Wednesday, March 05, 2008
I'd like to encourage you to review a white paper I received this week from the UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools, titled "Frameworks for Systemic Transformation of Student and Learning Supports"
In the preface the authors write "if school improvement efforts are to be effective in enabling all students to have equal opportunity to succeed at school, we all must move significantly beyond prevailing thinking. Current policy (NCLB) and practice is a grossly inadequate response to the many complex factors that interfere with positive development, learning,and teaching."
Basically they say that "teaching to the test and the federal No Child Left Behind" strategy is a flawed policy because it does not give equal weight to the social emotional and extra learning needs of children, especially those in high poverty areas.
I agree. I wonder what our presidential candidates think about this.
The UCLA group is in the process of building a community of people who are interested in their work, and who begin to use it to support their own actions in many cities and states. With enough support communities around the country might begin to implement these ideas, and public policy, and funding, might support such a strategy.
Building such support is a difficult process. I'm not sure it can be achieved without expanding the base to include workforce development goals of businesses, hospitals and universities.
The UCLA plan is a school-centered strategy, with a community based component. I approach this challenge from a child and community centered perspective, where the school is one of the stakeholders, but not the automatic leader. The child is the center of this universe and we're all part of the "village" of people working to help that child to a career.
I feel that volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring is a way to expand the range of people involved in helping kids grow up. If workplace volunteers are targeted, this is also a way to build business involvement in education goals.
The May and November conference, and the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site, offer meeting places, and a library of ideas, for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge and become more strategic in how they use their time, talent and/or dollars to help inner city kids succeed in school, and in life.
I hope that you'll read the UCLA paper and add the T/MC ideas to this strategy and that you'll connect with us in one of these forums.