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DON’T FORGET ED: EDUCATION REFORM DESERVES PRIORITY

Don't Forget Ed campaign in National Mall

Wednesday, The College Board kicked off a national movement, “Don’t Forget Ed,” to make education a more prominent issue in the 2012 presidential campaign by calling upon the candidates to discuss their plans for reform. 857 school desks were placed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. as a compelling display representing the students that drop out every hour of every school day in our nation’s schools.

“‘Don’t Forget Ed’ recognizes that education is the foundation of our society. If our schools fail, then so will everything else — from our economy to national security,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “Yet every four years, the issue of education is shockingly underplayed on the campaign trail. That’s why this year we are encouraging candidates all over the country to tell voters precisely how they would reverse the sharp decline of American education. Parents, teachers, students and administrators have had enough of the silence. This year they are speaking loud and clear, and the College Board is committed to amplifying their voices.”

There is no question that students leaving school is detrimental to our society, as there is a direct correlation between education and incarceration. According to the National Dropout Prevention Center, 82% of the inmates currently in our federal prisons are high school dropouts.

As pointed out by Kevin Chavous of the Huffington Post, “The average cost to care for those inmates is $55,000.00 per inmate. In contrast, we spend on average approximately $10,500 per student in our K-12 education system. And, as our prisons are consistently overcrowded, far too many of our public school districts have schools that are barely half full.”

It is disheartening that these statistics and correlations are not bringing a sense of urgency among leaders and policymakers. More than 1.2 million students drop out of school every year, which averages out to 6,000 students every school day and 857 every hour. Recent data show that students in this country rank 25th in math and 21st in science among students from 30 industrialized nations.

Now it is your turn to weigh in:

What would you suggest to the presidential candidates about education reform if you had 5 minutes with them?

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WTU SCHOLARSHIP FUND AWARDS $80,000 TO HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES

The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) hosted its annual WTU Scholarship Fund Ceremony awarding $80,000 in scholarships to four DCPS high school graduates who will pursue teaching careers in D.C. Public Schools (DCPS).

“Our students are committed and passionate about education and we are proud that the scholarship fund is available to assist graduating DCPS students,” said WTU President Nathan A. Saunders. “Since its inception, the fund has awarded more than 75 scholarships worth an estimated $1.5 million dollars to deserving DCPS students. Past scholarship recipients have gone on to pursue teaching degrees at various universities including: Yale University, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of the District of Columbia.”

Councilmembers Kenyan McDuffie and Vincent Orange joined DCPS Chief of Schools John Davis and WTU Scholarship Fund Founder and former WTU President Bill Simons as scholarship recipients Bruce Mann and Angela Johnson shared their inspirations for aiming to return to D.C. public schools to teach.

“I want to be a teacher because without DCPS I wouldn’t be who I am today. I want to be a part of a school system that not only cares about the students’ education, but also the students’ well-being,” said Johnson, who will be attending West Virginia University in the fall.

Johnson, an aspiring kindergarten teacher and graduate of Roosevelt Senior High School, also explained how her grandmother made an impact on her education by enrolling her in a Head Start program at two years old.

Mann, a recent graduate of McKinley Technology High School and an incoming freshman at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, FL, will pursue a career in secondary education.

“By placing myself in the classroom, I believe I can encourage students to succeed and develop them into leaders. I have a goal to create solutions for the District’s public school system when I become a teacher,” said Mann.

SUMMERTIME LIVING & LEARNING IS EASY

Teachers, students and parents all look forward to summer vacation. Well… at least teachers and students do! Summer vacation is an opportunity for teachers to become re-energized, relax and to just release all the pent up stress from the school year. In the minds of most students, the summer months are a time for them to have fun, fun and more fun. From an educational standpoint, two months is a long time for students to be completely free from any exposure to reading, writing and arithmetic.

There are many ways that parents can help students hone these skills for the upcoming school year, in ways that are fun and relatively inexpensive or FREE!  Writing is an area that many students at all levels struggle with. The familiar cry from students from the elementary to secondary levels tends to be “I don’t know what to write about”. Encouraging students to write about things or places that they are experiencing during the summer are a great way for them to practice writing descriptive, narrative or persuasive essays. For example, one of everyone’s favorite summertime activities is eating ice cream. Instead of just allowing students to eat the ice cream and move on with the rest of their day, parents could ask students to write a review and to create a poster advertising their favorite ice cream flavor. Another activity could be to ask students to write an essay that would persuade their parents to allow them to have an ice cream party. Another way that students can hone their writing skills is by writing a review of a place that they have visited, such as a restaurant or amusement park.

There are plenty more exercises parents can do with their child to practice other skills. Most businesses have websites that encourage visitors to detail their experiences with their products or services. This gives students real world experience that they can use in the future.  Math skills can be put to work in a fun way by allowing students to help with grocery shopping and budgeting, by computing the price of items after a coupon has been applied.   Instead of relying on a GPS, parents can enlist the help of students by having them read a map and the directions to a particular destination.  For most people summer vacation means fun, and it should be a fun time for students, teachers and parents. However, summer activities should include opportunities for students to work on, hone, and refine academic skills that they will need for success in the upcoming school year. Summertime living can be easy and educational!!!

Angelique Kwabenah
Reading Teacher
The Incarcerated Youth Program

 

 

 

 

Teacher Blogs Wanted
Is there an inner blogger in you? We know it’s in there! We are looking for teachers to share advice or classroom experiences with fellow teachers.

Also, did something exciting and newsworthy occur at your school recently? We would love to know!

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THIRTEEN SCHOOLS SET TO HAVE EXTENDED SCHOOL DAY TO ‘PROVE WHAT’S POSSIBLE’

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At Neval Thomas Elementary School, Mayor Vincent Gray joined by Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced the winners of the Proving What’s Possible grant funds to encourage innovation and dramatically improve student achievement in public schools.

With 85 percent of the $10 million dollar going to the 40 lowest performing schools in the District, the Chancellor and Mayor are looking to use technology in a creative way, increase STEM education, and foster innovation to heavily increase student academic gains.

But perhaps the most striking among the Proving What’s Possible initiatives, is the extended school day in 13 public schools including CW Harris Elementary, Dunbar High School, Malcom X Elementary School, Kelly Miller Middle School, and Tyler Elementary School.

During the press conference, Chancellor Henderson confirmed that these schools will serve as pilot runs before taking the extended school day system-wide. According to Henderson, parents and teachers are supportive of this initiative and DCPS will work with the Washington Teachers’ Union to ensure compliance with the teachers’ contract.

The push for an extended school day according to Mayor Gray, comes from the inability to complete all education during the normal day. The extended school day will allow for other kinds of learning.

As a DCPS teacher, what do you think of the idea of an extended school day?

Share your thoughts in a comment below, on Facebook or Twitter

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MEET OUR INTERN!

Did you know that more than 20,000 interns come to Washington, D.C. each year? The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC) is celebrating its 3rd Annual Intern Appreciation Week!  Washington D.C. interns provide the District with an invaluable amount of time and talent each year. InternsRock! is a way to show appreciation to interns, their hard work and their contributions and here at WTU, we would like to congratulate and show appreciation for our intern LaTasha!

LaTasha T. Mosley
Washington, D.C.
Spelman College
2015; Child Development

What are your responsibilities and duties at WTU?

As a Public Relations and Membership Intern, I am responsible for assisting the department and ensuring that information and news is relayed to the members. This includes but not limited to, posting news regarding teachers, DCPS, and other related news on our blog, ensuring effective communication tools are in place, and helping out in any other way that I can.

Why did you decide to work for WTU?

As a future educator, I wanted to get an in-depth look at what affects our teachers, our school system and  most importantly our students. I believe that working at WTU has allowed me to achieve this goal and more by placing me in a position to see both sides of the spectrum. I am now left to determine how can I indeed help improve education for all students.

What are your career goals?

I aspire to be a reformer of America’s public education system. As a product of DCPS, I have seen too many of my peers fall through the cracks of this system. Knowing that importance of parental improvement, continued enthusiasm for learning and pursuit of higher education, I want all students despite their ethnic background, parent’s income/educational background and extraneous circumstances to pursue higher education and go on to change the world.

What activities are you involved in at school?

I am a member of a community service organization, Sisters Keeping It Real Through Service (SKIRTS) where we stimulate  our school community through hosting various events, panels on controversial issues, and servicing our local community. Also, I am a mentor in our little sister organization, Maintaining Innocence Is Never Impossible of SKIRTS (MINISKIRTS) where I mentor middle school girls at a local middle school on various issue that affect them with hopes of them knowing that each one of them are beautiful, intelligent, and kind young ladies. I hope to join more activities this coming semester.

What else are you doing this summer besides volunteering?

In my spare time, I volunteer at Carroll Manor Rehabilitation Home with the Alzheimer residents. I also am spending as much time as I can with my family and friends while I am home and also my dog, Coco.

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