Strong School Culture Creates Academic Success
John Laughner, Legislative and Communications Manager, Magnet Schools of America, Posted 4/29/2013
A representative from the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) recently called the national office to sing the praises of a dynamic young magnet school principal who was getting dramatic results at one of the city's low performing schools. The principal, Dr. Roberto Padilla of West Prep Academy, recently finished his doctoral dissertation at Fordham University regarding ways to turn around low-performing schools. He has started implementing some of the policies from his research at his school.
Before speaking with the principal, I decided to do some homework on the school. The West Prep Academy is a middle school located near Harlem in New York City. It was originally housed in the same building as five other schools, and is a Title I school with 85% of its students qualifying for free/reduced lunch. When Dr. Padilla first came on board in 2011, West Prep was characterized as a "dumping ground" for students who did not get accepted to their preferred choice of schools.
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Funding Education Isn't a Partisan Issue, it's Patriotic
Scott Thomas, Executive Director, Magnet Schools of America, Posted 12/19/2012
The fiscal cliff is very real and will have a profound impact on the education of children in the U.S. at a time when we need more strategic investment in our schools, not further fiscal burden and cuts to education.A recent EdWeek article explains the educational impact of the "fiscal cliff" and demonstrates how deep the problem really is for schools: "And entitlement spending carries its own implications for K-12. Education advocates are keeping a particularly close eye on Medicaid, which helps low-income people gain access to health care. Medicaid, along with K-12 education, is a key driver of spending at the state level. If the federal government were to significantly scale back its share of Medicaid spending, that could ultimately put the squeeze on schools, said Michael Leachman, the director of state fiscal research for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. ["If states had to absorb that kind of big cost shift, that just makes it that much harder for them to restore their school funding,"] he said. What's more, about half of Medicaid recipients are children."
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School Leadership: Principal Lessons from a Merit School of Excellence
Dr. Robert Brooks, Former Director, National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL), Posted 11/28/2012
In a previous eChoice article, School Leadership: A Snapshot, my message was that each school year offers a new opportunity to foster change in your school culture, faculty, staff, and students. A principal's leadership style influences the entire school community, and in my experience, the new school year is one of the best times to review your leadership style and new initiatives with faculty and staff.
For this article, I decided to go one step further and actually look into a magnet school for my research; specifically, Oaklawn Language Academy, a K-8 magnet school with 530 students in Charlotte, North Carolina. Last year it won MSA's top award, the prestigious Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award, which includes a $5,000 cash prize.
I spoke with the school's principal, Carmen Concepcion, to learn first-hand what the impact of this award was on the school, its culture, her leadership style, and how staff, students and the community see the school differently. What's really exciting is that she won the award as a first year principal and that 56 percent of her teachers are in their first three years of teaching!
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How To Teach Students Who Don't Look Like You: Culturally Responsive Teaching Strategies
Bonnie M. Davis, Ph.D., Posted 11/28/2012
It was the opening day of school. I was explaining the guidelines for a semester course on world literature to the juniors and senior sitting in front of me. "We will read hard stuff," I said, "such as Toni Morrison, Mahfouz, Marquez, and others." The students look impressed as I explained the rigor of the course and my expectations for their work.
Suddenly, two boys rushed through the door, several minutes late, and interrupted the class. I frowned at them, noticing one was African-American and one was Asian.
They both smiled apologetically as they searched for seats. My brain searched for reasons why they arrived late to my advanced class on the first day.
In a split second, I thought that perhaps the Asian student had lingered in his calculus class to ask the teacher a question, making him late for my class. Perhaps the African-American student had been playing basketball on the court outside my window where the boys played nearly every day. Plausible explanations? What do you think?
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Allies in Achievement: Families
Scott Thomas, Magnet Schools of America, Executive Director, Posted 10/5/2012
"The common thread that is woven throughout a student's academic career is the parent, so inspire a life-long parent commitment. Together, parents, students, and teachers can create a synergy that raises academic achievement. Give your students an intrinsic love of learning. Allow your parents to experience the success of their academic involvement, so they are motivated to continue nurturing their child until adulthood." - Jeffrey Thompson
As a parent of a second grader, I understand the influence we as parents have on the education of our daughter. For magnet schools, starting the year off right means engaging families in positive and meaningful ways while creating a sense of community. Family engagement may seem like an easy concept given the fact that these are the parents who applied. But it's one area magnet school leaders and teachers need to pay vigilance to. To keep reading, please click here