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Thank You!

August 24, 2010 in Archive: Past Education Blogs

United Front’s Education Community would like to thank everyone who participated in last week’s exploration of transformation! It was very exciting to see the thoughtful posts and exchanges between participants during our first-ever online conversation.

And special thanks to our guest bloggers, Nancy Stachel and Audrey Suker.  We are extremely grateful to these women for their time, stimulating ideas, and for helping get this important conversation started.

We realize that not everyone who registered had a chance to log on last week and participate.  To give people more of an opportunity, we have decided to extend the blog posts until Friday, September  7th  and encourage you to pass the word on to anyone who you think might be interested.  

Finally, we hope to continue having similar online events here in United Front’s Education Community in the future and we invite you to share any comments or ideas that you might have for how we can make the experience better for participants.  Feel free to send an email to me: or you may also post your comments in the Education forum area.

Meghan Barp
Education Community Host

Race to the Top…

July 21, 2010 in Archive: Past Education Blogs

President Obama and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

An article about the national education standards today in the NY Times.  Twenty-seven states have adopted the standards so far, with more states said to be adopting in coming weeks. We’re wondering how many states will be on board after the winners are announced in September–and what is Minnesota up to? We spoke to key staff members at the Minnesota Department of Education who shared the following:

–Minnesota is adopting the Common Core (CC) English Language Arts (ELA) standards by revising the 2003 ELA standards to include the CC and up to 15% additional standards. (Legislation calls for MN’s ELA standards to be revised during 2009-2010.)

–Minnesota will not be adopting the CC Mathematics standards at this time. The state will conduct a new review of the CC math standards during the 2010-2011 school year to determine whether concerns remain.

United Way joins forces with Pepsi and Holiday to promote Early Grade Literacy in July

July 15, 2010 in Archive: Past Education Blogs

We are thrilled that Pepsi and Holiday have teamed up with Greater Twin Cities United Way to promote early grade literacy in July! Not only has Pepsi generously donated $10,600 to United Way to benefit 7 schools in our 9 county region, we are also working with Pepsi and Holiday to host book drives the week of July 19th at 4 local Holiday stores in the metro area. KS95 will be there with music and prizes, soif you’re in the area, stop in to say hello and bring your gently used books–I’ll definitely be rocking my LIVE UNITED t-shirt. We’ll be there from 11-1 PM at the locations below.

Tuesday: 629 Rice Street, St. Paul
Wednesday: 2660 Eagan Woods Drive, Eagan
Thursday: 601 North Fifth Street, Minneapolis
Friday: 3550 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis

A huge thank you to Pepsi and Holiday for supporting early grade literacy, our schools are thrilled to have additional support to purchase materials and supplies to make the start of school even better.

Education: The New Children and Families

July 1, 2010 in Archive: Past Education Blogs

While summer is a time of shorter weeks and a slower pace for many (except for those of you running summer programs!) we have been hard at work in the Education Impact Area at United Way–and summer is flying by a little too quickly for our liking. The last 6 weeks have a bit of a whirlwind. To recap:

On June 2nd we hosted Bernadeia Johnson, Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent, and Valeria Silva, Saint Paul Public Schools Superintendent, as well as key staff from both districts. It was the start of a very exciting conversation with key partners and community stakeholders to enrich the partnerships and help find solutions to challenges. You’ll be hearing more from us in the coming months as we find ways to continue the conversation.

On June 9, many of you joined us for United Front 2 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in the general session, as well as the session that Education hosted to discuss models that are being utilized to strengthen communities and schools.

Out of both conversations–one thing is certain. We can’t stop talking about data! Access to data, sharing data, understanding data, using data. We recognize that United Way can play a crucial part in this conversation (and hopefully make the data issue less painful for programs).

We also found time to release 2 multi-year RFPs in Early Learning and Out of School Time–which is keeping us (and I am sure many of you) very busy this summer!

Finally, as many of you have noticed–we’ve changed our name! We are now the Education Impact Area. We are still comprised of three goal areas–Early Learning, Reading By 3rd Grade, and Out of School Time. Part of the name change stems from the desire to align with United Way World Wide for branding reasons. You can expect to see the same faces at meetings, and largely, the same content and focus that you found with Children and Families.

As always, we value your input and feedback (really!). Feel free to reach out to me or any of the Education team members with any questions or concerns.

Enjoy the rest of the long, warm days of summer!

The (dis)connect between reading by 3rd grade and prison beds–fact or fiction?

May 19, 2010 in Archive: Past Education Blogs

A statistic is often quoted in the US, that some states use third grade reading scores to determine the number of prison beds. We (and others) have tried to track down the source of this urban legend, to no avail.

United Way’s blogger, Liz Peterson, Director of Research and Planning, wrote a post about this last summer. Here’s what she had to say.

One of the functions of the Research & Planning Department is to verify and source various facts and data points. One “fact” that we get asked to source on a regular basis is that third grade reading scores are used in the state of (Virginia, California, Indiana—fill in the blank) to project how many prison beds will be needed in the future. What a compelling statement! It just begs to be repeated.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), it isn’t true.

It has an impressive pedigree: Colin Powell has cited it, as has Hillary Clinton. The Washington Post and New York Times have both published opinion columns that reference it. A quick Google search of “third grade reading” and “prison beds” came up with 36,400 matches (and fewer than 4,000 matches if you add the word “bogus”).

We have contacted officials in both California and Virginia (the two most frequently cited states) and have come up empty. We have searched the web and scoured research articles. Plenty of references to the alleged fact, but not a single one of the purported sources pans out.

So it was with no small amount of relief that not too very long ago I ran across this article in the Washington Post debunking the claim.

If the Washington Post with its myriad resources, national and international, couldn’t track down a reliable source, I’m inclined to believe it doesn’t exist. If anyone out there knows otherwise, please let me (and the Washington Post) know.

Stadiums Vs. Our Children’s Future

March 19, 2010 in Archive: Past Education Blogs

Worth reading– Gary Cunningham’s recent piece from YourVoices in the Star Tribune regarding the need to invest more dollars in early education.  Greater Twin Cities United Way is part of the School Readiness Funders Coalition working on critical early education issues.

Education is a continuum

February 11, 2010 in Archive: Past Education Blogs

This post was written by Kathy Lentz, Community Impact Director for Children and Families at Greater Twin Cities United Way

The mission of Greater Twin Cities United Way is to create Pathways out of Poverty, and the Children and Families Impact Area staff believe one of the most critical steps for fulfilling our mission is to focus on the formal and non-formal learning path for children and youth.

We view a child’s education and learning as a continuum that begins even before a child is born.

In general, prenatally through the age of three, parents are a child’s first and foremost teacher, and they have a tremendous impact on setting the path to successful learning.   From the ages of 3-5,

quality care and education sites continue to build on the literacy foundation set by parents.   When a child enters the formal education system around age 6, a key component on the continuum of learning is mastering reading by the end of third grade.  It is important at this age for children to learn to read so they can read to learn. 

Kathy Lentz, Community Impact Director, Education

The next critical intersect for learning is between the ages of 10 and 14 when children have an enormous amount of discretionary time on their hands.  At this juncture of the learning continuum, it is important to engage children and youth in quality out-of-school time activities that stretch both their academic and enrichment discovery.  Finally, youth between the ages of 15 and 18 need a vision of learning that includes graduating from high school and engaging in additional educational opportunities that propel them into a successful and fulfilling life.

At this site, we will engage those passionate about, and committed to, our children’s formal and informal learning success.  We will seek input and dialogue on a variety of topics related to successfully fulfilling our mission of creating pathways out of poverty through our continuum of learning.  We will gather and share information and research on each stage of the continuum, we will share ideas for implementing best practices strategies for learning, we will debate the issues related to formal and non-formal learning, and we will discuss policy implications that impact our children’s future success.

Please register as a member and join us in the conversation!

– Kathy