Sunday, December 6, 2015

Promising Practices

    This years Promising Practices seminar took place in the Donovan Dining Hall on November 7th. The day started off with our keynote speaker, Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott, she is the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. She spoke to us about some of the more important current health problems encountered in Rhode Island and how the integration of social work and public health is important when finding a solution to our current problems.
    After that we left the Donovan Center and went to our first seminar. We got to pick our own workshops and I had originally picked one that was about outdoor learning, however, that workshop was cancelled so I signed up for "An Integrated Behavioral Health Approach to Peer Recovery."
In this workshop we got to meet with Judith Fox. The peer recovery program is an up and coming program hat is meant for people have recovered or overcame lives of drug use, suicide, depression, anxiety, and many other behavioral health dilemmas. This program provides the opportunity for recovered addicts and suicide survivors to get jobs helping people struggling with similar issues. These people then become mentors and life coaches and help guide people with similar issues to success and help them overcome their adversity.
    My second workshop was in Craig Lee, "Advancing Health at the City Level" was taught by Azade Perin and Peter Asen. In this workshop the speakers took turns explaining what they do and how they have helped the city of Providence. The main things that they talked about were the gardens that they have been building in the poorer sections of Providence. In this program they find a way to get abandoned properties taken over by the state to be knocked down and replaced by community gardens. In these gardens the people of the community can grow whatever fruits and vegetables they like, some of the crop is then taken and given to a meal program that is set up at local parks. These meal programs provide lunch and snacks to children who don't have enough food to eat. The rest of the crops produced in the gardens are for local consumption and can help the people living in the community. It sounded like a great program that seems to be helping a ton of people. 
    After the workshops we broke for lunch. Lunch was surprisingly good, I even went up for seconds. After lunch they had a discussion panel. There were high ranking people from several local colleges, universities and departments of health in Rhode Island. They ran a panel discussion that felt like it was way over my head. I noticed pretty much every student left and the only people remaining were professionals or students who had to help wit setting up Promising Practices. I stuck around for a while and left a little bit early. 
    Overall I would say that Promising Practices was a positive experience that I plan on attending next year as well. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Shor- Empowering Education

Empowering Education

    Meier 1990, "You must arouse children curiosity and make them think about school. For example, it's very important o begin the school year with a discussion of why we go to school. Why does the government force us to go to school? This would set a questioning tone and show the children that you trust them and that they are intelligent enough, at their own level, to investigate and come up with answers."

    Why didn't our teachers take this approach? Is it because I went through a working class school system? This quote made me think. As a high school student and even early on in college I found myself wondering why I am learning the information I am being taught? What is memorizing the periodic table really doing for me?
    All of my questions could have been answered on the first day, maybe I would have applied myself more, maybe I would have taken my schooling more seriously if I had an idea of how I was going to apply the information learned in the class to the rest of my life.
    I love the idea of a teacher empowering their students to take charge of their education.

"Education tries to teach them the shape of knowledge and current society, the meaning of past events, the possibilities of the future, and their place in the world they live."

    Ira Shor states clearly here that teachers are responsible for the way we think, the way we feel, the way we view certain topics and the way we digest certain events. As a teacher we have great power, we have the power to make people believe, we have the power to make people listen, and we have the ability to shape the minds of the youth of our nation. However, a lot of teachers don't use this power, instead they preach the same old song about how Christopher Columbus was a great man and how the Americans were friends with the Indians when we came to this country.

"Education is more than facts and skills. It is a socializing experience that helps make the people who make society."

The education experience should not be a series of memorization and testing. Schools today are too focused on meeting the state standards for education and not concerned about whether or not the students are actually learning. The value of a high school diploma has been lessened every year and I feel that it is because the education being given is getting worse every year. The average school now works out of a text book, students are given the same worksheets from one year to the next, and the tests never change. Creativity is lacking and it is effecting the people in our community. The finished product, a high school graduate does not carry the same value that it used to. Students graduate not knowing how to write a check or mail a bill properly. Students need to be measured on the skills that will help them succeed in life, not just get through the local school system

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Kliewer- Citizenship in School

"Citizenship in School"

    Children in the special education program deal with segregation every day. In a way I can see why, These children have specific needs and some of them can be very disruptive to the classroom. However, having special education students integrated into certain classes can be beneficial to everyone. 
    I grew up in Warwick and we had an Special Education Integration Program. I remember in 5th grade there was a boy named Chris who was introduced to our class. He had several limitations but I am pretty sure his major limitation was Cerebral Palsy. He wore a helmet and had canes, he was a really sweet kid. Our teachers also did a really great job introducing him to our class, we were too young to understand what he had going on but our teachers made it very clear that it was important
that he was accepted into our class and that we included him. 
  Chris was  not always involved in our class but he was there through parts of the day. He always went to science, art and sat in on our social studies classes. Sadly I am not sure what happened to him after 6th grade, he may have moved or maybe he was kept in a separate part of the middle school. 
  The sad thing is that after elementary school I never had a single special needs student in my class again. From then on my experience was that the special needs kids were kept in the basement with the behavioral kids. It seems as if after elementary school these children were pushed away. Maybe it's because I changed school departments but based on my research Cumberland has a better school system than Warwick. I would assume that their Special education department would be advanced because of this. 
    Cumberland had a horrible integration program, in fact I don't believe they followed an integration program at all. We had one Autistic kid in our class, but he had Aspergers and was brilliant. He was the smartest kid in every single one of our classes.
    Cumberland literally kept the entire Special Education Department in the basement behind the locker rooms for the football team. The only other class room down there was the Health room. The students had their own entrance, they had their own lunch time, and we honestly only knew they were in the school because they finished lunch when we arrived for first lunch.
   I could on about this topic forever, but the fact of the matter is that we need to make a better effort to get these children involved in our school. A school should be like a small community, we are all neighbors, we all know each other, and we help each other out. No child should ever be left behind and thats not limited to race or economic status. Students have the right to go to school and receive the best education the school can provide. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Literacy with an Attitude"

"Literacy With an Attitude"
Patrick J. Finn

     In "Literacy with an Attitude" Patrick Finn breaks down how the school system is divided into social and economic classes and how the learning experience reflects the emphasis on what is truly important in society.
    Kozol had a very similar point of view in his article, he provided stories that gave examples of how the system has been letting the people of our country down for centuries. He talked about the government as a system keeping people in their social class. Kozols piece relates to Finns in the sense that the citizens really don't have much say as to where they are placed. The way that the local schools are divided is by zip codes and the zip codes are what keeps the poor in the ugly places with the poorly performing schools and the lowest taxes. The lowered taxes make it easier for landlords to buy multiple houses and turn them into multifamily homes and pay minimal taxes on their properties. In turn, the land lords are luring in low income families to these areas. By drawing in these people who cannot afford to own land the town is not collecting property taxes off the renters therefor there is less money to put into the school system.
    The zip codes also keep the rich people that make donations to the schools and pay higher tax rates. These areas typically have lower populations and a lot less multi family homes, therefor the town is collecting more tax money off the home owners and there are less people living below the poverty line.
Top 10 Schools in RI 2015                Top 10 Wealthiest Cities in RI               
1. Barrington HS *                               1. Jamestown
2. Classical HS                                     2. East Greenwich
3. South Kingstown HS                        3. Barrington
4. Portsmouth HS *                              4. Exeter
5. North Kingstown HS *                     5. Cumberland
6. East Greenwich HS  *                      6. Narragansett
7. Lincoln HS *                                    7. Portsmouth
Barrington High School
8. Cumberland HS  *                            8. North Kingstown
9. Narragansett HS *                            9. Scituate
10. Chariho HS                                  10. Lincoln

*Occurs in both lists

 This chart is not the only indicator of what happens when school are located in areas of wealth. The same point is proven in the schools that are located in less wealthy areas. The bottom three school systems are located in the three poorest areas in Rhode Island. (Central Falls, Woonsocket, and Providence) Providence is hurting primarily because they have the largest population, they also have the most private schools which deflates the high school rankings. The majority of people in Providence thatch afford to send their child to a school like Wheeler or Lasalle will do so in order to avoid sending them to a public school.
    I grew up in two different areas of Rhode Island, i attended k-7 in Warwick and 8-12 in Cumberland. The experience at the two schools differed immensely. The funding at the two schools were also entirely different. In Warwick there was a lot more violence, there were fights in school almost every day. We also had a run down elementary school and a middle school that actually was built to house the military in the event of a nuclear attack (Gorton Junior High) Gorton is one of the oldest schools in Rhode Island and is still totally out of date. When I moved to Cumberland I attended a middle school that was somewhat new, and a high school that was about to undergo a multimillion dollar renovation. In Warwick there were cages on the windows and in Cumberland we had court yards at both schools with great lunches and brand new Mac desktop computers.
   The truth is that had my parents never moved us out of Warwick who knows where I would be now. I probably wouldn't be in college because about 75% of the people I went to Warwick with never even went to college never mind finishing it. In Cumberland it was the expectation that you were going to attend college or the military. That was the norm and I think that the town in which I lived in made the difference. Warwick was strictly a working class system while Cumberland was middle class/ college prep.
St. Georges Academy, Newport, RI

Woonsocket High School Woonsocket, RI


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pecha Kucha

Pecha Kucha

  My Delpit experience came a couple of weeks ago when Alan Shaun Feinstein Elementary School had a substitute principle. There also happened to be a substitute teacher in my class as well. The class was disrupted by the principle when he barged into class with a student who had been in trouble from an event before school. He came into the fifth grade classroom and proceeded to yell at the entire class as if they had all done something wrong. He then asked a confusing question. He asked the class "are any of you in kindergarten or first grade?" One of the girls in the corner of the class reluctantly raised her hand, she looked as if she may not have understood the question. He threw her out of class immediately. Delpit would have said that student didn't have to get in trouble, had the principle simply made a statement instead of asking a passive question the students would have clearly understood what he expected.

   Collier stated that we should honor the heritage of our students. My class room is 100% black or hispanic. When I walked into the classroom the bookshelves grabbed my interest immediately. The standard books are present, like the story of George Washington and Eleanor Roosevelt, but the rest of the books are about Harriet Tubman, Barrack Obama, and other black or hispanic historical figures. Mr. Shelton also makes a point of using black and hispanic names in his math problems which makes the students feel more normal and less like a minority.

  Mcintosh discusses how whiteness is an unrecognized privilege. In the inner city schools such as Alan Shawn Feinstein Elementary School white privilege is obvious. I am currently volunteering in a class that doesn't have a single white child in it. However the teacher is a white male, the principle is a white female, the police officer in front of the school is a white male. Any individual of power in the school is white. I have not met most of the staff in the school but from what I've seen all but one of the teachers are white. However the office staff, crossing guards and the cafeteria staff all mostly hispanic. Clearly the school system doesn't think that the minority students would learn more from a minority teacher, or even just a Spanish or Portuguese speaking teacher.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Problem we All Live With

The Problem We All Live With

American Life


Normandy High School, Normandy, Missouri

Nikole Hannah- "If you're surrounded by a bunch of kids who are all behind, you stay behind. But if you're in a classroom that has some kids behind and some kids advance, the kids who are behind tend to catch up. These kids in these classes in schools with concentrated poverty don't have that."

Nikole Hannah couldn't have possibly explained this problem better. Kozol talked about how the system keeps poverty in its place. He explained that the placement of lower class citizens into areas with poorly funded school and hospitals essentially makes it nearly impossible to succeed. In schools children are influenced by their peers, if they see their friends dropping out of school or doing poorly in school they are likely to follow suit. If families were able to choose which schools their children attend then we would have a much better blend of race and class in our nicer schools. Maybe there wouldn't be as many struggling schools and maybe the opportunity to leap from one social class to another may become easier.
 "Under the law, while Normandy students can enroll in any nearby accredited district, Normandy has to provide transportation to just one. Normandy officials chose a district called Francis Howell. Francis Howell was 85% white. It's across a river in another county, roughly 30 miles away from Normandy"
    The system is constantly working against the people below the poverty line. As if it wasn't bad enough that their school had closed and now the students had to be displaced, separated from their friends, and now had to find transportation to a new school, now the state is only providing free transportation to a school that is 30 minutes away. to add insult to injury, if the students wanted to attend another school they would have to pay tuition. Essentially what is going to happen to these students is they are going to drop out and only a few of them will actually end up transferring. I am sure that of the students who actually seized the opportunity, to go to the better school with the state provided transportation, only a few of those students actually finished their high school education. The system doesn't work in favor of the lower class and it continues to make things impossibly difficult.
"One mother asked why residents did not get to vote on letting in Normandy kids like they vote on public transportation."
"Years ago, when the MetroLink was being very popular, Saint Charles County put to a vote whether or not we wanted the MetroLink to come across into our community. And we said no. And the reason we said no is because we don't want the different areas-- I'm going to be very kind- coming across on our side of the bridge, bringing with it everything that we're fighting today against."
This quote showcases the typical mindset of the wealthy and privileged. These children don't have a school to go to any more and this wealthy school district is fighting to keep these children out. They don't want them coming across their bridge, they don't want their medical problems, criminal records or their race infecting their town. These people are so concerned with their own well being that they can't see the greater effect of their close mindedness. These kids need help, and yes they do come from a different background but who is to say that if any of those upper class people had started from the absolute bottom of society, would they have ever graduated from the lower class to anything more?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

In the Service of What?

In the Service of what?
Charity vs Change
By Kahne and Westheimer

1.     "The curriculum theorists and education reformers wanted students to engage in service learning projects so that they would recognize that their academic abilities and collective commitments could help them respond to meaningful way to a variety of social concerns"

  In terms of charity versus change Kahne and Wertheimer make it clear here that they want to emphasize what makes service learning lean more towards "change" rather than charity. In this example the students are well informed about the people they are going to help. The students are given this information and then they are expecting to try to fix the situation at hand. This also presents a different approach to service learning. What they are promoting here is that in the class room there should be open and honest conversation about the experiences had during service learning. This is not only a way of helping the students handle situations they've experienced, the teacher is also helping the other students by giving them an opportunity to learn from other students experiences and make their own adjustments. This leads to more effective service learning and emphasizes the "learning" aspect of service learning.

2.     "Altruism can best be appreciated as an experience rather than an abstraction." 

  Boyer states that the objective of service learning is to be "altruistic." Simply put, being altruistic is the behavior of giving to another person at your own expense, Essentially being selfless. In Mr. Johnsons example he had his class volunteer their time at a veterans memorial center on Thanksgiving. This is a case of charity, the children are offering their time in order to help feed the homeless and getting nothing tangible in return. However they all see the personal benefit being the positive feeling of doing something good and being a good person.

3.    Many agree with sen. Kennedy, who writes that "democracy means.... the responsibility to give something back to America in return for all that it has give us."

   As American citizens it is our civic duty to give back to our communities. We are given so much that we take for granted. Our towns provide an education and recreational sports for our youth. The state lends a hand to people who do not have the means to support themselves, whether that means they get money to survive and stay off the streets or to help large families put enough food on the table to live a healthy life. We as citizens should feel the need to give more than just our tax money. We should know that our tax money a lot of the time comes right back to us in the form of roads, parks, and public services. So as a good citizen we should appreciate what we have and be willing to give back to the community whatever we can.