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Culturally Relevant Practice: What This Means for a K-8 School in Colorado Striving to Make Learning Meaningful March 25, 2013

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By Carolyn Gery, Ed.D., Principal, Scholars to Leaders AcademyMLK_Memorial_LaitnoSchoolLeaders

He tossed my renewal application across the table and stared at me, with a pointed look, rubbed his head and spat, “How can you state in this that your kids can think critically.” What could I say? I had to sit quietly, knowing what I know, and knowing it was neither the time nor place for a heated debate.

He is a board member of our authorizer and the power dynamic is clear. I was told one metric alone counted as the primary measurement of the quality of our school – our standardized test scores. I work between the rock and the hard place of using the once-a-year test scores to guide instructional practice in a way that results in meaningful learning for our students.

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The New Digital Divide- Academic Digital Divide March 18, 2013

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By Jose Varela, Principal, Academia Avance

Digital Divide

The online dictionary, Webopedia defines Digital Divide as “A term used to describe the discrepancy between people who have access to and the resources to use new information and communication tools, such as the Internet, and people who do not have the resources and access to the technology”.

 In 2001, a report titled  “Latinos and Information Technology-The Promise and the Challenge”, released by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, stated that only 40% of Latino households had Internet access while 62% of the White household had access. The percentage for low income Latinos was even lower, at 32%.

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Teaching and Learning — A Principal’s Perspective March 15, 2013

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By John De La Cruz, Principal, George I. Sanchez Charter School

I don’t know if there has ever been a time when public schools only had to concern themselves with teaching and learning academic content but I can say with certainty that now is definitely not that time. At my inner city charter school everyday brings new challenges that have nothing to do with academic content.

George I. Sanchez studentsIf you were a principal at my school, a typical day on for you might look something like this: You start the morning dealing with some high school students who were brought in reeking of the marijuana they smoked on their way to school that morning. Shortly thereafter you deal with some middle-school students who were bullying each other because of something that was posted to Facebook. Just as that is resolved, you are made aware that the young lady from yesterday’s bullying incident is having a crisis and has indicated to staff that she is contemplating suicide. While addressing this issue, it is brought to your attention that a pregnant girl in 10th grade is possibly experiencing contractions and needs medical attention. Efforts to reach any of the parents or family members of any the students involved in these incidents have not been met with success. Phone numbers that were provided to the school are no longer active or are answered by the wrong party. Therefore, the responsibility of what to do with those students falls squarely on your shoulders.

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Making Distributive Leadership Work March 5, 2013

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By Jose Enrique Lopez, Assistant Principal, AAMA/Sanchez Charter School

Distributive Leadership

In a school setting, faculty, staff and students commonly understand that those in leadership roles typically exhibit high levels of knowledge, skills, and talents. In education at the local level, those leaders are district superintendents or school principals. However, the reality of any successful leadership model in a 21st century public school is now starting to rely more and more on the capacity of that particular district or school leader to generate and establish the concept of distributive leadership.

Distributive Leadership_3Real sharing of leadership responsibilities and functions could be the simple way to define distributive leadership. In a school distributive leadership model, every individual, faculty or staff member, understands the value and importance of his or her daily responsibilities and functions. Every individual at the school or district assumes the role of a leader. In the words of my head school principal, John De la Cruz, at AAMA/Sanchez Charter School, “…everyone in the school needs to understand that he or she is also the principal in our school building.” For instance, the teacher who makes over a thousand decisions in a given instructional day is also deploying the knowledge and skills of a school leader. The teacher facilitator or instruction specialist who supports, coaches and consults with those teachers over the best instructional practices and researched-based learning strategies is also the leader of a school in his or her own specialized role. Distributive leadership is a collaborative effort that involves integrating every school system and daily tasks to perform and achieve the necessary results at the end of the school year.

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