The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) 2018 National Leadership Awards Reception provided what one might expect when California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green, and South Carolina’s Jim Clyburn make up one-third of the recipients.
“We are here to recognize our brothers and sisters who are truly national leaders and who stand for freedom, justice and equality not when its popular, but when it’s not so popular to be freedom fighters,” said NNPA President/CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
In her typical fiery but still eloquent way, Waters spoke passionately about she and other Democrats’ mission to impeach President Donald Trump—though, like all of the recipients, she never mentioned the president by name only referring to him as ‘Number 45.’
“My friend Jesse Jackson said if you fight, you can win. If you don’t fight, you will never know if you can win,” said Waters, who also took time to heap praise upon NNPA National Chairman Dorothy R. Leavell, the publisher of the Crusader newspapers in Gary, Indiana and Chicago.
For those who insist that Vice President Mike Pence might turn out as a worse Commander in Chief than Trump, Waters scoffed: “I say knock off the first, and go after the second,” she said, as the sold-out crowd inside the grand ballroom of the Marriott Marquis roared its approval of her fiery award acceptance speech.
Green, the veteran civil rights advocate who’s serving his seventh term in Congress, picked up where Waters left off. “I promise that I have not given up on impeachment,” Green said. “We have a president who is not only unfit for the presidency, but a man who is unfit for any office in the United States of America.”
Clyburn, who arrived in Congress in 1993 and is the third-ranking Democrat, followed his colleagues and helped to drive home their impeachment argument. “I learned early what it means to challenge the system. I learned from my dad what it means to have the power of the almighty vote,” Clyburn said. “If the [midterm] election goes the way it seems like it is, you will have the best years of your lives going forward.”
Waters, Green and Clyburn were among the nine national leaders and activists honored by the NNPA on Friday, Sept. 14. A trade organization representing America’s more than 220 African American-owned newspapers—with more than 22 million weekly subscribers, the NNPA began the Leadership Awards in 2014. The awards honor individuals who are national leaders in their specific fields and whose actions have helped to improve the quality of life for African Americans and others.
The producers of the NNPA Leadership Awards Reception decided that the best time to host such an awards reception would be during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference, a weeklong event that’s held each September.
The CBC ALC week is the largest annual gathering of its kind in the United States, featuring 15,000 to 20,000 African American leaders and influencers.
The underlying combined objective of the CBC ALC and the NNPA National Leadership Awards Reception is to network, collaborate and strategize collectively for the advancement and empowerment of Black America.
Counted among the sponsors and supporters of the NNPA Leadership Awards Reception were General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Pfizer Rare Disease, RAI Reynolds, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, AT&T, Southwest Airlines, Northrop Grumman, Volkswagen, Wells Fargo, AARP, Aetna, Koch Industries, Comcast, Ascension Health, Comcast, and Compassion & Choices.
Awardees included National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes, Capstone Development Founder Norman K. Jenkins, E-Commerce Leader Arsha Jones, Dr. Wally Smith, Television Personality Kellee Edwards and legendary poll worker Laura Wooten.
At 97, Wooten is the longest continuously serving poll worker in America. Immediately upon graduating from Princeton High School in 1939, Wooten was recruited to work the polls by her great uncle, Anderson Mitnaul, who was running for Justice of the Peace. More than seven decades later, Wooten is still working the polls and her 79-year streak remains intact.
“Voting is important,” Wooten told the audience who saluted her with a prolonged standing ovation. “We need to engage young people to get out to vote. I hope we can do better this year. On November 6, get out and vote,” she said.
Maybe it’s because my son has now reached my own height (which is insane). I find myself staring now and then at the doorway out of my kitchen, where all these little height marks on the doorjamb are labeled with a name and a date. I can see that year when he sprouted up a ton in the four months between his birthday and the start of the school year. And – almost too much to bear—I can see how tall he was at age 15 months.
There are some things from back then that I can’t see on the doorjamb. I can’t see just when he first spoke in full sentences, or when he first spent the night in big boy underpants. But those sure mattered a lot for how we adapted our parenting focus, while they were happening.
How do we measure these milestones, and what kinds of growth do we capture? It’s a critical question in early literacy, too.
Early Literacy in the MAP Suite
We designed our MAP Suite of assessments in early literacy to handle a parallel reality, around measuring what matters in these developmental years. You can see this reality reflected in the nature of reading standards. In most state standards, there are some “anchor” reading standards that span the entire K–12 space, that build upon each other as kids progress in facets of reading comprehension and vocabulary. Measuring those works on a continuous scale – like a doorjamb.
In the MAP Suite, the doorjamb is our RIT scale, continuous from K through 12 in Reading. The tool that makes those height marks is MAP Growth. Even before kids can read independently, they are making progress we can measure on these standards. When a teacher reads a story aloud to her students, she is still asking them to start comparing characters or noticing cause and effect relationships. With MAP Growth K-2, audio support lets us assess reading comprehension even before kids can decode words and sentences.
But state reading standards also include those shorter-lived standards, often called Foundational Skills. These include pieces that are, well, foundational while they matter, but then disappear altogether from the standards by late elementary grades.
“There are so many active-duty military families today who are making decisions about how they advance within the military, or where they are going to live… based on educational opportunities for their children,” Secretary DeVos recently said in a conversation with Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation. “I think we have the opportunity to change the dynamic for them.”
Maddie Shick is from one such family – and, despite being a bright student, she faces challenges that accompany a military-connected lifestyle. A self-proclaimed “professional new girl,” Maddie is now a sophomore at Robinson High School in Tampa, Florida.
Her formal education began in Georgia, but she’s learned across the country and around the world – even moving to Germany, where her father was deployed, for a year.
She’s attended a dozen different schools since preschool – and some of them have provided her with strong opportunities to learn and grow. As a middle school student in Columbus, Georgia, Maddie joined the drama club and performed in West Side Story. The school taught an International Baccalaureate curriculum.
The following year, the family moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, where Maddie had the opportunity to cross-country ski at school. She also joined the wrestling team – and she fell in love with the sport. “Girls can wrestle, too,” Maddie said.
But in Fairbanks, Maddie had to put her love of acting on hold: the school didn’t offer drama, and her family couldn’t find an active children’s theater group in the area.
And when the family next moved to Tampa, Florida, Maddie had to abandon her love of wrestling, too: when she switched schools within the district, she was disqualified from wrestling with her new team.
Maddie took advantage of the opportunity to explore new activities as she moved from school to school – but that also meant giving up ones that she’d once loved.
“There’s good and bad to all these schools,” Maddie said, “But the really bad part is that I don’t ever get to stay long enough to benefit from any one type of school.”
Military-connected students are often required to compromise – on top of the traditional pressures of maintaining good grades, preparing for tests, working, volunteering, and planning for life beyond high school.
Maddie with her family.
“Moving and starting over every two years makes all these pressures worse,” Maddie said. “Now, imagine you have to focus on all these things at three different schools, in three different states, in a four year period. It’s tough.”
Military-connected families deserve the opportunity to attend schools that work for them. They deserve – as the Secretary said – the flexibility to “customize their child’s education.”
That’s why the Secretary has called on all of America to fundamentally rethink school, including asking questions that were once considered “non-negotiable” or too difficult to answer. For example, students like Maddie are often required to fall in line with the pace of a new school – even if she’s ahead of her classmates.
“I was in gifted education for most of elementary school, but when we moved to Alaska I did not qualify for their program,” said Maddie. “Now, I don’t want to even try for gifted programs because I am tired of repeating all the testing every two years and most of the gifted programs are limited anyway.”
Military-connected students and all students should have options – perhaps attending a traditional public school for some classes, and attending an online or charter school for others. Rethinking school means that students, like Maddie, to whom “learning comes easy,” can advance quickly in subject areas that interest them.
“We do live an adventure,” Maddie said. “But some parts are really hard. School is one of them.”
Maddie deserves high-quality opportunities. She deserves the freedom to pursue subjects that interest and challenge her, in an environment that meets her needs.
All students, including those in military-connected families, should be free to learn, grow and thrive.
Note: This is a post in our #RethinkSchool series. The series features innovative schools and stories from students, parents and educators highlighting efforts across the United States to rethink school. Check back on Thursdays for new posts in the series. The #RethinkSchool series presents examples of approaches schools, educators, families and others are using to rethink school in their individual and unique circumstances.Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. The Department of Education does not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.
After years of being blamed for the problems in schools, teachers are now being held up as victims of a broken system. How did the pendulum swing so quickly?
For years, teachers continually heard the message that they were the root of problems in schools. But in a matter of months, the public narrative has shifted: The nation is increasingly concerned about teachers’ low salaries and challenging working conditions.
Teachers, it seems, are no longer bad actors ruining schools—they’re victims of an unfair system, and the only hope for saving kids.
Before, “there seemed to be a lot of teacher blaming going on,” said David Labaree, a professor emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. “You now see a surprising degree of growing sympathy for teachers.”
The first years in a classroom are some of the most exciting and memorable in a teacher’s career—as well as the most challenging.
CEA invites new teachers to gather insights and advice at our annual conference for early-career educators. Participants may choose from 10 timely workshops to help hone their skills—from creating a culturally responsive classroom to managing behavior and acing their evaluation.
The half-day conference is free and includes continental breakfast and lunch.
The much anticipated opening of Charleston Accelerated Academy became a reality September 4 as approximately 120 students embarked on a course toward a diploma and high school graduation. Charleston Accelerated Academy is a unique S.C. Public Charter School helping young adults overcome real-life challenges to earn their district or state-issued high school diploma. The school opened at the Septima Clark Academy site, 1929 Grimball Rd, on James Island in Charleston. Ribbon-cutting and open house ceremonies were held September 5.
The school serves students ages 16-21 through non-traditional approaches that incorporate web-based curriculum and technology, individualized learning plans, hands-on life and career coaching and flexible hours and scheduling. Charleston Accelerated Academy (CAA) is unique in many ways, but most importantly, it offers educational opportunities which previously have not been provided through ‘outside the box’ approaches to instruction for young adults. Its mission is to provide a comprehensive education to at-risk students which leads to students’ attainment of a diploma, acceptance to college or pursuit of a career, and culminates in each student having a positive impact in their community.
To accomplish that mission CAA provides what research shows students need to be successful: engaging courses, technologically advanced educational tools, personalized curriculum, and regular interaction with caring adults. CAA offers the tools needed to help students overcome personal barriers to attendance and engagement that include services which allow graduate candidates the flexibility to work from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, individualized learning plans which are tailored for each graduate candidate’s individual schedule and focus on the next step with hands-on life & career coaching.
Realizing that no one-size-fits-all, CAA offers a variety of supports to help graduate candidates find the path that’s best for them whether that is college, the military or a career. Highly qualified paraprofessionals and certified teachers work with candidates in small groups or in one-on-one settings creating opportunities to develop substantial relationships. The facility is staffed with two vans that will allow candidates to schedule transportation to and from its James Island site. And public bus passes are offered that can help candidates not only get to school, but also to work or other areas around the community.
Food services are available. CAA is partnered with the school district to provide food services daily. CAA understands that many of our candidates are caretakers to families of their own and allows candidates to bring their children to the site. CAA does not take custodianship of the children, and at all times, the parent is the guardian of their child, however this allows candidates flexibility in their scheduling.
As importantly, CAA has connections with local businesses and services to help candidates including churches and faith-based organizations, Trident Technical College and area Chamber of Commerces – networks that support candidates beyond the facility. CAA is Acceleration Academies’ first location in South Carolina, and the seventh location nationwide. Over 4,500 high school-aged students in Charleston County are currently not enrolled in traditional high schools due to a variety of factors such as needing to work to support themselves or their families, a lack of transportation or resources, or family caretaker obligations.
“The Academy’s goal is to make Charleston County a no-dropout community,” said Tom Ducker, Charleston Acceleration Academy Board Member. “CAA’s uniquely personalized and engaging education model is designed to provide the social, emotional and academic supports needed to re-engage high-risk and at-risk youth with their education and set them on the path towards graduation, careers and college,” said Charleston County School Supt. Dr. Gerrita Postlewait.
CAA board Chair Nadine Deif added, “We encourage businesses, community/church leaders, law enforcement and parents to encourage students to seek our help. Our job is to help the youth become high school graduates and find a career path that’s right for them. The individuality of each student is respected and encouraged.”
The Connecticut Education Association today released its first-ever Legislator Report Card that evaluates legislative candidates’ overall support for issues important to students, teachers, and public education. CEA’s new report card recognizes legislators who are committed to giving students more opportunities for success and are working hard to improve public education and the teaching profession in Connecticut.
The report card evaluates legislators’ voting records, as well as their advocacy and efforts to advance CEA priorities over the past two-year legislative cycle. These priorities include funding public education, preserving collective bargaining, enhancing the teaching profession, protecting the pension system, keeping schools safe, upholding teacher certification standards, and supporting sound education policy.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to public education and teachers’ rights, many legislators took actions in the wrong direction and earned less-than-stellar grades,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “This new report card system is transparent and holds candidates accountable. It informs our members of the candidates’ positions on key issues and highlights those who want to help our students and teachers, and those who are doing harm to them.”
“In the aftermath of teacher demonstrations across the country, there has been a renewed interest in the political process and its direct effect on public education, students, and teachers,” said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams. “Our members are becoming more active—they are using their voice and their vote to make sure the concerns of teachers and students are heard.”
The candidates for all 187 Connecticut General Assembly seats as well as legislators running for another office, receive a grade based on a number of factors. For incumbents seeking reelection, the report card is based on the following:
Voting record on bills that advance or hurt CEA education priorities, and support for students, local schools, and teacher rights
Co-sponsorship of bills critical to advancing CEA’s identified legislative priorities
Advocacy on behalf of or against CEA positions in public hearings, on the chamber floor, in the press, and among peers in the legislative environment
Responsiveness to requests to meet with CEA members and staff
For all candidates, including those without a state legislative history, answers to candidate questionnaires and interview results were included in the report card.
Additionally, significant emphasis is placed on a candidate’s actions involving the rights of teachers to have a voice in the education of their students, the working and learning conditions of their school, and the ability to bargain for fair wages and benefits.
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL 24th District) has a mission – pull young Black boys out of the school-to-prison pipeline. She hopes her 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project is the ticket to providing diplomas and degrees instead of prison sentences.
Wilson had big help pushing her project during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest, D.C.
The Rev. Al Sharpton was on the panel, as well as actor and activist Erika Alexander, “America To Me” director Steve James, Dr. Cedric Alexander, national president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and George Ray III, current contestant on the “Grand Hustle” series on BET Networks.
The Excellence project started in Miami-Dade County when Wilson saw the young men her community rushed into the prison system, working in the drug trade or dropping out of school.
On a national level there were 1,506,800 people in prison at the end of 2016, according to the Department of Justice. There were 487,300 Black prisoners, or 41.3 percent. This is in comparison to 39 percent White prisoners.
When it comes to school drop outs, the number of Black boys who drop out between the ages of 16-24 has dropped nationally to 6.2 percent. But that number is still higher that the national average and White students’ 6.1 percent and 5.2 percent respectively, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
In 1993, when Wilson started her program, it almost immediately caught national attention. Several sitting presidents and vice-presidents, including Barack Obama have supported the project. The initiative provides leadership and mentoring to young Black boys during a critical time in their lives.
The panel dissected many of the issues that impact a child’s trajectory to the school to prison system. Dr. Alexander spoke about police officers using more discretion and thinking of the larger community when arresting people.
“The law is what the law is,” Dr. Alexander said, who heads up the National Organization of Black law Enforcement Executives. “But what we can ask them [police officers] to do is use some judgement. Do you really want to hurt someone over an infraction? We as police officers have to have discretion.”
“I think what we are beginning to see as we’re training officers to have better relationships, we find some, not all, but some are mindful of the fact that there is a larger community watching you.”
Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III, who is mayor of Miami Gardens, Florida, said citizens need to be mindful of how much they want police involved with their students at schools.
“We can’t over police our schools,” Gilbert said. “We can’t use police at schools as conduct supervisors. Understand if you ask a police officer to come to our schools and they witness a crime that kid is going to jail.”
Gilbert further cautioned, “We have to be careful of the part we are playing in this narrative.”
For George Ray, III who currently stars on “The Grand Hustle” series, Congresswoman Wilson intervened at the right time in his life. “She’s my fairy godmother,” Ray said to the packed crowd. The business professor spoke of facing 15 years in prison at 15 years old. The congresswoman happened upon his life and “instead of peddling drugs I had someone peddling hope.”
“She took me everywhere with her, she kept me so busy I couldn’t get in trouble if I tried,” Ray said of his relationship with Wilson.
Currently, the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project services 105 schools within Miami-Dade County Public Schools (37 Elementary, 35 Middle/K-8, and 33 Senior High), according to the organization.
According to new research, one-third of community college students enrolled in remedial coursework don’t even need them.
The Community College Research Center (CCRC) and social policy researcher MDRC recently released a research guide, “Toward Better College Course Placement,” revealing standard placement tests, such as the College Board’s ACCUPLACER, are actually “misdirecting” student placements.
This is important to note as a disparate number of African American students are placed in remedial courses. A 2016 report by the American Center for Progress placed the rate at 56 percent of African American students versus 35 percent of Whites. Another report, by inewsource/Hechinger Report, shows African American students are five times as likely to end up in the lowest level of remedial English coursework.
Under-placement creates additional barriers for students who are now required to pay for coursework with no credit. A 2016 report by the Education Reform Now showed that remedial coursework cost first-year students and their families nearly $1.5 billion a year in out-of-pocket expenses — expenses that don’t go towards their degrees.
In addition, many students never make it out of the remedial pipeline, having to take up to four non-credit-earning courses before putting a dent in their college requirements.
To address such under-placements, the CCRC and MDRC launched the pilot Multiple Measures Assessment (MMA) project in the fall of 2016, exploring alternative assessment options to determine whether students have been “misdirected” to remedial reading, math and English coursework. Their research guide follows the project’s partnership with 10 Minnesota and Wisconsin community colleges to design and pilot the new placement systems.
“Developmental education requires student time and expense, it may discourage some potential college students.”
By the summer of 2017, the organizations found that, while 60 percent of students are required to take developmental (remedial) education courses, one in three could be considered for traditional courses if testing is combined with other assessment tools, such as ACT Engage or the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory.
“There is strong empirical evidence that high school grade point average (GPA) is one of the best predictors of college success,” the researchers wrote. The report also noted that, while not as strong a predictor, non-cognitive measures, such as attendance, participation and problem-solving skills, should also be considered as influences.
“Improving placement testing by integrating a multiple measures approach seeks to place students at a level at which they can succeed without diverting them into unnecessary courses that delay or even derail their progress,” said Gordon L. Berlin, MDRC president.
The guide notes the project’s goal is to redirect students who could fare well. “Students who need developmental education to succeed in college-level courses should be placed into developmental courses,” wrote researchers.
The report also acknowledges “practitioners may be hesitant to change their current practices, skeptical about the measures used, or unsure where to start.” It outlines several recommendations and examples to encourage college administrators to consider alternative placement options.
“Because developmental education requires student time and expense, it may discourage some potential college students. It is important to ensure that those who could succeed in college-level courses get the opportunity to take them upon entry into college,” concluded the report. “The use of an MMA placement strategy should increase the chances that students will be optimally placed, which should then increase their chances of future success.”
Minnesota is already on-board to adapt new changes. The state legislature passed legislation in 2017 requiring the Minnesota State Board of Trustees (MSBT) to reform developmental education offerings at system campuses. The MSBT is required to implement system-wide multiple measures placement guidelines by the start of the 2020- 2021 academic year.
Some changes have already been implemented, including updates to the ACCUPLACER exam to provide a weighted score that could potentially boost student scores just below the college-level cut score along with ACCUPLACER exam waivers for students whose ACT, SAT, or Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) scores demonstrate college readiness.
The project’s next phase is to conduct a “randomized controlled trial of multiple measures assessment in five of the pilot colleges” to determine coursework completion rates of students moved to college-level courses. The MMA project is also now exploring new placement assessments at colleges within the State University of New York system.
CHICAGO – New research published in the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) peer-reviewed online journal, School Library Research (SLR), reports the findings of two case studies focused on student reading motivation. SLR promotes and publishes high-quality original research concerning the management, implementation and evaluation of school library programs. Articles can be accessed for free at www.ala.org/aasl/slr.
Natalie Hoyle Ross, a library media center director at Spring Brook Elementary School, focused her research on school librarians’ perceived value of one children’s choice award––the Bluestem Award––and its effect on school librarians’ promotions and student behavior in the school library. To conduct her research, Ross completed a qualitative collective case study and single case study and collected data from site visits, questionnaires, book availability, book circulation and voting ballots.
Ross shares her findings in “Sparking Reading Motivation with the Bluestem: School Librarians’ Role with a Children’s Choice Award.” Results suggest that school librarians’ perceived value of the Bluestem was essential for their promotion of the award. When school librarians purchased multiple copies of Bluestem Award books and promotional material and combined these items with increased personal interaction with learners, reading motivation increased.
School Library Research (ISSN: 2165-1019) is the successor to School Library Media Research (ISSN: 1523-4320) and School Library Media Quarterly Online. The journal is peer-reviewed, indexed by H. W. Wilson’s Library Literature and by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology and continues to welcome manuscripts that focus on high-quality original research concerning the management, implementation and evaluation of school library programs.
The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.