grade mathematics educator at U-32 High School in Montpelier, Vermont. 
  • Crystal DeLong, 9th to 12th grade social studies educator at Liberty High School in Bedford, Virginia. 
  • Bethany Rivard, 9th to 12th grade language arts and theater educator at Fort Vancouver High School in Vancouver, Washington. 
  • Mary Ellen Kanthack, 5th grade mathematics educator at Brookwood Middle School in Genoa City, Wisconsin. 
  • Amy Simpson, Kindergarten to 6th grade music educator at Hobbs Elementary School in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Denver Teachers Go On Strike For The First Time In 25 Years

DENVER (AP) — Denver teachers went on strike Monday after failing to reach a deal with administrators on pay.

The school district said schools will remain open during the strike and will be staffed by administrators and substitute teachers. However, the district has canceled classes for 5,000 preschool children because it doesn’t have the staff to take care of them.

Teachers started picketing before the start of the school day and students crossed through the picket lines on their way to class in some locations.

At a press conference Monday morning, union leaders expressed frustration at failed talks to reach a deal over the weekend. Union president Henry Roman said teachers were committed to reaching a deal but said that both sides needed a cooling off period. Another negotiation session is expected Tuesday.

“They need us. They need our labor, they need our minds, they need our talents to really make it happen,” lead union negotiator Rob Gould said.

The main sticking points in the talks over a contract governing Denver’s incentive pay system, which started over a year ago, are lowering bonuses to put more money in teachers’ base pay and how to allow teachers to advance in pay based on education and training, the norm in most school districts.

The union pushed for lower bonuses for high-poverty and high-priority schools to free up more money for overall teacher pay and criticized the district for spending too much money on administration. However, the district sees those particular bonuses as key to boosting the academic performance of poor and minority students.

Some teachers argue that spending money on things like smaller class sizes and adding support staff, like counselors, is the best way to help disadvantaged students learn and make them good schools for teachers to work in.

The strike is the latest action in a wave of teacher activism since last spring, when teachers walked off the job in West Virginia.

Other recent teacher demonstrations, like the teacher walkout in Los Angeles last month, focused on more than pay, such as reducing class size and other issues more directly related to students.

However, Denver teachers say that the non-traditional pay system in the district leads to high turnover, which they say hurts students. They also hope that a win on pay will help them when it comes time to negotiate other issues when their overall contract expires in two years.

Denver teachers are planning to strike on Monday after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. 

The state says a walkout will cost about $400,000 a day and would eat up 1 or 2 percent of the district’s annual operating budget in about a week. In encouraging both sides to come to an agreement, Gov. Jared Polis has pointed out that this money will no longer be available to help pay teachers once it is spent on the strike.

While teachers in some states are barred from striking, teachers in Colorado have a qualified right to walk off the job. As required by state law, teachers gave notice last month that they planned to strike. But the walkout was put on hold because the school district asked the state to intervene.

The strike was on again after the administration of new Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, decided Wednesday not get involved, believing the positions of both sides were not that far apart.

However, Polis said the state could decide to intervene – and suspend the strike for up to 180 days – if a walkout dragged on.

The state does not have the power to impose any deal on either side. But it can try to help the union and school district reach a deal and can require them participate in a fact-finding process.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Denver Teachers Plan To Go On Strike For The First Time In 25 Years

DENVER (AP) — Teachers in Colorado’s capital are planning to strike Monday for the first time in 25 years after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay.

The teachers union and Denver Public Schools met Saturday in an attempt to reach a new contract after more than a year of negotiations, but both sides left disappointed.

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association released a statement after the meeting saying the district’s proposal lacks transparency and “pushes for failed incentives for some over meaningful base salary for all.”

“We will strike Monday for our students and for our profession, and perhaps then DPS will get the message and return to the bargaining table with a serious proposal aimed at solving the teacher turnover crisis in Denver,” said Henry Roman, president of the teachers union.

Meanwhile, schools Superintendent Susana Cordova said she was “extremely disappointed” that the union walked away from the table instead of continuing to work toward an agreement.

“We presented an updated proposal that responds to what we heard from our teachers, aligns to our values of equity and retention … and significantly increases the base pay for all of our educators,” Cordova said.

Teachers plan to picket around the city beginning Monday as the district tries to keep schools open by staffing them with administrators and substitutes. The district has canceled classes for about 5,000 preschoolers because it doesn’t have the staff to take care of them.

The two sides disagree about pay increases and bonuses for teachers in high-poverty schools and other schools the district considers a priority. Teachers want lower bonuses to free up money for better overall salaries, while administrators say the bonuses are necessary to boost the academic performance of poor and minority students.

Denver teachers are planning to strike on Monday after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. 

Bonuses paid to teachers with more than 14 years of experience do not become part of their base pay, which critics say encourages high turnover and hurts students. Both sides have agreed to get rid of that provision but disagree about how big the bonuses should be for teachers working in high-poverty schools and in schools deemed a high priority by the district.

Gov. Jared Polis decided Wednesday against intervening to stop the strike but said he may step in if it drags on. It’s expected to cost about $400,000 a day to keep schools operating with substitutes and administrators.

The teachers union says 93 percent of its members backed a strike in a vote last month.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

2018 Was A Banner Year For Strikes

The official numbers bear it out: Last year really was the year of the strike.

More U.S. workers were involved in major work stoppages in 2018 than in any other year since 1986, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday. The number of stoppages was also the highest since the Great Recession began in 2007.

It’s no mystery as to why the number of workers ― 485,000 ― was so high. Hundreds of thousands of teachers walked off the job in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and elsewhere to demand more school funding and higher pay. The historic teacher walkouts lasted anywhere from one day to two weeks, with the red-clad school workers coining it the Red For Ed movement.

The largest of those strikes measured by days idle ― that is, the total number of workdays missed by all strikers ― was Arizona, where 81,000 public employees were off the job a total of 486,000 days. The second largest was Oklahoma, where 45,000 workers had 405,000 idle days.

But the 20 major work stoppages tracked by the government were not all in the public sector. (BLS defines a major work stoppage as one involving at least a thousand workers.) Among the largest was a successful multicity strike at Marriott hotels waged by the hospitality union Unite Here. Some 6,000 workers in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan won higher pay, better benefits and some new protections against automation from the hotel chain.

The Communications Workers of America also waged a major strike involving nearly 10,000 AT&T employees who were off the job for five days in June in the Midwest.

It makes plenty of sense that the number of striking workers has shot up relative to 2007. The economy has improved greatly since then, bringing low unemployment and greater competition for workers. The tight labor market would be making strikes less risky on the whole, as employees wield far more bargaining power than they did during the downturn.

The government does not track strikes per se but work stoppages. That term includes not only strikes, which are initiated by workers, but also lockouts, which are initiated by management. Lockouts are basically the opposite of a strike, where workers are off the job against their will. The lockout of United Steelworkers members at National Grid, the gas and electric utility, was the longest work stoppage of the year. It began last June and didn’t end until January of this year.

Even though the government does not distinguish between strikes and lockouts in its figures, it’s safe to say last year saw the highest number of strikers in years, if only because of the massive number of teachers who walked out. Workers in education, health care and social services made up more than 90 percent of those involved in the stoppages last year, BLS said.

So far, 2019 is shaping up to be another big year for teacher strikes, as the walkouts that began last year have spread to more liberal enclaves. More than 30,000 teachers and school staffers in Los Angeles went on strike for the first time in decades last month for a six-day stretch, while teachers in Denver may be walking off the job any day now.

Meanwhile, teachers in West Virginia may not be done with their walkouts. Local unions across the state are holding strike votes this week as the GOP-controlled legislature moves to establish charter schools in the state.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Educators and Parents Reset the Class Size ‘Debate’

Earlier this month, Rebecca Segal, a kindergarten teacher in Milwaukee, walked into her classroom, counted the number of students in front of her, and thought to herself, “This is going to be a great day.”

Typically, Segal teaches around 30 kids, but a blizzard and frigid temperatures, while not severe enough for an official snow day, kept more than half her students at home. With only 12 kids in her classroom, Segal knew right off the bat that things were going to be different.

There would be more time for hands-on activities, more one-on-one interaction, a generally slower more focused approach that wasn’t really possible with a class of 30 students or more.

“I physically felt calmer and more comfortable and they did as well,” Segal recalls. “Behavior is handled much more fluidly when you can give kids the attention they need. I remember thinking , ‘Wow, this must have been what it was like back in the day’!”

When the bell rang at 3 o’clock, Segal’s heart sank a little. For only eight hours, she and her students got to experience how things should be but aren’t.  “I was sad because even if it were to change and class sizes became smaller, the kids I have now won’t see it. But that’s what every student deserves.”

Nevertheless, Segal is heartened by the reemergence of the class size issue, particularly the strength educators have shown across the country in forcing policymakers to confront the problem. Many state legislatures – thanks in large part to the influx of new pro-public education lawmakers generated by the 2018 elections – are finally taking it up. Most notably, the recent 6-day teacher strike in Los Angeles led to key concessions by the district in capping that city’s absurdly large class sizes.

Source: “Class Size Reduction: A Proven Reform Strategy,” NEA Policy Brief, 2015

It didn’t start in Los Angeles. Calling for reduced class size has been a centerpiece of the #RedforEd movement that began last Spring. After years of being told the number of students in a classroom didn’t matter or that it was just too darn expensive to fix (or both), educators, students and parents have had enough.

The school funding crisis, says NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, is a “man-made crisis.” Lawmakers created it and that they can fix—if they choose to.

Reducing class size is expensive, but…well… so what?

Class size matters and is therefore worth the investment, says Bruce Baker, a professor at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University.

“The things that cost money benefit students,” Baker writes in Does Money Matter in Education? “Ample research indicates that children in smaller classes achieve better outcomes, both academic and otherwise, and that class size reduction can be an effective strategy for closing racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps.”

Educators are more than happy to talk about costs, but they’ve refocused the debate on class size squarely where it should be: on the costs to our students if no action is taken.

‘A House Party, Not a Classroom’

After her day with only 12 students ended,  Rebecca Segal reflected on her experience and decided to share her thoughts on social media.

“For me it was just a cathartic Facebook post, but I really wasn’t prepared for the response. It really struck a chord. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised because we all want to talk about this issue.”

That was the case when NEA recently asked its members on Facebook and Twitter to share their class size stories.

A music teacher described in detail how too many students in one classroom makes individualized attention virtually impossible.

I’ve had as many as 38 in previous districts. My current has been 31 at times. The worst part of it is that I’m a music teacher, which means teacher’s aides get their preps during my class and their students come without them. I have aides for profoundly disabled students, but inclusion students with 1:1 help on their IEPs don’t have access to them during my class. It’s terrible for them and for the other students in the class, because it often impacts behaviors. Too large class sizes, not enough aides, and not enough respect for the “specials” classes to even consider it a problem that needs to be fixed. We’re being cut off at the knees!…We’re failing them with our large class sizes. It’s not teachers doing a bad job, it’s decision makers making it impossible to do our job effectively.

A 4th grade teacher has fewer students this year and doesn’t want to go back:

I had 35 fourth graders last year. I could hardly work with any small groups or give one on one attention. Grading work and analysis of formative assessment was nigh impossible. And we do not have release time such as PE, art, music, etc because we classroom teachers are expected to teach those on our own. I was at work until at least 6 PM daily! I have 27 kids this year which is much better.

An English Language Arts teacher says fitting all her students in one classroom was a challenge:

 As a first year ELA teacher of 9th graders. I once had a class with 39 students! The class was also an inclusion class with several students who had behavioral improvement plans. I literally didn’t even have space for all the students! It was more like a house party … not a classroom!

This educator crossed Los Angeles off her list when she asked about class size:

I interviewed with LA when I was looking for my first teaching job back in 2003. My first question was about class size. They replied no less than 35 (for fifth grade). I was fresh out of college and knew my classroom management skills needed some work. I finished the interview, but I knew after they said 35 that I would not be moving there. 

Breaking Through

The impact large class sizes have on a district’s ability to recruit and retain teachers tends is undeniable. In 2017, the Learning Policy Institute found that teacher turnover is lowest in states that offer higher pay, make greater investments in education, and support smaller class sizes.

This fact tends to get dismissed or ignored by those who have believe there’s nothing wrong with larger class size that cannot be resolved by a quality educator. Hiring and keeping great teachers, however, is difficult obviously when larger class sizes increase teacher attrition. 

“Class size is a fundamental issue,” says Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). “That is about student learning conditions. That is about educator working conditions.”

California ranks 48 our of 50 states in class size and Los Angeles has some of the largest in the state. Capping class size was a central demand in UTLA’s contract negotiations with the district that eventually broke down in January. The subsequent city-wide strike of 30,000 educators forced major concessions. The district agreed to reduce class sizes in grades 4-12, and eliminate Section 1.5, a provision in the previous contract that allowed the district to cite “fiscal distress” to ignore class size caps.

Up north in the Bay Area, Oakland educators are also demanding smaller class sizes as they gear up for a possible strike. On February 4, 95% of the city’s teachers, who have been working without a contract since July 2017, voted to authorize the action, which could begin if the district continues to reject their demands. The vote, said Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown, sent a “clear message that members are ready to fight for schools students deserve. It’s a mandate for smaller class size, more student support and a  living wage.”

On the class size issue specifically, OEA is proposing to reduce all elementary school classes by one student and all middle and high school classes by five students. These reductions would go into effect this year and then double in 2020.  Brown says these and other steps are critical to stem the teacher turnover crisis that has crippled the district.

As we saw in Los Angeles, community coalitions have been integral to OEA’s campaign. Across the country, educators have a powerful partner in parents.

The voices calling for smaller class sizes are growing louder, says Rebecca Segal, and they’re beginning break through.

“The fact that educators are willing to strike over class size is amazing and we have new leaders at the state level now who understand public education,” she says.

“It’s still a struggle, but we’re not shouting into thin air anymore. We’re shouting loud enough so that people are hearing and maybe will start to do something about it.”

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

How My Religious Education Stalled My Career Potential

Esti, my high school’s office secretary, usually popped into classrooms to punish students for arriving late to morning prayers. But one day, she made an announcement that would ― eventually ― transform my worldview. 

“The principal wants the following students to come to her office right now. Leah M., Chani, Shira…” Esti listed seven more names. My name was not on the list.

All of the girls on Esti’s list were what principals of an ultra-Orthodox girls school pray for: They were pure in body and pure in heart, and they rolled up their uniform skirts exactly zero times. Surely, they could not be in trouble.

After 10 minutes, the girls returned to class. They were modest girls. Humble girls. So they bit on their lips to conceal whatever smile was on the edge of cracking.

“What did the principal want?” I asked my friend Devorah, a part of me already knowing that the answer would make me jealous.

“She said that we’re the only ones who should take the SATs because of our high grades.”

The bell rang for English class before I could respond. While our teacher droned on about A Tale of Two Cities, I worked to kick my envy to the curb.

Why shouldn’t I take the SATs? I was nothing if not ridiculously studious in high school. After all, if your religious community doesn’t allow you to talk to teenage boys, then you may as well flirt and date and marry your homework. I approached studying each day with gusto and non-ironic reverence, believing that scholastic devotion would pay forth its dividends. With the exception of math, I scored 100s and 90s across all subjects. To this day, I cannot understand why only 5 percent of the grade was invited to take the SATs.

The rest of my classmates and I didn’t have any knowledge of how to study for a college entrance exam, let alone register for one. We couldn’t even look up how to do so online because we all signed a contract forbidding us to use the internet for the entirety of high school (at risk of suspension or expulsion). We waited on authority to allow us to tiptoe forward, to dare to be intellectually curious. A few school parents encouraged their children to take the SATs. But the majority just seemed indifferent to it all.

This memory of feeling excluded from the American dream at 17 is especially pertinent today in light of the current clash between the New York State Education Department and ultra-Orthodox private schools, known as yeshivas. Yeshivas (Hasidic ones in particular) are garnering media attention because some of their graduates are blasting them for focusing primarily on Jewish studies and not teaching basic math and literacy skills. A group of these graduates formed an organization called Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED) in 2012.

According to The New York Times, YAFFED filed a complaint in 2015 stating that yeshivas were providing poor secular education to its students. In the three years since the complaint, the city has investigated only 15 yeshivas while more than a dozen other yeshivas refused to cooperate. But after much frustration on YAFFED’s part, there is finally more progress. On Nov. 20, New York’s state education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, published updated rules that enforce stronger secular education among nonpublic schools. And if schools resist cooperating with the city, then the city can hold back on their funding.

The path toward equal education, however, is not clear just yet. Prominent community rabbis and organizations like Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools are vehemently opposing the state’s stricter policies.

There is no denying that Hasidic boys schools receive the weakest secular education within the Orthodox community. But there is another narrative that has been glaringly missing from this public conversation and that is the female one. How are girls, like me, experiencing education in ultra-Orthodox schools? Why has our point of view been largely omitted in discussions of reform?

Ultra-Orthodox girls schools, which are known as Bais Yaakovs, also require students to devote chunks of their day to Jewish studies. As a Bais Yaakov high school student in 2008, the information that I spent hours memorizing for tests, fingers pressed tightly to my temple, eyes squeezed shut in desperate concentration was this: Which sacrifices did God find most pleasurable? Which spices did God like the most on the slaughtered sheep and cows? Which sacrifices atoned for which sins?

In Bais Yaakov, we spent roughly four hours a day on Jewish studies and another four on secular studies. So, yes, we did have an educational advantage over the boys yeshivas (as many of them experience math and English as a sad, slumped afterthought taught only after hours of mental acrobatics on the Talmud).

Sure, there was plenty of censorship ― pages about dinosaurs, Darwin and scrotums missing from our biology textbooks ― but other than that, we seemed fine. No, really. We studied Austen and the Pythagorean theorem and the periodic table. Unlike our male counterparts, we were ready for the great beyond. For once, it paid to be a girl.

Herding my classmates and me into the school’s multipurpose room, my principal shredded any hope of us attending a secular college. She treated the one City University in our neighborhood like it was Lord Voldemort. “I don’t even want to say the words ‘Brooklyn College,’” she announced sternly. “The messages written in the bathroom stalls of a non-Orthodox school are not for your eyes.” With her words, she forbade us to apply to this university. And because we were docile girls, we allowed her to influence us beyond 12th grade ― lending her far more power than she ever deserved.

It turns out our principal wasn’t only scared that we’d be exposed to bathroom graffiti. She was also scared we’d be exposed to Nietzsche, take a gender studies class taught by a nonbinary professor or, worse yet, catch a dreaded case of female ambition. College was meant to be purely utilitarian in this sense: become just employable enough that you can you support a family while your future husband is likely to spend his days hunched over the Talmud.

So which careers did Bais Yaakov hope we pursue? Only those that were historically feminine, safe from the siren song of secularism that might be found in law, media, technology, politics or even medicine. We were encouraged to be teachers in Jewish schools, speech therapists, nurses ― all undeniably noble professions, of course, but sorely limited in scope.

Without the power of the internet, I didn’t know which scholarships, mentorships, internships or fascinating classes existed (“The Science of Harry Potter,” anyone?). For higher education, my classmates and I were given just one choice: go to a for-profit Orthodox college where the men and women have separate classes and library hours, where the courses are laughably limited, where the professors in your department can be counted on one hand, where the career counseling is scarce (especially if you are a lowly English major such as myself) and where the tuition is high.

I went to such a college. Classes were punctured by the shrieks of 20-year-old girls fawning over a classmate’s engagement ring. All I was trying to do, while more and more blushing brides filtered into classrooms, was to write for the nonexistent college newspaper. When I asked an English professor how I could start one (so that I could give my résumé some gravitas), he chuckled. “Why are you so determined? You know you’ll be waking up to crying babies a few years from now.”

The rhetoric of my professor and community burned holes of doubt into what I thought were rock-solid writing ambitions. Because I was still malleable to indoctrination, still privy to conformity, I became convinced that I needed to kill those ambitions to make room for practicality, for a job that would park itself neatly between the corners of inevitable wifehood and motherhood.

“Become a teacher at a Jewish school. You’ll have summers off to spend time with your future children,” my mother urged.

I obeyed, but under one condition: For graduate school, I’d flee my Orthodox higher education ― I was so tired of existing within a social and academic extension of high school.

It was at Brooklyn College (the bathroom graffiti is gorgeously irreverent, by the way) where I encountered a diverse classroom for the first time in life. For the three years I was pursuing my master’s there, I ached to be a 19-year-old at the college, stretching across the campus grass, eyes facing the sky, encircled by fresh opportunity. The college hung up flyers that shouted Have breakfast with these female executives!” and “This Fortune 500 company is recruiting writers!”

Inside, I started to lament all the lives I could have lived. If only I was able to: Google affordable SAT prep classes in 12th grade, apply to a college with a diverse student body, network with a professor who didn’t scoff at my ambition. But I couldn’t. Agency was yielded to one high school principal, not to me.

Lament turned to anger during my years of teaching. I had spent thousands of dollars and invested countless hours in forcing myself into a profession that, I always suspected, would fit awkwardly. So I quit the job and I quit allowing others to construct fences around my drive.

I’m now a writer for a children’s vertical at one of the largest print publications in the U.S. I’m no longer mourning my loss of time and experiences. I’m OK.

But I will never forget this: While Hasidic boys schools are the ones most deprived of educational advantages, there is something uniquely unkind about the way in which ultra-Orthodox girls are trained, too. As teenage girls, we resisted the temptation of the first smoke and the first kiss to instead study everything in every place and at every time. We sweated to the finish line, exhausted from four years of intense academics, only to stumble into the fog.

Why should a loss of experiences be inherited by new generations of women who are aflame with the desire to learn, innovate and prosper? 

Do you have a personal story you’d like to see published on HuffPost? Find out what we’re looking for here and send us a pitch!

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Virginia State Senator Tommy Norment Edited Yearbook With Blackface, Slurs

Virginia state Sen. Tommy Norment was once the managing editor of a yearbook chock-full of racial slurs and images depicting blackface, according to a report by The Virginian-Pilot.

Norment, the Republican majority leader of the state Senate, oversaw the Virginia Military Institute’s yearbook in 1968, the news outlet reports. In that yearbook, students appear dressed in blackface in several photos, and racial slurs are used regularly. In one instance, a student from Bangkok, Thailand, is called a “Jap” and a “Chink.” A caption under another unidentified man’s photo reads: “He was known as the ‘Barracks Jew’ having his fingers in the finances of the entire Corps.”

The VMI yearbook, called “The Bomb,” has been published continuously since 1897. You can see the whole yearbook here.

Virginia state Sen. Tommy Norment.

When a Virginian-Pilot reporter confronted Norment about the yearbook on Thursday, he reportedly said, “The only thing I’m talking about today is the budget.”

On Wednesday, when HuffPost’s Daniel Marans asked if Norment had ever appeared in blackface, a spokesman responded that he has a policy of not talking to HuffPost.

Norment is now the fourth Virginia political figure in the past week to face his own scandal and the third whose controversy involved the use of blackface.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) ― who himself graduated from VMI in 1981 ― faced bipartisan calls for his resignation after the news broke that his medical school yearbook page included a photo of one person in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan garb. Northam denied that he was either person but admitted to wearing blackface on another occasion.

On Wednesday, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) admitted that he once wore blackface, when he dressed up as a rapper for a party decades ago.

Meanwhile, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) has been accused of forcing a woman to perform oral sex in 2004.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Trump Praises Karen Pence For Teaching Job After LGBTQ Backlash

President Donald Trump heaped praise on Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, at Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast for teaching art to students at a Christian school in Northern Virginia. 

Not surprisingly, Trump overlooked the school’s policy of barring LGBTQ children and LGBTQ employees from its doors. 

“She just went back to teaching art classes at a Christian school,” he said in an endorsement of Pence’s strong faith, claiming he has grown to know her well. 

“Terrific woman,” Trump added. 

The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD called his comments “disturbing.” 

The president went on to stress his administration’s support for other forms of faith-based discrimination, providing as an example one Michigan Catholic agency that refuses to work with gay parents. 

Pence, a painter and illustrator who taught art for decades, began teaching elementary students at Immanuel Christian School two days per week earlier this year. She and her husband are notoriously hostile to LGBTQ rights.

As HuffPost previously reported, the school does not provide a welcoming environment. A “parent agreement” posted online states that the school has the right to refuse admission to any student who participates in or condones homosexual activity, while employees must sign a pledge against violating the “unique roles of male and female.” 

Amid the backlash over Pence’s employer, an LGTBQ advocacy group called The Trevor Project sent Immanuel Christian 100 copies of a pro-equality children’s bookA Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. (The book had been created by The Trevor Project and comedian John Oliver in response to a children’s story the Pence family wrote and illustrated that was centered on the Pence family rabbit.) 

Yet Pence’s office defended her choice to teach at the school, saying the attention brought to its policies was not warranted.

“It’s absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school’s religious beliefs, are under attack,” Pence’s communication director, Kara Brooks, said in a statement. She would not say whether Karen Pence agreed with the discriminatory policies. 

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Experience Matters: The Case for Seniority

One of the most persistent attacks on the teaching profession over the years has been around the issue of seniority. Lawmakers have been chipping away at seniority, believing it saddles schools with ineffective teachers and forces younger educators out of the profession. But experience matters. A lot. The more experienced an educator, the better able she is to address the needs of students because she’s dealt with just about every learning level, behavioral challenge, engagement strategy and classroom management style. She’s there to mentor the newer teachers and help them become the best educators they can be.

NEA Today recently spoke to Emma García, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, who specializes in the economics of education and education policy, about why seniority makes sense for schools and students. 

Why should teacher seniority be preserved when so many new, talented educators have entered the classroom with such great potential?

EG: This should not be seen as an “either or” situation. These are two generations who are naturally linked to each other and who work in tandem to achieve common purposes. Also, we should be careful with “letting teachers go” and rather improve retention and attraction of high-quality teachers (the estimates are that schools are lacking about 110 thousand teachers this academic year, and the forecasts are that shortages will persist).

The evidence from teachers themselves and from research says that experience on the job is a key credential of quality and effectiveness. New, talented and well-trained teachers are needed to replace who leave due to attrition and, sometimes, turnover.

The new and talented educators, whose teaching skills greatly improve during their first years in the profession, can better develop as educators when they are integrated into a stable group and benefit from mentoring and feedback from more senior teachers. Senior teachers not only know their profession very well, but have a well of context knowledge and can play a very important role in helping younger teachers build their careers.

The argument against seniority rests largely on this notion that preserving seniority costs more than making hiring and firing decisions based on merit. How is this off-the-mark?

EG: It depends on the strategy we prefer to adequately staff our schools. Remember, our schools are short of teachers, which is costly to students, other teachers, and the system, and that filling a vacancy in teaching—regardless of who is replaced or what motivated the need for the teacher—is costly as well. It also depends critically on what we understand we mean when we say “merit.” How is it measured and what does it mean for an educator? It is very difficult to disentangle teachers’ merit and contribution to students’ development from the families’, peers’, and schools’ contributions.

Rather than costs alone, we should think about “efficiency”, and about “having a stable and strong teacher labor force.” For example, because merit and seniority are correlated, it may be more efficient (i.e., more effective promoting students’ development relative to its costs) to keep the most senior teachers on board. If we care about the stability of a qualified teacher labor force, it may be better to find the right balance between retaining senior teachers and attracting great new teachers.

Ensuring our schools have strong and effective teachers can also be helped by better early training and mentoring practices, more opportunities for collaboration and professional development, as well as through better working conditions and broad supports for teachers and students; this last option is possibly the most efficient and most sustainable solution.

And then there’s the myth that it protects bad, lazy teachers who want to coast into retirement.

EG: Seniority, tenure and other protections were not put in place to allow for that to happen. If those “lazy”or “bad” professionals are in our system, we need to identify how that happened and fix it. We need great teachers in our schools, and there are many factors—in the schools and institutionally—that can help with that.

How does seniority protect curriculum?

EG: Curriculum, just like the majority of ingredients of teaching and learning, is informed in a key manner by teachers. Seniority also plays a role in that because more experienced teachers have developed the know-how about curriculum contents and about teaching practices in the classroom. Their knowledge about how to deliver it in heterogeneous classrooms and across different schools’ contexts is greatly important.

Well-trained novice teachers can also contribute to improving the curriculum, but their assessment may be more useful when they work with more senior teachers to identify what needs to be added to the curriculum and how to integrate that with the existing contents and instructional practices.

What other ways does it benefit our education system?

EG: Together with education and other skills, training and experience are core components of our human capital. In addition to being one of the credentials of quality and effectiveness, experience is also an indirect indicator that a teacher intends to stay in teaching (an indicator of selection).

I cannot think of any other profession—especially any labor intensive, involving personal interactions, profession such as teaching— where we would accept that the value of experience were put into question. We can discuss if teachers receive the necessary lifelong professional development or whether their students and schools receive the necessary supports, but not if experience is valuable.

What is behind the attack on seniority? What is the endgame of those who would abolish the practice in our schools?

EG: In theory, it is a strategy that pursues objectives besides what the prime goals of education are, that threatens public education and teachers, and that misguides policy. In practice, it’s a distraction from the necessary efforts to address the persistent nature of achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students, and an obstacle to build a solid reputation for teaching and to professionalize it.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

West Virginia Teachers Might Go On Strike Again

West Virginia teachers are deciding this week whether to authorize their unions to lead another massive walkout, a little less than a year after they started a cascade of historic teacher strikes around the country.

The ongoing discontent among the teachers is directly related to last year’s unrest. The Republican-controlled state Senate has agreed to give school employees another raise, but only with some major strings attached. These include the creation of charter schools in the state and a new voucher-like system that would steer public money to private schools.

The education omnibus bill that cleared the chamber by an 18-16 margin on Monday includes a number of conservative proposals that GOP legislators have put forth in the past. But now lawmakers have coupled them with much of what educators fought for last year, and teacher representatives say the legislation would ultimately divert money away from public schools.

“We feel like it’s retaliation for what we did last spring,” said Fred Albert, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, one of the state’s two main teachers unions.

Those unions and the union representing school support staff have asked their local affiliates to hold votes on whether to green-light walkouts or other protests in response to the legislation. Workers are casting ballots by Friday.

Union leaders suspect the vast majority of their members will approve of walking off the job in the event the most controversial measures appear likely to become law. No date for a walkout has been set.

The education package passed in the Senate headed Tuesday to the House, which also has a Republican majority. But House members serve shorter terms ― two years, as opposed to four ― and may be more amenable to pressure from teachers and other school employees in their districts.

It’s likely that the bill that passed the Senate will not survive in the same form. Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, has already said he would veto it if it did.

Even so, Kym Randolph, spokeswoman for the West Virginia Education Association, said they consider the package a serious threat, noting that it only takes a simple majority in each legislative chamber to override a governor’s veto.

Randolph said teachers want to avoid something as drastic as a walkout, but feel “incensed” by the omnibus bill and the way it was fast-tracked through the upper chamber. As reported by The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported, Senate leaders used an arcane procedural maneuver to bypass a review of the legislation by a finance committee once it became obvious there weren’t enough votes for it to clear that panel.  

Teachers have “watched the actions of the Senate, and it’s like the matador with the red cape,” she said. The teachers “went back to work and now the Senate has gone this route. It’s kind of disrupting the whole process again.”

The most controversial aspects of the legislative plan would establish a public charter system and create ”education savings accounts.” The latter would grant families around $3,200 a year in public money to put toward a child’s private school costs, tutoring or online education, so long as the child is not a full-time public school student. The number of accounts statewide would be capped at 2,500, to be made eligible on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Like with other charter or voucher proposals, many teachers and their unions in West Virginia worry the plan would siphon much-needed money out of public schools over time. The West Virginia Schools Athletic Coaches Association came out strongly against the bill, arguing that it would lead to “chaos” in sports and prompt transfers.

A report by The Beckley Register-Herald illustrated one of the biggest concerns: that wealthier and more stable families would be best positioned to take advantage of the charters and savings accounts, leaving poor children behind in lower-performing schools. The Gazette-Mail reported that at least seven of 18 senators who advanced the bill had children who did not go to public schools.

The groundbreaking walkout that began late last February was meant to reverse years of lackluster investment in the public school system. Like many other states, West Virginia saw a steep drop in revenue in the wake of the Great Recession, a problem exacerbated by years of tax cuts. That left the state with little money to give to teachers, who went years without meaningful raises. Their higher health care costs meant take-home pay was effectively going down for many.

The state has no collective bargaining for teachers and other school employees; the unions basically function as lobbies, with pay scales set by the state legislature. Last year’s nine-day walkout, which was illegal under state law, forced lawmakers to agree to a five percent raise for public employees, as well as develop a plan to fund the state health insurance plan. The success of the walkout helped spur similar ones in Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona.

Albert, of AFT-West Virginia, said the fast-moving education bill made it clear the fight was far from over. He said the legislature should pass a stand-alone bill assuring raises for educators, leaving out the controversial measures that the state Senate added. If not, he said, schools could end up closed again, with teachers flooding the capitol.

“They feel, like I do, that this bill has harmful things in there and it seems like payback,” Albert said. “They’re still inspired to carry on what they did last year.”

Correction: This story originally stated that the raises in the Senate bill were promised during last year’s strike. In fact, those particular raises were promised after the strike, in October.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Effective Engagement Focuses on Getting Students to Care

It’s vital that we give purpose to what the students must learn. Let’s face it: Learning something because it’s on a test, or because it’s in the text book, isn’t purpose. But when you connect what they are learning to the world outside of school, you create your “in.”

And engaging students doesn’t require doing a soft-shoe or stand-up comedy in front of a brick wall.

Engaging students isn’t about entertainment. It’s about focusing on how to get students to care. It’s about adding a layer to the content so that they are motivated to understand concepts more independently.

And when they care about the material, they become less likely to need a letter grade to prove their knowledge. That’s right. Student engagement is the key to intrinsic motivation.

In a video for my most recent book, Just Ask Us: Kids Speak out on Student Engagement, a group of middle schoolers agree that engagement isn’t just about fun. One claims that “engagement isn’t always fun. Well, sometimes it is, but it’s also about focusing on what you’re doing and comprehending everything that’s coming into you.”

Engagement is as much about sweat as it is about smiles. Ultimately, engagement is about connecting with the material so much that a student is willing to blast through hurdles to learn more.

What’s the best way to connect students to the material? Ensure learning is meaningful. That’s where the outside world comes in. That said, I’ve long resented the concept of the “real world” and the “school world.”

Our students spend almost their first two decades of life in school, so it’s unfair to disassociate school with the world outside of it. For them, school is the real world. They should expect that the time spent with us is in preparation for the world beyond school.

So how can we align the school day with their eventual adult-aged work day? Here are some strategies to chew on. Use this list as your own launching pad for your own research. Go to conferences and seek out your own professional development by casting your net with these thoughts in mind. Become an expert in ways to give
learning purpose.

Be Transparent With the Purpose of Learning – Why are we learning this? Where does it exist in the world beyond school? What professions use this content knowledge or this skill? Give students examples of how your content area makes an impact in the world. Better yet, have the students bring in examples from their lives outside of school that showcase your content area.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Grant Students More Choice—As adults we get choices. If we want to better align learning with the world they will enter, we must offer more opportunities for students to own their learning. As education author and lecturer Alfie Kohn says,

“Children learn to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.” Offer choice in everything—from prompts, people to work with, resources and deadlines, to ways they can showcase what they know and topics of study.

Engage Students in Project-Based Learning (PBL)—PBL is the strategy that helps students to solve real-world problems—ones they often choose to tackle themselves. They do this through independent and collaborative research, design, prototyping, pitching, oral presentation, and public products.

PBL is totally grounded in authenticity. To teach using PBL requires some training. But more than anything, it involves a shift in philosophy to ensure that the learning is set in the creation, not regurgitation, of information. As I say in my DIY for PBL series, “PBL isn’t about writing a state report, it’s about creating your own state.” Students want to know how they can use what they’re learning to make an impact in the world around them.

The bottom line is this: Allow students to own their pathway through our educational system. Allow them to bring in evidence that indicates their content areas are valuable. And when students come to a crossroads, allow them to choose their own direction. Most of all, help them understand that they can make an impact on their world any time they want to start putting their training to use.

Show them examples of students who are making an impact—both big and small. Every student can develop a long-range plan in something they are passionate about, and those plans can include proof of literacy, writing, STEM, past history, and current events.

By bringing the students’ choices and interests into the classroom, you will have made your room and the learning that happens inside of it more meaningful. That translates to engagement.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron is a middle school teacher, a fellow at the National Writing Project and a faculty member of the Buck Institute for Education.


Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Beyoncé’s Black History Month Collage Teaches Us A Powerful Lesson

Beyoncé remains the queen of poignant Black History Month moments. In 2016, she dropped her hit-single-turned-black-anthem “Formation.” In 2017, she revealed her pregnancy with Sir and Rumi Carter. And this year, she surprised us with a creative reminder to recognize the black history happening around us every day, with a photo collage on her website honoring 45 black men and women who have done and are doing amazing work in the black community.

The collage honors some well-known names in black history like Aretha Franklin, James Baldwin and Maya Angelou. It also features famous faces from today like Beyoncé’s sister, Solange; Emmy Award-winning producer Lena Waithe; and activists DeRay Mckesson and Janet Mock. And it features some people who you may not recognize ― but should definitely get to know.

There’s Glory Edim, the creator of Well-Read Black Girl, an online community that encourages literacy among young black women. There’s Kimberly Drew, a former art curator and social media manager for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and a style icon in her own right). There’s Iddris Sandu, a 21-year-old tech genius who created the algorithms for Instagram and Snapchat. There’s Mari Copeny, better known as Little Miss Flint ― a middle-schooler advocating for clean water in Flint, Michigan, and justice for American youth.

Not everyone featured in Beyoncé’s collage is a traditional activist. Some are writers like Tomi Adeyemi, author of Children of Blood and Bone, and Angie Thomas, author of the New York Times best-seller The Hate U Give. Some are young people, like 14-year-old actress Marsai Martin and 11-year-old author Marley Davis. Some are artists, like Ruth Carter and Hannah Beachler, the creative forces behind the Oscar-nominated “Black Panther,” or chef Bryant Terry, or Brandan Odums, creator and curator of the art museum Studio Be in New Orleans.

A caption on Beyoncé’s website includes the full list of who’s who in the collage:

Pictured: Angie Thomas, Aretha Franklin, Aurielle Marie, Brandan “B-Mike” Odums, Brittany Packnett, Bryant Terry, Dara Cooper, Deray McKesson, Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, Dr. Jessica Clemons, Glory Edim, Hannah Beachler, Iddris Sandu, Jackie Aina, James Baldwin, Janet Mock, Johnnetta Cole, Johnetta Elzie, Kenya Barris, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Kimberly Drew, Lena Waithe, Lonnie G. Bunch III, Malcolm X, Mari Copeny, Mariame Kaba, Marley Dias, Marsai Martin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Maya Angelou, Mickalene Thomas, Nina Shaw, Nina Simone, Pat McGrath, Robert Battle, Rosa Parks, Ruth Carter, Shirley Chisholm, Solange Knowles, Tarana Burke, Tomi Adeyemi, Tristan Walker, Tyler Mitchell, Valencia D. Clay, Yaa Gyasi.

I remember being a kid in school and doing creative projects like this every February, such as memorizing Dr. King’s speech, writing an essay about the progress made since slavery or, yes, making a collage featuring faces from black history.

But Beyoncé’s collage is a little different. She’s not only recognizing and celebrating black history ― she’s elevating people who are contributing to the future of black America.

In dropping this creative surprise, Bey gave us an important Black History Month lesson we seldom get in school: February isn’t just about what happened in the past. It’s about celebrating what’s happening right now.

If you’ve ever wondered how to really celebrate Black History Month, this is it. We should continue to be grateful to Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and Dr. King (all of whom are featured in Beyoncé’s collage). And we should also be thankful for new faces and emerging leaders who stand on the shoulders of our ancestors and continue to lead the way to equality.

So do yourself a favor: Look up some of the names featured in Beyoncé’s collage, and find someone new to learn about this Black History Month.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misidentified the award Waithe has won. It was an Emmy, not a Golden Globe. This article also misidentified Drew as a current art curator and social media manager for the Met; in fact, she formerly held these roles.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

This Period Board Game Aims To De-Stigmatize Menstruation

An inventive board game is educating kids about periods and breaking down the stigma around menstruation.

The Period Game brands itself as a positive learning experience that teaches participants about the menstrual cycle and the everyday considerations individuals face while on their periods.

The game is the brainchild of designers Daniela Gilsanz and Ryan Murphy, who conceived of the idea as college students at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2014.

The game aims to foster a positive, taboo-free environment. 

“Everyone was tasked with making a game about the body,” Gilsanz told HuffPost. The game about the menstrual cycle that she and Murphy created initially discomforted some of their classmates, she said, “which surprised us, as we were all in our 20s at art-school, but it proved that there was still a long way to go in how we talk about periods.”

The game first garnered media attention as a prototype in 2016, and the creators now have launched a Kickstarter to bring the project to market.

Gilsanz and Murphy came up with the idea while attending the Rhode Island School of Design. 

Gilsanz and Murphy came up with the idea while attending the Rhode Island School of Design. 

“Watching our peers get more comfortable with the subject while playing the game clued us in that we made a tool that might help move us forward. Then watching that same pattern happen again and again as we tested with young people really reaffirmed that we were onto something,” Gilsanz said.

Over the past two years, the two creators have tweaked and tested the game and prepared for manufacturing. In its current form, the game features four types of “period protection cards” like tampons and menstrual cups, 11 “PMS cards” that offer coping advice like “take a hot shower” or “drink plenty of water,” player pieces in shapes like ‘period undies’ and ‘pads,’ an educational booklet, a centerpiece modeled after the uterus and more.

Gilsanz said they’ve played the game with over 200 students, as well as health educators, gynecologists and child psychologists.

“In playing the game with young people, we’ve heard so many different period stories, and had the fortune of seeing boys and girls shout ‘I want my period’ at the top of their lungs,” she said. “We also had a fourth grader try to buy it on the spot, and an 8th grader understand what PMS was for the first time, to extreme relief that she wasn’t alone.”

The game is primarily geared toward prepubescent young people, but can offer an educational experience for anyone who decides they could learn a little more about the body. Parents and teachers are also encouraged to play along.

The game teaches young people about different types of period protection, possible PMS symptoms, how to handle them and more.

The game teaches young people about different types of period protection, possible PMS symptoms, how to handle them and more.

“The game helps break down the barriers between everyone playing and can often lead to honest conversations in the classroom between students and teachers, or at home between parents and children,” Gilsanz said.

The Period Game also aims to foster a taboo-free environment and make young people feel more comfortable saying words like “tampon” and “period.”

“We hope that young people of all genders will have a better understanding of menstruation. Forty-eight percent of women never had a conversation about periods or what to expect before their first period, and in 2019 that’s no longer OK,” Gilsanz said. “It’s important that everyone understands what’s happening in the menstruating body.”

Parents and teachers can play along, leading to even more educational conversations about menstruation. 

Parents and teachers can play along, leading to even more educational conversations about menstruation. 

For now, the creators are focused on reaching their $35,000 Kickstarter goal so that they can produce a first run of games and bring the product to market. But they ultimately want to make younger generations more comfortable, prepared and aware when it comes to periods.

“Our longer term goal is to change the way we teach menstruation and help bust the period taboo,” Gilsanz said. “We want the next generation to not feel that they have to hide tampons in their sleeves!”

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

How To Turn Off The TV Without Causing A Meltdown

Helping kids regulate their own media use is an ongoing process, and along the way you’re likely to experience some struggles when it’s time to turn off the TV or any other digital device.

When it’s time to transition from TV watching to another activity, using prerecorded shows comes in handy. On traditional broadcast TV, one show flows into another, but when you use the DVR, a DVD, or even a streaming-video service, the end of a show sends a clear signal that it’s time to turn off the TV.

If you don’t have any of these options, consider using the “watch later” feature on YouTube. The site allows you to select and add videos to a playlist. Your kids can simply watch what you’ve selected together.

To mitigate the meltdowns, try these things:

Have a plan

Explain beforehand to your kid that he or she can watch a certain number of shows or for a specific time period. Let them know what to expect after the show, too.

Create a routine

Kids who know they have to turn off the TV before a specific activity (like dinner) can sometimes transition more easily.

Show your kids how to turn off the TV

They may enjoy practicing that skill, and it will give them some power over their situation, which they’ll appreciate.

Avoid back-to-back shows

If you’re using a streaming service, disable the setting that automatically plays the next show in a series.

Give a two-minute warning

Prepping kids for the inevitable works for some.

Turn it off and stick to your guns

Some kids react better when they’re not warned in advance that the show is ending ― possibly because they’ve come to expect the fight.

Give praise

If your child successfully transitions to another activity without a meltdown, show your appreciation. Say something like, “Thanks for turning off the TV and coming to set the table!” Kids will be more likely to follow through again when they have a positive experience.

The Child Mind Institute contributed to this article. Learn more at

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Black Lives Matter at School Spotlights Racial Justice in Education

(photo: Kristopher Radder-Brattleboro Reformer)

Jesse Hagopian is a teacher at Garfield High School in Seattle and a member of the Seattle Education Association (SEA)/Washington Education Association (WEA). As co-editor of Teaching for Black Lives, he helped organize Black Lives Matter at School (BLM at School), a national coalition of educators organizing for racial justice in education. Coalition leaders have encouraged educators, students, parents, union members, community leaders and others to join their annual “week of action,” this year set for February 4-8.

Hagopian explains the beginnings, objectives, and ever-widening scope of BLM at School.

Tell us how Black Lives Matter at School started as a grassroots movement.

JH: October 19, 2016, marked our formal beginning when thousands of educators arrived at John Muir Elementary School here in Seattle wearing shirts that read, “Black Lives Matter: We Stand Together.” Hundreds of families and students too. Many of the shirts also included the message “#SayHerName,” a campaign to raise awareness about the state of violence and assault against women in the U.S.

What role did educators play during the movement’s early stages?

JH:  Teachers, education support professionals (ESP), and community members came together in solidarity. It was educators at the school, along with a group called Black Men United to Change the Narrative, who expressed an interest in organizing an event to celebrate black students early that school year. An art teacher, Julie Trout, designed a beautiful shirt that said “Black Lives Matter, We Stand Together.” When white nationalists found out about these activities, they sent hate mail to the school. One hateful person made a bomb threat on the school.

How did you and SEA respond to the October 19 event?

JH:  Way before our day of action, several members of SEA’s social justice caucus, which we call social equity educators, met with educators at John Muir about the event. At SEA, we passed a resolution in support of this day of action, but we weren’t sure if people would really follow through and take action on October 19. Then the T-shirt orders started coming in, first by the hundreds and then the thousands. We ended up with somewhere around 3,000 educators in Seattle out of 5,000 who went to their schools wearing shirts that said “Black Lives Matter.” Many educators taught lessons about institutional racism that day. What’s incredible is that educators in Rochester, N.Y., and Philadelphia saw what we had done and organized their own BLM at School actions independent of us. Philly educators were the first to expand the day of action to a whole week of action.

That must have made you very proud.

JH:  Yes. We began coordinating with them in 2017 to have a national Black Lives Matter at School Week. Word got around. Last year, thousands of teachers in 20 cities across the country participated in the week of action.

How do leaders and activists in different states coordinate events related to BLM at Schools?

JH:  We communicate and organize around monthly national conference calls that anyone who supports the mission and goals of the movement can join. Through elections, we identified a steering committee that helps organize various activities and agendas for other various committees that have been formed. We have a curriculum committee, and a student creative challenge committee that helps kids create art that can inspire people to join this movement. We have a media committee, an outreach committee. It’s being organized predominantly by educators and some parents around the country who are doing this for free and with no budget.

How is NEA involved?

JH:  We got NEA to vote to support BLM at School week, for example. Many different union locals are also passing resolutions and debating these issues out city by city. There’s a tremendous amount of power in bringing together social issues and anti-racist movements with the power of labor. We’re beginning to see the red state teachers’ revolt move into blue states. I think the union’s ability to bring in issues of over-policing of black and brown kids into the message about fighting for funding and teacher pay will help them be successful in winning that strike and transforming public education.

black lives matter at school

Jesse Hagopian (courtesy of Jesse Hagopian)

What’s behind the new item this year that appears on some of your materials:  Fund Counselors Not Cops?

JH:  In 2018, various groups coalesced as a national movement. We identified three demands: End zero-tolerance discipline and replace it with restorative justice; hire more black teachers and offer black history and ethnic studies in the schools. In addition, we broke down the guiding principles of the BLM Global Network into teaching points for each day of the week. This year, we added a fourth demand, which is “fund counselors not cops.”

The demand is a response to the growing movement in this country introduced by a group called, Dignity in Schools. There are numerous examples over the last couple of years of brutality that some police bring into our schools. Recently, the ACLU won a settlement for third graders in Kentucky who were handcuffed by police officers … not around the wrists because their wrists were too small but instead around the biceps. These were special needs kids, Latino and black, who were having some trouble. Instead of getting help, they were further traumatized. We are now in a situation in America where there are 1.6 million children who go to a school that doesn’t have a counselor but that does have a police officer.

NEA: What are you hoping to accomplish regarding this year’s week of action?

JH:  We hope to engage tens of thousands of students across the country in lessons that illuminate the 13 principles of the BLM movement. In addition, we hope to help transform unions so they see how much more powerful our movements can be if we challenge anti-black racism head on, and bring in black struggle and incorporate it into the union struggle. With that in mind, one of the new features this year is that we’re calling on educators, students, parents and community members to hold rallies in their cities on Wednesday, or a day that makes sense for their local, at their school board building or city hall. We are asking for support of our four demands. We hope that this direct action and rally will pressure school districts to make the reforms that are so desperately needed.

National Demands for BLM in School Week of Action

End Zero Tolerance. Focus our Schools on Restorative Justice
The over-policing, out of control suspensions, and expulsions must be brought to an immediate end. To rebuild our structures, we will focus our resources on restorative justice-the organic appointment of community leaders; mediation and processing; and equitable perspectives on rehabilitation. Ending zero tolerance and focusing our schools around restorative justice will honor an autonomous voice and vision for students, staff and faculty.

Hire More Black Teachers in our Schools
Nine U.S. cities demonstrate a rapid decline in the number of Black Teachers: Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington DC. We must increase teacher retention and opportunities for teachers of color.

Black History/Ethnic Studies Mandated K-12
A classroom is incomplete if there is only one history taught to its students. The exclusion of Black History and Ethnic studies curriculum must end. Our students of color deserve to feel empowered in the classroom, by seeing themselves in the curriculum and reading materials. Black History and Ethnic Studies must be included in K-12 classrooms.

Fund Counselors Not Cops

This demand is simple: children need counselors not cops. Schools today spend an enormous amount of their financial resources hiring school resource officers and local police officers. These same schools often lack enough counselors for students to receive the support they need. The reality is our schools need counselors for children. The amount of racial trauma and adverse childhood experiences Black students experience continues to increase. We demand that schools provide counselors who have manageable caseloads that allow them to provide quality service to all students.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Superintendent Quits After Arrest For Allegedly Using Her Insurance To Help Sick Student

An Indiana school superintendent who was arrested for allegedly using her own health insurance to purchase medicine for a sick, uninsured student, has resigned.

Casey Smitherman submitted her resignation to the Elwood School Board on Friday after being charged last month with insurance fraud, identity theft and official misconduct over the incident, Indianapolis station WISH-TV reported.

Smitherman said her decision to resign was to prevent any further negative attention to the school and its district.

Casey Smitherman was arrested after allegedly using her health insurance to cover the price of medicine for a sick child at a school where she worked.

“I am very embarrassed for that, and I apologize to the board, the community and the teachers and students of Elwood Community Schools,” she said in a statement obtained by the Indianapolis Star. “I sincerely hope this single lapse in judgment does not tarnish all of the good work I’ve done for students over the span of my career.”

The school board, which previously said it stood by her, accepted her resignation.

Smitherman was arrested on Jan. 23 after telling police that she brought the 15-year-old boy to see a doctor under her son’s name after the boy missed school because of a sore throat.

She told authorities that she had in the past cared for the child in ways that included helping him clean his house and providing him with clothing. Her health insurance, identified by authorities as Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, covered the cost of his treatment, which totaled $233, according to previously released court documents.

Audra Rich, who said she is a cousin of the 15-year-old boy, attended Friday’s school board meeting and called Smitherman’s actions not only unnecessary but inappropriate.

“He didn’t need for her to come get him and take him to the doctor,” she told Fox 59 News. “Nothing from her at home was needed and it was inappropriate.”

The state’s Department of Education said it is considering taking action regarding Smitherman’s educator license, Fox 59 reported.

Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings has said he will offer Smitherman a diversion program that will allow the charges to be dropped against her as long as she is not arrested again in the coming year.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Educators Strike a Blow Against For-Profit Charter Schools

In his January 15 State of the State Address, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey seemed to acknowledge that his zealous pursuit of what he calls “choice and competition” in education was careening a little off course.

“We know improvements can be made,” Ducey said. “More transparency, more accountability, and granting financial review and oversight over taxpayer dollars.”

But, as EJ Montini pointed out in The Arizona Republic, Ducey, an ardent supporter of school privatization, couldn’t actually bring himself to attach the words “charter school” to that or any other sentence in his speech.

“You can’t begin to confront a problem when you can’t even speak its name,” Montini wrote. “If the governor really wants ‘more transparency’ and ‘more accountability,’ as he says, a good first step would be admitting where the problem lies. Just say it … charter schools.”

As catalogued in an investigative series by The Republic, the state’s for-profit charter sector is plagued by financial mismanagement, profiteering, and a mixed (at best) academic record.  Glossing over this reality, however, has become something of a time-consuming — and increasingly futile — task for pro-privatization lawmakers in the state and across the nation.

primavera online charter school

According to an investigation by the Arizona Republic, Primavera Online charter school has the third-highest dropout rate in the state and test scores that are below average. Despite this record, its CEO received an $8.8 million payout in 2017.

Although the rate of expansion has slowed somewhat in recent years, charter schools are deeply entrenched in the American education landscape. (There are approximately 7,000 charter schools spread across 44 states and the District of Columbia.) Some of these schools are generally effective and are subject to the same basic safeguards as public schools. They also adhere to the original vision that led to the opening of the first charter school in 1992 — as incubators of innovation that would collaborate with traditional public schools. Many charter schools today, however, are for-profit, corporate chains that seek not to collaborate, but to compete with public schools for enrollment and taxpayer dollars.

As these schools have saturated many districts across the country, the costs to public education and to communities has become clearer, and the people have begun to push back.

In Arizona, modest charter reforms are finally showing signs of life in the legislature — thanks in large part to the leadership of the Arizona Education Association (AEA). “Our students are the ones who suffer when we don’t hold charter schools accountable,” says AEA President Joe Thomas.

As state legislatures and school districts are starving public education — asking educators to do far more with far less — the corporate billionaires behind the growth of unaccountable charter schools have been privatizing public education and diverting resources from our children to their wallets.” – NEA President Lily Eskelsen García

Ohio’s charter sector — once considered the “Wild, Wild West” for charter expansion — has been knocked back on its heels by a deluge of embarrassing failures, most notably the notorious failure of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, the state’s largest charter virtual school that closed its doors suddenly in late 2018. (Indeed, the record of cyber charters nationwide is dismal across-the-board.)

The resulting outcry forced Ohio lawmakers to pass a series of measures designed to strengthen accountability and require fraudulent charter school funds to be returned to school districts.

It’s California, however, that has dealt the charter industry its most serious recent setbacks. In November 2018, Marshall Tuck, a former charter executive, was defeated in the closely-watched race for state superintendent by Tony Thurmond. Thurmond, strongly backed by the California Teachers Association, has promised to curb the growth of charter schools in the state.

And of course, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), in their historic and successful six-day strike in January, forced the district to reevaluate the impact of charter schools in their communities.

This rather sudden reversal of fortune comes after more than two decades of almost unchecked expansion, fueled by deep pockets, minimal transparency, and adoring national media coverage. Little wonder then that many corporate charter school operators and their backers nowadays may be a little dazed and confused.

Educators and their unions have lobbied for checks on the charter industry for years, but “more communities are coming to see that charter expansion is in no way some sort of magic cure-all,” says Bob Tate, NEA senior policy analyst.

“To the contrary, charter expansion has been creating more problems than it helps solve.”

The ‘Bubble’ Starts to Burst

Just days before Ducey’s address, the Grand Canyon Institute, a centrist think tank based in Phoenix, released a report that suggested that Arizona’s lightly-regulated charter sector may be on the verge of a mini-meltdown.

The institute examined charter school finances between 2014 and 2017 and concluded that more than 100 of the state’s 540 charter schools are in danger of closing because of excessive debt and other financial troubles.

“You will see a bunch of charters folding suddenly,” said the report’s co-author Curt Cardine, a former charter school executive.

Preston Green, a professor of educational leadership and law at the University of Connecticut, isn’t particularly surprised.

Many charter schools open quickly, but they close quickly as well. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, roughly 2,500 schools shut their doors from 2001 to 2014.

In 2016, Green published a paper called “Are We Headed Toward a Charter School Bubble?” in which he made the case that the glut of charter school authorizers and the scarcity of oversight was creating an abundance of poor performing schools in low-income communities. He likened the situation to the subprime loan crisis that triggered the 2008-09 economic recession.

The paper sparked an immediate and fierce reaction from charter school stalwarts. Today, however, the correlation Green drew seems pretty spot-on.

“We warned that the policy of multiple authorizers, which was designed to increase the number of charter schools, could lead to the insufficient screening of charter schools,” Green explains. “Independent authorizers would be freer to issue charters because they did not assume the risk of failure.”

Those risks have become reality. Charter schools open quickly but close quickly too, sometimes mid-year, leaving parents and student scrambling. Roughly 2,500 schools shut their doors between 2001 and 2014.

As teacher and blogger Peter Greene wrote in 2017, “just google ‘charter school closes unexpectedly,’ and watch the stories pile up.”

The charter “bubble” Green identified may be forming in Chicago according to a new article published in Journal of Urban Affairs.  “Faulty and simplistic assumptions behind market-based strategies,” the authors write, “has led to an overproduction of charter schools — the results of a self-interested growth mandate that can undermine the stability of the public school system as a whole.”

‘More Work Needs to Be Done’

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, takes it a step further. Caputo believes the unchecked growth of unaccountable, corporate charter schools in the city  “will lead to the demise of the civic institution of public education.”

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) currently has more charter schools and more charter school students than any other school system in the nation. Enrollment continues to grow, sapping $600 million annually from public schools.

Los Angeles educators made a cap on charter schools and a reexamination of their impact a central tenet of their recent historic strike. This week, in a 5-1 vote, the school board passed a resolution calling for a state study into the impact of charters and an 8- to 10-month moratorium on new charters in the district until the study is complete. Caputo-Pearl called the vote “a win for  justice, transparency, and common sense.”

And one that is likely to reverberate across the country. With UTLA showing the way, expect more educators in other states to make unaccountable charter schools and their financial impact on public schools a lynchpin of their organizing and mobilization efforts.

“What UTLA members and community supporters of the strike called attention to is the part about charters that has tended to get talked about a lot less: how charter expansion has deprived public school students of the resources they need,” Bob Tate explains.

This is  “bargaining for the common good” in action. Increasingly, unions are building coalitions with partners around contract demands that benefit the greater community.  Through common-good bargaining “communities and citizens see what they and unions can accomplish working together that they often cannot achieve acting alone,” says Tate.

“Coalitions such as that built between NEA members, parents, and other community stakeholders can be powerful forces for our students and for the common good of our communities — as we just saw in Los Angeles.”

Preston Green also credits educators in helping inform the public about the dangers posed by unfettered charter school growth. While a shift appears underway and some lawmakers are taking encouraging steps, Green also cautions that progress can easily stall.

“More still needs to be done. I do not think the public truly understands all the problems posed by charter schools. Until that time arises, public officials will not act.”

cyber charter schoolsHow Bad Do For-Profit, Virtual Schools Have to Get?
How can hundreds of millions of state funds be squandered on schools fraught with fraud, mismanagement, and a shoddy academic record? Welcome to the world of for-profit, virtual charter schools.


Racial Isolation of Charter School Students Exacerbating Resegregation
No one is holding charter schools responsible for the the return of Civil Right-era levels of segregation. The racial isolation in many charter schools, however, is undeniable.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Let This February Be A Reminder That Black History Built This

The way that America approaches Black History Month is grossly limiting.

In many schools, organizations, workspaces and beyond, the month is distilled to the same whitewashed stories of select civil rights figures and a handful of picture-perfect moments in history. Our history and culture are consistently depicted as one-dimensional. 

Carter G. Woodson didn’t create Negro History Week in 1926, which became Black History Month 40 years later, for our stories to be watered down and fictionalized by way of revisionist history. Yet, year after year, we see Rosa Parks described as passive instead of a longtime freedom fighter. We see the accomplishments of figures like Edmonia Lewis, Bayard Rustin and Sojourner Truth go overlooked. We see folks view our timeline as starting at slavery. And when March 1 comes along, we see folks forget again that we, too, are America.  

America, though dangerously flawed, wouldn’t have half of the opportunities, liberties and infrastructure it has today had it not been for the backs of black people upon which this country was built. Erasure is a main objective of racism, and it has succeeded when it comes to documenting and celebrating our history. And because our history is American history, erasing the contributions of black Americans makes it impossible to accurately tell the story of this country.

This is why, this February, HuffPost Black Voices is reminding y’all that Black History Built This. All month long, we’ll be celebrating our place in the past, present and future. 

We are reclaiming our narrative. Our history is too expansive, beautiful, resilient, joyous, powerful and unique to ever become some cliché social studies lesson plan. We are seldom given proper credit, let alone praise, for how our rich history and culture have not only influenced but also helped construct the basis for what we view as progress today. 

All month long, we will bring you stories, video, photos and conversations that amplify our greatness and shine a light on our humanity, starting with “We Built This,” a photo series captured by Kris Graves highlighting a few of the change agents who are making history today, which we will be adding to throughout the month. We will also be sharing stories of doulas, war veterans, musicians, entrepreneurs and many others who deserve praise as the history makers of today’s and future generations. This month’s content isn’t a comprehensive look at our history, but it’s meant to help fill a void left by incomplete textbooks.

As editor of HuffPost Black Voices, I believe we must tell our real and authentic stories, not for just 28 days a year, but for 365.

Join us in the conversation and tell us what stories America needs to be telling using the hashtag #BlackHistoryBuiltThis on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

A Town Branded By Hate Crime Boosts School Programs For Immigrants

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series about how schools, teachers and students are coping with the immigration crisis.

PATCHOGUE, N.Y. — Wilda Rosario’s support groups for immigrant students at Patchogue-Medford High School usually start out with lots of laughter. That’s just how teenagers are, she says. But it doesn’t take too long for conversations to turn serious with this group of kids, most of them children seeking asylum from violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

During an ice-breaker of light-hearted questions, the teens turn from a discussion of their favorite foods to the meals their grandmothers made back home, and how much they miss them. What they’d bring to a deserted island morphs into a conversation about what it would have been like to take an airplane to America, instead of having to hike through the desert.

From there, during each weekly meeting in a conference room a few doors down from the principal’s office in this sprawling high school of nearly 2,500 kids, the students dig deeper and deeper into the traumas that haunt them — nightmares about sinking into muddy rivers, or being lost in the pitch-black of the desert night. They talk, too, of the hopes that keep them going — getting into college, building a house for their parents back home.

“I say to them, it doesn’t matter where you came from, it’s where you’re going,” says Rosario, a bilingual social worker who joined the Patchogue-Medford school district two years ago.

Since 2016, Rosario has run half a dozen counseling groups of about eight to ten kids. Other kids have tracked her down to talk after hearing from friends that she’s a sympathetic listener. She’s one of the reasons immigrant students smile when asked about their school. They call it calm, peaceful and supportive. It’s a refuge.

That’s not how many outsiders paint Patchogue. When politicians talk about Suffolk County — a mix of tony beach towns and working class hamlets like Patchogue on Long Island’s eastern half — it’s often to highlight the violence. President Trump has twice visited Suffolk to call for a crackdown against immigrant gangs following teenage murders in Brentwood, a few towns over. New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has stopped by the county to promise more state money to target the largest of the gangs, MS-13. And Patchogue itself is still haunted by the decade-old murder of an immigrant by several native-born teens.

But away from the political debates and television lights, educators in the Patchogue-Medford school district have been quietly cultivating a different image. Instead of viewing immigrant students as a burden on already overwhelmed schools — or a security threat — a coalition of teachers and administration officials is trying to shift the narrative. They are building a haven for the hundreds of young people who have moved here in the last decade to join relatives and escape home countries like Honduras and El Salvador, which have the highest murder rates in the world.

“We’re here to support, not scare and remove,” said Michael Hynes, superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford Union Free School District. “For us, we’re trying to take care of our most vulnerable. To make sure they get what they need and deserve.”

In Long Island, this sentiment is not a given. Its two counties, Nassau and Suffolk, have been on the front lines of the U.S. immigration debate for more than three decades, ever since immigrants began flocking to fill plentiful jobs in construction, landscaping and the restaurant industry. The area has been one of the largest receiving points for a wave of unaccompanied youth fleeing Central America’s spiraling gang violence. Parents worried about their children’s safety, and only able to afford the cost of one crossing, have sent children alone to live with uncles, aunts and cousins already established in the area. The cost of crossing into the U.S. illegally can amount to more than $6,000.

Middle school students in a newcomer program to help immigrant students adjust.

The resulting demographic changes have roiled these suburbs. Schools have often been at the center of fights over who belongs here and whether native residents have any duty to help or support immigrants. In response to the influx of children, some schools have been accused of blocking undocumented immigrants from registering, in violation of the law, or funneling them to law enforcement.

In contrast, Patchogue-Medford has spent the last four years revamping its programming for immigrant students. The recession forced the district to lay off 50 educators, but as its finances improved, the district prioritized bilingualism. Since 2014, it has added more than 70 employees, including 40 educators and counselors who speak Spanish, according to district officials.

Administration officials have also staffed each of the district’s schools with Spanish-speaking secretaries, so Hispanic parents would feel welcome. They hired a new director for language programs, Dalimar Rastello, a veteran bilingual educator who is herself Hispanic. They added resources in an existing dual-language program at the elementary school level, created a sheltered English learner program for newcomer students in the middle school, and overhauled high school offerings, placing native English speakers and English learners into more of the same classrooms, so they can learn from each other.

In some ways, Patchogue-Medford has had little choice: It now has more students learning English than students in special education, officials said, and nearly 40 percent of its students are Hispanic, according to New York State data. In other words, if these students don’t succeed, neither does the district.

But another reason has spurred Patchogue-Medford to embrace its immigrant students: In 2008, the town became a symbol of xenophobia and hatred, a characterization locals have tried hard to shake. That year, a pack of Patchogue-Medford High School students set out to hunt “beaners” and murdered Marcelo Lucero, a 37-year-old Ecuadorean immigrant. His death was one of a series of attacks on immigrants in the area, according to the journalist Mirta Ojito’s book on the killing.

“What this district is trying to do is exactly the opposite of that reputation,” said Rastello. “They’re putting their resources in the right place to show we’re not that. That’s not us.”

Luís is one of the students that Patchogue- Medford has made a priority. Last year, Rosario picked his name from a list of newcomers, and asked if he would like to join one of her support groups. Quiet and withdrawn, Luís had flown under the radar — neither a standout student nor a problem. He agreed to give the group a try and, after a few sessions, began opening up about a past that is both horrific and typical of Patchogue’s immigrant students.

Luís, who asked that his last name be withheld because he worries about his safety, speaks in a low murmur that forces listeners to lean in close. Next to one of his eyes is a dented scar. Another slices across his shoulder.

Other traumas are less visible.

Now 18, he first left home two years ago to escape the gangs near his town in Morazán, El Salvador. He said MS-13 had expanded to the area, recruiting boys as young as 13. He said he was often stopped on the way to school and forced to hand over money.

High schoolers in a social studies class at Patchogue-Medford work on a lesson about the history of nationalism.

High schoolers in a social studies class at Patchogue-Medford work on a lesson about the history of nationalism.

At 15, he was riding in a van with friends when a group of armed teenagers pulled them over. They shoved him to the ground, cutting him across the shoulder. As he lay face down in the mud, they shot several boys in his group, including two of his friends.

His parents decided he needed to leave, or he might be next. They sold their land to pay a guide to take him to the U.S. On his first attempt he only made it as far as Mexico before he was picked up. At the Mexican detention center, a boy demanded that he give up his dinner. He was hungry and didn’t want to share, so the boy cut him in the eye with a shiv made out of a toothbrush.

He used the rest of his family’s money on a second attempt. After a 26-hour ride standing in the back of a tractor-trailer, pressed up against dozens of other migrants, his group was kidnapped and taken to a house where he thought he saw bloody clothes hanging on the line and fresh graves dug in the yard. He turned over all his money to get away. Luís managed to cross the border to Texas, but was picked up by border agents almost immediately. He was sent to a youth shelter, where he waited for nearly a month to find out what would happen to him.

Luís’ uncle in Patchogue, a U.S. citizen, offered to sponsor him while he made a case for asylum, and he joined a growing number of immigrant students who arrived in Patchogue-Medford. In the 2013-14 school year, there were 125 new arrivals who were English learners, according to district officials. Four years later, there were 212. Many, like Luís, came without their parents; Suffolk County received more than 1,000 unaccompanied minors in the 2017 fiscal year, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Rebecca Sanin, president and CEO of the nonprofit Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, said the large numbers, and the level of trauma these students bring with them, overwhelmed many schools. “Whether they’re doing a great job already or not, they want to be doing a good job,” she said. “But they haven’t been given enough resources in their annual budgets to meet these new needs.”

The Patchogue-Medford schools were more prepared than most.

Hynes, the district superintendent, was hired in 2014, chosen in part for his “whole-child” approach to education. Not long after he started the job, a group of local women, the Madres Latinas Amigas, sent him an email. The women’s group, composed of moms from Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and countries in Central America, had come up with a list of suggestions for making the local schools friendlier to immigrant parents. The ideas stemmed from the group’s twice-monthly meetings at the Patchogue library, where they talked about parenting, navigating their new American home, and the schools.

Within a couple of months, Hynes met with the mothers and began implementing some of their ideas, including hiring more Spanish speakers.

Rastello, one of the first of the new staff hired, helped open a centralized office for newcomers and created a registration process that ensured new students and their families went through interviews and assessments to figure out which students were on grade level but lacked English, and which had missed years of schooling at home. The district also added students’ English levels to class rosters, a simple but incredibly helpful step, educators said. And they tried to identify families with other problems, such as hunger or homelessness, so they could connect them with an outside service agency the district had invited to share space in one of the middle schools.

The Madres noticed the difference. “[Rastello] made it so the schools are open. We can enter and express ourselves freely,” said María Cristina, 44, a mother of four who moved to Patchogue from Ecuador 23 years ago. “Now we can ask for help in Spanish. Before we couldn’t.”

The district is still trying to figure out how to help students cope with the emotional trauma many have suffered. Lori Cannetti, the assistant superintendent for instruction, said that, at a bare minimum, staff are trying to connect students with “one person they can trust.”

Cesar Morales and his brothers are here in the country without their parents, so they’ve turned to Stephanie Vogel, a Patchog

Cesar Morales and his brothers are here in the country without their parents, so they’ve turned to Stephanie Vogel, a Patchogue-Medford teacher on special assignment, who has supported them “like our mom,” the brothers said.

For Cesar Morales, that person was Stephanie Vogel. A veteran English-as-a-new language teacher, she also serves as one of the district’s two “teachers on assignment,” a new position dedicated solely to helping English learners settle in and succeed.

Morales, a short 19-year-old from Chiché, Guatemala, joined five brothers already in Patchogue in 2016. His teachers noticed something was wrong one day this fall when the normally cheerful 11th-grader seemed quiet and withdrawn. They called Vogel, who knows Cesar’s family well, to let her know.

He’d just learned his younger sister had died, from liver failure, during an hour-long journey to the hospital from his family’s tiny rural village. “They could tell I wasn’t okay,” said Cesar. “They asked how I was.”

Ricardo Morales, Cesar’s older brother, appreciates the care the school has provided his family, even five years after he graduated from Patchogue High. Teachers have pushed each brother to stick it out when they’ve considered dropping out. And Vogel, “she’s like our mom,” said Morales, who at 26 is one of the main breadwinners for the family. “She worries a lot about us. My brothers, everyone.”

Ricardo works at Outback Steakhouse as a cook and doesn’t expect he’ll go to college anytime soon, but Cesar wants to continue his education and become a saxophonist; he discovered the instrument at his church in Long Island. District officials said they’re trying to figure out how to build career pathways for students like him, who arrive at age 18, 19, 20, or even 21, so that they can “find hope” even if a diploma — or a career as a musician — is likely out of reach.

Hynes, a vocal opponent of using standardized testing for accountability, appears in the news often, but Patchogue officials haven’t trumpeted their efforts. One reason may be political: Patchogue-Medford is in a congressional district that voted for President Trump by a margin of 12 percent in the 2016 election, and this year reelected Republican Lee Zeldin for Congress, a reliable conservative on immigration.

And while there are some measures that suggest academic progress for the district’s immigrant students, including how quickly newcomer students are becoming proficient in English, “our graduation rates are still not where they need to be,” said Rastello. Patchogue-Medford’s four-year graduation rate for Hispanic students was 74 percent in 2017, compared to 93 percent for white students. (Though it’s up from 71 percent five years ago, before the district began making major changes to its offerings for newcomers.)

Students also said ethnic tensions rear up on occasion. Several newcomers said they’ve been called names in the cafeteria or hallways. Educators here said they’ve worked hard to mitigate conflicts, though, and are also quick to note they’ve never seen any sign of gangs here, despite the problems in neighboring towns and the concerns of politicians. (Violent crime on Long Island has actually plummeted in recent years, as the immigrant population has grown.)

So far this year, the district has received fewer immigrant students than in years past. But Rastello and Vogel are worried, not relieved. More than 12,000 unaccompanied immigrant children were in federal custody in September, up from 2,400 the year before. Patchogue’s educators imagined that dozens, perhaps hundreds, of children could be released into their care any day.

Still, Hynes is confident, “if they’re going to land somewhere, this is the best place that they could land.”

On a Monday this fall, Luís sat in Vogel’s cheerful office surrounded by posters covered in smiley faces and inspirational sayings. He had been watching the news: President Trump was warning that a caravan of immigrants from Honduras was hiding criminals, and Gov. Cuomo was back in Long Island to announce even more money to fight MS-13. “They need to understand that we all have dreams, and the countries where we live, there aren’t resources,” said Luís. “We want to overcome that.”

Thanks in part to encouragement from Rosario, his support-group leader, Luís has gained confidence that he can realize his dreams — if he sticks to his studies at Patchogue-Medford High. He comes straight home from school each day, and except for basketball games with his uncle, rarely ventures out on the weekends. As safe as the suburbs seem, he doesn’t want trouble. He’s also scrambling to catch up with his peers after the interruption of his education. He wants to become a lawyer, and help other immigrants like himself, but first he has to graduate.

“My counselor told me that I have to do what’s possible,” he said. Another thing she’s taught him: “The majority of Americans are good people.”

This story about Central American students was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for Hechinger’s newsletter.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Betsy DeVos Loves To Tell This Teacher’s Story. But He Says She Got It All Wrong.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos loves to tell the story about a former teacher named “Jed.”

Here’s how it goes. Jed, a once-passionate public school teacher, was told to “keep it down” at school because his class was having too much fun learning. He left the profession, DeVos likes to suggest, because he didn’t have enough autonomy to teach as he wished. If only there were fewer federal mandates and more flexibility, DeVos often says before pushing for more school choice.

Politicians and public figures often trot out anecdotes about everyday people whose experiences illuminate a larger issue. But DeVos has referenced “Jed” quite regularly. She has used the Jed anecdote in three speeches since 2017, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal and when testifying before Congress. She most recently spoke of him on Monday in a speech she gave to the American School Boards Association.  

But who is Jed? The real-life Jed, HuffPost discovered, is actually mortified by the attention.

“I hate knowing she is using my words to further push her agenda, which is the antithesis of me,” said Jed Dearybury, who was a finalist for South Carolina Teacher of the Year in 2014. “Honestly, it makes me mad as hell. It makes me want to fight harder.”

Dearybury met with DeVos, along with nine other former teachers, in July of 2017. DeVos wanted to chat with educators who had recently left the classroom to learn more about their experiences and why they switched jobs.

In truth, Dearybury, who spent over 13 years teaching at public elementary schools in South Carolina, didn’t leave the classroom over frustration with his district or state or federal mandates. He changed jobs so he could advocate for teachers on a larger scale, without fear of overstepping.

He now works for the Palmetto State Teachers Association as the director of professional development and communications. The organization “is as close as you’re going to get to a union in South Carolina,” said Dearybury. After publication he told HuffPost in another interview that while South Carolina is legally prohibited from having unions, PSTA “is a professional association that represents and unifies teachers across the state” in the absence of one.

“I love all these teachers striking across America. I wish every teacher in America would walk out on the same day,” said Dearybury, who left the classroom around three years ago. In the later interview with HuffPost, he clarified that “while we don’t want strikes, sometimes they do get people’s attention.”

He had no idea his words were going to be used in public speeches and congressional testimony. He was under the impression it was a casual, off-the-record conversation.

The anecdote he provided in the meeting, about being told to “keep it down,” was told as an example of how even sometimes fellow teachers have overly rigid views of pedagogy. Indeed, it was another teacher ― not a school administrator ― who had reprimanded him. Two other meeting attendees have confirmed this version of events to HuffPost.

Dearybury worries that leaders of his former district, which he loved, will hear one of DeVos’ speeches and interpret it as him criticizing them. He is also concerned his words will be interpreted as an endorsement of DeVos’ agenda.

A spokesperson for DeVos did not respond to a request for comment.

Secretary DeVos has referenced Jed when speaking before highly polarizing groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council.

“The frustration they expressed, I think, is indicative of a system that for too long has tried to control everything from above and has not respected and honored the needs of the individual students,” DeVos said of the teachers she met with, including Jed, when speaking before Congress in May.

Meanwhile, Dearybury says he is concerned about the treatment of LGBTQ students under the Trump administration and the unequal distribution of funds between schools in rich and poor areas.

“I want equal opportunities for all students. In this administration, when they say equal opportunity, they think you mean you want rich kids to go to private school and get a tax credit,” he said.

This story has been updated to include additional comments from Dearybury about PSTA.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

These Are The Most Popular Baby Names In The Northeast

Take the Northeast, for example. Looking at the most recent SSA data from 2017, we identified the most popular baby names for boys and girls born in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont (the states the Census Bureau defines as the Northeast).

While there was much overlap between the Northeast rankings and national data, there were also points of divergence. On the regional list, Emily sits at No. 10; it’s No. 12 on the U.S. list. Meanwhile, nationally ranked No. 9, Evelyn, falls out of the Top 10, sitting at No. 13 in the Northeast rankings. Leah, Sarah and Gabriella are also more popular in the region (where they rank at Nos. 18, 29 and 32, respectively) than in the U.S. as a whole (where they fall at Nos. 40, 52 and 68).

The Top 10 national and regional lists look quite different when it comes to popular names for boys. In the Northeast, Jacob ranks No. 3, Lucas is No. 5, Michael is No. 6 and Joseph is No. 10, but nationally, those names fall at Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 19, respectively. Other names, like Ryan, have an even more dramatic contrast in ranking ― Ryan is No. 15 in the Northeast vs. No. 43 in the U.S.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This

Going To School Is A Struggle When Your Family Is Hiding From ICE

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series about how schools, teachers and students are coping with the immigration crisis.

Christine Thompson, 16, recently joined her school’s chess club. She hopes it will be a distraction from the terrifying reality that her family could fall apart.

“I can ease my mind, strategize, think things through,” she said, sitting in a meeting room at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown, a 120-year-old gothic-style church in Philadelphia where her mother, father and younger brother, Timothy, 12, have lived since August.

The family moved into the church seeking sanctuary from deportation after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ordered Christine’s parents, Clive and Oneita Thompson, to return to Jamaica, a country they left in 2004. They say they believed their lives were at risk. Christine switched schools, leaving Bridgeton High School in southern New Jersey to begin her sophomore year at Philadelphia’s International Christian High School. She’s working hard and likes her teachers, but she constantly worries about the fate of her parents — and whether she’ll be separated from them.

“It’s, like, really weird,” she said. “At my age I’m supposed to make friends and have a good high school life. Not being able to do that really hurts.”

Her little brother, normally upbeat and friendly, has had an even harder time adapting to his new home and school. His grades have dropped, and his parents can’t leave the church to visit with his teachers.

The Thompson children are among the thousands whose lives have been upended by the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration. In some ways, the family is lucky. Thousands of children have been separated from their families this year, including the more than 2,600 who were removed from their parents last spring while crossing the border. As of December 11, over 100 children had yet to be reunited with their families, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees their care. (A majority of the cases involve a parent — whether in the U.S. or now back in their home country — who has indicated an “intent not to reunify.”)

Another 14,600 unaccompanied minors were in federal custody as of late December, a dramatic increase over previous years, after the government increased scrutiny of adult sponsors, who are often undocumented themselves. (The administration is easing this policy, requiring only sponsors — and not all their household members — to undergo extensive background checks.)

But the administration’s immigration policies and the resulting climate of fear take an emotional — and academic — toll, even on families, like the Thompsons, that have managed to stay intact.

Though Christine and Timothy are U.S. citizens, they’ve opted to stay with their parents, joining them in sanctuary and trading the beds in their suburban home for air mattresses purchased from Walmart and laid out in the church theater’s dressing room.

“There was no separating us,” said Christine.

Sanctuary is a civil disobedience movement based on an understanding that ICE will not enter “sensitive locations” — including schools, hospitals and places of religious worship — to arrest immigrants or enforce removal orders. Relatively few immigrants facing deportation resort to public sanctuary. There are currently 52 people in sanctuary in 39 different congregations in the U.S., according to Jennie Belle, a community organizer for Church World Service (CWS), a faith-based organization active in the movement. But as the Trump administration steps up arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants — including those with no criminal history who were previously considered low priority — sanctuary coalitions are spreading across the country, with more than 1,100 congregations participating.

Two families, one from Jamaica and one from Honduras, are living in sanctuary in the First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia.

The Thompsons came to the U.S. from Jamaica in 2004. They said gang members killed Oneita’s brother, burned down the family farm, and threatened their lives. They filed for asylum, received work permits and found jobs — most recently Clive worked as a machine operator at Cumberland Dairy and Oneita as a nurse assistant in a retirement community. They bought their home in Cedarville, New Jersey, in 2007, shortly after Timothy was born.

In 2009 they lost their asylum case. According to their attorney David Bennion, their subsequent appeals were denied for lack of corroborating evidence. Bennion adds this doesn’t mean the persecution didn’t happen — sometimes there just isn’t sufficient public documentation. Due to their U.S. ties and lack of criminal history, ICE granted the Thompsons an administrative stay of removal and placed them under an order of supervision, which allowed them to stay and work as long as they showed up for mandatory periodic check-ins with immigration.

The check-ins were routine — until the last visit at the ICE office in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, on August 24. That time, Oneita said, was “a whole lot different.”

“You’d think I was some kind of criminal. They lock the door, put you in a room, questions and questions,” she said. They asked her why she was here. She said she responded, “What do you mean why am I here? They killed my brother in Jamaica. I came here for asylum.”

The agents gave the couple two weeks to pack their bags and leave the U.S. Oneita said she had believed ICE was “focusing on criminals, not families living by the rules.”

“So I never thought this would happen. [That] you could come work as I did, have a home, send all my children to college by working [and] not getting any financial aid to do it, educate myself some more, work as a nurse assistant, take care of the elderly — because that’s what I love to do,” she said. “And they will still tell you [that] you don’t have a home here or a place in America.”

An ICE spokesman provided the following statement in response to a question about why the Thompsons’ stay of removal wasn’t renewed during the August check-in as the couple had expected:

“Oneita Thompson and Clive Thompson, both Jamaican nationals, overstayed their visas going back to 2004. They were ordered removed by an immigration judge and appealed their case up to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, which dismissed their Petition for Review. Despite numerous stay of removals [sic] granted by ICE to allow them to make arrangements to depart the United States, they failed to depart.

“In an exercise of discretion, ICE has allowed the Thompson’s to remain free from custody while finalizing their departure plans in accordance with the judge’s order.”

The statement adds that ICE’s sensitive locations policy “remains in effect.”

The family scrambled to find help. If they returned to Jamaica, they likely wouldn’t be allowed back in the U.S. for 10 years. Oneita reached out to the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, which coordinated their move into the First United Methodist Church of Germantown, a congregation with a long history of activism.

“I just wanted to know I’m somewhere the rain is not falling on me and I’m away from ICE,” she said.

The First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia is one of more than 1,000 churches across the country to join

The First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia is one of more than 1,000 churches across the country to join the sanctuary movement.

The couple moved in on August 28 and carefully selected new schools for the children.

“School means everything to this family. They love to go to school. They’re sick — they go to school. They’re better — they go to school,” said Oneita, who was taking courses at Cumberland Community College to become a registered nurse before moving into the church. “They know how important education is.”

Blanca Pacheco, co-director of the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, has been assisting both the Thompson family and the Reyes, a family from Honduras that is also living in the church. She said the hardest part for kids in sanctuary is being uprooted from their schools and neighborhoods.

“Logistics-wise it’s impossible to support sending the children every day to their [original] school,” said Pacheco. While Christine takes a public bus to and from her Philadelphia school, Timothy is escorted back and forth by a rotation of volunteers from the New Sanctuary Movement and the First United congregation.

The New Sanctuary Movement met with administrators at the new schools before Christine and Timothy began taking classes to explain the family’s situation and why, among other restrictions, Clive and Oneita would be unable to attend parent-teacher conferences.

Christine and Timothy are among 10 children — eight school-age kids, a preschooler and a baby — currently living in public sanctuary in Philadelphia, according to the New Sanctuary Movement.

“I think the trauma is the daily uncertainty, the hourly uncertainty — [wondering] how will this situation ever resolve?” said Hillary Linardopoulos, staff and legislative representative at the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, a union representing teachers and other school employees in the city. “For children to see parents struggling and wondering what’s next is hard as well.”

Linardopoulos said protecting immigrant students and those with immigrant parents is “a crucial issue” for educators everywhere. “It’s a human rights issue and if we’re not able to support our families in whatever capacity they need to be supported, we can’t do our job teaching math and reading,” she added.

The union organized a workshop last March on how to better serve immigrant students. The program focused particularly on those who are undocumented and, Linardopoulos said, “need that extra level of security and support at the school level.”

“We have to be able to not only just tell them we value and love them but show it with policies and do everything we can as a school system, as a city, as a state, to say you’re safe here and we want to have you and you’re welcome here,” she added.

In addition to Christine and Timothy, the Thompsons have three older children. Angel, 26, is a permanent resident. She has a bachelor’s in biomedical science and is pursuing her master’s. Shannakay, 23, received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status and is a registered nurse. And then there’s CJ — Clive Jr. Before the deportation order, the 21-year-old had completed four semesters at Cumberland County College, taking courses in biology, calculus and computer science and maintaining a 3.6 GPA. He had just been accepted into the College of Science and Mathematics at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and was due to start in September.

Now CJ works full time at Buona Vita, a meatball and sausage supplier, earning $11 an hour making sure meatballs are the proper weight and have been cooked to the right temperature.

“I’m trying to help [my parents] keep this house up while they’re in the church because they have to have something to come back to,” he said.

It’s a sacrifice that breaks Oneita’s heart.

“Education is the one thing that a young black man has to lean on, and the fact that he could not go [to UMass] … It’s just hard,” she said. “And on Sundays he will come down here just to do our laundry and his siblings’ laundry and stuff like that. He’s living his life for us and it’s not even fair.”

Nathaniel Alridge Jr., director of adjunct faculty development and judicial affairs at Cumberland County, said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” when he learned that CJ, a student he advised, had to decline the University of Massachusetts offer.

“My heart dropped for him because here’s this young man with so much potential, so much to offer,” he said. “You know he’s going to be successful but what struck me more is this is someone who’s really going to give back and try to make a change in the lives of others.”

But CJ is optimistic things will work out — eventually.

“I think I’ll be able to get back on track, but I feel like I’m losing out on opportunities,” he said. “But in my heart my family comes first.”

His little sister Christine likes her new school — the teachers, the bible classes, the guidance counselor she opens up to about her stress and sadness. However, she’s reluctant to make friends or share her family’s story with her peers.

“It’s actually difficult to make friends because I have a lot going through my head. I feel like I don’t have time to worry about making friends compared to what’s going on,” she said, sitting on a sofa outside the family’s makeshift bedroom. “When you’re not in your own house it just feels wild.”

“Her grades always have to be perfect,” said Oneita, cradling Christine’s head on her shoulder. “I watch her and I can tell that it’s taking a lot — the toll — on her.”

Despite the stress of living in sanctuary the past three months, Christine received highest honors when report cards were distributed in November. Her lowest grade was a 93.

Timothy’s grades, however, were not as good — C’s instead of his usual A’s and B’s.

“We know it’s because this is affecting him,” said Oneita. “He’s just all the time [saying], ‘I really want to go back to my house. I want to go back to my school. I want to see my friends.’”

Since she’s afraid to leave the church, Oneita had the parent-teacher conference by phone.

“They said he’s so quiet he won’t even say anything,” she said. “It’s bothering him even more than we thought.”

This story about ICE and students was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for Hechinger’s newsletter.

Source link


Related Posts

Share This