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Got Parents? December 24, 2013

Posted by latinoschoolleaders in Parent Engagement, Principal Effectiveness.
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By Crystal J. Gallegos, Assistant Principal, Chavez/Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy, Pueblo, CO

NILSL_parentspost_CrystalGallegosSchools across the country are working diligently to get parents more involved in their students’ education. As educators look for innovative ways to engage parents in their schools they are also seeking assistance from the outside community.

There are numerous reasons parents are not engaging in the educational process. These include, but are not limited to: transportation, work, money, intimidation, a feeling of the unknown, insecurities, language, and socio-economic status. Each of these factors must be taken into account when encouraging parents to come and participate at school.

There are numerous outside programs that can be replicated with success at a school, such as: Padres Comprometidos (an NCLR program), Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO), Family Nights, Classroom Parents, Parent Volunteer Groups, and Conversation Groups between parents and administration. The partnership between schools and families are the driving force of student success.  (more…)

Accountability – Texas Style June 17, 2013

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PLC’s at work reviewing assessment data

In Texas, we recently passed the 45th day of state assessments. In literal terms, that means half a semester of school.

At the middle school level, our seventh graders have already taken the English Language Arts (ELA) and Math tests while our eighth graders have taken ELA, Math, Science and American History I tests. At the high school level, our 11th graders have already taken their versions of the same four tests: English III, Algebra II, Physics, and American History II. This past week, our ninth graders took Algebra 1, Biology and World Geography tests. Next week, our 10th graders will finish the testing season by taking their English II, Chemistry, and World History tests. To those of you not from Texas, I welcome you to State Assessments 101 – Texas style!

Did I mention that we started the school year with almost 40 twelfth graders who still needed to pass at least one of the 11th grade tests in order to graduate this school year? Over the course of those laste 45 days, we whittled that number of seniors down to about a dozen. In Texas, for most students, it doesn’t matter if you pass all your classes, receive all your credits or have a high GPA. If you don’t pass all your 11th grade state assessments you cannot graduate.

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Common Core and the Productive Struggle: Paving the Way for Latino Students April 4, 2013

Posted by latinoschoolleaders in Common Standards, Principal Effectiveness.
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By Ingrid Anderson, Instructional Leadership Coach-PUC Schools, Los Angeles, CA

According to the 2010 census, the Latino population had a 37 percent increase since 2000, boasting the largest growth of any ethnic group. In support of social justice in our country, Latino students deserve equal access to the college and career of their choice. However, only 56 percent of Latino students graduate from high school on time compared to 77% of their White peers. By uniting together in an effort to tackle this challenge, states are adopting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as a way to set the bar high for all. The CCSS is an exciting opportunity for all Latino students to be held to high expectations and have access to the educational resources and support they deserve. Across the nation, school districts and charter management organizations are analyzing how the adoption of CCSS will demand significant shifts in the way teachers think about, design and deliver instruction to students. At Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) in Los Angeles, they are working together to embrace this transition.

In the awareness phase of the Common Core transition, PUC Schools have engaged in a few key actions on the road to full implementation in 2014-2015.  (more…)

Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness: The Eagle Warrior Way April 2, 2013

Posted by latinoschoolleaders in Cultural Relevance.
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Marisol Rerucha, Director, MAAC Community Charter School

As educators it is essential that we recognize and respect each student’s culture and their linguistic strengths while at the same time exposing them to the importance and beauty of all cultures. MAAC Community Charter School (MCCS) was created by MAAC, a private non-profit agency, with the intention of providing 9-12th grade students an extended opportunity to earn their high school diploma. The school is seven miles from the US/Mexico international border and seven miles from downtown San Diego.

Our school mascot is the Eagle Warrior. Eagles in North America represent power, beauty, intelligence, patience and discipline. A Warrior is someone who doesn’t think of themselves first, but of others, and is committed to the empowerment of their people. In the Aztec culture, an Eagle Warrior doesn’t just represent the elite class. Rather, it can represent be anyone from any class who has shown special ability.

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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

Posted by latinoschoolleaders in Principal Effectiveness, Video.
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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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“Creating a Culture of Success” Principal Effectiveness February 27, 2013

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By Rich Mestas, Chief Academic Officer, GOAL Academy

Latino school leaders in deep thought about principal effectivenesss

Latino school leaders in deep thought about principal effectiveness.

Today’s educators are asked to do more with less, ensure ALL students are successful, differentiate instruction for students of all skill levels, while operating on greatly reduced (or non-existent) resources that have left no area of the school untouched. The tension between meeting student and staff needs and diminishing resources often results in a high stress, counterproductive environment in which principals and their teams begin to look for low-cost and no cost cure-alls; the one-size-fits-all approach that effectively addresses every challenge in the school. But in our hearts and minds we know there is no singular solution. There is no singular stand-alone curriculum that will solve a school’s academic problems. No singular character education plan that will solve a school’s discipline problems exists. And,there is no singular parent involvement strategy that will ensure effective parent participation because our schools do not have a singular type of student and family.

By design our public schools welcome students with varying skill levels, different strengths and weaknesses, different ideas about what education means to them and their future. Additionally, many of our students come to us with significant social and emotional issues and other non-academic issues that take more resources than the school (and sometimes the larger community) can offer. The 21st century public school environment can be overwhelming, but a principal who rejects the idea that they must lead collaboratively will fail. A successful principal instead builds a team of educational leaders working together toward a common mission (The Wallace Foundation, 2012).

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Investing in Latino Parents Today Brings Success Tomorrow December 18, 2012

Posted by latinoschoolleaders in Parent Engagement.
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By Gini Pupo-Walker, NCLR Fellow and Director of Family and Community Partnerships, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Padres Comprometidos graduatesThis past Sunday, two dozen Latino parents and their children gathered at Casa Azafrán, the new home of Conexión Américas, an NCLR affiliate in Nashville, Tennessee. They were there to celebrate the close of another successful semester as facilitators for Padres Comprometidos, the outstanding series of parent workshops developed by NCLR to inform and empower Latino parents across the country. These parents began as students in a Padres Comprometidos class, learning about adolescent development, role playing parent teacher conferences, and planning for their children’s college education. Upon graduating from the class, parents often volunteer to be trained as facilitators, suddenly and improbably becoming leaders and a trusted resource in their community.

In Nashville, and across the country, we have seen Latino parents come to get help with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) applications, often bringing folders full of proof of doctors and dentist appointments, photographs of school soccer championships, report cards, honor roll certificates, perfect attendance awards, and high school diplomas. These papers reveal the incredible value that Latino parents place on the educational journey of their children. They savor every single success, yet too many Latino parents also experience anguish when their children turn to gangs, drugs, or dropout of school due to pregnancy.

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