Monthly Archives: May 2011

$500-Million in Federal Early-Education Awards Available

The Chronicle of Philanthropy  recent article written by Patrick Lester announces  the great news from The Obama administration, which plans to spend $500-million to help states expand innovative early-learning and child-care programs, the bulk of which are operated by nonprofits.

The new fund, called the Early Learning Challenge, will consume most of the $700-million that was allocated by Congress in April for Race to the Top, the grants program to help states improve the quality of their schools.

Like previous Race to the Top competitions, the Early Learning Challenge will award grants directly to states. The program will be administered jointly by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. 

….The grants will be awarded by December 31. The administration has not yet decided how many grants will be awarded or how large they will be. In the meantime, it is seeking ideas on a Department of Education blog.

Click here to read the full article.  


Judge Defines Bullying in Case Involving City Schools

Article published in Gotham Gazette by Emily Jane Goodman, May 2011 raises the issue of school bullying, which has been linked to schoolhouse shootings, tormenting gay classmates, ruinous sex videos and devastating Internet abuse.

Bullying once meant dipping a schoolgirl’s braids in the desk inkwell or throwing snowballs at the new kids. But 21st century bullying can involve schoolhouse shootings, tormenting gay classmates, ruinous sex videos, devastating Internet abuse and suicides. The new extremes may be due to increasing violence among children, and, ironically, may also flow from diversity, which provides bullies with targets who look or sound different or may be gay, or have disabilities.

In a federal lawsuit brought against New York City’s Department of Education by the parents of LK, then a 12-year-old pupil at P.S. 6 on Manhattan’s upper east side, Judge Jack Weinstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York has framed a test for defining schoolhouse bullying. Although the child in this case has disabilities, Weinstein’s approach appears to be generally applicable.

Dimming Optimism for Today’s Youth

How likely do you think it is that today’s youth will have a better life than their parents? 

For the very first time since Americans were surveyed with this question (in 1983), less than 50% (44%) of respondents thought that today’s youth would have a better life than their parents.

 New York Times’s Economix blog post by  CATHERINE RAMPELL:  

Maybe it has to do with sky-high levels of youth unemployment. Maybe it’s because student loan levels are climbing. Maybe it’s because today’s young’uns will someday be stuck supporting so many of their elders.

Whatever the reason, for the first time on record, most Americans said they did not believe today’s young would have better lives than their parents, according to new survey data from Gallup. In an April poll, only 44 percent expressed that view.

The Art of Being a Teaching Artist- Part IV

The following is the fourth and final post in a series discussing the life and work of a teaching artist.

Miguel Cossio: Mr. Cossio is a TA in Visual Arts who has worked with our partner Riverdale Neighborhood House in the Bronx.

Patricia Runcie: Ms. Runcie is a TA in Theater Arts has worked with our partners Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation/I.S. 171 in Brooklyn and Elysian Charter School in Hoboken.

Gardiner Comfort: Mr. Comfort is a TA in Theater Arts who has worked at P.S. 7 in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn.

What would you consider your greatest successes as a teaching artist? What advice would you give to other teaching artists?

Cossio: To be very flexible with regards to methods of teaching. It’s hard to be at the same level with the people you are teaching – you can’t be like a kid, you have to be slightly above them levelwise, but at the same time, you have to put yourself in their shoes in certain aspects.

Runcie: I’m starting to see them go on to high schools of their choice. I’ve given them recommendations and helped them with auditions; they’re going to high schools that they’re proud to attend. As for other teaching artists, I’d say remember YOUR passion for the art, whatever discipline it is. Try to stay in the frame of mind of discovery and to bring that to the students, and be patient. Sometimes, as professionals, when we’re so used to working with those like us, it’s easy to forget that these are kids, even though we are trying to bring them to a higher level of professionalism.

Comfort: Probably seeing students embody what I’ve taught them. I have a lot of students now, and it’s very exciting to see them come into the classroom excited, because they had a good time the last time and want to have fun. But it’s more exciting to see them remember the lessons we’ve worked on. I guess I’d say I appreciate both aspects of teaching, when the kids clearly love you and love what you’ve taught them, that’s so touching, but it’s also equally touching to see them apply the skills they’ve learned.

Would you recommend any books or courses that you found useful?

Cossio: Courses, definitely. I went to one at Lincoln Center Summer Teaching Institute, and it’s based on the idea of imagination.

Runcie: Really just my own overall experiences.

Comfort: I’ve used very few books. I’ve used the Viola Spolin book, which is very useful for descriptions of exercises, but beyond that, I’ve really just reached out to other actors and other teachers I know. I’ve also used my own experiences in acting classes and in rehearsals. One thing that’s really nice about acting is that we’re all basically kids, we’re never really so sophisticated that we can’t goof off and play really simple and fun games!

Click to read Part I, Part II and Part III of The Arts of Being a Teaching Artist Series. 

Poor Teaching for Poor Children … in the Name of Reform

Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and parenting. The latest of his articles raises interesting topic on “school reform”.

Love them or hate them, the proposals collectively known as “school reform” are mostly top-down policies:  divert public money to quasi-private charter schools, pit states against one another in a race for federal education dollars, offer rewards when test scores go up, fire the teachers or close the schools when they don’t.

Policy makers and the general public have paid much less attention to what happens inside classrooms — the particulars of teaching and learning — especially in low-income neighborhoods.  The news here has been discouraging for quite some time, but, in a painfully ironic twist, things seem to be getting worse as a direct result of the “reform” strategies pursued by the Bush administration, then intensified under President Obama, and cheered by corporate executives and journalists.

Click here to read full article.  

White House: It’s Time To ‘Reinvest’ In Arts Education

 As education budget cuts continue to threaten the quality of education nationwide, a recent government report is encouraging schools to refocus on curriculum that is often found first in line for the chopping block — the arts.

On Friday, President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities released a report titled: “Re-Investing in Arts Education: Winning America’s FutureThrough Creative Schools.” It encourages “reinvestment” in arts education, citing social and intelectual benefits discovered during the committee’s 18-month-long study.

Click here to read full article