Wednesday, December 8, 2010
A recent sample of test score data from around the world is causing significant concern among American education observers and public officials. The report, which tallied the math, science, and reading scores of 15 year-olds in each of the 34 countries within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD], demonstrates mediocre results for the United States, and shows us lagging behind many other Asian and European countries. On the 1,000 point scale of the International Student Assessment, we scored a 500 in reading, 502 in science, and 487 in math.
The results sounded alarm bells for many public officials. Education Secretary Arne Duncan referred to the results as "a massive wake-up call." Added Duncan: "Have we ever been satisfied as Americans being average in anything? Is that our aspiration? Our goal should be absolutely to lead the world in education."
Representative George Miller [D-CA], the outgoing chairman of the House Education Committee, expressed similar distress. "Average won't help us regain our global role as a leader in education. Average won't help our students get the jobs of tomorrow. Average is the status quo and it's failing our country."
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
For now, we'll post another great sentence about education from Joanna Peiser, senior in the college and another member of our Advocacy Committee:
"To me, education means creating a better tomorrow for myself and others."
Agreed. Have a great break!
Monday, November 15, 2010
The following post was written by Justine Achille, a sophomore in the NHS who is currently tutoring at Kenilworth Elementary School:
|Outside of Kenilworth Elementary|
Friday, November 12, 2010
Anyway, in our last meeting we were sitting around talking about things we can include on the blog, and one of our members came up with a very simple concept: one sentence, from everyone on the committee, describing what education means to them. Brilliant!
So from now on, throughout the year, we'll be posting one of these sentences each week. Our inaugural sentence comes from Hannah Hill:
"To me, education is the only national tool that ubiquitously provides a forum for reform and development."
Well put. Stay tuned for more -- and as always, happy reading!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Last week, in a crowded Ward 8 church, fifteen DC Reads coordinators and tutors gathered with nearly a thousand Ward 8-ers to hear future DC mayor, Vince Gray, overview his proposed agenda. A waning sound system and a delayed start aside, the town hall meeting provided me with some illuminating, though vague, information in regards to education. After promising to unite the Wards together to form one DC, Gray turned his attention to creating one DCPS.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Coordinator Reflection: Matt Buccelli
This past Thursday in our 4th and 5th grade classroom at Houston Elementary School, we had a "poetry café" to celebrate some of the work our students have been doing and give them a chance to share their creative material. For the previous two weeks, we had been teaching a unit on poetry and its different styles. After going over basic poetry terms like rhyme, couplet, alliteration, stanza, and syllable using the rap song "I Can," by Nas, we spent four classes teaching our kids to write acrostics, haiku, cinquains, and free verse poems. During each class, students had the chance to share their work quietly with a friend or individual teacher, but we intentionally put off having kids share their poems with the class and instead reminded our students during each lesson that if they behaved well and continued to worked hard, our efforts at writing would build up to a class spent sharing our poetry and eating treats. In each class building up to the poetry café, every student in class wrote at least one poem in each style; some who finished early wrote more, while others chose to draw illustrations to go along with their poems. Many of our students had the opportunity to draw illustrations but chose to write more poems instead.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Apparently, Gray and Rhee saw something.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
DC's Promise Neighborhood will be modeled, in part, after the Harlem Children's Zone in New York, which spans a 100 block radius and takes a community-based approach to improving educational outcomes for kids. The idea is that by working to comprehensively build communities, we will also insure that students achieve at a higher level; both the Harlem Children's Zone and the Promise Neighborhood planned for DC seek to foster a safe, nurturing environment for kids by combining good schools, after-school programs, and other opportunities to engage youth with affordable housing and health care, job training, and other so-called "wraparound services" for adults.
The celebration on Saturday took place at the Mayfair Mansions, a sprawling complex of several apartment buildings in the Promise Neighborhood community. There was free food and a live DJ who led several games of musical chairs with the children in attendance. There were also two ponies. At one point, about two dozen people got up to do the Cha-Cha Slide, which drew Noelle's excitement, and she did an awesome job following along.
Several community-based organizations that will be involved with the new Promise Neighborhood were also in attendance, so it was good for DC Reads to be present and explain our role in the community. Certainly our tutoring program plays a big part in offering the kind of comprehensive support for kids that the Kenilworth-Parkside neighborhood will aim to encourage with its new grant, and we did a lot of networking with the other organizations that were out on Saturday. The woman representing Head Start, which helps low-income kids go to preschool, actually turned out to be the grandmother of one of my tutees in the fourth and fifth grade program at Houston Elementary School, which is located just outside of the Promise Neighborhood area. Aside from being a nice coincidence, I think this really illustrates why DC Reads tries to establish its presence in the communities where we serve. The more we can show up and make connections with people who have a stake in our success, the more successful we will ultimately be.
For more information on the Parkside-Kenilworth Promise Neighborhood, check out their website. We'll also keep you updated on its progress as the year progresses.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Portraying the new page as a response to the growing interest throughout the country in education issues, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington asserted in a post to the main website that America is having an "education moment." We at DC Reads certainly hope she's right: from our ongoing work in schools, we know that fixing the education system in America will not be easy. Still, tackling this eminently pressing issue with the thought, care, and critical thinking it deserves requires as much of a sense of urgency as this country can possibly muster. The more informed people are about not only achievement gaps and other struggles in urban schools, but also the stagnation and mediocrity of the US education system as a whole, the more we can encourage innovation and find diverse, well-thought out solutions that tackle the array of tangling and complex issues that have long complicated efforts to improve public schools.
To view the Huffington Post education page, click here. From now on, it will also appear as a link in our sidebar.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
By Matt Buccelli
After City Council Chairman Vincent Gray's triumph over incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty in the September 14 DC mayoral primary, the jury is still out on what Gray's victory may mean for the future of DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. During Gray's tenure as council chair, he and Rhee have maintained a rocky relationship, and on the day after the primary, Rhee chose to characterize the result as "devastating for the children of Washington, DC." (ouch) Over the course of the campaign, Rhee signaled that she wouldn't work for Gray should he win, and given her engagement to the current mayor of Sacramento, California, she may be ready to skip town anyway. For his part, Gray remained mum during his bid for the mayoralty about whether or not he would keep Rhee, and has refused to make any decisions on administrative personnel until he is officially the mayor; even in heavily Democratic DC, the presumptive mayor-to-be still has to at least go through the motions of a general election in November.
Basically, we're unlikely to hear anything for awhile. But that shouldn't stop us from speculating anyway on what Gray's victory means for the Chancellor and for the future of DC education policy as a whole.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Welcome back to the DC Reads Just Education blog. After a busy three weeks of tutor recruitment and training, DC Reads is finally back in the saddle and doing what we do best -- helping kids learn to read, that is. We sent our first tutors to site this afternoon, and we've got a busy week and year ahead, with more morning tutoring sessions, additional afternoon times, and a new after-school classroom curriculum for fourth and fifth graders that we developed and used for the first time this summer.
DC Reads is back, and that means our flagship blog, Just Education, is too. Last year we debuted the blog as a project of our awesome Advocacy Committee, and we look forward to developing the blog further in the coming weeks and months. When you read our blog, you can expect to find updates on our work in and outside of the classroom, along with individual analysis about DC Public Schools and the broader public education system in which we tutor. We will also look to connect you with a wide range of material concerning the education system in DC and across the country, from the Washington Post education page to other online resources. Throughout the year, we will continue to attend Chancellor's forums and other public events designed to connect the DC community with the progress of its school system.
Check back frequently for updates and new developments, and if you're helping us tutor this semester, have an awesome first week!
Monday, May 10, 2010
By: Marc Patterson
When Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, came to the town hall meeting in Gaston Hall on Monday May 3rd, he gave encouraging words on the power of education to transform lives. “We cannot let any child fall through the cracks, regardless of the difficulties they face at home…poverty is never destiny,” Duncan pressed the crowd of teachers, parents and Georgetown students. I cannot help but feel the disconnect however, because despite the thriving network of tutors Georgetown has created, not to mention one of the highest matriculation rates into Teach For America in the country, no Georgetown student has the opportunity to seriously engage education as a field of study through this university. In order to train both informed political advocates for education reform and teachers who will demand the reform they need to be effective, Georgetown needs a program in education. The University’s Jesuit tradition and value of social justice demand it.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Below is an opinion I wrote for The Hoya for the April 13th edition. The link is http://www.thehoya.com/opinion/encouraging-dreams-higher-education-dc-public-schools, but I posted the article just in case. In the article, I presented how severe the education gap is in D.C. and how Georgetown students specifically can/should rally around D.C. issues like education reform. As I wrote, a Georgetown degree will mean nothing if we do not use the knowledge it represents to serve the community as a whole. Hope you like it!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Hi and welcome to our humble little blogspot! Two days ago, this was just a little pipe dream the DC Reads Coordinators thought up. Now, thanks to a blogger.com tutorial, a 30-day trial of Photoshop, and a pot of coffee, that pipe dream is now a reality. The first two posts lay out why we think the DC Reads Advocacy Committee and this blog are important; we feel confident that the ensuing days and posts will prove their worth. In fact, thanks to our enthusiastic committee, we even have a bunch of great posts just waiting to be posted. (Yay, team!) I hope that this blog can become a resource for you—something to check out for videos, links, articles, and commentary about pressing issues in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) System. If you are interested at all in contributing to our blog or getting involved in the DC Reads Advocacy Committee, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy DC READs-ing!
Monday, March 22, 2010
By: Jonathon Munoz
The new decade finds America traveling on the long road of economic recovery. It is hard not to ignore the immediate effects of such a crisis. For example, as of Dec. 2009, 15.3 million Americans were unemployed with an unemployment rate of 10%. At the beginning of the recession in December 2007 the unemployment rate was 0.5% with 7.7 unemployed Americans. It is important to mitigate the immediate negative effects of the crisis for obvious reasons, but there is a big difference between the semblance of economic stability and the real thing. With so much money being poured into the economy to promote stability and increase consumer confidence it is easy to focus on the symptoms of the crisis while ignoring its causes.
The current crisis gives us a unique opportunity to fundamentally change the way the country learns. If fiscal responsibility is truly a long-term goal for America, it must invest in education. We must create educational policies that foster innovation while promoting accountability, both on the part of local and state officials. A study by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northwestern University recently reported that students who dropped out of high school were 63 times more likely to be in prison than students with a four-year college degree. Also, “on average, each high school dropout now costs taxpayers more than $292,000 in lower tax revenues, higher cash and in-kind transfer costs, and incarceration costs relative to the average high school graduate.”
By: Jonathon Munoz
As students of Georgetown University we find ourselves in a unique situation. Not only do we each bring with us a particular set of conceptual tools and personal skill sets with which to assess and solve problems, but as students in D.C. we also have an opportunity to use our individual resources to advance social justice issues both locally and nationally.
Our focus on educational issues does not only stem from its inextricable relation to the social sphere as a whole, but we choose to focus on it because it is a process with which all have intimate and familiar knowledge. Bringing with us varying personal perspectives formed in different local educational contexts, we have the ability to have a very diverse dialogue with others. It is this dialogue that is the kernel of social justice, and it is the extension of this dialogue that is the raison d’etre of this advocacy committee.