Tagged “Parent And Family Engagement”

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Student Voice: How a Community School Became an Oasis in South Central Los Angeles

Post written by Martin J. Blank and Ryan Fox, Coalition for Community Schools

Kevin Valiencia

Walking through the halls of John C. Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles with senior Kevin Valiencia, one finds an unexpected inner city public school in one of the most maligned neighborhoods in the country.

A climate of cooperation, enthusiasm, unity, and endless possibilities permeate throughout school. A strong juxtaposition with the surrounding community in which neighborhoods blocks apart from each other are often at war. Kevin himself has seen a friend stabbed, drive-by shootings, and police raids near his home.

It's not that the troubles found in other schools don't exist inside Fremont. Less than 40 percent of its students graduate in four years and test scores still lag behind state averages. But the angst and conflict found in many other struggling urban schools is minimal at Fremont. The suspension rate at Fremont is far below the rates at other high schools in the district. While the dropout rate is still very high, those numbers are gradually improving. Nearly 85 percent of those that did graduate in 2009 and 2010 continued on to a postsecondary education.

"There's unity (at Fremont)," Kevin said. "We're all in this together."

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Stephen Sroka

School Safety Lessons Learned: From Cleveland to Newtown

I dealt with school violence before it was fashionable and funded. To me, any child killed anywhere, anytime, is a huge tragedy. But decades ago, when children were killed in the inner city of Cleveland, you probably never heard about them. When the killings moved to suburbs such as Columbine, they became national news. The Newtown shootings shocked the United States like no other school violence. Now, school violence prevention is front-page news. Working with school safety for more than 30 years, I have tried to help schools and communities keep our youth safe and healthy so that they can learn more and live better. Here are several lessons that I have learned.

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Jason Ellingson

Safer, Not Safe

Safety. Before the Sandy Hook tragedy, we thought we knew what safe meant at Collins-Maxwell. We are a small, rural community school district in Iowa serving 500 students with an elementary school in one town and a secondary school in another. We are a community that knows each other; we are open, inviting, welcoming, and trusting. We usually know the people who come into buildings, and we trust that those we do not know are here for a valid purpose.

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John M. Eger

WANTED: Schools Wired for Safety

Many years ago, John Gage, then chief science officer for Sun Microsystems, had an idea. The idea was "NetDay," a grassroots campaign to wire U.S. schools.

Gage, like so many others today, was frustrated that our schools were not getting connected to the Internet fast enough and that a whole generation of young people would suffer. The NetDay concept has grown, and the campaign to wire our schools led to the concept of "smart schools," schools fully equipped with a computer on every desktop and broadband access to the Internet.

So much for the history of the smart school. Less clear is how safe even our smartest schools are in light of recurring school violence, a national epidemic, really. The entire nation is now searching for solutions.

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Stephen Sroka

Tips from the Trenches: Teaching

During the last few months, I have had the chance to talk with several speakers who strongly affected their audiences. I started to think about the remarkable leaders with whom I have worked over the years and how they have made huge differences with their incredible wisdom, insight, and actions. I contacted some of them and asked them to comment on working in education in these difficult times. I asked them to share some take-away messages, so that, if they were speaking, what would they want their audience to remember? Read the other installments in the series: school safety, student services, and administration.

The bottom line in education takes place when the teacher shuts the door with the classroom full of students. Some say that teaching is a science and some say it is an art. Many educators know that students do not care what you teach, if you do not teach that you care. Here are some "Tips from the Trenches" from those who are or have been in the classroom.

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Elizabeth Pfiffner

Common Core Standards Will Benefit At-Risk Students

As part of the school team, school social workers share the goal of ensuring that all students receive a high-quality education. We work with students and their families to address personal, family, and societal issues that create obstacles for learning. The adoption of the Common Core State Standards will create a strong foundation for school social workers in our mission to improve academic and behavioral outcomes for all students.

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Stephen Sroka

Tips from the Trenches: Administration

During the last few months, I have had the chance to talk with several speakers who strongly affected their audiences. I started to think about the remarkable leaders with whom I have worked over the years and how they have made huge differences with their incredible wisdom, insight, and actions. I contacted some of them and asked them to comment on working in education in these difficult times. I asked them to share some take-away messages, so that, if they were speaking, what would they want their audience to remember? Read the other installments in the series: school safety, student services, and teaching.

Leadership is essential to effective education. Here are some "Tips from the Trenches" from the school leaders and leaders of national education organizations themselves.

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Stephen Sroka

Tips from the Trenches: Student Services

During the last few months, I have had the chance to talk with several speakers who strongly affected their audiences. I started to think about the remarkable leaders with whom I have worked over the years and how they have made huge differences with their incredible wisdom, insight, and actions. I contacted some of them and asked them to comment on working in education in these difficult times. I asked them to share some take-away messages, so that, if they were speaking, what would they want their audience to remember? Read the other installments in the series: school safety, administration, and teaching.

Students are more than grade-point averages. Often they are faced with many barriers to effective education. Dealing with the whole child, and not just the academic child, can help facilitate learning. Safe and healthy students learn more. Here are some "Tips from the Trenches" about the value of supporting students.

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Stephen Sroka

Tips from the Trenches: School Safety

During the last few months, I have had the chance to talk with several speakers who strongly affected their audiences. I started to think about the remarkable leaders with whom I have worked over the years and how they have made huge differences with their incredible wisdom, insights, and actions. I contacted some of them and asked them to comment on working in education in these difficult times. I asked them to share some take-away messages, things that if they were speaking, they would want their audience to remember. Read the other installments in the series: student services, administration, and teaching.

School safety was a front page story following the tragic shooting deaths of 28 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Students need a safe school to learn. Most of these "Tips from the Trenches" regarding school safety were written before the Connecticut shootings.

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Klea Scharberg

The Time Is Now: Make the Case for Educating the Whole Child

Whether you are a parent, educator, or community member, you can help turn political rhetoric about "investing in the future of our children" into reality. Join ASCD in helping your school, district, and community move from a vision for educating the whole child to sustainable, collaborative action. States and school districts across the country are adopting policies and practices to better educate the whole child, but we can do more.

Updated with critical research and real-world examples of education policies and practices that ensure students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged, Making the Case for Educating the Whole Child (PDF) is a free advocacy tool that you can use as you work with policymakers, the media, and other groups. You can also add your local statistics and success stories so that decision makers in your community understand the difference a whole child education can make.

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