Charter scandals continue

COLORADO – In the past two years,  Stargate Charter School for gifted and talented children has been slapped with eight civil rights complaints. The complaints were related to sexual discrimination and disability discrimination. Complaints include the school’s mishandling of allegations that a former coach groped students and the school’s treatment of students with disabilities. According to Attorney Jacque Phillips, “Many of the problems faced by Stargate are because it does not take seriously its responsibility as a public school to educate all its gifted-and-talented students, including those with disabilities”(Denver Post).

In response to the most recent charges, administrators say they have “learned their lesson and are making changes to better address allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination against disabled students” (Denver Post).

CONNECTICUT – Path Academy in Windham is in fear of losing its license for defrauding taxpayers of $1.6 million dollars. According to papers filed in court, the school could not provide documentation for 128 students enrolled at Path. This represents a potential overpayment of $1,573,000 over a two year period. “The failure to maintain records establishing that students who were reported as enrolled in the data used to determine the per pupil grant payment were actually enrolled and attending school constitutes, at a minimum, failure to manage state funds in a prudent or legal manner” (EdVotes.org).

FLORIDA – Fearing a failing grade from the state, Palm Harbor Academy charter school transferred low-performing students to a recently opened private school on the same campus just before the charter students were to begin their state assessments.  Those transferred included 13 third graders, and 5 fifth graders. According to the Palm Coast Observer, “Many of the children were multiple grades behind grade level. Another five students in other grades, all at least two grades behind grade level, were also transferred out of Palm Harbor and into the private school at around the same time.”

Palm Harbor Academy governing board chairman the Rev. Gillard Glover said, “First and foremost, we did not move the students,” Glover said, noting that the parents had requested the move. School Board member Andy Dance said Glover was blaming the parents.

“I’m not blaming the parents. We did not talk to the parents at all about moving their children. … We did not in any fashion conduct any kind of campaign, solicit, try to induce parents to take their kids out of Palm Harbor(Palm Coast Observer).

Dance responded, “But you accepted them(Palm Coast Observer).

Additionally, students with disabilities who were moved into the private school no longer had access to  state-mandated speech and language services. “I’m going to tell you right now there is nothing that can be produced to us to show that those third-grade students’ rights were not violated by moving them,” School Board Attorney Kristin Gavin (Palm Coast Observer).

NORTH CAROLINA – School board members along with local clergy in Charlotte-Mecklenburg are standing together in opposition of HB 514, a recently proposed bill that would contribute to re-segregation of schools because a town-run charter would allow admission preference for children who live in the four towns. Opponents of HB 514 compared it to Southern education policies of the 1950s – implemented to keep schools segregated. In the 1950s these schools were called segregationist academies, created to have a school for white families who refused to allow their children to attend school with black children.

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HB 514 was introduced last year by Republican Bill Brawley. He has criticized the Charlotte Meckeinburg board for not providing students with a quality education—one reason he says township parents want their own charter (WFAE).

“Roslyn Mickelson, a professor of sociology at UNC Charlotte says studies have not shown that charter schools are better academically. A report she co-authored this year on state and local charter schools did find that charters are becoming less diverse(WFAE).

Additionally, Mickelson said of HB 514, “If this bill passes it will be a driver of segregation in public education. It’s not even subtle… The freedom of choice plans were drawn in such ways that they replicated the segregated schools. What we have today is not freedom of choice but charter school choice and the way it is being designed will have the same effect” (WFAE).

PENNSYLVANIA – A Philadelphia attorney, David Schulick, has been convicted  of embezzling $800,000 from the Philadelphia School District using a charter school he ran intended to help at-risk students. Instead, Shulick and Chaka Fattah Jr. falsified documents and faked student enrollments to inflate the school budget. “Federal prosecutors said Shulick faked business expenses to cheat on taxes and listed nannies and housekeepers as employees of the school, while using the profits to renovate his vacation home on the Shore and installing a $9,000 set of speakers in his Gladwyne home” (Metro). Shulick may face a prison term at sentencing. At the very least he is expected to be ordered to pay significant restitution to the School District (Metro).

COLORADO – At least four administrators at Wyatt Academy in Denver were recently put on administrative leave after a video captured the school’s justice coordinator encouraged students to throw punches. The elementary school principal, assistant principal, school psychologist along with the justice coordinator were suspended. One source reported Wyatt Academy administrators learned of the fight the same day yet no action was taken until the group released the video. The school board has hired an outside investigator (Seattle Times).

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TENNESSEE – New Vision Academy charter school in Nashville is under investigation by the school district for financial irregularities and failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  According to a report filed by teachers, English language-learning students and students with learning disabilities were not receiving required instructional time. The report also noted students were charged for textbooks even though the school earmarked thousands of dollars for classroom supplies (Tennesseean.com).. The top two executives at New Vision, who are married, make a combined $562,000. Executive director Tim Malone made $312,971 in the 2017,  and his wife, LaKesha Malone is New Vision’s second highest ranking executive. earning $250,000 during that same period,(Tennesseean.com).

There were so many scandals in the news from the past few weeks, I found it difficult to choose for the blog. The bottom line is as the charter movement grows, scandals continue to grow exponentially as well. There are patterns, repeats, and new offenses. The underlying theme is misappropriation of funds and faculty and administrators behaving inappropriately and/or illegally.

It’s important to know about the scandals plaguing charter schools, and to be aware of the current administration’s drive to create more.

Deplorable.

These are my reflections for today.

6/8/18

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DeVos shows ‘astounding ignorance’

Last week Betsy DeVos came under fire for comments she made to Congress regarding US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Her statement suggested “schools should decide whether or not to report undocumented students and their families to federal immigration authorities” (ABC News).

DeVos shifted the responsibility of reporting undocumented students from ICS officials to principals and teachers, saying “It’s a local community decision and again I refer to the fact that we have laws and we also are compassionate and I urge this body to do its job and address and clarify where there is confusion around this” (ABC News).

The confusion was clearly DeVos’.  Rep. Adriano Espaillat, (D-NY)  rebuked the secretary’s statement, “Let me just remind Madam Chair that immigration law is federal law. It’s not a local law. It’s not governed by a municipality. You cannot have immigration law for one state be different for another state and it applies to everybody across the country” (ABC News).

Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy at the American Civil Liberties Union said, “Let’s be clear: Any school that reports a child to ICE would violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court has made clear that every child in America has a right to a basic education, regardless of immigration status. Secretary DeVos is once again wrong” (Washington Post).

The Supreme Court made clear in Plyler v. Doe that public schools have a constitutional obligation to provide schooling for children, regardless of immigration status. That means schools also cannot enforce measures that would deter undocumented children from registering. They cannot ask about immigration status. And according to the American Civil Liberties Union, they cannot report students or their families to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Washington Post).

Thomas Saenez, president and general counsel of The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said, “The Court determined in 1982 that the Constitution requires all public schools to provide a free public education, from Kindergarten to 12th grade, to every child, regardless of immigration status. Her testimony today about reporting students to ICE stems either from an astounding ignorance of the law or from an insupportable unwillingness to accurately advise local school districts. Any public school or school district that denies an education to any undocumented child — whether by refusing to enroll, by limiting access to the programs and benefits provided to other students, or by reporting a child to ICE — has violated the United States Constitution” (Washington Post).

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After the Parkland FL shooting, DeVos was appointed by Trump to be the chair of the school safety commission. Upon her appointment to the commission, DeVos said, “There are best practices that are working today in communities across this country, and our commission will spotlight them and disseminate them to every school,” she wrote. “This will not be another 18-month Washington commission that yields an unreadable and unactionable report” (CNN).

There have been 10 school shootings since Parkland, including the most recent in Texas where 8 students and 2 teachers were killed (Huffington Post).

Last Thursday the commission was  to have only the second meeting. According to one source, invitations were sent out Wednesday evening- with such short notice, very few participants attended. Education organization representatives were among those who could attend, but “they were not asked to participate, and the commission only heard from experts, survivors, and parents (The Daily Beast).  Those in attendance were only passive listeners, and much to their frustration, not invited to speak.

Since her appointment as Secretary (remember Mike Pence voted the tie-breaker) DeVos has made contentious and incorrect statements about many things, including school safety, HBCUs, public schools, teachers, guns.

In her highly contentious confirmation hearing, DeVos stirred up vehement objections to her nomination after conceding that guns might be needed in schools in states like Wyoming to defend against “potential grizzlies.”

DeVos said HBCUs “started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education.”  She said HBCUs are “living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality” (Washington Post).

Last year DeVos touted Excel Academy in Washington DC as a “shining example” of the success of charter schools. Excel is preparing to close this June. Excel is an example of the failure of yet another charter school to turn students around academically as it showed little evidence of improvement. Since 2012, DC has shuttered nearly two dozen charters because of poor performance.

In March, she said arming teachers “should be an option for states and communities to consider” during an interview after a visit to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

In a conversation about charters in her home state of Michigan, she admitted on 60 minutes, “I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.” In fact, when Lesley Stahl asked if schools in Michigan have gotten better thanks to the charter-school experiment, DeVos responded, “I don’t know. Overall, I—I can’t say overall that they have all gotten better.”

In May, she visited New York, the home of the nation’s largest public school district, without visiting a single public school.

She has one of the most expensive security details of anyone in Washington- costing taxpayers almost $6.5 million a year.

She has dissolved the office of civil rights, a body tasked with investigating claims of civil rights abuses in schools.

She has effectively eliminated a team within the Department of Education charged with investigating for-profit college fraud and malfeasance. (The New York Times).

Now she is supporting principals and teachers to serve as ICE agents.

This is the Secretary of Education.

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As Moira Balingit of the Washington Post said, DeVos has “Astounding ignorance of the law” (Washington Post).

She is uninformed and incompetent.  She goes to work every day to ensure our public schools have armed teachers and staff, immigration officers, unlicensed teachers, white children or are converted to charter schools.

And we continue to pay her salary.

These are my reflections for today.

6/1/18

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Oklahoma Teachers: “It’s not just about the money.”

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In an effort to save money, ninety school districts in Oklahoma worked a four day week because of a severe cut to school funding. While this made many students happy, it outraged teachers and parents.

Teachers pay in Oklahoma is the third lowest in the country, driving many teachers to work two jobs- at Walmart on weekends or in restaurants at night. Many argue even with a drastic decision to move to a four day week will do nothing to make up for the significant budget shortfalls (The Economist).

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“The real reason why so many school districts are resorting to a tighter calendar is that it is the only true perk they can offer to poorly paid teachers, whose salaries start at $31,600 and who have not received a rise for ten years. The exodus to Texas and Arkansas, which included Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year in 2016, continues unabated. A 20-minute drive across the border often results in a $10,000 increase. Dallas’s school district has unashamedly set up booths in Oklahoma City to poach what talent remains” (The Economist).

The issue is not just salary. Teachers have expressed concerns over the high cost of health insurance. “Under the cheapest plan on offer, monthly premiums are $400 for a single person. The cost of adding a spouse is another $470 per month; a child is $208”(The Economist).

So last week they went on strike, impacting more than 500,000 students statewide. In early negotiations, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin offered teachers a $6100 pay raise, but the teachers said no. To read just the offer, an outsider would think teachers were crazy to pass that up, and selfish to move forward with the strike.

That wasn’t enough for the teachers, who are seeking $10,000 over three years. Even with the $6100 pay raise approved by lawmakers, their mean salaries would be still be lower than teachers in every neighboring state, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed.

This according to Alicia Priest, President of the Oklahoma Education Association:

“This package doesn’t overcome a shortfall caused by four-day weeks, overcrowded classrooms that deprive kids of the one-on-one attention they need. It’s not enough,” Priest continued. “We must continue to push for more annual funding for our schools to reduce class size and restore more of the 28 percent of funds they cut from education over the last decade” (The Hill).

Last Friday the Oklahoma Senate considered proposals to expand tribal gambling and tax certain Internet sales that would generate roughly $40 million annually.  Lawmakers approved the state’s first major tax increase in a quarter century, a $400 million revenue package (Reuters.com).

According to NBC News, Governor Fallin has faced the brunt of criticism from teachers, many of whom blame her for supporting subsidies for businesses and tax breaks  granted to the energy industry, which were worth $470 million in fiscal-year 2015 alone. When energy prices declined a few years ago, so did the state’s tax revenue, leading to deeper cuts in education spending. Teachers are seeking $200 million in increased annual education funding.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos criticized Oklahoma teachers telling them to “serve the students,” according to the Dallas Morning News.  “I think we need to stay focused on what’s right for kids. And I hope that adults would keep adult disagreements and disputes in a separate place, and serve the students that are there to be served.” This from a billionaire who never had to work, never attended public schools, surrounds herself with a security detail costing taxpayers millions of dollars, talking to Oklahoma teachers  who have an average salary of $42,460, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, placing them at 48th in average U.S. classroom teacher salary (Dallas Morning News)

Oklahoma’s teachers are following the same path walked in West Virginia, where teachers secured a pay raise, and Kentucky, where teachers rallied Monday and are threatening to do so again if the state government doesn’t meet their demands. There’s grumblings Arizona could be the next to see a teachers strike.

After nine days of striking, which led to tens of thousands of people – including students- filling the capitol building, the strike ended Thursday night. OEA President Alicia Priest said, “After getting $479 million in funding for the next school year, the OEA decided to end the walkout, though the funding falls short of what we’d hoped to achieve” (CNN).

The OEA polled its members and by Thursday, 70% of respondents indicated they were unsure of continuing the walkout (CNN).   Teachers agreed that while the strike may be over, the fight will continue to restore funding and improve conditions.

I applaud teachers who stand up for better working conditions for themselves and better educational opportunities for students. I hope talks will continue past the strike, but it shouldn’t have come to this.

These are my reflections for today.

4/13/18

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Professional Identity

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Last week I attended the 70th annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE). This is the largest gathering of faculty and administrators from undergraduate and graduate programs, community colleges, and P-12 teachers. I gave a presentation with colleagues on the first day, spent the rest of the time networking with like-minded people, and hearing stories of what others are doing to strengthen teacher education, and better prepare students for the teaching profession. As Lynn Gangone, AACTE President said, “We are here to discuss ways to maintain teacher and students’ safety in the classroom, sustain public education and develop new and better pathways toward solutions.” 

The theme of the conference was “Celebrating Our Professional Identity: Shared Knowledge and Advocacy,” and in session after session this theme was reinforced. As I listened to Gangone give her opening remarks, I couldn’t decide if I was encouraged or disheartened. She spoke of many things teacher educators consider every day; social justice, diversity, professional development, community partnerships with P-12 schools and colleges of education. There was a panel discussion on teacher recruitment and retention which included a Q&A session with such questions as how do we recruit and retain people of color, specifically black and Latinx, to become teachers in high poverty areas? How do we strengthen partnerships with P-12 schools?

The conference concluded with a keynote address by Diane Ravitch. She spoke eloquently of Emma Gonzales – the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School student who has been so driven and determined, along with her classmates, to be the catalyst for changes in gun laws in this country. She said the voice of change is now in the hands of a younger generation, as historically it has been the younger generation who affected change in this country.

In the end, she encouraged the room full of educators and administrators to keep doing what we’re doing, and most importantly – VOTE.

Teacher educators incur a tremendous amount of pressure to teach our students. We train our candidates to be advocates for all students, recognize and embrace diversity, strive for social justice, create classroom environments free from bias, and all this is in addition to solid pedagogical practices, effective assessment strategies, management of classroom and student behaviors, and dealing with all the issues students bring with them to school.

That’s a lot to ask.

All this got me to wondering if people truly understand what it means to be a teacher educator. And in light of recent violent acts in schools, what it really means to be a teacher.  I don’t think so.

AACTE 2018 gathered us to collaborate and consider “ways to maintain teacher and students’ safety in the classroom, sustain public education and develop new and better pathways toward solutions.”

We’re going to be busy.

These are my reflections for today.

3/9/18

Bill Gates’ new project

Back in 2000, Bill Gates threw his hat into the ring of “fixing” public education. He spent millions and millions of dollars on an idea to break big high schools into smaller schools.  After a few years he abandoned this idea as the test scores of high school students in the smaller schools didn’t climb, as he had hoped.

Next came his support of aligning teacher performance evaluations to student test scores. Not only is this a highly researched and unproven idea, it became one of the conditions for any state applying for Race to the Top funding. In order to qualify, states had to connect teacher performance with student test scores. This, too failed.

Then came Gates’ idea of Common Core Standards.  While many states went ahead with the adoption of national curricula standards, test scores did not improve after implementation. This may be, in part, because they were written by non-educators, never piloted, and cost school districts millions to implement; many abandoning millions of dollars worth of textbook series’ adoptions because they didn’t align with the new standards.

This week, Gates announced he is investing $1.7 billion to “bolster public education in the United States.” He made the announcement this week, saying “Education is, without a doubt, one of the most challenging areas we invest in as a foundation,” Business Insider. Perhaps this is because his investments have not been paying off.

Where will the money go this time? Nothing specific was outlined in his announcement. However he hinted the money will be divided like this:

Roughly 60% of the funding will go toward supporting “the development of new curricula and networks of schools that work together to identify local problems and solutions,” Gates said. A large chunk of those problems involve schools that are effectively segregated based on race.

Another 25% will go toward “big bets” — programs that could change public education over the next 10 to 15 years (no further details provided).

And 15% will address the sector of charter schools, which Gates believes are vital for helping kids with moderate to severe learning disabilities receive a high-quality education Business Insider.

First, the development of new curricula. Back in 2014, Sue Desmond-Hellman, Gates Foundation Director said of Common Core Standards, “Unfortunately, our foundation underestimated the level of resources and support required for our public education systems to be well-equipped to implement the standards. We missed an early opportunity to sufficiently engage educators – particularly teachers – but also parents and communities so that the benefits of the standards could take flight from the beginning” (Washington Post).
Creating new curricula did not work the first time, and now Gates wants to spend more money trying again.  At what cost (again) to school districts?

Next, programs that could change public education.  In 2016 a scathing editorial in the Los Angeles Times called, “Gates Foundation failures show philanthropists shouldn’t be setting America’s public school agenda” (LA Times).  In the editorial,

The Gates Foundation is clearly rethinking its bust-the-walls-down strategy on education — as it should. And so should the politicians and policymakers, from the federal level to the local, who have given the educational wishes of Bill and Melinda Gates and other well-meaning philanthropists and foundations too much sway in recent years over how schools are run (LA Times).

And finally,  charter schools. If you are a frequent reader of this blog or any other source for news on public education, you know how that’s going. Charter scandals. More charter scandals. Even more charter scandals… Florida, Michigan, Ohio, New Mexico, Mississippi, Arizona, New Jersey, California, Louisiana, and so many others. Previous blogs I’ve written on charters are here, here, here, and here. Charters rob low-income districts of funding, and run without accountability. Another failed reformer idea.

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Mr. Gates is a smart, successful business man. Here are a few questions he and his foundation should consider: What could $1.7 billion buy low-income school districts? Teachers? Technology? Support Services? Books? Professional Development? Modern facilities? Healthcare? Clean water? Parent education? After-school programs?

He’s building a house of cards, but at least it’s with his own money.

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These are my reflections for today.

10/27/17

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Sphere of Influence

Today I have a guest blogger, my esteemed colleague, co-author and friend. She writes about a sphere of influence we all have and may choose to act on or not every day.

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With the recent events in Charlottesville, Houston, and the current impact of Irma as it hits Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the people in my life who live and work all over the United States. It’s not that I forget about them when their specific cities or states are not blasted all over the morning news and radio programs, but at times it’s easy to be lulled into thinking our lives are progressing in forward-thinking momentum. Yet when natural catastrophes, violent human behaviors, and unpredictable incidents occur, it often serves as a harsh reminder that this world does not always operate in positive progress. These events clearly impact huge numbers of people – time seems to stand still, lives are changed in an instant. These events also give us individual opportunity to truly consider our own thoughts, words, and behaviors – our proactive and reactive responses. What are the ways in which our thoughts, words, and behaviors impact and influence others?

In recent years, my research on preparing pre-service teachers to work in environments with diverse students and families led me to examine some of the social structures and interpersonal dynamics present in other areas of scholarship, such as psychology and government.

In government, sphere of influence is defined as a country or area in which another country has power to affect developments though it has no formal authority. In psychology, it is a systematic way to view how one’s surrounding environment influences who one is and will become. I would argue that each one of us can not only be acted upon by these outside forces, but each also possesses the potential to act upon, within, and even beyond our spheres of influence.

So the sphere of influence as a concept is not a new notion, but applying sphere of influence to the field of education is a new opportunity to address the intersectionality of our lives as learners, teachers, mentors, coaches, colleagues, administrators, professors, family members, and friends.

It’s been said that a teacher has a ripple effect on human lives. Specifically, a teacher in Year One teaches 25 students, then in Year Two teaches a different 25 students, in Year Three teaches a third unique set of 25 students, and so on. And for each individual life a teacher touches, this individual grows up and takes the lessons learned as a young person into a whole other sphere which comprises their adult lives. So as a pebble thrown into the middle of a huge lake, the original point of impact ripples out to reach, eventually, the farthest edges of the shore.

Yet educators are not the only ones with a widespread sphere of influence. Each of us, and our own families and homes, neighborhoods and communities, workplaces and professional organizations, possess a great potential to powerfully contribute toward creating a kinder, more respectful, inclusive world. This potential power within each of us centers on our choices. Quite simply, each morning when we wake up we have choices – choices such as how we greet the people we encounter, whether we will stop and help someone in need, how we will respond to that one person who is always complaining. These interactions stem from the specific spheres of influence each of us occupy.

So the questions surrounding sphere of influence are really WHAT and HOW.

WHAT: What do you represent? What beliefs are worth the effort of standing firm? As educators, many of us believe in developmental growth and learning. As a mother, I advocate for all children to receive equitable access and opportunities to quality healthcare, education, and housing. As a human, I greatly value respect for and acceptance of all people.

HOW: How will you use your sphere of influence? Will it be something you acknowledge and capitalize upon in your life? Will you use it to propel positivity or harbor hate? Or will you pretend your life and choices bear no impact upon others’ lives, refraining from action?

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I urge you to think. I urge to you act. The world cannot survive with our silence.

Cori Brown, Rowan University.

9/8/17

 

 

 

A new box of crayons

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Many of us remember when we were kids, one of the highlights of going back to school was getting new school supplies. There was nothing better than a brand new box of Crayola crayons. Whether it was 12, 24, 48, or if you were really lucky, you got the 64 box with a built-in sharpener. The smell. the perfectly flat heads, and the colors; brick red, periwinkle, and the ever-popular burnt sienna. New crayons were a simple pleasure, and one we revered. Much like new sneakers could make us run faster and jump higher, a new box of crayons could make us artists.

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) roughly 15 million children (or 21%) are living in families with incomes below the poverty threshold. Not only can these families not afford to provide for their basic necessities, but school supplies are a luxury. A new box of crayons is for privileged kids.

In researching for this blog, I found inspiring stories about how communities are making sure kids are getting the supplies they need.

In Raleigh, NC, children from low-income families, came up with a plan to raise money for supplies, and new clothes. Two children set up a lemonade stand called “Sweet and Sour Lemonade.” On a good day, the stand can make up to $100. The money raised will be used to help members of their community get what they need to start school (KRON). 

In Rockingham, NC  the owners of Hooks BBQ and Buffet sponsored a BBQ with support from other community sponsors to give low-income children a good time and some needed school supplies. Hundreds of people attended and at the end of the evening 200 book bags stuffed with binders, pencils and crayons were given away as prizes (Richmond County Daily Journal).

Just outside Sacramento, CA community members used facebook to ask parents how much they spent on school supplies and if they knew if their child’s classroom pooled supplies. “The post generated a lengthy discussion from dozens of local parents, teachers and one board member. Most reported how much they spent on school supplies this year. Answers ranged from $25 to $100, many indicating that this cost was outside of new backpacks and clothing” In this district, 61% of  households classify as low income, so parent donations are needed and greatly appreciated. (Galt Herald online).

In Westchester County NY, community members are teaming with The Sharing Shelf to collect and distribute school supplies to children in need. Rob Astorino, Westchester County Executive said, “Since launching our backpack partnership, we have helped give vital school supplies to thousands of children in Westchester County. As always, our goal is to help as many children as we can” (Pelham Daily Voice).

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Photo courtesy of http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20150715/submitted/150719388/

In Maine, members of the Augusta Elks Lodge plan a back to school giveaway of items they say are “tools kids need to have a chance to be successful in the classroom” (Kennebec Journal). The giveaway includes pens, pencils, notebooks, backpacks, lunch boxes, clothing and healthy snacks.

For 25 years, Catholic Charities in Joliet, IL has a Back to School Fair for students from low-income families. This event offers pens and paper, books, medical exams and social services (The Herald News).

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Photo courtesy of  http://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2017/08/03/1230d07772f24b56a92682c691fc50f0/index.xml?page=1

I found so many stories of this kind- a wonderful demonstration of communities helping children. Each of these stories has the common thread of giving kids the tools they need to succeed. If you remember the excitement of a new box of crayons, how about the next time you see a Crayola display pick up a few boxes and take great joy in proving that excitement for a child who wouldn’t otherwise get that.

Local churches, temples or other houses of worship, the community YMCA, and Starbucks are a few places that accept donated school supplies. You could always just take them right to a school. Providing a new box of crayons to a child who can get creative and colorful, and start the school year on a positive note.

These are my reflections for today.

9/1/2017

 

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