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Borsuk: What does it really mean to ‘never, never give up on students?’

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel – Alan J. Borsuk

“Two weeks ago in this column, I quoted Marc Tucker, who leads the National Center on Education and the Economy, a Washington-based nonprofit, saying that in a talk in Madison. On its face, it’s not controversial. Who’s in favor of giving up on kids? But what does it mean to give up or not give up? That’s a provocative matter, particularly in a city where the needle has moved so little in improving deeply distressing overall outcomes for students. (Let one fact represent the problem: Fewer than 20% of students in both Milwaukee Public Schools and the private school voucher program were rated as proficient or advanced in reading and math in tests given a year ago.) Some teachers took Tucker’s remarks as criticism of their own efforts.”(more)

Schools increase focus on social-emotional learning

Education Dive – Erin McIntyre

“Moral reasoning and character are being considered and taught in more schools than ever before. Last summer, Education Week reported on a significant bump in educator support for critical soft skills, after surveying school officials and teachers. Since then, a new California initiative starting this year plans to test students on emotional skills in eight districts. A 2011 study found teaching social emotional skills helps students improve academic performance by 11%.”(more)

How ‘Turnaround for Children’ Uses Science to Build Social, Emotional Skills in At-Risk Students

The 74 Million – Mareesa Nicosia

“A kindergartner in Latoya Newton’s class at P.S. 314 in the South Bronx used to cry and scream for hours from the moment she arrived at school each day, disrupting the entire class. That was last year. This year, Newton, a special education teacher who followed her students from kindergarten to first grade, reports a dramatic change in the little girl’s behavior. “She’s now able to sit on the rug and participate in the classroom and is a part of the classroom community, whereas before she didn’t feel that way,” said Newton, who is in her second year of teaching. “It’s a big transition from last year to this year.” That kind of transformation — of not just a single student’s behavior but the overall way teachers interact with their pupils — is a major aim of the New York City-based nonprofit Turnaround for Children, which has been working with struggling, high-poverty public schools throughout the Northeast since 2002.”(more)

A Peaceful and Just Future Will Require Mindset Mentors

The Huffington Post – Rodney Walker

“Since I was five years old, I spent my childhood in and out of foster homes after my parents developed drug addictions on the south side of Chicago. My world changed when I met my mentor at 17 years old. He was the Dean of my school — Michael McGrone Sr. — and he taught me a new way to think, to be, to make sense of myself. Learning the entrepreneurial mindset — innovation, critical thinking, risk-taking — shows kids how to overcome adversity and deal with the complexities of life. And mentors play an outsized role in helping youth learn this mindset. For young people, and especially inner-city kids, the entrepreneurial mindset has very little to do with entrepreneurship. It’s about going beyond the guidebook and recognizing that there’s no cookie-cutter way to success. Everyone has adversity; you need to work your mind to figure out how to overcome it. My mentors constantly modeled these skills and reminded me of their significance.”(more)

Conflicts Deprive 30 Million Kids Of Education, Schools Must Be Better Protected: Experts

The Huffington Post – Alister Doyle

“Armed conflicts deprive about 30 million children of education worldwide and governments need to step up investments to make schools safer, partly by widening use of the Internet, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Monday. Solberg, co-chair of a United Nations group advocating new development goals for the world for 2030, told Reuters that higher spending on education would also benefit health, economic growth and women’s equality. “We still lack 58 million children,” she said of global primary school attendance, which is lagging a U.N. goal set in 2000 of full access for all children by 2015. “Half of them are in areas where there are conflicts.” Girls were far more likely to be kept away than boys. Norway will host an international meeting on July 6-7, to be attended by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, about improving education and reducing threats from groups like the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, or Boko Haram in Nigeria.”(more)

Turnaround School Districts

Education Next – Nelson Smith

“Recovery, Achievement, Opportunity, Transformation: these are the titles and aspirations of statewide “turnaround” school districts whose mission is to take over failing public schools and move them quickly to an acceptable range of performance. For all their complexity and variation, turnaround districts have two things in common: One, they give impatient state policymakers a potentially powerful new tool for dealing with perennial school dysfunction. Two, they put existing districts on notice that the revered notion of “local control” must give way if it fails to deliver results for students stuck in lousy schools. As of mid-2015, there are three such districts up and running: the Louisiana Recovery School District (RSD), created in 2003 but expanded dramatically in 2005 to encompass nearly all schools in New Orleans; the Tennessee Achievement School District (ASD), created in 2012; and Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority (EAA), also created in 2012. While not spreading like wildfire, the idea of turnaround districts has caught the imagination of leaders in a growing list of states. The governors of Georgia, Nevada, and Texas have laid the groundwork for new statewide zones. Policymakers in Mississippi, Wisconsin, Utah, Arkansas, and Missouri have pushed proposals forward with varying levels of success. The notion has recently resurfaced in South Carolina. Variations on the theme keep popping up, either as half-measures in states such as Delaware and Connecticut, or in state-led receivership schemes that stop short of creating an actual “district.” These exist already in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania; at the insistence of Governor Andrew Cuomo, a more locally-centered version of that authority was granted in the New York State budget approved in April 2015.”(more)