Tagged “Democratic Education”

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

A Small School Takes Big Steps for the Whole Child

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Robyn Gee

What could prompt a high school student who once upon a time wanted to become an Egyptologist or a race car driver to decide in her senior year that she wants to become a teacher?

Maybe it's the fact that Janet Gil is a student at Quest Early College High School, which was recognized this year with the Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award.

Working in partnership with Lone Star College-Kingwood, students at Quest can earn a high school diploma while simultaneously earning an associate's degree or two years of credit toward a bachelor's degree. "We have structures that are very nontraditional, and not academic, in place at our school," said principal Kim Klepcyk. "We include some soft skills that other schools weren't attending to. Traditional schools say that they want students to be active citizens, but what does that mean? There's no way to assess these abilities."

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Klea Scharberg

College, Career, and Citizenship Readiness Roundup

The current education climate encourages a tremendous amount of time and energy be spent on preparing students to take exams. But does that strategy actually ensure students are prepared for college, career, and citizenship? We've seen the research and heard the debate among teachers, education media, ASCD's own Educational Leadership magazine, and even the White House.

Connecting learning today with students’ futures engages and prepares them to take on the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. In March, we looked what it means for students to be ready and able for their complex and demanding futures.

Learn about Quest Early College High School, winner of the 2011 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. Located in Humble, Tex., Quest prepares a very diverse student population for the next phases of their lives by creating a learning environment that allows students to practice taking college courses, work at businesses in their community, and experience the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with Kim Klepcyk, principal at Quest Early College High School; Denise McLean, a teacher and former student at Quest; and Micaela Casales, a current student at Quest, as they discuss strategies for preparing students for college, careers, and citizenship.

Hear another viewpoint on what it means to be college- and career-ready and the value of citizenship skills in a conversation between Molly McCloskey, managing director of Whole Child Programs at ASCD and host of the Whole Child Podcast, and Jay Mathews, education columnist for The Washington Post and author. Mathews also answers audience questions on a range of topics including the importance of teacher-student relationships, KIPP charter schools, and the responsibility of education journalists.

Consider if U.S. schools are emphasizing the knowledge and skills that students need for a global future with author Yong Zhao. Do you think we need to reform education to maintain leadership in a rapidly changing world?

Empower students to understand their rights, responsibilities, capabilities, and opportunities in their educational and civic experiences today as well as in the future.

Practice skills such as inquiry, critical thinking, collaboration, public presentation, and reflection that students will use as adults through problem-based learning in the classroom.

Take action about the need for college- and career-readiness standards that include proficiency in reading, math, science, social science, the arts, civics, foreign language, health education and physical education, technology, and all other core academic subjects. Use ASCD's legislative agenda and the the Making the Case for Educating the Whole Child tool to guide discussions and decision making in your states and communities.

Find resources to help prepare young people for their futures from whole child partners the America's Promise Alliance, Educators for Social Responsibility, the Forum for Education and Democracy, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

In late March, ASCD held its 2011 Annual Conference in San Francisco, where sessions engaged participants in dynamic, diverse dialogues addressing the challenges of learning, teaching, and leading, including:

What do you think is critical to preparing young people for the complex futures that lie ahead?

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

College, Career, and Citizenship-ABLE

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Alseta Gholston

Any time a societal transformation has occurred, young people have almost always been the driving force to bring about revolutionary change. Whether one looks at recent events in North Africa and the Middle East, at our own history in the United States through the Civil Rights Era, Otpor's toppling of a Serbian dictator in 2000, or the past anti-apartheid struggles in South Africa, the common thread that ties movements for social and political change are that youth at all ages are at the center energizing the popular call for civic justice. Young people have always been capable and effective in upsetting the status quo whether positively or negatively. When we don't provide structures that make them feel connected, involved, trusted, and respected in the making of society or community, we sometimes risk alienating and disengaging them and producing conditions that we consider as putting kids "at risk." It's this vision for change, idealism, and energy that children, adolescents, and young adults possess that can be awakened, harnessed, and positively directed to not only make learning alive and relevant for students, but also firmly link educational preparation for future outcomes to students' current lives, purposes, and goals.

It is quite common to expect that the purpose of our education system is to prepare students for the workforce by transmitting a set of knowledge, skills, and credentials that will enable them in the future to be productive within our economic system. Now, as we tack on citizenship readiness to this purpose, we run the risk of implying that citizenship, or youth participation in civic action, is something for the future. While we do want each child to graduate high school fully able and prepared to go to college, embark on a career, enlist in the military, and be an active citizen, we also want to ensure that students are connecting these objectives to their present lives and circumstances.

Civic education, financial literacy, health awareness and promotion, and education for entrepreneurship, for example, provide a hands-on framework that makes learning relevant, current, and centered on the student's interests and needs, and provide tangible outcomes that extend beyond the school walls or even the school year. These practical learning experiences have to connect to the stories relayed in history and current events, the inquiry and fact-finding skills of science and math, or the creative expression in literature and art, so that learners become more invested in their education, are able to see how it affects them in the present, and become inspired to take part in their own personal development and enhancement.

Examples of schools that are using this approach to developing students' capacities for social advocacy and community involvement are Northport High School in Northport, N.Y., and West Village Magnet School in Bend, Ore. These schools demonstrate how developing student voice is a significant part of the school culture and is being transplanted into the larger community. The students at these schools already understand the importance of their roles in creating the communities in which they take part in and receive support and facilitation through essential student-teacher relationships.

At West Village, students' passions and personal learning goals are integrated into the curriculum. One year, students learned about environmental and social issues, then held a community fair on sustainability where they presented various community-wide projects ranging from teaching water conservation to holding a Pennies for Peace drive. Some students still continue working on these projects long-term and local organizations have asked them to participate in their own outreach efforts.

Similarly, at Northport, young people have many opportunities to be active leaders for social justice in the community. Students for 60,000 is a student organization that provides humanitarian assistance to those in need. Projects have included feeding and clothing the poor or homeless locally and internationally and teaching English to recent immigrants in their town. Also, members of A Mid-winter Night's Dream, another student club, have testified before Congress on issues related to ALS disease. These students have been able to conduct research alongside scientists and have raised over $1.5 million dollars in seven years in order to support patients with ALS and further research.

In any movement for change, be it from the school level to the international level, it is important to recognize and guide the fresh perspectives and ideas of young people and ensure they know the social and political power they possess as individuals and as a collective. In doing so, we must empower them to understand their rights, responsibilities, capabilities, and opportunities to have just as much powerful input into their educational and civic experiences today as they will tomorrow.

Klea Scharberg

Providing a World-Class Education for Every Student

Each year, ASCD educators from across the country create a legislative agenda to outline ASCD's policy priorities and guide our advocacy efforts. But the true power of the agenda lies in its use by you—educators, parents and family members, business leaders, and community members who have firsthand knowledge of what needs to be done to address the rapidly changing education needs of our country and its students.

The 2011 agenda calls on Congress to revamp the accountability system to a model that is student-focused, is rewards-based, and encompasses all core academic subjects. The agenda also recommends a new federal goal to close the international achievement gap between the United States and other countries and to provide comprehensive support for educators so that students benefit from a highly effective teacher in every classroom.

The agenda emphasizes the need for

  • A complete rewrite of the federal education law. ESEA must not be just tinkered with, but completely overhauled to support our efforts to provide a world-class education to every student.
  • College- and career-readiness. Congress must embrace college- and career-readiness standards that include proficiency in reading, math, science, social science, the arts, civics, foreign language, health education and physical education, technology, and all other core academic subjects.
  • Equity and access. All children must have an equitable share of resources commensurate with their learning needs, as well as access to personalized learning; a well-rounded education; a highly effective teacher in every subject; and support from qualified, caring adults.
  • Capacity-building assistance and information dissemination. Federal support and coordination can help states and districts build meaningful capacity to improve student achievement and school quality through robust investments in education research, the enhancement of a world-renowned education clearinghouse of innovation, and the dissemination of best practices to sustain highly effective educators.
  • Federal accountability requirements. The current adequate yearly progress system is irretrievably broken. The education accountability mandate needs to be transformed from one that is punitive, federally prescriptive, and overly bureaucratic to a model that rewards achievement, is state-driven and peer reviewed, and promotes supportive learning communities and a culture of continuous improvement.

Please use this agenda and the Making the Case for Educating the Whole Child tool to guide discussions and decision making in your own states and communities. Together, we need to educate our lawmakers on the urgency of rewriting ESEA so that we can stop operating under the constraints of an outdated and flawed law and start meeting our students' varied needs so they're ready for success in our challenging global economy.

Klea Scharberg

Underserved Students Realize Dreams of College

Bronx Preparatory Charter School in New York prepares underserved middle and high school students for higher education, civic involvement, and lifelong success by holding high expectations and providing a caring, structured environment. The school's 700 students in grades 5–12 spend 50 percent more time in school than their peers in traditional public schools. Heavy emphasis is placed on math and literacy. Middle school students attend up to two hours each in math and English daily and are introduced to high school-level content in 8th grade. During the 11th and 12th grades, students can take college-level courses.

College is integrated into every aspect at Bronx Prep, with rooms named after colleges and universities and teachers constantly referring to students' future higher education. Consistent science, social studies, physical education, and artistic block scheduling provide a well-rounded education. Middle and high school students spend one hour a day, four days a week participating in classes such as piano, violin, dance, and drama. One hundred percent of the school's first three high school graduating classes were admitted to four-year colleges.

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