Thursday, November 5, 2015

Meeting the needs of students in poverty (MASC conference)

Margaret McKenna, who introduces herself as the daughter of two Central Falls (RI) schoolteachers.
"the first thing we should do is say the word 'poverty'"
"you don't hear it much said should be the number one topic"

Massachusetts number one, but large achievement gap
should be spending time "and spending our money"
"we're already number one, what do we what to be number one plus plus?" should be innovative
concerned about cities
only state left with an English-only mandate, brought up every year in Leg, not enough energy behind it
"we're testing kids who are in the country less than a year, and we're wondering why they're not doing that"
"need more people on the front lines involved in those decisions"
number one thing that works is good teachers
have been so punative with teachers have not been attracting good people to the classroom
millions of dollars going to non-traditional programs
schools of education have to go through more hoops
"discouraging people to go into the classroom"
emphasizing testing and data, but teachers have to have the data to use it
was president of the WalMart Foundation for four years, gave away $1B a year
looked at data on what worked: breakfast in the classroom and summer
breakfast in the morning for all kids: feeding them
shout out to Worcester for making money on breakfast in the classroom
summer learning loss over summers
number one thing in the country in absences is dental problems
"totally applaud and support" the Foundation Budget Review Commission report
hope the Legislature will work on that

Chelsea public schools
only 1.7 square miles, high low income
51% of their kids are not found in any state database (refugees)
double and tripling up in three deckers
80% first language not English
22% mobility rate
"if we can hold onto our students for four years or more, we're having dramatic, dramatic success"
Chelsea has become "a huge, huge wraparound zone"
working with community groups in reaching kids and families
make sure there are healthy environments that children are living in; working with Inspectional Services
increased costs: social workers, parent liaisons,
have restructured parent information center, constant cycle of referrals

Fall River public schools
78%F/R lunch ("sorry, Jeff!"as Jeff Wulfson is here and no one is using the new economically disadvantaged numbers)
social-emotional learning is as important for students
three tier models for academics but also social-emotional
Fall River one of the wraparound zones in the state
created a vision of wellness for students

  • positive learning environment
  • positive youth development experiences
  • wraparound supports
  • home-school connections

much of this has to be scaled up so all schools have it
"things that hadn't even been thought about in 1993!"
"really believe you have to expand opportunity for these students"

74% F/R lunch "before we adopted" CEP
largest percent of ELL in the state at 35%
"education for all students"
"quality education doesn't belong to some; it belongs to all"
poverty "represents opportunity gaps"
systems of supports in place and intervention
effective school leadership, aligned instruction (across the district)
highly effective instuctional programs
tiered instruction and adequate time
wraparound services throughout
"don't define engagement with how many hours and how many days a parent is in the school"
strategic use of resources and budgeting
UMass Med and health centers
particularly children who suffer from asthma; "can reduce times children will be absent"
three food trucks for summer feeding of children; working with city parks at summer programs
two mobile library trucks, as well
United Way has been a great partner
additional school adjustment couselors, nurses, health clinics in 11 schools
need to not "love them into dumbness" : support kids and keep expectations high

Ravenelle, superintendent from Fitchburg, grew up Southbridge
how do we engage everyone in this
Our Kids by Robert Putnam
McKenna:re: competing with other countries if you take out the schools that have the poorest schools, we're number one in the world (as a country)
"it's not an education problem, it's a poverty problem in the U.S."
other states are doing better than we are
"we're doing better than we were"
were 44 out of 50 states in providing breakfast in the classroom
"way behind the eight ball" in early childhood
in terms of what affects kids, "we are not number one or anywhere near it"

Q on resources available to urbans
Boone: "if we were dependent on the state to close these gaps" we wouldn't be doing it
"we're all suffering under the current administration when it comes to educational funding"
grant decisions of the Baker administration have been devestating to districts
"how do we leverage those few and very needed resources" to get movement in some targeted areas
Ravanelle suggests supporting Foundation Budget Review report on wraparound, low income, etc supports

Q asks about city inspectional services partnership
"certificate of habitability" for every student that enters the district (and I see my superintendent writing, which is always a good sign)

Q on charter schools
New Bedford: returning kids midyear who have special education services
newer school is a "no excuses" model
10 or more absences, student is retained "and where is that student going to go"
communicating with DESE around attrition rate
Worcester: Spirit of Knowledge
students with needs not being served
re-enrollment after October 1 and before MCAS
charter school that isn't delivering on educational programming well, pay attention to those subtle things that impact you
"all doesn't mean all" for them
"let's take out what it does to the district...there's that revolving door"
"at some point this conversation has to be about the children, because they're the ones that are being impacted on this"
Ravanelle: have to talk about what we do well
"impossible for any superintendent or school committee to ignore this"
environment we're developing is the Hunger Games
"if we begin competing with one another, we will all lose"

Q on evaluation: how we evaluate schools
if all we do is evaluate schools on test scores
"helping children grow up and helping families get strengthened"
Scott Lehigh "doesn't understand the math" on charter reimbursement
if we're going to be serious about the achievement gap, we have to be serious about the opportunity gap
"accountability system is a numerical game"
McKenna: now have an administration that isn't for early childhood education, for charter schools
"so what are we doing about it?"
"we are not teaching our kids in school about the political process and what to do about it"
Ravenelle: "so hard to engage superintendents and school committees in advocacy"
make those phone calls, show up at the state house, send those emails
"we represent the majority in the state"
"I don't think we need to wait for the 17-24 year olds...what are we doing in OUR roles?"
Q: either be politically involved or be politically extinct
McKenna: "I think it's really important for school committees to be involved...they're elected, they represent their communities...have to be more involved than they have been"

Q: two operational budgets, one for "non-academic"
Boone: challenge notion of other services, agree with "how are we telling the story of how this being done"
"too much of a belief and playing to those who vote versus those...(represent those) in the entire city, whether they vote or not"
"don't want to further disenfrancise" those in poverty
"challenges don't just live in places in those zip codes"
parallel with crack epidemic, which put people in jail, with opioid epidemic, which pushes treatment
"make sure that all really DOES mean all"

Q: can't talk about poverty without talking about race
Boone: really great to have the dialogues on race, "but my question is what are we going to do about it when the talking is over?"
"have to have the will" to move things

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