Posts Tagged: Equity

Leadership Policy
Public Education is Vital to the Success of our Students
October 1, 2017
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Public Education is Vital to the Success of our Students

Stacy Jones
@stacyjonestned 

Ispent this week at a meeting in Nashville reviewing end-of-course assessment items for Tennessee’s state department of education. I have contracted independently in this endeavor for the past two years, and I’m sure that many—even some fellow educators—might question the potential interest level in such an activity. However, I enjoy it immensely. It connects me to the objectives I’m trying to achieve for my students in my public school classroom, based on our specified standards, and it keeps me engaged as an educator. Scrutinizing reading passages and their connected test questions most certainly requires a high level of critical thinking.
Policy
#MakeEducationGreat
January 26, 2017
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#MakeEducationGreat

Amanda Arnold
@Amanda_Arnold77

Dear Mr.  President: As you begin this journey, please take to heart that education is critical to the success and future of this great nation. “Making America Great Again” is a goal rooted in the future, and that future lies within the students of this nation. Education is one of the most versatile and powerful tools that government possesses. History has relentlessly proven that nations can be built and destroyed by how a government educates its people. Appropriate and effective education empowers the people, but education without clearly defined purposes, ethics, and goals can destroy the same people. Please act upon a vision of education that recognizes the following:
  1. Education can break the cycle of poverty.
  2. Impoverished communities need equal access to quality education, resources, and opportunities.  
  3. Students deserve safe, clean, and well maintained schools.  Many of our impoverished communities have schools in a state of crisis.  
  4. Educational policy should be a problem-solving model based on demonstrated needs and research based results.  
  5. Every student is capable of growth, but all students do not academically grow at the same pace.
  6. All students do not reach proficiency at the same rate.  Some students need more than four years to achieve high school proficiency.  Some students need more challenges within that four years.  Schools should not be punished for meeting a student’s needs.
  7. College and career readiness has two parts.  Students need career and technical training.  Educational policy has abandoned training and educating students for blue collar jobs.  Our country needs blue and white collar jobs.
  8. College is not appropriate for every student, but every student who has a desire and the academic ability to pursue that route should have equitable preparedness and the opportunity to do so.
  9. Equitable does not mean equal education.  Different students have different needs.  Different school districts have different needs.  Want to make them great?  Meet their demonstrated needs.
  10. Parents want success for students.  No parent wants to see his or her student struggle or fail.  Strengthen the parents to empower the students.  
  11. Hold educators accountable, but give educators the proper support, resources, guidelines, and tools to meet the needs of the students.  

Education must prepare a  diverse group of talented, well-educated students. The nation needs electricians, business professionals, mechanics, blue and white collar workers. Diversity in talent and developing the skills to meet the needs of those talents can make students successful contributors to society. Successful contributors make a successful society.

Making any country great begins with expectations: the expectation that every student can be successful, the expectation that poverty does not have to be a cycle, the expectation that the right tools in the right hands can change lives. Greatness does not manifest itself the same in every person; it is unique—just like our students. If you want to make America great, make educational opportunity great.

#MakeEducationGreat

Amanda has taught English at Dobyns­ Bennett High School for the past five years. In that time, Amanda has served as the English 9 Co­Taught Team Leader, English 10 Co­Taught Team Leader, Co­President of the Alpha Zeta Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa International Honor Society for Women Educators and on the Tennessee Digital Learning Team. Throughout her career she has served as a school­-wide Title I coordinator, school-­level testing coordinator and 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant coordinator. She holds a Bachelors and Masters degree from East Tennessee State University. In 2010, she earned an Educational Specialist degree in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from Lincoln Memorial University. She also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging her colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.

In the Classroom Policy
Room for the Human Element
January 11, 2017
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Room for the Human Element

Kimberly Pringle
@PringleChatt

The great struggle of educational change is not lack of initiative, or innovation, or standards, or motivation. It is a diversity of resources and cultures. What works in one environment is doomed to fail in another. There is no one-size–fits-all anything when it comes to the very human act of educating the children of a community.

There are many different types of schools. Some are productive and innovative and some crush the spirit of innovation before it can grow and flourish. Some are tech-centered and engineering-minded, while others are pitifully technology poor. Some embrace best practices and collaboration, while others are seemingly stuck in the past with doors and minds closed to one another.

If I could communicate one thing to educational policy-makers, it would be to find room for the human element. So often it seems that educational policy only focuses on data and test scores. I believe this human element is the thing which teachers see so intimately and bemoan as the un-testable variables. It comes in the form of heartbreaking stories:

Mom and dad were fighting last night...again.

       The electricity was turned off three days ago. I hate cold showers.

                   My baby sister screamed all night. Will she ever stop?

We've been living out of a tent, but we lost our campsite today.

       I wanted to come to school, but mom didn't wake up.

                  My dad died last week, but no one will talk about it.

My shoes don't fit, but I don't want to tell my mom, because we don't have any money.

And the day-to-day speedbumps in the road of the educator:

We're a sub short today, so we had to divide Mr. Allen's class. You're getting 5 extra kids.

         Fire drill today at 9:30 am!

                Cookie-dough sale kick-off celebration in the gym at 2:30 pm.

                          Pep-rally on Friday!

                                   We're experiencing problems with the WiFi again.

We want the best for our kids. We move mountains for them—of fundraiser cookie dough and wrapping paper and coupon books. And we do all of this to get the funds we need to have the right technology in their hands or to have books for them to read. But it isn't equal. Not all communities have the same luxury of time and disposable income to make those sorts of things happen. Title I funds are supposed to reduce the inequity but still fall short. In addition, many schools who do not qualify for Title I funds struggle to provide for their students when the population does not quite reach the poverty threshold for Title I, yet cannot afford to self-fund.

Critics of public education often depict educators as inadequate for the job or unmotivated to teach students properly. I would argue that we are very motivated for our students. Motivation isn't the issue. It likely comes down to resources and culture. Have we enabled the resources needed for change? Have we dealt with the human needs and cultural needs creating barriers to academic gains?

So, though I appreciate the information that assessment data provides, I plead—look beyond the statistics and into the numbers and see the children they represent. Look beyond the school and see the community it serves. Educating our children is a beautiful, human act. Let's keep the humanity in the process.

Kimberly has served at the Big Ridge Elementary School for the last seven years. She has worked as a music teacher and a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). Kimberly has served as Department Chair, RTI Coordinator, Next in Line for the Principal, Technical Contact and Chair for the School­ Wide Positive Behavior Support Cadre and she has been a Public Education Foundation’s Leadership Fellow. A recipient of the ETS Recognition of Excellence award for Principles of Learning and Teaching, she received her Bachelor of Music and Master of music degrees in music education from Middle Tennessee State University and from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, respectively, and a Master of Education degree in school leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University. She also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging her colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.