Why I love The New School at South Shore.

They’ve read the research and they’re using it to create change for real kids, right now. Early learning gains are the foundation for learning. Fade-out is not a factor at South Shore because grades K-3 are equally high-quality and pre-K – grade 3 teachers work together.

Lucky me, I’ve seen their model in action. I’ve met the kids. I’ve seen the results. You should stop by and check it out. In the meantime, check out this short video showing how their pre-K – grade 3 model works.

PRE-KINDERGARTEN — 3RD GRADE A New Beginning for American Education from Brian Quist on Vimeo.

Empowering young leaders

Yes, smaller class sizes, high-quality teachers and adequate funding are vital in our schools.

Yet I believe we often fail to acknowledge the power that student leaders have to improve and enhance the daily experiences of all kids in Washington’s public schools. Student leadership can make or break the climate of our schools. Youth attitudes and actions influence whether their peers choose to wake up to go to school the next morning and the level of safety students feel as they walk around campus.

Beyond the classroom walls and outside of Olympia, students can play a crucial role in the success of our schools. For more than 50 years, the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP) has been supporting and promoting student leadership through workshops, camps and conferences that serve more than 10,000 students, advisers and coaches each year.

It’s hard to articulate how powerful it is to be surrounded by 250+ high school student leaders from Forks to Central Valley, out in the wilderness of Randle, Washington, in a world free of cell phones and Facebook, tackling topics from parliamentary procedure to servant leadership. My camp experience (three years as a high school delegate and seven years as a counselor for middle level and high school camps) has been the greatest influence in my commitment to public education and service-learning.

When we look beyond today, we must remind ourselves that these students are the ones who will be the advocates, activists, parents, business leaders, teachers and legislators leading movements as a result of today’s unfinished business. In fact, we all know many students who are already initiating positive change in their schools and communities. Therefore, it is essential that we connect our youth with every opportunity possible to be surrounded by new people, new ideas and new thoughts; to ask tough questions and be uncomfortable; to take risks and to take on a leadership role whenever possible.

Please talk to your children, youth whom you know and students in your schools. Let them know of these opportunities, and encourage them to get involved. Please click on the links for more info, or get in touch with me via email or by posting a comment. This will be my eighth year with Mt. Rainier, one of the five AWSP high school leadership camps, and I look forward to working with new students from your communities and schools.

*Like most other exciting opportunities, this one is not cheap. Prices per delegate range from $275-285, depending on whether or not the school is an official member of the Washington Association of Student Councils. Some schools are able to afford to send their students to camp while others do not have the resources. Don’t miss out on the scholarship opportunities available to help students pay for camp. The scholarship deadline is March 17th.

High School Leadership Camp (Cispus and Chewelah Peak)
Middle Level Leadership Camp (Cispus and Chewelah Peak)
La Cima Bilingual Leadership Camp (Chewelah Peak)
Deaf Teen Leadership Camp (Cispus)
CheerLeadership Camp (Central Washington University)

Back to School and Back to Quality

Posted by Chris

This is a special week. One million children will fill their backpacks with new books, nervous energy and optimism and board yellow buses to return to school. Some are all but guaranteed to end the school year far ahead of where they are now. Too many will be less fortunate, experiencing less opportunity for growth, or worse yet, stagnation.

This school year we citizens have an opportunity to partner with educators, principals, and policymakers to ensure that all of our kids are headed back to school and back to quality.

Our vision: Every student is able to read by third grade. Every child deserves to arrive on their first day of kindergarten prepared to succeed. Unfortunately, over the past five years pass rates on the 4th grade Reading WASL have declined. One of the most effective ways to get us back on track is to invest in high-quality early learning programs, like Washington Head Start, and professional development for child care providers. As the Basic Education Finance Task Force redefines basic education, early learning must be included as one of the most promising avenues to impact student achievement from the very beginning.

Our vision: An excellent teacher in every classroom. Every child deserves a quality education from kindergarten and beyond, and excellent teachers are profoundly important to this journey. But three in five students in Washington attend an underperforming school where they may not learn what they need. That’s unacceptable. Fortunately solutions are in the works. The Basic Education Finance Task Force will propose measures to professionalize the teaching profession, which is likely to include an evaluation system to reward and support great teaching. Additionally, the State Board of Education will propose a series of steps that aim to turn around schools that underperform year after year.

Our vision: Every high school graduate is ready for college and work. Every child deserves to choose his or her path after high school. Unfortunately, not all high school students are given this choice in Washington. Only 41 percent of high school graduates meet college entrance requirements — and over half of entering community college students take remedial classes they should have mastered in high school. To help ensure a high school diploma means college and work ready, the State Board of Education adopted CORE 24 as the new graduation requirement framework. CORE 24 aligns high school course work with college entrance requirements and workforce expectations. Before the Board can implement these new requirements, we need to persuade the Legislature to fund more than just a five-period day.

The time for bold solutions is now.

The reform efforts mentioned above will be debated and decided during the upcoming 2008-09 school year. In this year of education, it is appropriate to assess not only student achievement, but citizen involvement. What will our citizen report card show?

Join us to change the world by changing our schools. We’re parents and community members who saw a need for a more independent voice and real results for all children. We’re dedicated to the idea that every one of our million school children deserves an excellent education and we need you.

Visit didyouknowcampaign.com to learn more about what you can do to make a difference for kids.