Today’s guest post is written by Ken Wenglewski, Manager of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program. Last month, Ken had a chance to see firsthand the challenges and rewards of running a public school. We thought his experience was a great way to show how people can create and maintain links between schools and the neighborhoods.
On April 5th, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in Tulsa Public Schools’ “Principal for a Day” at Rogers High School, under the leadership of Stacey Vernon. Stacey was awarded Principle of the Year so it was an honor to shadow her work.
Coming to Rogers was a bit surreal. My wife attended Rogers so walking the halls was very nostalgic.
My day started by working with the Assistant Principal Kendra Bremlett. We talked about her role as support for Stacey. We also spoke of the exciting things that will be happening this Fall with the implementation of College Summit; one of our department’s educational partners.
Later, Stacy took over and we met with April Dalto, a science teacher who had her class cook hotdogs with natural sunlight. The class was energetic, engaged and very creative.
Back in Stacy’s office, I was offered the opportunity to communicate through an Auto-dialer system called School Connects. I read a script out loud, on the phone, telling parents to show up at a bowling event. I had a blast sounding like a DJ for a radio station!
There was another memorable moment back at Stacey’s office. She has a pinball machine in the back office that she likes to use when she isn’t buried in instructional leadership duties. Needless to say, it isn’t used very often.
To that point, the most amazing thing that I observed with Stacey was her ability to know all of the students by name. (more…)
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I’m often inspired by the innovative ideas being developed to help low-income families meet both present and future needs. One example I recently shared highlighted community gardens that provide fresh food to low-income neighborhoods in Tulsa. Today, I’m drawing inspiration from the economic seeds being planted through San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College (K2C) program.
Launched in 2011 by the City and County of San Francisco, K2C is the first publicly funded, universal children’s savings account program in the country. Operated through the city’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), the program ensures every kindergarten student in the San Francisco Unified School District is automatically enrolled in a College Savings Account. Accounts are seeded with $50 provided by the city-county government, with students enrolled in the National School Lunch Program receiving an additional $50.
Accounts are designed to make contributing as easy as possible by allowing relatives and extended family to deposit money by mail, online, or in person. There is no minimum deposit amount required, so families can give what they can afford, when they can afford it. Partnerships with local foundations, organizations and businesses also provide matching funds for promotions that encourage families to save regularly and speed the growth of account balances.
The program is still relatively new but the results so far are encouraging. As of 2012, over (more…)
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CFED recently released their 2013 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, subtitled Living on the Edge: Financial Security and Policies to Rebuild American Prosperity. It details how millions of Americans are still just getting by in the wake of the recession, and for Oklahoma the data highlights two or three real problem areas. However, before we take the plunge into a sea of disconcerting data, there are two bright spots. Oklahoma earned the second highest rank among the states in Early Childhood Education participation, an especially relevant figure since CAP Tulsa is an early childhood program provider. The state can also boast of a low unemployment rate, the fifth best in the country. However, the high marks do not carry over to other areas of the Scorecard.
The Assets and Opportunity Scorecard examines the financial security of Americans by assessing states based on 69 different outcome measures. The measures are grouped into five broader categories: 1) Financial Assets and Income, 2) Business and Jobs; 3) Housing and Homeownership; 4) Health Care; and 5) Education. Oklahoma’s general report card, shown below, reflects a mixture of good news and bad news:
- D – Financial Assets & Income
- B – Business & Jobs
- B – Housing & Homeownership
- D – Health Care
- C – Education
For more detail on all of Oklahoma’s results, you can click here. For now, to better understand what these grades mean, we will take a quick look at just two of Oklahoma’s problem areas: 1) Financial Assets and Income; and 2) Health Care. (more…)
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For anyone following Newark Mayor Cory Booker on Twitter, or keeping up with him in the news, Tuesday, December 4th was the big day. Booker will try to live a week on the monetary equivalent of the average SNAP benefit, which comes out to $1.40 a meal. Newark’s mayor will demonstrate how tough it is for low-income families to cover the cost of a healthy diet, especially if the main resource for their grocery budget is SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps. Booker is not the first politician to take the challenge. However, his prominence has turned the endeavor into national news, and it is worth a brief discussion about how the numbers play out in Oklahoma, where 880,939 people received SNAP benefits in 2011.
First some background. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is designed to do just what the name suggests: act as a supplement to other income. Recent numbers from the American Community Survey (ACS) show the program is largely living up to its name in Oklahoma, where an estimated 77% of participants are working families.
The supplemental income provided by SNAP in Oklahoma amounts to $1541.16 annually. The value is loaded onto a card, similar to a debit card, and funds can only be used on qualified food items; so no diapers, no alcohol, no dog food, and no vitamins. To qualify in Oklahoma monthly household income for a family of four must fall below $2,422, or $29,064 annually. Combining the average SNAP benefit with the maximum allowable income in this scenario puts total household income at $30,605.16. According to Federal Poverty Guidelines, this combined total puts a family of four at about 137% of (more…)
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What is the best way to prepare for a recession, apart from building assets and storing money away for a rainy day? It would seem that my high school counselor had this one right, it comes down to education. The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm, released last week by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute’s Center on Education and the Workforce, shows that while the recession was tough on everyone, those with four-year or graduate degrees had it better than most. The report’s title, coupled with the images of umbrellas, sends a clear message; a college degree provides protection during hard economic times.
According to the Georgetown report, four out of every five jobs wiped out during the recession were held by employees with a high school diploma or less. That amounts to 5.6 million jobs lost, and to date there has been no recovery for that sector. However, those with even a little college education, or those holding associate degrees, only saw a 1.75 million drop in jobs and the recovery has already replaced 1.6 million of those lost jobs. Most impressive is that people with a Bachelor’s level degree or higher gained 187,000 jobs by the end of the recession, and have added another 2 million during the recovery.
This news comes as conformation to many of us who advocate for higher education, but we also need to be mindful of the rising cost of college and (more…)
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The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released their 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book. It details how kids are doing across the United States, measuring overall child well-being, as well as ranking states in four specific areas: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community. There are also individual state profiles, and Oklahoma’s data holds both good and bad news.
The KIDS COUNT Data Center ranks Oklahoma 40th overall in child well-being, and this is a slight improvement over last year. However, while the state made gains in five key areas, they fell in nine others while two remained unchanged. The worst news was in Economic Well-Being and Family and Community Indicators, where there simply was no improvement to report: more kids are living in poverty and in high poverty areas. Health was a mixed bag, showing a higher number of low-birth weight babies, which is bad, but also reporting more children with insurance and fewer child and teen deaths, which is obviously good news. Education trends looked somewhat better overall, with regards to preschool attendance and reading and math scores, but not enough high school students are graduating on time.
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Good news continues to roll in for the Kendall-Whittier and Eugene Field Neighborhoods. Last December, CAP received a $500,000 Promise Neighborhood planning grant to focus on revitalization in both communities. The inspiration for Promise Neighborhoods is based on the successful model of New York City’s Harlem Children’s Zone, a program featured in Waiting for Superman and various other media. These grants fund programs in high poverty neighborhoods which have a proven capacity to build partnerships and possess the necessary systems to track kids through school, so no one falls through the cracks.
This week, the Tulsa World reported that Tulsa Public Schools pledged to provide longitudinal data to track Kendall-Whittier and Eugene Field students as they progress through school. This collaboration also includes a pledge to join with other partners in efforts to reform educational strategies. Taken together, this means CAP is in a better position to compete for a $7 million dollar grant to provide cradle-to-career services to children in the Eugene Field and Kendall-Whittier neighborhoods. (more…)
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In November 2010, the GAO released a report on student mobility entitled, “Many Challenges Arise in Educating Students who Change Schools Frequently.” The report looks at the characteristics of highly mobile students, the characteristics of schools with a high rate of student mobility, challenges for schools, and the key federal programs used to serve this population.
The GAO found that highly mobile students (those that move 4 or more times before high school) are more likely to be poor, African-American, and from families that do not own their home or have a father present in the home. These families were also more likely to live below the federal poverty level than less mobile students (moved 2 or fewer times before high school). Highly mobile students are also much more likely to receive services such as free or reduced lunch (NSLP), SNAP, and TANF as well.
In addition to the characteristics of highly mobile students, the GAO looked at characteristics of schools with the highest rate of student mobility. Schools with high rates of mobility:
- had larger percentages of at-risk eighth graders
- had larger percentages of eighth graders eligible for Title I assistance
- were more often eligible for Title I school-wide programs
- were more likely to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
- had larger percentages of eighth graders receiving special education services, with limited English proficiency, and having higher rates of absenteeism.
To access the entire GAO report including sections on the challenges schools face when serving highly mobile students and the federal programs they use to meet student needs, click here.
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Last month, UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Centre released is 9th Report Card entitled The Children Left Behind: A league table of inequality in child well-being in the world’s rich countries. The report looks at the question, “how far behind are children being allowed to fall?” for 24 of the world’s richest countries. In order to answer this question they look at three dimensions of inequality: material well-being, education, and health. Specifically, they measure the gap between the bottom and the middle. In other words, how do the worst compare to the average. As the gap grows, inequality also increases. When comparing levels of inequality in child well-being, countries are not compared to the level UNICEF believes is acceptable; instead, they are compared to the levels reached by other similar countries. Overall, the United States ranks as one of the most unequal countries among the 24 richest countries. (more…)
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On Wednesday, I attended the Tulsa Metro Chamber’s Education Forum titled “Tulsa Dropout Intervention.” During the forum, John Wiscaver, Oklahoma Public Affairs Director for State Farm Insurance presented the results of a study on the economic effects of high school dropouts commissioned by State Farm and conducted by the Alliance for Excellent Education. The results amazed me! The study focused on the nation’s 50 largest cities and the 45 metropolitan areas that surround them. Overall, the study found that if high school dropout rates were reduced by half, graduates in the United States would likely have:
- Bought homes worth $10.5 billion more than what they would likely spend without a diploma;
- Supported 30,000 additional jobs and increased the gross regional product in these areas by a total of up to $5.3 billion by the time these new graduates reach the midpoint of their careers;
- Seen $4.1 billion in combined additional earnings in the average year;
- Spent an additional $2.8 billion and invested an additional $1.1 billion each year;
- Boosted tax revenue by $536 million each year; and
- Spent an additional $340 million each year purchasing vehicles.
On a more local level, an estimated 4200 students dropped out of the Class of 2008 in the Tulsa metropolitan area (Tulsa, Osage, Pawnee, Creek, Okmulgee, Wagoner, and Rogers counties). If that number were cut to 2100 students, the economic impact could be:
- Increased home sales of $26 million by the midpoint in their careers
- Increased auto sales of $2 million each year
- $18 million in increased combine earnings in the average year
- An additional $13 million in spending $4 million in investing during the average year
- 150 new jobs and economic growth of $23 million by the midpoint of their careers
- $3 million in increased tax revenue during the average year; and
- Increased human capital: 54% of the new graduates would likely continue on to pursue some type of postsecondary education
Visit http://www.all4ed.org/publication_material/EconMSA to download the complete report, as well as individual reports for each of the 50 cities studied.
For more information about the forum checkout this story in the Tulsa World or this one from KOTV.
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