Finding Science And Art In Phoenix Schools

Many, many programs are available to students throughout all Phoenix Public Schools districts. Sensing the constant need for improvements, and to keep up with national and global standards, Phoenix Schools are meeting these demands head on. For example, some Phoenix Schools have implemented innovative Science, Art, and IB (International Baccalaureate) programs.

InnoWorks, a new science program available to underprivileged Phoenix Schools middle-school students, was implemented in February 2007 by Grace Hsieh, a junior at the University of Arizona. Hsieh was looking to start a peer mentor and tutoring program when she came across a website detailing the program InnoWorks, which had its beginnings at Duke University.

Phoenix Schools middle-schoolers take part in a free science camp organized and run entirely by UA undergraduates. Twenty-four students from six Phoenix Schools were selected for the camp. InnoWorks’ leaders hope that by exposing underprivileged Phoenix Schools students to college campuses and science research, more students will be inspired to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Immediately it was easy to recognize what a great program it was, in its philosophy and vision,” Hsieh said.

Hsieh has gathered about $20,000 in donations to fund the program, recruited about 20 fellow students to work as mentors, and sought out campers by calling Phoenix Schools counselors and teachers.

Explorer Middle School recently received the Mayor’s School of Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts Education. Integrating arts into their academic classes is one thing that makes this member of the Phoenix Schools unique.

Principal Marianne Bursi believes that the appreciation of art relates to all fields of study.

“We find students learn more by doing,” said Bursi. “The brain remembers more with visuals rather than just looking at plain old text. The [students] discover [they have] many hidden talents because art is incorporated into all their academics.”

Each quarter, seventh-graders are encouraged to take chorus, visual arts, world languages and applied technology courses. Once they are in eighth grade, these Phoenix Schools children can then choose which they prefer for the year

Phoenix Schools are beginning to offer children in Grades K-10 an opportunity to learn via the International Baccalaureate program. This is a teaching model used around the world that pushes students to become proficient in at least two languages, think critically and learn from a global perspective by studying other cultures.

Mesa Public Schools could soon become the first school district in Phoenix Schools, and one of only a handful nationwide, to offer an IB program to students from kindergarten through the end of high school.

Gregg Good, is the IB coordinator for one Phoenix Schools high school which began offering the program last year. Administrators are still determining the best way to test young Phoenix Schools elementary students in a “culturally neutral” way to decide which children will participate in the rigorous IB program for the 2007-2008 school year.


Fairfax, Va Schools Offer Summer Programs

Ever wonder what to do with your Fairfax County Schools student over the summer? Are you reluctant to place your elementary student in daycare or let your middle or high school student “just hang out”? The summer programs at Fairfax, VA Schools may be for you! Studies suggest that students can lose the knowledge they have gained during the school year over the summer holidays. No matter how academically successful kids are, most of them choose entertainments such as arcades, beaches, lakes, or water parks, being with friends, or going to the movies over learning activities.

However, this is not always what Fairfax, VA Schools parents want for their kids over the summer. While it’s extremely important for kids to enjoy some downtime from the school year’s more rigorous schedule, there’s no reason that some learning can’t be thrown into a child’s summer plans.

For some Fairfax, VA Schools students, summer school is a necessity. While all kids can be successful in school, there are those students who struggle. For them, attending a summer school class in the subject area they struggle with the most is a must, and may even be required by some schools. Kids who are in danger of be retained in their current grade level may actually avoid retention by attending summer school. Fairfax, VA Schools students who are below grade level and need the extra boost that a general education summer school class can give, have the option to attend school for free in Fairfax, VA Schools. In this school zone, students who wish, need, or are required to go to a general education class in summer school pay no tuition, and may qualify for transportation depending on the program or location of the Fairfax, VA Schools offering the class.

For other Fairfax, VA Schools students, enrichment camps are the way to go. Keeping a student busy is important during the months of summer vacation. What better way to challenge them and give them the opportunity to learn something they are interested in which may not be offered during the regular Fairfax, VA Schools school year than going to a Fairfax, VA Schools summer school? Let’s face it, most, if not all kids are eager to go back to school in the fall. While they have been missing their friends and the social opportunities that school offers, they are most likely, although secretly, also missing the mental stimulation that school provides. They might not even know that’s what they miss about school, but they miss it all the same. Kids thrive on routine – they feel secure knowing what’s going to happen on any given day, and school provides that for them. Attending summer school at one of the Fairfax, VA Schools, whether for general education or for enrichment, is a smart way to meet this need for any child. Programs offered in Fairfax, VA Schools cover all grade levels, K-12.

Empowering Parents In The Oklahoma City Schools

Parents in the Oklahoma City Schools face similar challenge to parents around the nation. Preparing children for high stakes testing, trying to balance home and work, and preparing students for independence in a global economy are not small tasks for parents or teachers. What the children of Oklahoma City Schools have in their favor is a local community that is unusually supportive of public education. In 2001 residents voted in an historic bond initiate that used future taxes to provide new and renovated school buildings for all Oklahoma City Schools. Such a wide margin of public support is sadly unusual.

But give the community involvement the parents of Oklahoma City Public Schools really seem interested in what they can do to give their own children, and local schools, the best chance possible. As a former teacher and parent of school-age learners, here’s my advice on the three critical steps parents can take for their children’s success.

  1. Read Together

Reading is the single most important skill for students in the Oklahoma City Schools. Until the third grade your child is learning how to read. But after that, he or she will be reading to learn. In essence, the success in every other subject depends on the ability to read. Yes- it is that important that you and your child set aside 15 minutes a day for reading. It doesn’t matter who does the reading, it matters that it happens.

The Oklahoma City Schools have a great library system. If you’re not a reader by nature ask the librarian at your Oklahoma City Schools’ librarian for family read-aloud recommendations. There are books that you will enjoy reading to your child. And hey- turn off the TV on school days. Is it more important that you child is successful in school or that she learns the critiquing techniques of Simon Cowell?

   2. Keep Showing Up

The Oklahoma City Schools are generally very encouraging of parents and others who want to volunteer in the schools. The biggest challenge for parents is usually finding the time. But again, a large measure of your child’s success in the Oklahoma City Schools will be your amount of involvement. This may take some creativity if you work a job or two outside the home, or are a single parent. Some Oklahoma City Schools have elementary packets that they send home with parents to help assemble, cut, or color. The key is to let your children know what you’re doing, and to deliver it to the teacher so you have more face to face time. Or just stop by and have lunch with your child.

    3. Support Your Child’s Teacher

The teachers of Oklahoma City Schools need parental support. Involvement, encouragement, volunteers, and backup with getting homework done….Your child’s age will factor into the ways you can support the teachers and Oklahoma City Schools. But the end result is the same. It will help your child to succeed.

Diversity In Chicago Schools

On the last day of the 2006-2007 Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts announced a decision that will inevitably stir up diversity issues within schools across the nation, and the Chicago Schools. It will most certainly change the way most school systems, including those within the Chicago Schools, run their magnet programs. And it will affect how they decide which students to steer towards, and to accept into, each program.

The decision decried racial balancing in schools where race is used for magnet programs. Many of the magnets within the Chicago Schools use race as a factor in accepting students into their programs. There is one group of magnets in the Chicago Schools that selects students based completely on racially weighted lotteries. The students’ applications are sorted according to race, and then drawn in lotteries. This is meant to achieve racial diversity. Acceptance into other magnet programs is based on grades, test scores, academic achievement, and extracurricular involvement. Race is used as a minimal determining factor.

Some administrators in the Chicago Schools fear that this threatens the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education; the decision in which segregation based on color was denounced.

Patrick Rock, the attorney for Chicago Schools, stated that the decision will only affect Chicago Schools if and when a federal justice agrees to release them from a desegregation consent decree which dates all the way back to 1980. He stated that at some point in the future the Chicago Schools may ask to have the decree dissolved but states ”‘the question is when”. Rock also said that the Supreme Court ruling only affects how the Chicago Schools run their programs after the decree is dissolved. That may not be until the fall of 2008. This is when the application process will begin for the 2009 school year. In the meantime Chicago Schools’ magnets will continue to use the same criteria for admittance into the programs.

Administrators say that Chicago Schools use race as a determining factor to keep schools racially diverse. Not as a means to segregation. The Supreme Court ruling does not disallow the Chicago Schools from using race. It simply states that a valid and compelling reason must be given for doing so. In the Chicago Schools these reasons often include ensuring racial diversity in the many areas where it doesn’t exist.

Rock doesn’t feel that the Chicago Schools will eliminate magnet programs in order to avoid litigation, however, there are those on the Supreme Court who feel that many school systems nationwide may begin to dissolve their magnet programs to avoid litigation and its ensuing costs. The Chicago Schools may choose to use race as a way to determine where to build schools to ensure this diversity, how to fund schools in certain areas, and which programs to steer students towards- based more on their talents and achievements and not solely to fill a certain percentage of racial mix.

Detroit Schools In Motor City – Heading For Disaster

Ah, Detroit. While the smell of rubber and welding may no longer emanate through the air in this city of automotive manufacturing, the schools are still working to keep production up; the production of well-educated, successful members of society. In the last decade, Detroit Public Schools have lost more than 60,000 students. While much of this loss has been due to the city’s steadily declining population and shrinking birthrates, leaders of Detroit Schools also say that this is attributable to poaching from charter schools and neighboring public school systems.

Detroit Schools aren’t going down without a fight, however. They are teaming up with community organizations, parent groups and its unions in an aggressive effort to recruit and retain students. The declining student enrollment at Detroit Schools may also force the district to operate on a lower budget, and will most definitely cause cuts in per pupil funding.

School systems like Detroit Schools must adapt or die. We live in an ever-changing world, and this change must be carefully implemented in our schools; both in order to keep up with trends in education, and to ensure that students are well-educated and ready to enter the adult world of work. When a city like Detroit is losing population as well as facing a shrinking birthrate, it struggles for survival just as a fish does on the deck of a boat. Hopefully, Detroit Schools will not flounder around, but face their problems head-on with a well-thought out plan on how to turn things around.

One way that the Detroit Schools can affect this change is to offer unique programs of study to its students. Gone are the days when Detroit Schools children studied only the three Rs, Home Economics and Physical Education. Colleges and universities are demanding better-prepared students, and employers want new-hires to already possess some of the skills needed for the job. Magnet schools are an excellent way for Detroit Schools to offer these kinds of programs.

A Detroit Schools magnet program offers students the chance to work through school while concentrating on areas they are interested in. Montessori magnets are popular, as well as Performing Arts and Foreign Language. Students who are Gifted & Talented can attend magnet programs that cater to their needs. Students with exceptionalities can go to a magnet school that will address the physical as well as the educational needs they possess.

Detroit Schools offer several magnet schools, of which many are unique. Among these world-class programs are the Foreign Language Immersion and Cultural Studies School, Michigan’s only public school of its kind; Davis Aerospace, one of few college prep high schools in the country where students can obtain a pilot’s license; the Detroit School of the Arts, a multiple award winning performing arts high school; and Crockett Technical High School, a digital technology high school.

Desperate Times For Some California Schools

A large part of the country’s education systems have long looked to California Schools to demonstrate what works in education. While many California Public Schools are indeed exemplary, there are also many that are struggling. In 1999, the state of California decided that it needed to take a closer look at these struggling schools, and that these California Schools needed help to overcome their problems.

The California Schools in question shared one common characteristic – a relatively high level of student poverty. Many but not all of them have high percentages of students who were English learners and/or Hispanic, a statistic that has been correlated with student poverty. Most have very small populations of white students.

These troubled California Schools tended to be larger than average and were much more likely to be on a multitrack, year-round calendar. This type of school calendar allows the school in question to serve a greater number of students by being open all 12 months of the year; with some California Schools teachers and classes sharing rooms with those who are off on a break.

In terms of staffing, these California Schools had a much higher proportion of teachers not fully credentialed and were also more likely to have a high percentage of first- and second-year teachers.

Principals of the California Schools in question were surveyed to determine the differences in the challenges faced by their particular schools. School district officials were also able to provide more information.

California has operated its school accountability system for nine years now and the average API (Academic Performance Index) scores for all schools have risen. Elementary schools have shown the most progress. However, as a whole, elementary level California Schools have faced greater challenges than their middle- and high-school counterparts.

On average, they had either similar or more challenging proportions of English learners
and students living in poverty. School sizes are modestly large and the proportion of fully credentialed teachers is somewhat lower than middle- and high-school teachers working in California Schools.

Conversely, California Schools in the middle and high school levels have consistently shown less improvement than elementary schools. From a statistical perspective, secondary California Schools often face different challenges than elementary schools do in attempting to meet their API growth targets.

Middle Schools have not had the full benefit of the state’s investment in K–12 education since the mid-to-late 1990s, however. From an instructional perspective, the state has put more focus on improving achievement in the earliest grades, most likely with the belief that if a student’s academic success can be improved upon at an early age, they will continue to be successful throughout their school careers.

While there many changes that need to be made to improve the quality of California Schools, it is indeed heartening to see that the state’s board of education is up to the challenge of helping schools make the improvements needed to produce successful and vital members of tomorrow’s society.

Desegregation In San Jose Schools

You know that racial gap that’s getting so much attention? Well, I’m thrilled that it’s on the minds of politicians, because it’s a problem. Unfortunately, it’s a problem with some pretty deep roots. In 1971, San Jose Public Schools had a dilemma. It seemed to parents that the schools were knowingly and purposely segregating students. Hispanics were the group most targeted in this segregation. So some parents filed a class action suit with the intention of forcing the district to remedy the situation.

San Jose Schools began to address and remedy the problem. For 18 years – from 1985 when the Federal Court Order was settled, to 2003 when they were able to demonstrate that they had complied with it, the district has implemented the changes required by the court order.

A large urban school district, San Jose Schools serve approximately 32,000 students. San Jose Schools are located fifty miles south of San Francisco, in the heart of the Silicon Valley. This is a geographic area of over fifty square miles. The eleventh largest urban school district in California, it has thirty-one elementary schools, seven middle schools, and seven high schools.

The student population is:

31% Anglo,

49% Hispanic,

13% Asian,

3% Black,

4% other.

From 1985 to 2003, San Jose Schools followed the plan to desegregate all of its schools in accordance with a Federal Court Order signed on behalf of the Hispanic student population. The decision is based primarily on making school choices available in the San Jose Schools. School choice is another hot topic. Frankly, I think that choice pushes all schools to improve. But not everyone aggress.

The court order was modified in 1998 to allow elementary age students to attend their neighborhood schools. As a result of the Federal Court Order, the San Jose School offers parents and students a wide variety of middle and high school program and school choices.

In 1971, when segregation of schools in San Jose Schools was examined, San Jose Schools were the only schools in California to have been found guilty of intentional discrimination. The Court Order consisted of two main goals: 1) to minimize racial isolation by allowing parents to choose their schools; and, 2) to enhance academic achievement of all Latino students.

In 2003, San Jose Schools were found to be in compliance with the order, and were released for Federal Court Oversight. The decision is of historical and national significance, as San Jose Schools are one of the only districts approaching agreement in partnership with plaintiffs rather than through contentious litigation.

But here we are in 2007, and all the desegregation effort find San Jose Schools, and the nations, still struggling with a racial achievement gap. Perhaps the answer doesn’t lie in is desegregation. Perhaps it lies in the quality of each school.