Monday, February 25, 2013

Harper High School - gangs and violence in US schools

For stories about the most amazing staff, you must visit this high school via This American Life.
This American Life segments are devoted to the violence affecting Harper High School. During the 2011-2012 school years, 29 current and former students were shot. Twenty-one were wounded; eight died.

Guns are rampant in this neighbourhood. It shows how horrible they are with drive by shootings by gangs, and young children who witness death on a regular basis. What has helped in this school are supportive funding, which is about to run out, for special needs schools. Their multi-million dollar budget is about to lose $1.6 million next year, with staff cuts, including these miracle teachers.
Schools who are at risk for violence, social and emotional ills best remedied by social work intervention, supportive staff, breakfast programs, computers, emergency housing and clothing.

"I appreciate you in advance for getting to class on time!" One social worker declares.
I remember using this tactic in my classrooms: "Thank you for putting that into the recycling!" referring to a piece of paper on the floor. They do, surprisingly.

"We are not selling crack. Pull your pants up, nobody wants to see the crack of your butt, baby!" the principal tells one student! They are corrected with boundless love, joy and humour.

Harper High School, a Chicago public school located on the south side, serving the West Englewood neighborhood. The school was founded in 1911, and was named after William Rainey Harper, a noted educator, biblical scholar and university president. Harper serves a primarily African American population of approximately 638 students.
This school isn't the only one. It is indicative of the realities of many inner city schools.
One tweet, from a listener:

 tried, but can't listen anymore. Live this everyday. We don't get turnaround $$, just blame. Buried 6 from my classes 


487: Harper High School, Part One

FEB 15, 2013
We spent five months at Harper High School in Chicago, where last year alone 29 current and recent students were shot. 29. We went to get a sense of what it means to live in the midst of all this gun violence, how teens and adults navigate a world of funerals and Homecoming dances. We found so many incredible and surprising stories, this show is a two-parter; Part One airs this week, Part Two is next week.


488: Harper High School, Part Two

FEB 22, 2013
We pick up where we left off last week in our second hour from Harper High School in Chicago. We find out if a shooting in the neighborhood will derail the school's Homecoming game and dance. We hear the origin story of one of Harper's gangs. And we ask a group of teenagers: where do you get your guns? Harper has set up a donation page here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Finnish Lessons: What Can the Educational World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?

Here is an excellent article:

On February 17, 2013, CBC Radio Sunday Edition host Michael Enright interviewed Pasi Sahlberg, author of Finnish Lessons: What Can the Educational World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? Finland routinely scores in the top three among OECD countries, largely because it has rejected just about every North American shibboleth about how to improve education. Students start school at seven (though most enrol in the voluntary pre-school programs). Schools do not grade, rank, or stream students in the first six years. There is a single standardized test taken at age 16. Students get 75 minutes of recess a day. Schools set their own curricula based on very broad national guidelines. Teachers spend 4 hours a day in the classroom. No tough love, no back to the basics, no two hundred fifty day school years. No school sports teams and jock envy (want to play? Join an after school sports group). Yet somehow, at age fifteen, the kids who take the international standardized tests kick our butts (but neither they nor their schools learn the individual results).

School boards urged to find low-cost options for full-day kindergarten

Kindergarten teachers think this is a creative craft.
They all look the same.
ECE teachers have a different point of view
THIS is 5-year-old art: freestyle, fun
This is exactly why Ontario cannot afford full-day kindergarten. We know that quality day care, with fully qualified Early Childhood Education teachers, trumps full-day kindergarten.

It is less expensive, the teacher/student ratio of 1:8 is far better for young kids.
We cannot be putting vulnerable 3-year-olds in institutions with bells ringing every 40 minutes, and PA announcements, and fire drills, lockdowns, all all the other environmental intrusions that make a long day in a school difficult for a young child.

This is 2-year-old art- just for fun.
They don't teach this at the faculties.
Far better the day care placement, with good teachers who have training in dealing with preschoolers, in a comfortable, homey environment. Many are housed in private homes, small buildings, churches, or buildings designed for the young child in day care.

Classroom teachers, in this litigious society, are carefully warned not to hug kids, not to touch, for fears of accusations of sexual abuse. Is this the environment for little children?

We know that the benefits for the youngsters in already rich environments are far less than for those living in poverty, or at-risk. We know that these kids do well in a homey, comfortable day care with rich programs designed not to force them to read and write early, but to help them with pre-reading skills and pre-numeracy foundations necessary for them to succeed in schools.

School boards urged to find low-cost options for full-day kindergarten

Ontario school boards are struggling to find low-cost options to school additions to accommodate full-day kindergarten, including tinkering with boundaries and busing kids.

While the province has pledged $1.4 billion to renovate and put additions on schools for the full-day program, it’s not nearly enough to cover the needs of every school requiring extra space, so many boards are looking at changing boundaries or busing kids elsewhere.
Some have even considered off-site space to house the program for the province’s 4- and 5-year-olds, which was rolled out in September 2010 and is expected to be fully in place by 2014.
The problem began when the province mandated a 20-student class cap from kindergarten to Grade 3, which took up all the space in his schools, he said. All five schools under review “have little room to expand, and given the funding issues we are facing with the ministry . . . (it) is being very tight with capital funding for full-day kindergarten in year five.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hiring should favour male and minority teachers: Toronto school board memo

Toronto school board's hiring policy favours male and minority teachers
Toronto District School Board memo to staff that included gender and race among qualifications that could win a candidate an interview has outraged some female teachers Read more

“The first round of TDSB interviews will be granted to teachers candidates that meet one or more of the following criteria in addition to being an outstanding teacher: Male, racial minority, French, Music, Aboriginal,” the memo reads.

  • About 22% of elementary teachers and 23 per cent of high-school teachers at the board are visible minorities.
  • A 2007 census: 72% of students are visible minorities.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tips for Parents with Children on the Internet

Tips for Parents with Children on the Internet

1. Place the computer in the family room or other visible area, not in child’s bedroom.
2. Use gender-neutral screen names.
3. Talk to children about Internet safety and participate with them online. If they know more than you, let them teach you. Start when they are young. 
4. Children shouldn’t believe anything said to them over the Net from an unknown source.
5. Tell children they do not have to respond to messages sent to them, whether by e-mail or instant message.
6. Children should never give out personal information, screen names, passwords or credit card information online.
7. Use a good virus detection program.
8. Supervise children’s computer usage. Don’t rely on filtering software to do the work. 
9. Check the history function of your browser to see which websites your children have visited.
10. Know who your children are communicating with online. Get to know their online friends just as you would their other friends. Demand that they share their passwords, and go on-line with them at sites like Facebook.
11. Promote an environment where your children can talk openly with you. 

Where can I get timely information?
Regular bulletins from: NetFamilyNews | Smart Kids Video | LiveWWWires  | NetMom's Internet Safe House |Blog Safety | Safe Kids | Stay Safe Org. for Parents | Business Week: Protecting Your Kids From Cyber-PredatorsWeb Wise Kids | CyberCops |  ]

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