January 9, 2019


Kansas City Schools

Bilingual Kansas City Kids Brighten Up Their School’s Plain Gray Walls With Images Of Latino Culture

By Elle Moxley, KCUR (12/22/19)
School’s out for winter break, and Kansas City Public Schools fourth grader Miranda Hernandez can’t wait to have arroz con leche with her family on Christmas. “It’s rice with milk,” she explained. “We have it every time when it’s cold, like in winter.” Sharing food with friends and family is an important part of Miranda’s culture, which is why she likes the new mural at Carver Dual Language School so much.  “We made this mural because before our walls were plain grey, and they were looking a little sad, so we decided to make a project,” said fourth grader Gustavo Sanchez. “Then all the kids drew all this stuff. It’s about our culture.”

National Fellowship for Education Leaders of Color Welcomes 2020 Kansas City Cohort

By Cision

The Surge Institute, a national non-profit organization, whose mission is to elevate and invest in leaders of color who create transformative change in urban education, recently selected 17 leaders for the second cohort of their Surge Academy Fellowship in Kansas City. The 17 leaders selected for the 2020 cohort will embark on a six-month-long program, which aims to advance emerging African-American and Latinx education leaders… “As a Surge Fellow, I hope to increase my leadership capacity to challenge the status quo while connecting with other leaders to contend with issues on the educational landscape that are rooted in socio-historical oppressive narratives and beliefs to help our students to reach the pinnacle of their academic success. Furthermore, I seek to broaden my knowledge base and skills to create powerful change in the system and I am positive that the networks and coaching in the Surge Academy will help me to not only join the movement but help others to catch fire as well,” said Jermaine Wilson, 2020 Kansas City Surge Academy Fellow and Director of Counseling and Support Services/AVID District Director at Kansas City Public Schools.

Missouri Education News

Missouri officials propose $400M teacher pay boost plan


By Savannah Rudicel, KCTV5

Missouri education officials say they have a plan that would not only increase teachers’ pay but also offer raises and attract them to positions that are challenging to fill. The state currently has one of the worst teacher compensations in the country, ranking at 40th with the average salary of $48,000, according to data from the National Education Association. But a new proposal could lift Missouri up to 26th with an average salary of about $54,000. At a closed meeting Thursday in Jefferson City, it will discuss a pay raise for every teacher in the state and a new minimum salary requirement.

National Education News

National School Public Relations Association Newsletter

Video of the Week — WE Are Here for YOU

In Lakota Local Schools of Liberty Township, Ohio, staff were asked to think of a student who inspires them to want to be a better teacher, school resource officer or aide. This video captures staff throughout the district surprising their students with heartfelt statements about how those students are their inspiration. Watch the video.

The original video was shared at the district’s State of the School event and has been viewed more than 60,000 times.

Thank you to Betsy Fuller, the district’s director of school/community relations, for sharing this video.


NSPRA Sweep of Schools Making News —
Are You Prepared for Issues Like These?

Concerns Over ‘Lockdown Anxiety’ Continue

A recent in-depth Detroit News article highlights how parents in Michigan and across the nation are raising questions about ‘lockdown anxiety’ at K–12 schools and what is being asked of children as young as 5 during active shooter training. While approaches vary from district to district, some 95 percent of U.S. schools report some type of security drills. Experts say such exercises can save lives, but can also produce anxiety, stress and traumatic symptoms. Law enforcement officials advocate options-based training, which encourages school staff and students to run, hide or fight in an emergency. Some other school safety experts oppose certain tactics such as teaching children and staff to attack gunmen or extreme drills. A U.S. Department of Education guide suggests the run, hide, fight model as a possible supplement to other protocols, like lockdowns, but only for adults and as a last resort. In a paper on best practices, the National Association of School Psychologists says it’s critical that drills be appropriate to individual development levels, and take into consideration prior traumatic experiences, special needs and personalities. They suggest involving mental health professionals in every stage of preparation, and training staff to recognize common trauma reactions.


Recent Investigations Spotlight Issue of Identifying Quality Schools

A review of two recent investigations about real estate and school ratings has put a spotlight on the issue of properly identifying quality schools. Posted by The 74, a non-profit, non-partisan education news site, the analysis concludes that the one big takeaway is that you can’t tell a good school without measuring student growth. One of the investigations, covered in a Chalkbeat article, concluded that the rating algorithm used by GreatSchools.org helped push families toward more segregated schools. The other, a three-year Newsday investigation, shows how real estate agents on Long Island have steered customers using inequitable practices based on race. The 74 analysis says that both reflect on the way rankings and perceptions define school quality. But this definition has more to do with the composition of a school’s student body than the school’s ability to educate those students, the author points out. Such debates show the importance of tracking how well a school actually teaches the children it has, he notes, measuring how well students grow over time. “If we don’t measure student growth, we’ll have the wrong definition of school quality.”


Virginia District to Allow Students Day Off to Protest

One of the nation’s largest school districts soon will officially give students time off to participate in protests. Beginning Jan. 27, seventh through 12th grade students in Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools will be permitted one excused absence each school year to engage in “civic engagement activities.” Activities students can take a day off for include marches, meetings with local delegates, senators or congressmen and other types of involvement within the community. Students must give at least two days notice before the absence, school officials said. A parent or guardian has to give permission and students must fill out a form to explain the reason they’re missing school. The new policy was introduced by school board member Ryan McElveen who believes the rule may be the first of its kind in the U.S. “I think we’re setting the stage for the rest of the nation with this,” he said. “It’s a dawning of a new day in student activism, and school systems everywhere are going to have to be responsive to it.” But some experts, who note that skipping school for protests tends to favor liberal causes, predict some backlash.


Dealing With the Inequities of Parent Fundraising

Nationally, parent organizations have subsidized teacher salaries, art and music programs, after school enrichment, playgrounds and much more. They have paid to keep programs open, buildings updated, libraries staffed, and athletic coaches on staff. But how many schools, particularly those serving poor kids, are benefiting? No one knows precisely how much money parents raise annually for public schools. Federal data on private donations are incomplete for school districts attended by one in three U.S. students. Other sources estimate that the millions raised annually by parent groups go to less than 10 percent of the nation’s public school children. As several studies have shown, this means that parent donations often exacerbate inequities in public schools that are already trying to survive on inadequate state funding and localized wealth via property taxes. So what can be done? Some experts suggest that district leaders press for resource-sharing, systems to distribute outside donations and transparency about parent fundraising. Some districts have indeed banned donations to individual schools, instead distributing the funds equitably throughout the district. A report from the Center for American Progress includes a number of recommendations, especially in support of equity grants, that should be useful to those interested