Archive for the ‘Educating the Financially Disadvantaged’ Category

Young Harlem Students Share What they are Thankful For (Video)

November 25, 2012

 

A heartwarming Thanksgiving message from the children of Harlem Village Academies.

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Brilliant Intiative for Supporting Hungry Students

October 29, 2012

 

What a fabulous idea. I hope this initiative takes off:

Hungry children from families too poor to eat are being taught cookery at school on Fridays so they have food to take home for the weekend.

Shocking figures have also revealed the number of Britons relying on emergency food handouts has soared to record levels – with charities warning the grim situation is going to get worse.

One in seven children regularly go without a hot meal, according to the Unite union, and in Bradford, West Yorkshire, a handful of schools are getting pupils to cook a high-carbohydrate, nutritious meal before heading home for the weekends.

The Trussell Trust, which runs a nationwide network of 270 foodbanks, said nearly 110,000 people turned to it for help between April and September – compared to 128,697 over the last financial year.

The organisation is expecting to feed more than 200,000 hungry mouths by the end of this financial year, with food prices likely to rise further and fuel bills increase by nearly 10%.

Schools Enlisting Debt Collectors to Make Parents Pay “Voluntary” Donations

July 10, 2012

It seems that I need to go back and consult a dictionary for the definition of the word ‘voluntary’:

Schools have enlisted debt collectors to make parents pay “voluntary” donations, with one school attempting to ban a teenager from the ball until the optional fee was paid.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act reveal cases brought to the attention of the education minister, including a furious parent who received a debt notice from a debt-collecting agency in the name of his son.

Schools have been sent warnings for fudging the fact that some fees are optional, while others have been caught trying to withhold privileges unless the “voluntary” fees were paid.

By law, every child has the right to a free education from age 5 to 19. But state schools say they cannot survive on government funding so ask parents for an annual donation – on top of compulsory fees. In the year to December 2010, schools collected $101m in donations.

What’s More Important for Education – Smart Boards or Breakfast?

July 5, 2012

Just like in life, there are luxuries and necessities. Educators want to make us believe that digital gadgets like smart boards are a vital tool in the modern-day classroom. That is simply not true. Whilst I love my smart board and I was disappointed when it was out-of-order earlier this year, I can teach perfectly well without it.

One of the biggest necessities in education is the need for our students to arrive at school well fed and fully nourished. If that is not the case, it is our duty to do all that we can to provide healthy food for them.

But schools are underfunded? Where will the money come from?

I believe that even if we have to go without smart boards and other useful but non-essential equipment, it is worth it in order to ensure that our students are not going hungry:

Two children in every school class are going hungry because their parents fail to provide proper meals, according to new research.

An estimated one million children in the UK now live in homes without enough to eat, according to the study by the parenting website Netmums and the child welfare charity Kids Company.

The charity has reported a rise of 233 per cent in the last 12 months in children using its services for their only meal of the day. Those children have an average age of just 10.

Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder of Kids Company, said: “We are seeing a lot more children struggling to get hold of food. We have kids who were so starving they stole frozen meat from a flat they visited and they ate it raw. We’re seeing effectively responsible parents who are just not managing to have food in the house.

This is another consequence of those blasted standardized tests. Schools wouldn’t dare invest in anything that didn’t have an immediate impact on student learning – including breakfast.

This is not good enough. We represent more than just a place of learning. We must also focus our attention on student welfare and ensure that every child that enters a classroom will be looked after properly, no matter what.

Sometimes Reports Into Education = Good Toilet Paper

December 5, 2010

I am sick of these “doom and gloom” reports into education that pretend to represent children from disadvantaged backgrounds, but instead put them down with cold disregard.

There is no better recent example of this than a  report, entitled “The Foundation Years: Preventing Poor Children Becoming Poor Adults,” by Labour MP and new “Poverty Czar” Frank Field.  According to the report, success in life is determined by the age of 5.  Beyond the age of 5, kids don’t have much say in whether or not they will make a success out of life.

By the age of five, a huge gulf already exists between the abilities of pupils from comfortable and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Research shows “we can predict at three and at five who will be unemployed, who will struggle to get a low paid job,” Mr Field said to the BBC.

Sally Copley, UK head of policy for Save the Children, said it should not have to be a choice between improving services and boosting the income of the worst-off families.  “By the time many children walk through the school gates for the first time, it’s too late for them.”

I don’t know where to start.  Perhaps by making some points on the term “success”.

1.  Mr Field defines success by how much a person earns (as well as whether or not they have employments at all).  In my view, a persons earnings, whilst not irrelevant, is not a complete reflection of a persons success.  Are they good people?  Do they follow the laws of society?  Are they good parents?  Do they treat others fairly?  Do they have integrity?  Using this criteria, lowly paid people can be far more ‘successful” than wealthy people.

2.  This leads me to an important gripe I have with the messages society seems to proliferate.  What job we do has no bearing on a persons success.  A taxi cab driver might not sound like a successful profession on face value.  But that same taxi driver has a crucial role to play.  They help the disabled and the aged, are crucial in keeping intoxicated people off the roads and protect vulnerable people from walking the streets and taking the trains late at night.  A house painter may seem like an ordinary profession, but have you ever looked at the difference a bright, well-painted room makes to a persons mood and outlook?  All jobs have a critical role to play in making life more enjoyable regardless of the pay involved.

3.  As a teacher, I don’t spend any time looking into the socio-economic background of my students.  I also don’t tend to get obsessed over rating the parents.  I feel very confident in my ability to assist all types of students from all types of backgrounds in becoming successful citizens and productive members of society.  I feel that my students have the potential to become every bit as successful as Mr. Field himself!  Mr. Field should not confuse, as he seems to be doing, the quality of a childs academic achievements with the quality of parenting that child is receiving.  There are many parents who aren’t able to spend sufficient time helping their kids with their schoolwork because they are working long hours to simply put food on the table.  In today’s world, we have to appreciate that all too many parents sacrifice what others take for granted for nothing more than to provide for their families.

What Mr. Field has done, for all his good intentions, is needlessly narrow the definition of success, outrage taxpayers for funding students when “it’s too late for them” anyway and provide an extraordinarily negative message to people from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Mr. Field, thank you.  This world can never have enough toilet paper!


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