Education Week - July 8, 2015 - (Page 23)

The 'Power' of Adversity important adjustments, thanks to a provision in our union contract, known as the "school-level living contract." Our first step for engaging parents was to develop messages tied directly to their individual concerns. Most of our parents are working people who cannot be home between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. They are acutely aware of how student experiences in city schools differ from those in better-resourced suburban schools. Recognizing this, we sold the concept of extended school time by focusing on how the longer days would provide extra time for tutoring and the arts, to improve the overall student-learning experience, while also keeping kids in a safe place during the late-afternoon hours. We delivered that message through a monthly coffee and conversation hour, and in every meeting with individual parents. We also shared information through bilingual newsletters, which included contact information for school representatives who could respond to questions. And we encouraged those who liked the plan to share their enthusiasm with other parents. There was no real end point to this process. These conversations are taking place to this day, as we report on benefits that include higher test scores, lower levels of truancy, and greater student engagement. * Tap community organizations to fill the gaps-and hold them accountable. Our effort to add learning time without increasing teacher and staff workloads depends on community organizations that bring their staff members and resources into our schools. These relationships differ from most "partnerships" with groups that typically volunteer to support students: The organizations involved are contractually bound. All of our cooperating organizations had to work hand in hand with the participating schools to respond to requests for proposals detailing these outside groups' offerings and formal plans for the partnerships. Both geography and student needs played a role in this process. For example, almost all of the students who attend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School, the city's largest bilingual elementary school, live in poverty and have a high need for both academic support and safe places to be during the afternoon " Isn't it well worth educators' time and effort to bring more and better learning time to the lives of their students?" PAGE 24 > BOLGEN VARGAS is the Rochester, N.Y., superintendent of schools. SANDRA A. PARKER is the recently retired president and CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance. Would any of us with privilege think of providing an intensive, comprehensive education and care program for our children for two years, then neglect them for 10 years, and eventually expect them to be just fine at the end of the dozen-year period? The answer is that it would never occur to us to try this in the first place. Why do we think it will work for other people's kids, but not ours? Without the services and supports that enable young people to come to school ready to learn, poor children are a lot less likely to be successful. We know this. It's in the data. Yet, we persist in convenient, strategic illusions. For example, we school reformers insist that all we need to do to improve children's learning is strengthen schools in performing their traditional instructional roles. Of course, school reform, strengthening teaching and learning, is necessary, but it will not be sufficient-as 22 years of education reform in Massachusetts (and elsewhere) has shown- in closing deep, persistent achievement gaps associated with poverty. While we have made some admirable progress, we are moving way too slowly to achieve our original school reform goal of "all means all"-all children ready for success. And even if optimized schools alone were the answer, they wouldn't be enough, as typical schools consume only about 20 percent of a child's waking hours between kindergarten and high school graduation. This leaves the remaining 80 percent of their lives, in which the reality is vastly unequal access to support and learning opportunities. This access mat- ters. We know this from research that regularly documents "summer learning loss" for those who are deprived of constructive, stimulating summer activity. Year after year, the effects add up. And this cumulative process starts in early childhood. To close persistent gaps, a comprehensive system of child and youth development and education will be needed. All children will need social capital and basic health and mental-health support. All children will need early-childhood education and access to afterschool and summer-enrichment activities. All children will need consistent support and guidance as they face the challenges of learning in school, succeeding in college, and finding meaningful, remunerative work. Schools, as currently constituted, are not set up to do all this work, but those of us who enjoy privilege know that this is what it takes for our children to succeed. So if we are determined to see all children succeed, we will have to build systems of support and enrichment that allow all our children to thrive. It won't be easy or cheap, but if we want a thriving economy and an informed citizenry, we have no choice but to invent 21st-century systems of education and child development that finish the job of preparing all our children to be successful. n PAUL REVILLE is the Francis Keppel professor of practice of policy and administration at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also leads the Education Redesign Lab, an initiative designed to re-envision 21st-century education. He is a former Massachusetts secretary of education. We reached out on social media and searched the Web to find inspiring high school commencement addresses delivered to the class of 2015. Excerpts of those speeches reflect the accomplishments and tenacity of students in the face of extraordinary circumstances. " If Hadiya's friends and family could survive their heartbreak and pain, if they could found organizations to honor her unfulfilled dreams, if they could inspire folks across this country to wear orange to protest gun violence, then I know you all can live your life with the same determination and joy that Hadiya lived her life." Michelle Obama - In Chicago, the first lady addressed the King College Prep High School's graduating class, acknowledging its late classmate Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honor student who was killed in 2013, just days after marching in President Barack Obama's second inaugural parade. " I share with you my story to show you the power that adversity can add to your life. Although labeled as a Hispanic, first-generation, underprivileged kid from a Title I district, I knew that I could work through the barriers separating me from the person I wanted to be. I'm here today because I was never meant to be here, and I refuse to accept that." Paul Serrato - The valedictorian at Apalachee High School in Winder, Ga., will attend Stanford University in the fall. " I was a pretty normal kid. But overnight, my life and my family's lives turned upside down. In the early days, I couldn't walk. I couldn't move a single muscle in my body. I couldn't talk. I couldn't chew or swallow my own food." Simon Sun - After being diagnosed with leukemia and later suffering brain damage from complications of chemotherapy, Simon graduated with a 4.0 GPA from Stoney Creek High School in Rochester, Mich. He will attend Harvard in the fall. " If there's one thing I learned at this school, it's that we can all be friends even if we disagree with each other. So, I have one final request for you: Hug someone." Evan Young - The valedictorian of Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School in Longmont, Colo., delivered an excerpt of his speech on Comedy Central's "The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore," after his high school barred him from giving his original commencement address, in which he planned to announce that he is gay. Education Week's Full Frame blog collected photos of high school graduations from across the country. View the slideshow. grad2015 EDUCATION WEEK | July 8, 2015 | | 23

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - July 8, 2015

Education Week - July 8, 2015
Nev. Moves to Split Clark Co. District
Crazy Quilt of State Responses To Cries of Overtesting
Common Core Trickles Into All States
Advocates Scrutinize Head Start Proposals
Supreme Court To Decide Case On Union Fees
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Ed. School Critic Levine, MIT Partner to Launch Teacher-Prep ‘Lab’
Ariz.’s 20-Year-Old ELL Case May End, But Debate Rages On
Spelling—en Español—Catches On, With Bees in Multiple States
Blogs of the Week
ISTE Conference Examines How Tech Is Reshaping Education
Budgets, Testing Issues Took Legislative Stage
States Struggle With How to Ensure Good Teachers in All Schools
K-12 Issues Fall Within Suite of Recent High Court Rulings
In States, Plenty of Talk But Incremental Action on Early Ed.
Lengthy Floor Debate Looms for U.S. Senate Over ESEA Rewrite
Fresh Entrants in GOP’s Quest For White House
House, Senate Appropriations Bills Would Cut Back Ed. Dept. Funding
What We’ve Learned From a Longer School Day and Year
The Illusion of Closing The Achievement Gap
The ‘Power’ of Adversity
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Scholars: Challenging Racial Injustice Begins With Us

Education Week - July 8, 2015