SHIFT: Connecting Our Community, Neighboring Schools Wednesday, December 07, 2011
With the release of the state report card last week, signs of Hamilton County’s improvements shouldn’t slow us from striving for even better public schools. We must consider the growth of our community and the tremendous impact further gains in education will have upon our community.
This fall a stakeholder regional group of civic leaders and organizations has been meeting regularly with open meetings to discuss the formation of a Regional Growth Planning Process. How will this affect the schools in our county and region?
The school profiles available on the website of the Hamilton County Department of Education show varying math, literacy, and graduation rates. What if a child from Red Bank Middle, a school with 24% math and 44% reading rates, moves with his family to Ooltewah, and attends Ooltewah High School that has an 84% math and 77% reading mastery? And how do the differences between proficiency scores in one section of our county affect another section of our county?
To improve public education in Hamilton County, we shouldn’t be solely concerned with the school in our neighborhood. We also need to be concerned for the school in the next neighborhood over and even those across the county. The success of our community and how it grows and changes depends upon the success of these schools. For instance, we know that increasing the high school graduation rate by 10% — just 300 more graduates — in Hamilton County Schools we will create: $1.1 million in government savings from poverty-related benefits and $135,000 in reduced crime costs for a total benefit to the community of over $184 million, or $550 per resident. These are tangible dividends and goals that will touch every resident.
To do this, we must support our teachers. On Tuesday December 13th, TEACH/Here will screen the new documentary American Teacher. This event is currently the only planned screening of the film in the entire Southeast. The showing will occur at the Public Education Foundation [100 East Tenth Street Suite 500 Chattanooga, TN 37402] on the 3rd Floor at 5:00pm followed by a Panel Discussion at 6:00pm, which should last an hour.
Posted by in Education
SHIFT Chattanooga: We are thankful for…. Thursday, November 17, 2011
Posted by in Education
SHIFT: Why Education Is Essential to Our Democracy Friday, November 04, 2011
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that 1 in 15 Americans live on “income of $5,570 or less for an individual and $11,157 for a family of four.” The poverty threshold is double those figures, and represents 46.2 million Americans, “the highest number in the 52 years the (Census) bureau has been publishing figures on it,” said the New York Times earlier this year.
We know that education greatly impacts the economic opportunities available to individuals; if you are a high school graduate the you will earn $565,000 of the course of the course of your lifetime than if you were not. We also know that the smarter our community is, the more economically advantaged our community is; if we increase the high school graduation rate in Hamilton County schools by 10%, 300 more graduates, we will see $1.1 million in government savings from poverty-related benefits and $135,000 in reduced crime costs for a total benefit to our community of over $184 million, or $550 per resident.
We cannot allow financial inequity, derived from the lack of educational opportunities, to continue. But there is so much more at stake besides economic growth when we discuss education. There is also the right to afford all Americans the opportunity to become engaged in democracy. We know that an American’s civic participation corresponds with his/her educational attainment. For instance 30% of those without a high school diploma or equivalent vote, 52% of high school graduates vote, 66% of individuals with some college vote, and 74% of college graduates vote. As Tennessee has one of the lowest percentages of voters (”49th in terms of eligible voters who actually vote”), we cannot relegate education to the back of our priorities. It must come first if we desire a stable and true democracy, where our youth desire and care for participating in our nation because the distance between those with a quality education and those without is too great to avoid.
Posted by in Education
Perspectives: Rhee & Ravitch Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Teachers are under enormous pressure. Standards and incentives and expectations to make incredible marked changes in students’ performances create stress and sometimes undermine our faith in the people we must trust and cherish. It’s important to discuss how we can motivate reform within our public schools without seeing parents abandon hope and saying, I can’t wait five years for change to happen, and without seeing our teachers disillusioned and distracted. Shift would like to invite you to participate in this conversation by posting on its Facebook wall how you believe we can support our teachers and by joining our second Shift Breakout session next Tuesday, September 27 at CreateHere.
Tuesday evening, Michelle Rhee explored the important relationship between students and teachers. The Shift team values her belief that “If you look at things from the perspective of what’s good and right for children, rather than what is good for the system, then you end up with a very different set of policies.”
Whether or not you have children of your own, as a community, we need to shift our priorities to make sure what’s good and right for our children is always at the forefront of our minds. And, what’s good and right for all children are good teachers.
Rhee spoke of increasing teacher salaries based upon consistent student achievement—giving teachers incentives is a concept that is often discussed in education debates. While we are not arguing for or against it, we are reminded of an interview that former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch gave earlier this year concerning the need for great teachers in our public schools:
Part of the mania that we’ve been living with in the past two years is this idea that our schools are overwhelmed with bad teachers, and it’s not true. I think that is a part of the effort to undermine public education. The biggest problem we face with teaching is high turnover rate. Fifty percent of the people who enter teaching are gone within five years. That creates a revolving door when most communities want and need a stable experience.
And Ravitch compares our system with Finland’s:
It’s the poster nation. They don’t have any attrition in Finland. They have made teaching a highly respected and desirable position there. Government pays all of one’s college expenses, and it’s very competitive. Once they are in, they give them tremendous support.
Knowing the concerns of these two respected education experts, combined with the concerns of teacher burnout mentioned in our first Shift Breakout session, we look forward to hearing what our local education experts have to tell us about current efforts to recruit good teachers and engage effective teaching behavior next Tuesday, September 27 at the second Shift Breakout session.
City Share: Code for America Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Please join us on September 28th for City Share: Code for America featuring guest speaker Jennifer Pahlka. City Share is a conversation-based speaker series focused on sharing creative solutions to community issues. City Share provides community members an opportunity to dialogue with individuals from around the country using web-based video projection.
Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and executive director of Code for America. The New York Times described Code for America as “a new nonprofit project…which aims to import the efficiency of the Web into government infrastructures” and tries “to make working in government fun and creative.”
For the past year, Code for America has connected the talents of cutting-edge web developers with the people who deliver public services in the cities of Seattle, Boston, & Philadelphia. Developers work with city officials to identify projects that can benefit from web-based solutions by promoting openness, participation, and efficiency in civic communities. Through this process, Code for America is bringing innovation to the public sector and cultivating tech-savvy citizens working to better our community.
The City of Seattle and Code for America, are working together to make it easier for civic leaders to mobilize their communities. In Boston, they are improving high school education by connecting the community. The City of Philadelphia has partnered with Code for America to help citizens get involved to support public services.
Fundamentally, it’s all about using emerging digital platforms and technologies to unleash the power (and the inherent need) for citizens and stakeholders to act smarter and more effectively together.
Before that, Jennifer spent eight years at CMP Media where she ran the Game Developers Conference, Game Developer magazine, and Gamasutra.com; there she also launched the Independent Games Festival and served as Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association. She is a graduate of Yale University and spent her early career in the non-profit sector.
Please join us for this enlightening presentation from 12-1 pm on Wednesday, September 28 at Createhere. City Share is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.