Public School Needs
  1. Budget There is a need to examine how resources and funding levels are allocated to programs and how these programs exist to address the educational inequities that are prevalent among our students in order to provide equal access to a quality education that will offer our students the options of a college or career track. Because we may not have the focused curriculum offered to students outside our community they are less likely to receive the special services they may need and are thereby more likely to be at-risk of failing and/or dropping-out. We cannot have a double standard. Learning programs must be equitably funded as students’ needs are determined when addressing curriculum and instruction, staff and faculty professional growth and in-services/training opportunities, the integration of the visual and performing arts with the core curriculum, English learners’ needs and multicultural education, and the belief that all students can succeed if that is what our expectation is. A needs assessment together with a “roots cause analysis” approach for a multiple-day in-service addressing our school data to determine goals and objectives as part of our existing vision/mission statement would be pre-determined with a school team of teacher-leaders, classified staff and administration. Progress to be monitored and published at least every six weeks.
  2. Equity There is a need to examine the equity of access to educational programs with regards to what students are allowed to participate in and what students are denied such access. Stronger measures must be taken to encourage and ensure that all students take more courses in the sciences and mathematics and understand the importance for exposure to these subjects, that students achieve a certain level of consistency that maintains and constantly reviews the basic concepts, and allows for students to try for the mastery levels in all subjects in order to synthesize what they have learned across the curriculum. A serious approach with built-in accountabilities needs to stress the scope and sequence to confirm that the required material is covered. For example, stronger recruitment efforts are needed to explore how to increase the number of students taking Advanced Placement and a – g coursework preparing them for the 21st century. Of course, technology through one-to-one computer education courses must be presented to the entire teaching and learning bodies. Technology must be a part of the school’s teaching and learning environment including: smart boards; computer projectors; wireless/ FM microphones; PDA’s; i-Pods, podcasts; blogs; the internet; and multi-platform systems inclusive of MIDI/MAC/WIN in creating and maintaining intelligent classrooms. Multilingual modes of communication must be presented to the community explaining diverse options including alternative educational choices ensuring that everyone is empowered with the needed information to make optimum choices.
  3. Tracking There is a need to examine the effects of tracking within our school to verify that all students are allowed to select educational programs that are challenging, motivating, stimulating and rigorous. Students and their parents need to be informed as to the consequences of nationally standardized testing programs, state standardized examinations, and the district’s mandated testing policies, as well as their progress reports and grade point averages. The teaching and learning communities need to be informed of their rights and privileges and have open access to district-wide information regarding quantitative as well as qualitative data analyses, text-book adoptions and curricular choices regarding the master schedule and extra-curricular activities, and standards-based frameworks for daily lesson planning, thematic unit development, and creative lesson delivery that is comprehensible to everyone.
  4. Communication There is a need to examine the variations in the needs of our students to determine the parity of participation in such programs that offer educational excellence. Much work is warranted in the area of communication and outreach to parents and parents should feel welcomed and appreciated in their community school site. Information must be published in their language and in a format that is easily understood and comprehensible, and information sessions implemented within their communities for open forums, debates and question and answer periods regarding programs and opportunities available to them. Plans must be constructed to address the issue of patterns and trends that tend to diminish educational access to options and opportunities to students. Above and beyond this, we must seek to establish strong and reliable business partnerships in order to procure needed funds and services, positive male and female role models representative of their own ethnicity and culture, and internship opportunities for our students.
  5. The Achievement Gap There is a need to re-conceptualize the old Black/White paradigm of integration/desegregation and operationalize a more relevant paradigm for the student diversity in the 21st century. This alone is very important if we are to address the achievement gap because of the underachievement of our students and the fact that in many cases this gap is widening. We need to take a hard look at different types of quantifiable data and these numbers must be addressed by policy makers within public school districts and institutions of higher learning at the macro level as we address our immediate concerns at the micro level within our school site for the success of our students.
  6. Academic Achievement There is a need to examine the curricular conditions that lead to the inequities in the academic achievement levels of ethnically and linguistically diverse students in comparison to White students. Stronger leadership is needed to advocate for changes in legislation and policy towards a more positive and supportive approach to shift the negative attitudes prevalent in education concerning students of color and speakers of other languages into a positive one that appreciates who they are and values their culture. Current and new classroom teachers and administrators need to be prepared to address issues that greatly impact our students’ learning communities in the following areas: social, cultural, linguistic and economic backgrounds of the entire spectrum of American students; studies in curriculum and instruction on the nature of language developments and second language acquisition; comprehension of the diverse cultural patterns and historical influence of the demographic evolution of the USA integrated into all facets of teacher education programs; require all teachers working with English Learners to learn a second language and; require all itinerant educators from private and public organizations providing staff in-services to be trained and certified according to the state’s standards in cultural and language teaching approaches by meeting the same requirements that all state-certified teachers must meet.
  7. Socio-Economic-Status There is a need to examine the conditions that lead to the low status of services provided to English language learners and students of color in school communities that provide minimal second language support and a compensatory approach of educational services in school settings that claim to have integration programs. According to the 2000 Census, no racial or ethnic group forms a majority in California. In California’s 2001 Language Census, 1.56 million students were identified as English language learners. In California, approximately 47% or 2.8 million students were from low-income backgrounds and 37% lived in poverty that were from female-head households. However, this does not necessarily mean that poverty causes low academic achievement but that they often attend neighborhood schools that have academic standards and expectations that are lower for them and teachers that are less qualified to teach such a diverse population. Approximately 4,800 or 58% of the schools and 833 or 83% of the school districts in California receive Title I funds, based on the number of low-income students according to the free and reduced lunch (and breakfast) meals served and/or CalWorks, (formerly known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children). The educational needs of California’s language-minority, non-White families, and poverty-stricken students- including White students, extend beyond merely learning English, being exposed to higher mathematics and the sciences, and the set of rules needed to economically survive into the 21st century, from appropriate language instruction and access to the core curriculum to the need to interact positively and successfully with other students and to maintain their self-esteem.
  8. Ethnic Code Representation There is a need to examine the conditions that lead to school sites having a staff that is not representative of the ethnic and linguistic student diversity. There is a negative sociopolitical trend in public school districts with regard to diversity and many tensions between the goals of the teacher preparation university programs, district hiring patterns and procedures, and the educational reforms within school programs. Though universities seem to offer student teachers courses addressing student diversity in the classroom the student population is not proportionally represented in the classroom teaching staff or the administrative staff. The weakest link in the in-service teacher training programs are in the areas of bilingual education/ESL/ELD and mathematics and the sciences, and the same holds true, with few exceptions, in our university teacher education programs where these programs are minimal. Recruitment, retainment, and retraining of teachers would be highly desirable and effective towards excellence in education.
  9. Equitable Education and the Conditions for Learning There is a need to examine the equity conditions of school integration with respect to existing patterns of school/class size, qualified teachers, college preparatory courses, and quality of content curriculum. Educators at times teach in classrooms accepting their beliefs that (1) not all students in front of them will attend college or will even graduate from high school and therefore why even try to go beyond the basics and, (2) the curriculum is the textbook a school happens to have adopted and therefore only teach what is published therein. The acceptance of this status quo mentality forgoes any creative teaching strategies inclusive of all histories’ contributors and alienates students by segregating them into families that are eventually either mainstreamed into society or relegated to second-class citizens outside of the decision-making entities that greatly impact a majority of the nation. I suggest that we offer more opportunities to allow for exposure and access to AP programs for students normally underrepresented, present teachers with more scenarios and possibilities for ‘thinking-out-of-the-box’, and allowing for more calculated risk-taking by increasing the domain of their fields of knowledge and thereby increasing the curriculums’ rigor by offering students unique and inventive challenges in their learning experiences. High curricular and instructional standards/expectations and social/cultural activities in the classroom, individualized attention, and a desire to attend class are all predictors of rigor in the curriculum.
  10. Law Enforcement and Community Awareness There is a need to document judicial system practices that hinder or promote the development of people of color and speakers of other languages under the name of equal educational access and opportunity. Racial segregation still exists in today’s low-income communities. Regardless of the reasons police still have a tendency to aggravate African-American communities and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to harass our Latino communities. I have personally witnessed many of our students and parents stopped, searched, detained, and/or taken into custody based on the color of their skin and other “suspicious” attributes. Some law enforcement agencies may lack empathy and, at times, fail to regard the learning communities’ rights and due process when apprehending our students or their parents. I have seen raids conducted in broad daylight in front of selected schools before, during and after school when students are either entering or exiting the campus. Communication between law enforcement agencies and schools are practically non-existent and need to improve inclusive of establishing partnerships within and without the community’s businesses in order to provide learning opportunities outside of campus and during non-school hours. I recommend a strong and visible partnership with law enforcement entities with ride-along community volunteers and bi-weekly community meetings to share-out relevant and important information regarding the safety of our campus and the status of our neighborhood. I would also recommend partnerships with local community colleges and universities for ongoing information on literacy, research-driven strategies on teaching and learning, and data-driven policies on best practices for supporting the classroom environment- inclusive of student awareness of institutions of higher learning to eventually earning a college degree. We need to solicit philanthropists regarding procuring funds towards our goals and objectives, provide opportunities for our students to head towards their careers, and procure a combination of federal, state, county, and city services in the form of internships, programs, and partnerships to establish our students’ presence in both civilian not-for-profit and profit businesses and government-sponsored jobs, programs, and educational opportunities inclusive of NGO’s.