Colorado

Thursday Churn: Discipline debate

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

A new report, “Discipline Policies, Successful Schools, and Racial Justice,” argues that disproportionately large numbers of minority students in the U.S. are being removed from schools for relatively minor infractions and that overuse and abuse of zero tolerance polices and other forms of student discipline are having a detrimental effect on student achievement.

The report, by Dan Losen of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, was released in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Kevin Welner, director of the University of Colorado’s National Education Policy Center, which commissioned and published the Losen study, said at the news conferene, “Although our society is more diverse than ever before, schools today are more segregated than they were 30 years ago. It’s important to understand the link between diversity, discipline and academic achievement. The evidence presented by Losen shows that minority students are treated more harshly when it comes to discipline, and as a result of this harsh treatment they suffer academically.” Link to the study

Meanwhile, members of the Colorado Legislative Task Force to Study Discipline are considering proposing a comprehensive discipline law reform bill to the 2012 legislature. (You can read the current draft here.) The panel meets again on Oct. 18 to discuss the draft (committee website).

Theresa Peña, outgoing Denver school board member, has received one of five 2011 Education Warrior Awards from Democrats for Education reform. Peña will continue to be a figure on the city’s education scene as head of Mayor Michael Hancock’s Denver Education Compact. DFER news release

In case you missed it: A Denver judge has denied the Colorado Education Association’s request for a preliminary injunction suspending the state regulation that requires schools to notify parents of teacher arrests. Details

What’s on tap:

Officials of the University of Colorado Denver and the Colorado Community College System are holding a 10 a.m. news conference to announce a new “admission promise” for community college graduates looking to pursue a bachelor’s degree at UCD. School leaders are billing as “the first public university program of its kind in the Denver Metro area to provide an added but essential component of on-campus advising from the University of Colorado Denver as part of its transfer guarantee.”

EdNews understands that the program will mean that community college students who sign on for the program as they begin their community college experience will be eligible for a direct transfer into UCD and will receive intensive advising from UCD academic advisors. The initiative will involve the Arapahoe, Aurora, Denver, Front Range and Red Rocks community colleges.

The event will be held at the North Classroom Building of the Auraria Higher Education Center.

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education meets starting at 10 a.m. at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Much of the commission’s time at meetings this fall will be devoted to work on the higher education master plan called for by 2011 legislation. Agenda

Jefferson County school board members meet at 5 p.m. in closed session to discuss their superintendent’s evaluation. The public portion is scheduled to begin about 6 p.m. at 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. The agenda includes discussion on a motion to support Proposition 103, the statewide ballot initiative to raise taxes to increase education funding.

Denver Public Schools board members meet at 4:30 p.m. in closed session to discuss their superintendent’s evaluation. They convene in public at about 5:30 p.m. for a work session focusing on the district’s School Performance Framework results and Denver Plan goals. Agenda

All nine candidates for the three Denver Public Schools board of education seats on the Nov. 1 ballot are expected tonight for a candidate forum sponsored by Metro Organizations for People. The event is set for 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Bruce Randolph School, 3955 Steele St. Desserts, Spanish interpretation and child care will be provided.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.