Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Magic of Storytelling

February 1, 2019


‘A To Zoom’ by Leonard C. Duncan-Sells on

November 24, 2018

showcase-001About The Author:  Leonard C. Duncan taught grades 2,3,5,6,7 and 8 as a teacher in Los Angeles for 37 years. As an educator, Mr. Duncan taught many students how to read English and taught his five daughters as well. He added the techniques of phonics to the sight reading method being used at that time, introduced his list of essential words (words that are necessary for reading at any level) and put an emphasis on spelling and grammar to teach children how to read. Today, Mr. Duncan enjoys organizing his materials into new and innovative ways to teach and learn reading. He also enjoys his time with his family and his dog Fritz.

Washington State Works to Meet Needs of its Homeless Students Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal discusses how the state is helping these students graduate.

November 2, 2018

By Casey Leins, Staff writer and producer at U.S. News & World Report

Nov. 2, 2018, at 6:00 a.m

The lack of affordable housing in Washington state continues to critically impact families and children, and it’s led to a record number of homeless students in the state’s public school system.

Wi-Fi Hot Spots Help Homeless

About 1 in every 25 Washington K-12 public school students, or about one child in every classroom, will experience homelessness this year, according to a report released in May by the state’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. In Seattle, that rate jumps to 1 in 13 students.


For these students who are living on the street, in shelters or moving from place to place, completing a homework assignment or studying for a test isn’t usually their most pressing concern, making it difficult for them to excel in school – or even just attend.


“If you don’t have a stable place to live, and you don’t have secure food, the learning is so minor in their priority array,” says Superintendent Chris Reykdal, who was elected in November 2016 and assumed office in early 2017.


Washington’s housing affordability crisis is fueled in part by its large population growth, according to the state’s Affordable Housing Advisory Board. Rents increased 18 percent between 2006 and 2016, while the median income for low-income households remained unchanged.

Chris Reykdal

Chris Reykdal has been Washington’s superintendent of public instruction since January 2017. (OFFICE OF SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION)

Beyond the state’s lack of affordable housing, many other factors contribute to student homelessness, such as family mental health issues and unemployment.

Reykdal says his office and others throughout Washington are working to provide homeless students with the resources to graduate. He spoke with U.S. News & World Report about these efforts and what approaches are successful. The interview has been edited for length and clarity:


What are some efforts your office has implemented to help Washington’s public schools better meet the needs of their homeless students?

What we have tried to do is engage our Legislature over the last couple years to say that there’s some federal money (designated to address student homelessness), there’s some McKinney-Vento (Homeless Assistance Act) dollars given to our state to try to help, but we don’t think that’s enough. And so our state Legislature has put additional state money into programs.


Of course, getting to the root of (student homelessness) has been very challenging because of growing income inequality, family opioid addiction, mental health issues, chronic substance abuse, and then just affordability. It just flat out is a reality that we have a housing supply shortage in our state.


So we’ve focused mostly on transportation as a system that can’t exactly solve the root causes right away, but we’ve tried, for example, regional grant programs. We said, ‘Gosh, the students are homeless and they’re moving or they’re couch surfing, or they’re mobile in communities, but we know the research says that they’re best able to perform in school if they stay in their home district.’ We’ve actually provided transportation dollars to get them to their home district.


(Washington) has identified a homeless coordinator in every one of our 295 school districts. I’d say in the early years, it was all about “who are these students and how do we create a system of accountability for identifying them,” and now we’re onto better solutions like transportation.


Homeless Students Face Additional Struggle

Besides these transportation efforts, are there any other initiatives that have proven to be successful?


I can’t say it’s consistent from one district to another, but we’ve definitely seen success in some of our districts that use what we call a “community in schools” model. So they have either taken money that they have access to from their local school levy, or they’ve received grant dollars from various sources and they’ve created networks of support within their communities.

So they’ve literally brought in dentists who put forward hours for dental care, or they have brought in their local food bank and have created a sort of consistent approach for food, particularly on weekends. So some of these students who are getting two meals a day through their school system are still getting calories over the weekend. This community in schools model is very, very powerful and it works remarkably well. We have this model in our Bellingham area near the Canadian border and down in the Vancouver area near the Oregon border. These are two really good model districts doing that work.


Beyond general funding, what else can be done at the state level?


From a reaction standpoint, we’d like to have more transportation grants, a bigger emphasis again on these community models and certainly health care at a minimum for our homeless youth, and mental health support.


The root cause issues, of course, are much bigger, and I would love to see our state take on a more significant role in trying to figure out housing affordability. The city of Seattle wants to build their way out of this with low-income housing. Other places want to use voucher systems and other models. I don’t necessarily have the right model in my mind, but I know you have to address housing affordability and income inequality if you’re going to address (student homelessness).


Homeless in Seattle

It’s also that we have to be nontraditional in our outcomes for kids, so this sort of 20-year testing obsession doesn’t work for a kid that’s highly mobile and highly food insecure, for example. So one of the other things we’re doing that’s not unique to homeless youth, but I think can help them, is we really are trying to figure out ways where they get credit for prior learning, and they get credit for service and they get credit for work.

And so if you can imagine that there’s an entire skill set that’s actually learned by survival … we want to find a way to give students some kind of credit for that as long as it meets learning outcomes. But that isn’t the standardized test, that is learning by life, and those students should get some credit for that.


Is there anything in the works for this yet?


We have a little bit of stuff already on prior learning credit for sure. Right now our governor has what we call “Career Connect Washington.” We’re trying to figure out graduation pathways for students their junior and senior years that includes getting high school credit and maybe even some college credit, when appropriate, for work. And we’ve got some businesses in our state that are already cranking it up.


Switzerland has the model everyone’s pointing to and trying to figure out for how, if traditional school isn’t the root for every student, can we get them into a workplace setting and then recognize some credit for that. So there’s little pockets of excellence around the state, and we’re sort of building that formal system right now. And the governor will put something forward to our legislature this year to try to bring that to a bigger scale.

California isn’t doing enough to teach kids how to read, lawsuit says

December 30, 2017


Shavalo Wooley, 8, uses 3-D glasses along with magnifying glasses while participating in a new program to improve children’s reading skills by addressing problems with eye movement during the reading process at La Salle Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles in March. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

By Sonali Kohli, Los Angeles Times, December 5, 2017

Too many California children can’t read, and the state doesn’t have an adequate plan to fix the problem, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the advocacy law firm Public Counsel, alleges that the state is not meeting its constitutional responsibility to educate all children.

California lags behind the national average in both reading and writing for fourth- and eighth-graders, according to national education data.

California scores below average on a national reading assessment (U.S. Department of Education)

About five years ago, the state superintendent and state board of education president commissioned a report with suggestions to improve literacy in California. The state has not adopted or implemented an adequate plan based on those suggestions, the lawsuit alleges.

In recent statewide English assessments, fewer than half of California students met the state’s literacy standards for their grade. The lawsuit cites the case of Los Angeles Unified School District’s La Salle Elementary, where fewer than 10 of 179 tested pupils met state English standards this year.

“This is in full view of the state,” said Public Counsel lawyer Mark Rosenbaum. “They haven’t done anything in terms of working with the district or working with the school to address a problem that has …persisted year after year after year.”

The plaintiffs are current and former students and teachers at La Salle Elementary School; Van Buren Elementary School, in Stockton; and the charter school Children of Promise Preparatory Academy, in Inglewood. The lawsuit places the onus of responsibility on the state, rather than the districts, because the problem spans schools throughout California, Rosenbaum said.

David Moch, one of the plaintiffs and a retired teacher who taught at La Salle Elementary for 18 years until 2014, said he sometimes used kindergarten reading tools to help children as high as third and fifth grade. Some of the programs the district instituted did help older students learn to read, he said, but they were not long-term programs.

“We need citizens that can read. We need citizens that can vote,” Moch said. “Once you get behind, if there’s no intervention, there’s no catching up. The level of the work is getting more intense and multiplied at every level.”

The complaint calls for better teacher training and more resources for teachers. It also demands that once students are identified as having difficulty reading, the state help schools to implement “proven methods of literacy instruction,” said Rosenbaum, who filed the lawsuit along with law firm Morrison & Foerster.

The state does not have a current plan in place that assesses each school’s literacy instruction, Rosenbaum said. “There’s no accountability system in place to ensure that literacy is being delivered.”

California Department of Education spokesman Robert Oakes declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said in an email that the state allocates additional funding for high-needs students and makes data available for “school communities” to use in the “targeting of resources.”

The Gap In The G20 Agenda (And Why World Leaders Should Listen To Rihanna)

August 21, 2017


Photograph: Al Pereira/WireImage

Article by Julia Gillard, A Labor party politician, was prime minister of Australia from 2010 to 2013. The Guardian, Education and Opinion, Sunday 2 July 2017

Germany’s goal for the G20 meeting in Hamburg is to make globalisation work for everybody. World leaders will discuss how to achieve sustainable growth in Africa, women’s economic empowerment and how to create more jobs for a rapidly growing youth population. Investment and infrastructure are the buzzwords for the day.

It’s an excellent mission, and one I support wholeheartedly, but there is a serious gap in the agenda, which is investment in education. Without better teaching and outcomes for all children, it is hard to see how the G20’s agenda can be realised.

Such is the learning crisis that, in low-income countries across sub-Saharan Africa, only one in 10 children will gain basic secondary school skills by 2030 – the target year for achievement of the UN-agreed sustainable development goals. The vast majority, nine in 10 children, will barely complete primary school. Even in middle-income countries, home to the largest populations, only half of young people are likely to attain minimum secondary school results by 2030.

At the same time, billions of low-skilled jobs will be lost to automation all over the world, and employers will require significantly higher skills from prospective employees. And in an uncertain world, we also know that educated populations are more resilient and able to recover. Literacy and the ability to seek out and act out on information are critical to rebuilding communities affected by conflict, climate change and natural disaster.

Without increased investment for quality education for all, the G20 agenda is on shaky ground. Economic growth driven by large-scale infrastructure investments without equitable provision of education will leave hundreds of millions of people behind, exacerbating inequality, disillusion and instability.

Yet investment in education aid by key donors is falling. Recent analysis by UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report says educations’s share of global aid has fallen for six years running even though total aid has grown by 24% over the same period and aid is not going to the countries and children most in need. In fact, aid for education in Africa is down substantially.

If G20 leaders are serious about sustainable growth and job creation, and want them to stem migration flows and promote long-term stability, education is an essential investment. But this has to be equitable investment which means ensuring the poorest have the same opportunities to learn as the privileged, girls are promoted to stay in school, and disabled and excluded children are served by a functioning, inclusive education system, for which government is accountable.

A literate, skilled workforce is essential for low-income countries to attract investment and fill jobs with local rather than imported labour. Middle income countries need to attend to the education of their poorest people to build their economies and ensure long term stability. Wealthy countries have an interest in building stable and prosperous partners for a sustainable future.

I do believe this is education’s time, I was delighted that pop music icon Rhianna, who is also the Global Partnership for Educations’ global ambassador, tweeted a number of world leaders at the weekend – calling on them to #Fund Education.

Rhianna’s tweets created quite a storm and community activist organisation Global Citizen will be on the case with a big concert in Hamburg in a few days time, on the eve of the G20 summit. Along with many others including Shakira, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg, I will be on stage – not singing I assure you – but urging donors and developing countries alike to fund education, particularly through the Global Partnership for Education’s replenishment early next year which asks donors for $3.1bn for 2018 to 2020.

Let’s hope the G20 are listening, not only to each other, but to Rhianna and the millions of young people whose skills and talents must be nurtured through a major increase in investment in learning.