As a new employee to Greater Twin Cities United Way, I frequently get asked what attracted me to the organization. There were many things that compelled me to apply for this position, but a primary reason – working at an organization that strives to alleviate poverty – is what drives me at my core. In retrospect, it was an experience I had while volunteer tutoring during my first year of college that catalyzed this passion in me. Read the rest of this entry →
Latinos make up an estimated 16% of America’s total population, as of the 2010 census. Which means about 50.5 million total individuals constitutes the fastest-growing minority demographic. Yet despite this widespread influence, students tend to fall behind once school starts.
The following facts and figures reveal not only the extent of the achievement gap between Latino students and their contemporaries, but some of the probable origins as well as its eventual repercussions. Hopefully, they illustrate exactly why the United States needs to start providing greater opportunities for students hailing from all demographics.
Education is a basic human right, and the fact that such egregious achievement gaps are even allowed to exist proves that the school system needs to work out more than a few kinks to ensure every student receives an equal chance. Read the rest of this entry →
In this powerful and culminating work about a group of marginalized children in the South Bronx who he has known for many years, Jonathan Kozol returns to the scene of his prize-winning books Rachel and Her Children and Amazing Grace, and to the children he has vividly portrayed, to share with us their fascinating journeys and unexpected victories as they grow into adulthood.
For nearly fifty years Kozol has pricked the conscience of his readers by laying bare the savage inequalities inflicted upon children for no reason but the accident of being born to poverty within a wealthy nation. His own life has been radically transformed by the children who have trusted and befriended him.
Reposted from OUS Blog – Office of the Under Secretary Martha Kanter
As the plane took off for Washington, DC and I leaned back in my seat reflecting on the convening in Minneapolis, I could almost see a golden halo around the Twin Cities region, a region of commitment, courage, dedication and promise! It might have been the sunset glow, but I think it was much more than that. The golden glow was certainly evident at the Minneapolis Club on the evening of June 7th where the Twin Cities United Way President and CEO Sarah Caruso brought to the table leaders from education, business, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The topic of discussion? How to close the achievement gap in the region’s P-12 schools by working together to accomplish much more than could ever be envisioned in silos.
I traveled with Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Director of our Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, who is launching “Together for Tomorrow,” a national initiative to spotlight and foster partnerships between communities and schools to propel improvement of our lowest-performing schools. Many Americans don’t know that we have 100,000 elementary, middle school and high schools in our 50 states and territories and that each state has identified, as priority schools, the 5% of K-12 schools that have the farthest road to hoe in lifting the academic achievement levels of their students to grade level for each and every grade, each and every year.
At the “meet-and-greet” preamble to the evening, I met two extraordinary women, Valeria Silva, Superintendent of the St. Paul Public Schools who is responsible for the education of 39,000 children and Bernadia Johnson, Superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools who oversees the education of 34,000 of our nation’s youth. These women were committed to their students, teachers and principals PLUS they are friends. They trust each other! That was obvious as was the fact that they are singularly focused on lifting their school districts to levels of excellence unimagined. The great respect they showed for one another was evident as they spoke with us about the opportunities and challenges they face every day in each of their schools. Read the rest of this entry →
People like Eric and Sam have valuable insights about free college courses via Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO). And now, the legislature has expanded PSEO to include 10th graders.
Responding to an earlier column, Eric wrote the Forest Lake Times, “PSEO is a great option for high school students (who are) ready for it. I took my entire junior and senior year of high school through PSEO at St. Thomas University and not only saved a fortune in college tuition but actually spent those two years learning…”
Sam, 17, reported, “I saved literally tens of thousands of dollars by doing this and got a jump start.” This spring he graduated from high school and earned a (2 year college) Associate degree.
This fall, for the first time, 10th graders who meet college expectations and have passed Minnesota’s required 8th grade reading test may take a free career/technical course on a college campus. If they earn at least a “C,” they may take additional PSEO career technical courses during their sophomore year. State funds will pay their tuition, lab and book fees. Interested students should register now for the fall. Sophomores should register now at the post secondary college. They do not need permission from their local high school to register at the college level. They should inform their high school that they’ve registered for a course, if accepted. Read the rest of this entry →
Expanding our Discussion on Educating Children of African Descent
Education in the United States has been described as being in a state of crisis for well over thirty years. Local, state, and federal governments have debated the best ways to educate our youth, which has resulted in reform after reform coming into classrooms across the country. While some reforms are better than others, they all seem to come and go as administrations change and the rhetoric evolves.
After educational trends move on and standards are adjusted, what remains in the classroom are teachers and students. Alas it is the interaction between teachers and students that is impactful and sustaining. Oddly, these interactions are rarely the focus of conversations in education, yet they are where the most complex aspects of teaching lie. How do students and teachers make sense of one another? Parents trust educators to do right by their children, but teachers are not often given the support to interact with students in healthy, positive ways. Teaching students takes more than content knowledge and a general caring about students. In order to effectively interact with children, teachers must see them as whole beings that are not missing anything. They are not deficient, lacking, or incomplete in any form. When teachers begin to recognize the full humanity of their students, then learning can take place through healthy interaction. Read the rest of this entry →
Lights, camera, action! Students star in their own YouTube Videos
If YouTube can launch the music career of pop sensation, Justin Beiber, why not use it to get disadvantaged students into college? That was thinking behind the Center for School Change’s idea for its Dual Credit opportunities video project.
Taking cues from students’ insatiable appetite social media, the Center for School Change is using the wildly popular video-sharing site to get the message out about Dual Credit opportunities aimed at reaching low-income and first generation families and students of color by creating a series of YouTube videos. A new accessible center for learning for many adults, teens and children, the YouTube initiative is made possible with a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education using federal funding, from the U.S. Department of Education Voluntary Public School Choice Project.
The Center for School Change partnered with MIGIZI Communications, Inc., Neighborhood House, High School for Recording Arts (HSRA) and PACER to produce a total of 14 YouTube videos for community and school use and feature testimonials from students like Gaozong Vang, who is featured in one of the videos and took advantage of Dual Credit opportunities at her high school. Vang, helped by the challenging courses, was accepted to both Harvard University in Massachusetts and Stanford University in California, where she will attend this fall.
To reflect the diversity in our community, four of the 14 videos are translated into Spanish, Hmong, Somali, and Arabic with English subtitles. One Dual Credit video caters to students with special needs.
Check out all our videos and let us know what you think!
Paj Ntaub Lee, Contributor
Center for School Change
In December, 2011, Minnesota was awarded $45 million dollars in federal ARRA funding from the RTT-ELC Grant, through the US Department of Education, to provide high-quality early learning and development programs to children in high-risk and needs communities.
Early Learning Challenge Scholarships will be available in each of the four Transformation Zones in order to increase families’ access to high-quality programs. Each community has a variety of early learning development programs, including child care, Head Start, and school-based programs that may participate in the Early Learning Challenge activities. Read the rest of this entry →
What happens when a great idea happens to a smart group of student go-getters? For Roseville High School’s Courtyard Club, the end result is successfully landing funding to build an outdoor classroom later this fall.
Courtyard Venture - Nikkolas Aries, Debranique Pitter, & Luis Estrada-Guzman
Driven by a strong desire to make an impact in his school, Roseville High School senior, Luis Estrada-Guzman, stepped up and led an effort to raise the money needed for the project. Joe Bue, a teacher and supporter of the Ashoka’s Youth Venture program at Roseville High says “Luis is taking a leadership role for the first time thanks to this opportunity. He sees this as a way to leave a mark on his school.”
Bringing their plan to life, the students first needed to persuade the school to install another access door in order to bring the space up to code. Once they had administrative backing, students put a solid plan together to improve and maintain the courtyard. They worked quickly to figure out the details and then presented their plan at a Greater Twin Cities United Way Youth Venture Community Panel and received $1,000 as seed funding to launch their effort.
The Courtyard Club is one of four “venture teams” – student-led clubs, initiatives, organizations, and social businesses – launched at Roseville High School this year as part of a pilot program supported by a collaborative relationship between United Way and Ashoka’s Youth Venture with funding from SimplexGrinnell. The aim of the program is to support students’ leadership skills, build confidence, and most importantly, make a lasting positive change in their school and community, as well as themselves. Read the rest of this entry →
Welcome! The Education Community encourages discussion among its community members to increase knowledge and information sharing around early learning, literacy, and out-of-school time and supports all youth and their families through a continuum of services and resources.
Contact: Meghan Barp
United Way Community Impact
It's an exciting time for Minnesota's education community. Nearly $90 million in federal funds will support a range of ambitious education initiatives to improve educational outcomes and reduce the achievement gap.
Minnesota At The Top!
Thanks to the collective efforts of Minnesota's early childhood community and the MN Department of Education, Minnesota will be one of nine states to share the $500 million dollar grant to improve early childhood programs! See Minnesota's Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Application.