Education Week - November 12, 2014 - (Page 23)

Overlooked and in Need: Black Female Students CONTINUED FROM PAGE 21 females than white girls for conduct, including fighting, that defies widely held stereotypes about what is appropriate "feminine" behavior. Schools' overly harsh responses to African-American girls' perceived defiant behavior fail to take into consideration the underlying causes of the conduct at issue, which for some girls include exposure to trauma, violence, abuse, or other toxic stress from living in poverty and being confronted with racism and sexism. For African-American girls who have been victims of violence, trauma, and harassment, behavior considered to be aggressive may simply be a predictable response to victimization and unaddressed mental-health issues. When schools provide these students with trauma-informed services and support-instead of pushing them out of classrooms and schools-these students engage in the classroom and reap the benefits. Harassment and violence in and out of school, even when not connected to discipline, undermine students' educational opportunities. African-American women and girls experience higher rates of sexual violence and intimatepartner violence than white women and girls, report higher rates of sexual harassment at school, and are disproportionately likely to be victims of domestic sex trafficking, all of which have a significant impact. And many African-American women and girls are simply stuck on a school-to-poverty pathway, in which poor educational opportunities result in limited job prospects, concentration in low-wage work, and disproportionate representation among those in poverty. Indeed, according to National Women's Law Center calculations, more than 40 percent of African-American women age 25 or older without a high school diploma were living in poverty in 2013, compared with 9 percent of those who had a bachelor's degree or higher. In contrast, the poverty rate for white women without a high school diploma is 28 percent and 5 percent for white women with a bachelor's degree or higher. But there is good news in the midst of these stark and dress the barriers to educational success facing AfricanAmerican girls, providing a holistic list of recommendations, including: * Create a positive climate for learning. Work to create and maintain safe and respectful environments where students can learn and have the support they need to overcome obstacles. * Reduce unfair and excessive discipline. Provide teachers and other school staff members and administrators with racial- and gender-bias training to root out discriminatory discipline practices and ensure that schools are supporting, not undermining, the academic success of African-American female students. Ensure that school training includes recognizing signs of trauma that may be " It's time to address the educational crisis facing African-American girls." troubling statistics: A survey last year by the Girl Scouts reveals that African-American girls aspire to be leaders more than any other group of girls and are the most likely group of girls to consider themselves as leaders. This finding indicates that when these young women are given the right opportunities, support, and encouragement, they can and will succeed. "Unlocking Opportunity" sounds a call to action to adLETTERS to the EDITOR Negativity Clouds the Conversation About Elevating Status of Teaching To the Editor: A strong workforce of skilled, passionate teachers is critical to ensure our students are prepared for college and careers in today's global economy ("Steep Drops Seen in Teacher-Prep Enrollment Numbers," Oct. 22, 2014). Yet, instead of encouraging our best and brightest to lead our nation's classrooms, we're driving them away through consistent portrayal of the profession as unappreciated and under attack. The negativity surrounding such words as evaluations, tenure, testing, and budgets don't give teacher-trainees like Zachary Branson, who was highlighted in the article, much confidence in their chosen occupation, nor does it entice others to consider teaching as a viable career path. We clearly have a public relations crisis on our hands. According to the article, enrollment in teacher-preparation programs fell by about 10 percent from 2004 to 2012. Initial data from our member institutions show similar movement. Given this troubling trend, we as a nation should be doing everything we can to publicly elevate teaching. The future strength of our education workforce depends on it. With dwindling numbers of strong candidates entering training programs, it's hard to see much light at the end of the tunnel. But we have the power to open the door for those interested in becoming teachers-the federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education, or teach, grants are one example-and to change public perceptions by shifting the narrative. The real question, as Mary Vixie Sandy, the executive director of the California Commission on Teaching Credentials, put it in the article, is: How do we do this? Across political lines and ideologies, I think we can all agree on one thing: Teachers are invaluable. That's what we should be shouting through the airwaves and publishing in our newspapers if we want people to become teachers. There will always be elements of our education system we can improve, but without teachers there will be nothing left to fix. Sharon P. Robinson President and Chief Executive Officer American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Washington, D.C. Is Kindergarten, Not Preschool, Key To 'Reimagining' Early Education? To the Editor: Michael J. Kaufman, Sherelyn R. Kaufman, and Elizabeth C. Nelson, the authors of the Commentary "Reimagining Early-Childhood Education" (Oct. 15, 2014), state that we should regard preschoolers as capable, curious, creative, caring, connected individuals who can naturally develop meaningful relationships from which knowledge and wellbeing are constructed. underlying perceived defiant or disrespectful behavior. * Reduce gender-based bullying, harassment, and violence. Adopt strong anti-harassment policies, and provide students and school personnel with mandatory, ageappropriate, gender-identity-sensitive training on bullying, harassment, and violence; connect victims with counseling and other trauma-informed supports they may need. * Support leadership development among AfricanAmerican girls. Develop programs to promote leadership, including mentoring programs, field trips, and guest speakers; provide training in conflict resolution, healthy communication, and problem-solving skills; create meaningful leadership opportunities for African-American girls. * Collect and report certain key data segmented by race and sex. Without compromising student privacy, compile information on disciplinary referrals (including specific reasons for disciplinary action), on incidents of harassment and violence, and on outcomes for pregnant and parenting students. * Direct philanthropic support for African-American girls and women. Target grant aid to support a range of research projects, advocacy initiatives, and communitybased organizations and services that bolster the success of African-American girls. It's time to address the educational crisis facing AfricanAmerican girls. This will require collaborative and coordinated efforts among a wide range of stakeholders-from policymakers and educators to community members and philanthropists. But the work will be more than worth the effort for schools and, most importantly, for the AfricanAmerican young women they serve. n These statements are also true of virtually every 5-year-old entering kindergarten. Why then the national push for preschool education? A national kindergarten program built on these principles would seem to negate the rush into expensive preschool education. Lawrence Schlack Professor of Educational Leadership (Retired) Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, Mich. Mulling 'Social Constructivism' And Computer-Based Learning To the Editor: For educators and neuroscientists alike, the conventional wisdom seems to be that learning is all about social constructivism. We are very social beings, and we construct our knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes from our actual lived experiences. As we add our new experiences to all of our past experiences, we can say that we are evolving; I am different today because of the experiences that I had yesterday. But it's not just that yesterday's experiences are added to the top of all previous experiences. The constructivist integrates them into the whole person; a new ingredient has been stirred into the stew, and the whole is changed. Thinking itself is wandering around in our own very personal construction, perhaps making adjustments here and there. Many speak of the potential of computers to deliver "personalized learning" ("Taking Stock of Personalized Learning," Education Week Special Report, Oct. 22, 2014). I assume the thinking goes that, if the computer knows what you have constructed of yourself, then it can offer some screen-delivered experiences specifically for you. These futurists imagine that you have been at the computer all along and that it has stored the "big data" on your entire sequence of mouse clicks. Hence, it can deduce your-or the student's-individual strengths, needs, motivations, and goals from which to select the next computer-delivered lesson. I understand why some people hope that technology will deliver on the challenge of personalized learning. But if learning is even remotely like social constructivism, I remain a doubter. To paraphrase Wounded by School author Kirsten Olson, if you want to know what your students are learning, and you tell them that and meet them every morning with your heart ready to break, your students will eventually come to you in ways you can't imagine. George Stranahan Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Manaus Fund Senior Adviser, Valley Settlement Project Carbondale, Colo. COMMENTARY POLICY Education Week takes no editorial positions, but publishes opinion essays and letters from outside contributors in its Commentary section. For information about submitting an essay or letter for review, visit EDUCATION WEEK | November 12, 2014 | | 23 iStockphoto

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 12, 2014

Education Week - November 12, 2014
Republicans Enhance State-Level Advantage
Broad Poverty Index Gives Fuller Picture Of Stressed Schools
Chromebooks Gaining Popularity in Districts
Key Obama Priorities Facing Lack of Allies
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study: Close Screening Process Can Improve Teacher Hires
Study Finds Few Payoffs in Short-Term Career Certificates
Blogs of the Week
Chromebooks Ascend in K-12 Market to Challenge iPads
Perceived Threat to Net Neutrality Sparks Furor
GOP Leaders in Congress Outline Education Priorities
More Than $60 Million Later, Scant Payoff for Teachers’ Unions
California Chief’s Win a Bright Spot For Teachers’ Unions
Election 2014 Results
Blogs of the Week
RANDI WEINGARTEN: Collaboration Takes Two
FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: Overlooked and in Need: Black Female Students
JOE FELDMAN: Grading Standards Can Elevate Teaching
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
APRIL BO WANG: What About Helping Rural Schools?

Education Week - November 12, 2014