Higher Education News
Parents and families are a child’s first teachers, supporters, coaches, cheerleaders, tutors, confidantes, conspirators and advocates. They are the experts about their children and the authors of what they want for their future.
When it comes to school, however, families are sometimes left out of the discussion regarding the needs of their children in receiving the best education possible. Many parents can list examples of changes in their school that they didn’t know were coming or a policy that impacted them in a way no one considered before implementation. That’s why the Department of Education recently created the Family Ambassador. This new position acknowledges the important voice of parents in the development and implementation of education policy.
I’m proud and excited to serve as the inaugural Family Ambassador. I’m the mother of four active children and began my involvement with schools as a parent when my oldest entered kindergarten 13 years ago. I started out visiting her school for parent-teacher conferences and school information nights. Through the PTA, I became more involved and found my voice as an engaged parent in our large school system.
As a mother, a former teacher and an education advocate, I firmly believe that parents and family members raising children have the right and the responsibility to be engaged in their child’s education, to be supportive and informed, to ask questions and provide constructive input. It’s through partnering and building relationships between people who care for and educate children that we will be successful in ensuring there is equity, rigor, and thoughtfulness applied to an education that will prepare children for an enriching and productive future as they enter college or begin a career.
In the role of Family Ambassador, it’s my responsibility to present the voice of families in national discussions on education with respect and thought to the diversity of their needs. To inform my input, I need to hear from parents and families about their experiences, particularly those that are marginalized or, in general, simply less represented: our parents of color, non-English speakers and lower income families who often least have a voice. I’ll be working to increase families’ awareness around educational issues, with an eye to emphasizing the importance of early and ongoing literacy development and closing the achievement gap. There are numerous organizations and experts in the field and I anticipate collaborating with them, as well, to improve the efforts and knowledge about family engagement.
I invite fellow parents and families to join me in conversations and initiatives about education. I want to hear about issues important to families. Stay connected by signing up for the Parent Newsletter and reading our Homeroom blog. Stay tuned and keep an eye for opportunities to give voice to your concerns. Meet with me when I get a chance to come to your city or when we have an event in D.C. I can’t wait to talk to you!
Have a great school year!
Frances Frost is the U.S. Department of Education’s first Family Ambassador.
The post Hearing the Voice of Families: Meet ED’s First Family Ambassador appeared first on ED.gov Blog.
“Merhaba!” “Salaam! “¡Buenos días!” In my eleven years as a public school principal, greeting my students at the door as they start their school day is one of my greatest joys. It also serves an important purpose – setting a welcoming, warm environment in which each student is known and valued. In serving a range of English learners over the years, I have learned to keep five essential values at the core as I partner with teachers and parents to support our whole student body.
First, bilingualism is a gift and an asset. Helping students maintain their native language is crucial for helping them to develop their identity. We always encourage parents to support their children’s native language development, helping our students engage in complex discourse at home, while celebrating the linguistic assets our students bring to school each day.
Students who are English learners are English learners all day. The goal of identifying the needs of English learners is to allow them to fully access all of the academic offerings in our schools. Therefore, developing students’ speaking, reading, writing, listening, and academic language cannot be the sole responsibility of a language instruction teacher. All teachers need to integrate language development into their instruction and scaffolds that support students English language proficiency, bilingualism, and their application across content areas.
Language immersion programs are marvelous opportunities to both develop students’ native language literacy skills, boost academic achievement, and allow solely English-language speakers to become bilingual. Especially in communities with one dominant common language, such as Spanish, language immersion from the earliest grades can eliminate achievement gaps before the start.
English learner students who are dually- identified with specials needs, as well as those who have yet to be identified, require specific supports. Using culturally relevant assessment tools helps us tease out possible special needs from language development needs. Being proactive, particularly at the elementary level, requires that we are intentional and targeted in the kinds of scaffolds and explicit teaching we do. Using quality ESL data sources to observe trends and patterns to inform school-wide practices is an important administrative responsibility.
Above all, all students must have access all day to rigorous, rich, engaging learning opportunities that leverage their assets and interests. When our students and their families form strong relationships with the educators and know they will be challenged and developed to their fullest potential – regardless of their level of fluency in English – we can foster a path of academic and future success.
My job as a principal is to intentionally create and sustain positive, caring communities in which all my students and their families are welcomed and feel valued. When students feel safe, respected, and included – which is especially important for my English learner students – then we are all able to achieve maximum success.
The post Celebrating our Students’ Assets and Intentionally Targeting their Needs appeared first on ED.gov Blog.
During Keiji Ishida’s vacation last year in Japan, the 17-year-old Los Angeles teen observed an overwhelming number of subway commuters tethered to their cell phones, texting and playing games. “People were quiet — muted,” he noted, “and that just isn’t right.” Not, he continued, in a country alive with so much beauty and expression.
This discomfort sparked Keiji’s creative streak, evident in his painting, “Addiction,” now displayed in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Education (Department) headquarters, along with 57 other 2016 Scholastic Gold Medal winners in 2- and 3-D art.
Since the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards’ inception in 1923, it has become the nation’s best- known recognition program for teen artists and writers, and their largest source of scholarships. About 250 people attended the Department’s 13th annual celebration of the winners and the opening of the exhibit. Present were 2016 honorees, their teachers and families, art educators and leaders, and Department staff.
Keiji’s painting — splashes of vivid colors covered with black outlines — creates abstract hands holding cell phones.
This year, the Scholastic judges selected 2,500 medalists in grades seven through 12 from almost 320,000 submissions across 29 artistic categories. Past winners include Ken Burns, Truman Capote, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Kay Walkingstick and Andy Warhol.
“We see lots of beautiful work that celebrates nature and family, and plays with language in a joyful way,” Virginia McEnerney, executive director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, told the audience. “But we also see work that is challenging and probing, that contemplates the mysteries of the universe, worries about the future of the planet, and about race relations, and aging and health care.”
The honored works convey myriad themes, from love, death and identity to politics, peace and technology.
Eighteen-year-old Jane Demarest built a six-foot cardboard couch to which she glued tampons and sanitary pads. The New York City artist entitled her sculpture “Comfort,” which she recognizes may be counter to some public reaction to her work, a photograph of which is on exhibit. With her art, Jane spearheaded a drive to collect women’s hygienic products for the homeless.
In 14-year-old Leo Wall’s drawing, two beat-up tractors sit on either side of a dilapidated truck abandoned in a rolling, verdant landscape. The Richmond, Texas, artist based his work on a photo of a similar real-life scene, which he loved because, within the stunning setting, “something so ordinary could be so beautiful.”
Behind each winner lies “hidden forces,” explained Deborah B. Reeve, executive director of the National Art Education Association. “What we don’t see is the early awakening of human potential — their very first marks made at the hands of their first teachers — parents,” she said. Nor do we see “… the evolution of human potential as it matures under the influence of excellent art educators,” or “… the whole child … and how their … world view … is shaped in part by the artistic processes …”
Aline Dolinh, one of the 2013 National Student Poets, won a Scholastic Gold Medal this year for “Romance Disguised as Portent of Doom,” which the University of Virginia freshman read to the audience. It begins “I fall in love the same way//deer break open on asphalt//after meet-cutes with minivans. . .”
Jessica Clark received a Golden Educators Residency award from Scholastic. A Native American artist, she documents and celebrates the everyday life of the 60,000 Lumbee people who have been in the same southern area of the U.S. for 10,000 years. Clark described her combined career: “Being a teaching artist, I learn from [my students] all the time … I think [they] respect me more as a teacher when they see I can create along with them. … Students change teaching artists’ work.”
The exhibit will remain at the Department until August 2017; a special collection of Scholastic Regional Award winners from New York City will be displayed through October 2016. Books containing works by award-winning writers accompany the exhibit.
Nancy Paulu is an editor and writer in the Office of Communications and Outreach (OCO) at the U.S. Department of Education. Amanda Cary, an OCO intern, contributed to the blog.
All Department photos are by Tony Hitchcock. More photos from the event may be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/128781046@N08/albums/72157670860377733
The Department’s Student Art Exhibit Program provides students and teachers an opportunity to display creative work from the classroom in a highly public space that honors their work as an effective path to learning and knowledge for all. To visit the exhibits or for information about exhibiting, contact Jackye Zimmermann at email@example.com/.
The post Communicating Visions of the Current World: 2016 Scholastic Art & Writing Award Winners Honored appeared first on ED.gov Blog.