NEWBURGH – With graduation only a few days away, Mount Saint Mary College seniors were recognized for their dedication to academics and the campus community.
More than two dozen deserving senior students received awards earlier this month.
Senior class president Jake Kosack of Hopewell Junction, N.Y. was the recipient of the MSMC Award, presented to a graduating senior who has held high academic standing, manifested loyalty to the college, and represents the students of Mount Saint Mary College.
Angelique Suarez of Jersey City, N.J. was the recipient of the Thomas J. Conlon Memorial Award.
Jessica Free of Hewitt, N.J. was the recipient of the Father Michael J. Gilleece Memorial Award.
Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges award recipients were Steven Tobey of Stratford, Conn. and Venezia Verdi of Medford, N.Y.
Bridget McKeever of Middletown, N.Y. and Verdi received awards for Outstanding Service to the Class of 2018.
Senior Class Awards for Service and Involvement recipients were Meghan Atwood of Rockaway Park, N.Y.; Nicole Cavallo of Hopewell Junction, N.Y.; Rachel Collymore of New Hampton, N.Y.; Janae Graham of Orange, Conn.; Shantelle Lord of New Windsor, N.Y.; Samantha McGregor of Highland Mills, N.Y.; Brittany Moore of Walkill, N.Y.; Geoffrey Quist of Montrose, N.Y.; Maria Rivera of Bronx, N.Y.; Alexa Walsh of Rock Tavern, N.Y.; and Danielle Zaleski of Walden, N.Y.
Senior Class Awards for Outstanding Leadership recipients were Nicholas Boffoli of Hopewell Junction, N.Y.; Jeffrey Hamrlicek of Bayport, N.Y.; Ashley Lane of Levittown, N.Y.; Dylan Legg of Hayes Falls, N.Y.; Caleb Oliver of Jamaica, N.Y.; Jessica Rini of Bethpage, N.Y.; Hope Schaumburg of Goshen, N.Y.; Heidy Taza of Hempstead, N.Y.; Tobey; Megan Torpey of Oakland, N.J.; and Guy Zoutis of Walden, N.Y.
Mount Saint Mary College celebrated its 55th annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19, featuring keynote speaker Robert Dyson, chairman and CEO of The Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation.
The New School has launched the Digital Equity Laboratory, a project-based center that identifies and supports strategies to transform how technology is understood and used to drive racial, gender and economic equity and disrupt the use of technology to produce and reproduce inequity in our social, economic and civic life. It will focus on cross-sector strategies to expand broadband access to communities, particularly low-income communities of color, that have been systematically excluded, marginalized and targeted by many technology systems; ensure that smart-city innovations benefit those communities; and understand the equity implications of big data, algorithms and new edge technologies. The DEL will be housed at The New School’s Milano School.
“Technology is neutral, but people are not,” Maya Wiley, founder and co-director of the DEL, and Greta Byrum, co-director of the DEL, said in a statement. “With the fast pace of technological change to our job markets, how we communicate with one another and the data produced and collected about us, and how it is used, technology has great potential to drive social benefits democratically or deliver social, economic and civic devastation for some. We no longer have a digital divide. We have a technological chasm. The laboratory will provide a space for people of diverse disciplines to collaboratively develop approaches and strategies to protect democracy; increase the economic, social and civic health of our communities, particularly low-income communities of color; and support innovation that disrupts inequality, rather than reproducing it.”
The Every Student Succeeds Act is supposed to bring about a big change in school improvement. The law says states and districts can use any kind of interventions they want in low-performing schools, as long as they have evidence to back them up.
But the provision has some experts worried. They’re concerned that there just aren’t enough strategies with a big research base behind them for schools to choose from. These experts also worried that district officials may not have the capacity or expertise to figure out which interventions will actually work.
Districts, they’ve said, may end up doing the same things they have before, and may end up getting the same results.
“My guess is, you’ll see a lot of people doing the things they were already doing,” said Terra Wallin, who worked as a career staffer at the federal Education Department on school turnaround issues and is now a consultant with Education First, a policy organization that is working with states on ESSA implementation. “You’ll see a lot of providers approaching schools or districts to say, ‘Look, we meet the evidence standard,'” Wallin said…
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Alondra Alvarez lives about five minutes from her high school on Detroit’s southwest side but she drives there instead of walking because her mother fears for her safety. Once the 18-year-old enters the building, her surroundings take on a more secure feel almost immediately as she passes through a bank of closely monitored metal detectors.
“My mom has never been comfortable with me walking to school. My mom is really scared of street thugs,” said Alvarez, who attends Western International.
As schools around the U.S. look for ways to impose tougher security measures in the wake of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead, they don’t have to look further than urban districts such as Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York that installed metal detectors and other security in the 1980s and 1990s to combat gang and drug violence.
Security experts believe these measures have made urban districts less prone to mass shootings, which have mostly occurred in suburban and rural districts.
Officials in some suburban and rural school districts are now considering detectors as they rethink their security plans after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz allegedly brought in a duffel bag containing an assault rifle and opened fire. He’s charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.
The massacre has galvanized thousands of students around the country who walked out of their classrooms for 17 minutes — one for each Parkland victim — on March 14 to protest gun violence.
“I think urban schools are eons ahead. They’ve been dealing with violence a lot longer than suburban schools,” said Philip Smith, president of the National African American Gun Association.
During the mid-1980s, Detroit was one of the first districts in the nation to put permanent, walk-through metal detectors in high schools and middle schools. New York schools also had them in some buildings.
By 1992, metal detectors had been installed in a few dozen Chicago high schools. And in 1993, under pressure to make schools safer, Los Angeles’ district announced that it would randomly search students with metal detectors.
Such measures “are designed to identify and hopefully deter anybody from bringing a weapon to school, but metal detectors alone portray an illusion of being safe,” said Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the 50,000-student Detroit Public Schools Community District.
“Our schools need to be safer than they are,” Vitti said. “As a nation, we need to fully fund and make sure all districts can adequately staff school resource officers and also offer mental health and first-aid training to all educators.”
Security measures don’t always keep guns off school grounds. A 17-year-old high school senior was killed and another student wounded March 7 in a Birmingham, Alabama, classroom shooting. Metal detectors at the school were not in use that day. A 17-year-old student has been charged with manslaughter.
Two students were shot and three people suffered other injuries in February when a gun in a backpack accidentally fired inside a Los Angeles Unified School District middle school. The district does random metal-detector wand searches daily in middle schools and high schools. A 12-year-old girl has been charged with being a minor in possession of a firearm and having a weapon on school grounds.
In response to the Parkland shooting, Florida’s governor has said he wants to spend $500 million to increase law enforcement and mental health counselors at schools, to make buildings more secure with metal detectors and to create an anonymous tip line.
A package of legislation passed by the New York state Senate includes provisions for metal detectors and improved security technology in schools. A parent in Knox County, Kentucky, has said his law office would donate $25,000 for metal detectors in schools there.
Alvarez, the student at Detroit’s Western International, said she and others who attend the school go through metal detectors every morning. Her elementary and middle schools also had metal detectors.
“I’ve always seen it as something that made me feel safe,” she said, adding that all schools should have them and not just inner-city ones “so students don’t feel discriminated against.”
Metal detectors are seen as a symptom of a “stigma that already exists,” said Mark Fancher, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan’s Racial Justice Project.
“There is a presumption that urban schools — particularly those with students of color — are violent places and security demands you have procedures in place that are intended to protect the safety of the students,” Fancher said.
But metal detectors, property searches, security guards and police in schools create conditions similar to those found in prisons, he said.
“Students, themselves, internalize these things,” Fancher said. “If you create a school that looks like a prison, the people who go there will pretty much decide that’s what is expected of them.”
Many urban districts have a greater awareness and sensitivity when it comes to students’ needs, said Kenneth Trump, president of the Cleveland-based National School Safety and Security Services, a K-12 security consulting firm.
“I think in urban schools, the approach of most of the educators, administrators and security personnel is, ‘We realize there are issues kids bring to school,’” said Trump, who has been in the school safety field for more than 30 years. “The people will tell you, ‘We are not in denial … we acknowledge our problems. We just don’t have enough resources to deal with it.’”
Suburban and rural administrators, parents and students often view themselves as different from their big-city counterparts, and that may impact how they treat school security, he said.
“There’s very often that divide of ‘There’s us and there’s them. We’re not the urban district. We are the alternative. We’re the place people go to get away from the urban district,’” he said.
In the wake of yet another mass slaughter of innocent Americans, I am writing to implore my colleagues in both the Congress and our state legislatures to go to CNN’s website and listen carefully to the words of a young American named Cameron Kasky. You can find his declaration of principle and truth on CNN.com.
This 17-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is demonstrating more courage, moral clarity and determination about the danger of unregulated guns in America (and, especially, the danger to us all of high-powered, military grade, semi-automatic weapons) than are many of the women and men with whom I serve.
As most Americans now know, on February 14 (Valentine’s Day), Cameron Kasky, his brother, Holden, and all of the students and teachers at their Parkland, FL, high school were forced to fear for their lives. A deranged person had picked up a lawfully purchased AR-15, took it to the school, and methodically murdered 17 people, injuring another 14.
We also know that, in the era after the Columbine massacre of 1999 (13 dead and 24 injured), mass slaughters with semi-automatic weapons have become a harsh, terrifying and unacceptable reality of American life.
Just as we must redouble our efforts to reduce the violence in places like Chicago and Baltimore, we cannot – and we must not – forget the sense of loss and personal devastation that we felt after Virginia Tech (32 dead). We cannot brush aside the primitive brutality of Binghamton, NY (14 dead), or Aurora, CO (12 dead), or Sandy Hook (the lives of 27 children and teachers methodically destroyed).
We must act. Our national conscience and sense of security and self-worth cannot withstand any more breaking headlines – any more mass killings in San Bernadino, CA (14 killed), Orlando, FL (49 massacred), Las Vegas, NV (58 killed and 546 injured), or Texas (26 killed).
Now, if you think that this partial listing of the butcher’s bill from our failure to adequately regulate semi-automatic weapons of war is incomplete, you are correct. There is insufficient room in this newspaper to adequately remember all of the casualties from the gun violence that our nation has endured.
What should be heartening to us, however, is the determination and clarity that Cameron Kasky and young people across America are expressing in their challenge to their elected representatives, their governors and the President of the United States.
“At the end of the day,” Cameron observed in his CNN interview, “the students at my school felt one shared experience – our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools….”
“Our community just took 17 bullets to the heart,” he continued, “and it feels like the only people who don’t care are the people who are making the laws.”
I must agree.
There is no period of silence, no equivocating delay, no overreaching argument about the constitutional sanctity of our Second Amendment that is adequate to counterman a simple, compelling and unavoidable truth.
Cameron Kasky is speaking truth to power when he declares that, as a nation, we are failing to protect our people from this carnage. Most unforgivable of all, we are failing to protect the lives of our school children.
Every last elected official in America, and every last citizen who voted for us (or failed to vote at all), bears a measure of responsibility for this failure and its bloody toll on human lives. Yet, as Cameron Kasky also acknowledges, we are not all equally culpable.
“The truth,” he observed, “is that the politicians on both sides of the aisle are to blame. The Republicans, generally speaking, take large donations from the NRA and are therefore beholden to their cruel agenda. And the Democrats lack the organization and the votes to do anything about it.”
We, who have been elected to serve and protect our Constitution and the American People, can only stand before this challenge, acknowledge our failures and seek to reclaim our honor.
As a first honest step, we can acknowledge that before the federal assault weapons ban expired, it did not stop all killings, but it did significantly reduce the carnage. We who serve in the Congress have the power, right now, to renew those protections.
The proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2018 [H.R. 5087], sponsored by my colleague, Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, now has more than 173 co-sponsors. Senator Diane Feinstein’s companion bill [S.2095] has 29. I, along with all of Maryland’s Democratic Delegation, am fighting for its passage.
However, in proof of Cameron Kasky’s indictment, there are no Republicans in support of these modest, protective measures, only a few Republicans support strengthened background checks, and a Republican House and Senate leadership, beholden to the NRA, is denying us the ability to even have a floor debate and up-or-down vote.
Nevertheless, I am cautiously optimistic that the will of the American People will prevail. A recent Quinnipiac opinion poll found that 67 percent of Americans (including 43 percent of Republicans) now favor an assault weapons ban. Even more encouraging, the young people of our nation (along with many of us who are older) are mobilizing.
This growing movement for greater safety, security and sanity in our national discussion about guns – this March for Our Lives – will be bringing upwards of 500,000 Americans to Washington, DC, on March 24th – with companion marches across the nation, including here in Baltimore. For more information, go to https://marchforourlives.com/ on your Web browser.
Even if you can’t march on the 24th, please remember this. Our Constitution (including its Second Amendment) was not designed to be a collective suicide pact. It was designed to protect the safety, as well as the liberty, of the American People.
Above all else, and whatever political obstacles may be placed in our path, we must protect our nation’s children. Our sacred oaths and honor demand that – and more.
Congressman Elijah Cummings represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.
Public schools in the nation’s capital recently reported that the graduation rate for 2017 was the highest in the school system’s history.
According to school officials, about 73 percent of Washington public schools’ students graduated on time, another record high for a school system that had struggled years ago to graduate even half of its students. The graduation rate marked a four-point rise from the previous year and a 20-point gain from 2011, when just over half of D.C. Public School students graduated within four years.
In response, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser proudly described the school system as the “fastest improving urban school district in the country.
“These graduation rates are a reminder that when we have high expectations for our young people and we back up those expectations with robust programs and resources, our students can and will achieve at high levels,” Bowser said in a statement.
But it was all false. A report by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education shows more than one of every three diplomas awarded to students were not earned. The report found that 937 out of 2,758 graduates of D.C. public schools did not meet the minimum attendance requirements needed for graduation. Teachers even admit to falsely marking students present.
Washington is the latest of a series of public school systems found guilty of widespread cheating. Similar cheating was found in public schools in Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago, Memphis, Los Angeles, Columbus, Ohio, and Atlanta.
The perpetrators in these scandals weren’t the students but the administrators and teachers. Both have admitted to falsifying records on standardized tests, graduation requirements and student grades.
In response, some teachers have been fired and stripped of their licenses to teach again. In other places like Atlanta, teachers and administrators have gone to jail. In Washington, D.C., Antwan Wilson, District of Columbia schools chancellor, resigned Feb. 20 after it was revealed he used his position to get his daughter into a preferred school.
The real culprit in these cheating scandals, according to education experts and teachers, is the increased — and some say unfair — pressure on education officials from the government to meet a certain level of student performance. If they don’t meet the mandated standards, school systems could lose funding, and with less money to pay for staff and supplies some people could lose their jobs.
President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 and former President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top created an “accountability system,” education experts said, linking student performance to Title I funding, which are federal grants given to schools with a high percentage of low-income students.
No Child Left Behindwas the first law requiring federally-mandated tests to measure student performance. Prior to the law, states and cities used achievement tests to measure what students were learning to decide how effective their instruction was and what changes they might make.
Harvard professor Dan Koretz, author of the book The Teaching Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better, said cheating by teachers — in many cases sanctioned or encouraged by administrators — is fueled by the misuse of standardized tests to measure school performance which has pressured teachers to raise scores beyond what is reasonable.
“Some cheat and, ironically, all of these shortcuts undermine the usefulness of tests for their intended purpose—monitoring what kids know,” Koretz said.
Koretz and other education experts believe standardized tests can be a useful measure of students’ knowledge, when used correctly.
A survey by the Washington Teacher’s Union and EmpowerED echoes Koretz’s assertion that teachers feel pressure to cheat. The survey found that almost 60 percent of teachers said that they’ve felt pressure or coercion from superiors to pass undeserving students.
“There has been strenuous pressure to hit specific targets regardless of student performance or attendance,” an anonymous D.C. public school teacher said on the survey.
Another teacher said, “Administrators, parents, and teachers just want good grades so the school system and the student look accomplished on paper.”
A study conducted by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization, showed that over 45 percent of Black students nationwide attend these low-income or high poverty public schools. Meanwhile, only 8 percent of White students attend these same schools.
Education expert Morgan Polikoff, a professor of education at the University of Southern California, said the result is that cheating is found primarily among majority-Black schools, which lack the educational tools and support they need in order to adequately serve their students.
“There are teachers who’ve felt pressure because they don’t feel that they have the capacity or support to achieve expectations through realistic measures,” Polikoff said.
Koretz said the cheating underscores the fallacy of rewarding and punishing schools based on standardized tests.
The answer “is to reduce the pressure to meet arbitrary targets,” he said. “Another is to routinely monitor how schools are reaching their targets. Yet another is to broaden the focus of accountability in schools to create a more reasonable mix of incentives.”
One thing we’ll keep stressing again and again this week: how far federal policy has moved since the days of the No Child Left Behind Act (ESSA’s predecessor). Read on.
So, what kinds of goals are states setting?
Some states chose fixed goals that aim for all students, and all subgroups of vulnerable students, such as those qualifying for subsidized school lunches or English-language learners, to reach the same target (such as 80 percent proficiency). What’s nice about this kind of goal is that it sets the same endpoint, making it easier to see over time how achievement gaps are expected to close. States in this category include: Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Mississippi, (grades 3-8 only), Ohio, Minnesota, New York, Rhode island, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
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WAVE NEWSPAPERS — It was several years ago that Lubna Hindi realized the impact she and Step Up — a nonprofit that empowers young girls in under-resourced communities –– were having on the kids they served.
Hindi was a ninth grade instructor for the organization at the time, and the first class she ever taught was now wearing their caps and gowns, excitedly awaiting to discover what the future might hold for them.
The salutatorian got up, walked to the stage and in his speech to family, friends, peers and instructors, he talked about the memories he created at his school, and he talked about Step Up. He said that his female peers in the program taught him about feminism and what it means to be a man. When he was done and the valedictorian, who was going to Columbia University, stepped up to the stage, she opened up about what Step Up meant to her.
“It was one of those moments that made me realize that Step Up actually works and that the curriculum is making an impact,” said Hindi, the nonprofit’s manager of external relations and individual giving.
Founded in 1998, Step Up came into fruition after Kaye Kramer found out her mother was suffering from breast cancer. Kramer started looking for a support system and in that search, she invited 30 of her female friends and colleagues to her home. And it was there, in her living room, that Kramer found the sense of community she was seeking that would come to be known as Step Up.
“We create brave and safe spaces for girls to thrive in,” Hindi said of the after-school programs in the nonprofit’s partnering high schools. The curriculum, she said, focuses on not only the social and emotional growth of girls from ninth to 12th grade in underrepresented communities, but also on empowering them to be confident and college-bound.
Since its first office opened in Los Angeles, Step Up has become a nationally recognized organization with offices in New York, Chicago, Dallas and more, and its programs are found in dozens of high schools throughout the country.
Once or twice a week, trained Step Up instructors provide two-hour after-school sessions to high school girls in dozens of schools all over the country.
The sessions follow the organization’s youth development and grade-specific curriculums. The ninth and 10th grade confidence curriculums, for example, focus on identity, relationships, voice, visions, action and expression.
The 11th graders center more on college readiness and career exploration with the Pathways to Professions program. Those in it get the chance to participate in the Bay Area College Tour, which, as Hindi said, is about giving college-bound girls the opportunity to see themselves in university spaces so they understand that they deserve to be there.
As for high school seniors, also known as the Young Luminaries, their curriculum includes monthly Saturday group mentoring where they get help with college applications, career preparation and are set up with summer internships.
Step Up currently has about 700 girls enrolled in its L.A. chapter in schools from Huntington Park to South L.A., and Hindi hopes to see the numbers grow locally and nationally.
“In five years, we hope to see [Step Up] in more cities and in every major market,” she said. “In 10 years, we want to be a nationally recognized organization … where people see Step Up’s value and understand the work we do.”
CEO/president: Jenni Luke
Years in operation: 20
Number of employees: 14 in L.A.; 50 nationally
Annual budget: $1 million in L.A.; $4 million nationally
Carmen Fariña, the chancellor of New York City Schools, announced Thursday that she would be resigning in 2018, leaving behind a school system fundamentally changed from where it stood when her tenure began four years ago.
Fariña, 74, plans to leave her job as head of the 1.1 million-student school system, the largest in the country, prior to the end of the school year.
“I took the job with a firm belief in excellence for every student, in the dignity and joyfulness of the teaching profession, and in the importance of trusting relationships where collaboration is the driving force,” Fariña wrote in a letter to staff Thursday. “These are the beliefs that I have built over five decades as a New York City educator, and they have been at the heart of the work we have done together for the past four years.”
A nationwide search for her successor is already underway, with plans to hire a successor within months, said Mayor Bill de Blasio. Under state law, the city’s mayor controls the schools.
Who de Blasio has in mind for his next chancellor isn’t yet clear, but school leadership experts say the job requires a hard-to-find combination of someone with credibility as an educator and the acumen to navigate the rough-and-tumble politics of New York City…
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NEWBURGH – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Friday visited Newburgh Free Academy to announce her bipartisan legislation, 21st Century Strengthening Hands On Programs that Cultivate Learning Approaches for Successful Students Act. This bill would direct federal funding to high-tech training and education programs in high schools and institutions of higher education, which would give more students the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to get good-paying jobs in the high-tech manufacturing sector. U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN) is a cosponsor of this bill.
Technologies like 3D printers, laser cutters, and computerized machine tools are transforming American manufacturing and increasing the need for specialized training for manufacturing jobs. To prepare our students with the skills needed for high-tech jobs, this legislation would amend the Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act to give greater priority to funding for maker education, makerspaces, and training for teachers in the application of maker education.
“Many manufacturing companies in our state have job openings with good salaries, but they can’t fill them because too many workers haven’t had the opportunity to learn the skills they need to take on those jobs. We need to fix this,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to make sure tech-ed classes are teaching students how to use the latest high-tech tools, like 3D printers, that manufacturing companies expect them to know how to use. Our students should be able to take many different paths in order to get a good job and earn a good salary, and this bill would help equip more students with the skills they need to get on a path toward good-paying high-tech jobs when they graduate high school.”
“We appreciate the support of Senator Gillibrand in promoting legislation that will give students access to new and emerging technologies as they prepare to become the workforce of tomorrow,” said Johnnieanne Hansen, Director of Workforce Development and Apprenticeship Coordinator for the Council of Industry. “Career and Technical Education provides a clear path to rewarding and lucrative careers in the advanced manufacturing sector. More and more students, parents and professional educators are recognizing this fact and this legislation will help make CTE available to more students. It is also a wonderful complement our association’s efforts to encourage people to pursue careers in manufacturing such as GoMakeIt.org and Apprenticeships.”
This investment in vocational education would give more students the technical skills needed for good-paying jobs, providing hands-on learning experiences for students to use high-tech industrial tools to create and innovate. This approach to technical education will offer more opportunities to inspire the next generation of manufacturing workers and entrepreneurs.
This bill, as well as a broader reauthorization of federal CTE programs, will help promote to career and technical education to set more students up for success by preparing them for the jobs of the future.