Kappa Delta Pi’s Response to Charlottesville

The sad and tragic events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 12 are a stark reminder of the importance and relevance of our work as educators. As members of Kappa Delta Pi, a storied organization with a 106-year legacy of inclusion and equity, we call on our members to take action.

First, stand united with us in support of our mission and vision for empowering, preparing, sustaining, and supporting teachers as they advocate for the best interests of students. We remain committed to the goal of advancing instruction so that students are globally aware, socially responsible, resilient, and able to solve problems in just and equitable ways.

Second, take an active role in developing empathy in ourselves and our students, and in modeling respect for others and tolerance for those whose ideas and beliefs are different than our own. By incorporating a social justice approach to education, young people of all backgrounds will learn that they are not victims of their circumstances and that they can become part of the desperately needed change to disrupt and eliminate inequities.

Third, directly confront and counter racism and discrimination, and provide a healthy and caring way to address these difficult issues. Silence supports a colorblind perspective that exists in many school settings and communities. As educators, we must work together and support one another to educate children who are committed to creating a better and more just society.

We can reach these goals by explicitly teaching current events like the one in Charlottesville to our students and helping them to understand the consequences of these actions. One person can make a difference; however, by working together as a profession, we can have an even more powerful impact on making our schools, our communities, and our world a better place.

Dr. Peggy Moch, Executive Council President (2016–2018)
Faye Snodgress, Executive Director

From Dropout to Doctoral Degree

Stories about hard work and perseverance are uplifting and give hope to others.

While those stories are inspirational, they often focus on only one side of the story—the student.

As a student, I was a diamond in the rough, but the other side of the story is that I owe my success to a nontraditional high school, my high school principal, and a teacher who saved my life.

The odds were against me. I was born into poverty and throughout my elementary years, I changed schools at least twice per year, every year. By eighth grade, I had given up on education; I did not care about grades or school. I started failing classes and, ultimately, ended up repeating eighth grade. I continued to switch schools often, as I jumped back and forth between divorced parents.

During my ninth-grade year, I left home. I met a boy, became pregnant, and my parents no longer welcomed me. Luckily, I moved in with his family and, for once in my life, had a steady home. I continued in school, but faced new obstacles. I was 16 and needed to work to support my family. I was juggling high school, a family, and working 30+ hours a week. In tenth grade, it all became too much for me and I dropped out of high school—lowering my odds of success even more. I was a statistic.

I knew there had to be a better way. I soon learned about an alternative high school for kids just like me. Little did I know this high school and the staff would be my saving grace. The school was located in a portable building and had approximately 20 students, with one principal and four teachers. The “go at your own pace” format allowed students to work and attend school part time. Students completed modules to obtain a basic high school diploma.

The staff made the high school effective. Mr. Finley, our principal, provided moral support and words of wisdom to build our confidence. He helped find scholarships and encouraged community college. He personally called if we missed school to make sure everything was okay and to offer transportation. He built trusting relationships with the students, and we knew that when times were rough, Mr. Finley would say the right things to help us get over the hump.

Ms. Baker, one of my teachers, excelled in relationship building. She monitored our progress and encouraged with incentives. She stocked the refrigerator with snacks and sodas for us to purchase. When someone earned credit, Ms. Baker rewarded them with a coupon for goodies in the refrigerator. We met with her often to discuss progress and, when students were within one credit required for graduation, Ms. Baker baked a cake to celebrate their success. We were a family at that little school. We counted on Mr. Finley and Ms. Baker for more than just academics; they believed in us when others did not. They offered kindness, love, and support that made learning enjoyable.

The last time I saw them was a warm May evening when I proudly strutted across the stage in a purple cap and gown as my name was called aloud. I wish they could know that was not the last time I walked across the stage. I strutted across three more times for undergraduate and master’s degrees. In May 2018, I will walk across a stage once again, dressed in velvet regalia as I am awarded a doctoral degree in education. I want Mr. Finley and Ms. Baker to know that without them, this would not have been possible. I am forever grateful for their love and support.

Nicole Koch is a first-grade teacher in Central Texas. She is currently finishing a doctoral degree in educational leadership at the University of Mary Hardin–Baylor. Among her research interests is student preparedness in the 21st-century workforce.

Join this year’s Green Apple Day of Service

Green Apple Day of Service kicks off this month! The Day of Service is an opportunity to join schools across the world in celebrating the central role that schools play in preparing the next generation of global leaders.

Since 2012, more than 790,000 volunteers in 73 countries have participated in events, affecting the learning environments of over 7 million students and teachers. With 1 in 8 people around the globe attending a school every day, there is more work to be done!

Every event is chance to give students hands-on experience with sustainability and to strengthen civic leadership, environmental literacy, and project management skills. 

A schoolyard cleanup project in Guatemala as part of GADOS 2016. This project used funds from private school workshops to fix up the courtyard of a local public school.

This year, participants make a commitment at the start of school and name their own project date for any time throughout the school year. To help with fundraising, Green Apple Day of Service is using the DonorsChoose.org platform to drive donations to schools, and the Center for Green Schools and its partners are providing thousands of dollars in match funding to projects that receive donations from their communities. Projects receive tailored guidance for their specific project date and project type, and they are eligible for prizes just by keeping up with planning and executing their project.

You can learn more about Green Apple Day of Service and sign up at greenapple.org.

 

 

Research from The Educational Forum: A Call for Teacher Support of Art

Dr. Jodi Patterson is an art educator who wrote a paper for The Educational Forum titled “Too Important to Quit: A Call for Teacher Support of Art.” The essay is largely based on her experience teaching an undergraduate course called “Art for the Elementary Teacher,” a required methods course for education majors to earn their teacher certification in Washington state. A variety of students—including science, physical education, and math majors, not just art majors—take her course.

When Dr. Patterson first interviewed for her position, the department chair asked Jodi a key question…

The chairwoman asked me, “What is the most important thing you think your general education students should learn from taking an art methods course?”  

I replied, “I believe the most important thing a general education teacher should take away from my art class is an understanding that much of what they think they know about creativity and their personal art-making abilities is wrong.”

I elaborated on my answer, stating that many people believe humans are either born to be artists or not, or seem to think people are either creative or not. I offered a few key facts, something along the lines of how the workforce demands skills that cannot be outsourced, neuroscience backs up claims that the arts help with cognition in general, and drawing is a skill that can be taught. Then I ensured the committee that I would work hard to debunk art and creativity myths by providing them with concrete examples of what I would teach non-art students, including how to carefully observe the world so they can draw it, how to expand their notion of creativity from mere self-expression to include branches of interdisciplinary innovation, and thus, how to recognize the ways art can be harnessed to enhance both teaching and learning.

My answer to the “most important thing” question was a line in the sand. It was a promise that future teachers would have an opportunity to realize art’s power firsthand if they studied education at our university, and reinforced my desire to take the position.

The “most important thing” question was vital for another reason: It provided me with a focus. Sometimes the teaching profession gets hectic, passion gets diffused, and repetition of content can feel burdensome. But a simple mantra can help fortify convictions and serve as a basic reminder of why we teach. In this case, the department chair’s question framed my mantra: Authentic experience can obliterate fallacy. Such fallacy is propagated in and by our current educational system:

  1. Most young children emphatically enjoy engaging with the visual arts.
  2. Most teens quit art.
  3. Some teens who quit art become the teachers of young children who enjoy art (but as teachers are largely afraid to effectively employ art in their classrooms).

Future teachers need to be exposed to authentic art experiences to help obliterate this creative-crisis cycle. With all of the promises the visual arts bring to education, the specialized art teacher cannot do it alone. I fully realize such a statement is disruptive to both my field of art education and the educational system itself, so I took pains to outline my declaration in The Educational Forum. In reality, teachers don’t need published academic papers to clue them in to the benefits of art. We (the teachers) already stock our classrooms with art supplies because we know students enjoy using them. But what if we expanded art’s offering beyond paint and crayons? What if we believed in the power of active versus passive observation? What if we collectively encouraged divergent thinking over exalting the one right answer? Or if we all believed artistic skills could be taught, honed, and assessed just as readings skills can be? What if we understood the reading of both images and text to be equally vital skills for generations of digital natives? Could we obliterate the pubescent creative-crisis by being confident mentors who modeled, taught, and encouraged artistic behavior? How about instead of saying “I can’t,” we all said “I am learning”? How liberating would it be to the delicate psyche of humans to not feel self-defeated when confronted with trial and error opportunities—to have the confidence to practice, err, and re-invent? These are just some of the things the visual arts teach us.

The field of visual art must release itself from its specialized stronghold. Art is not exclusive unto itself, but rather inclusive to nearly all forms of human existence. If we hone generations of humans who are fierce warriors of mark-making, aesthetic up-taking, and divergent think-tanking, then together we can create a world of humans who, as Edmund Feldman coined it, become “human through art.” Art has the power to make this and many more beneficial promises so, but it needs a collective force to make it be.

KDP is proud to partner with Routledge to share Dr. Patterson’s essay free with the education community through August 31, 2017. Read the full article here.

Research from The Educational Forum: E Pluribus Unum: Mohawk Indian Students’ Views Regarding the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance

Today’s blogger is Dr. Leisa Martin, Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education at The University of Texas at Arlington. She writes here about research recently published in an article (co-authored with Dr. Glenn Lauzon, Dr. Matthew Benus, and Mr. Pete Livas Jr.) in The Educational Forum.

The main purpose of schools is to prepare youth for citizenship in our democratic society, and schools offer an opportunity to reach youth across the nation over an extended period of time.

To promote loyalty and love for the United States, Francis Bellamy, the author of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance, and James Upham, the creator of the Pledge salute, partnered with the U.S. government and school superintendents across the country to host the first nationwide Pledge of Allegiance recitation in October 1892. Over the years, the Pledge has become a school tradition. But are today’s diverse youth still choosing to embrace this time-honored practice?

Our study took place in the northeastern United States with 191 high school students, of whom 88 were Akwesasne Mohawks, 80 were European Americans, and 23 who classified themselves as Other. Via two open-ended survey questions, we asked the following: 1) While the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is being recited, do you say it? Why or why not? 2) What do you think about while the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is being recited? Following the surveys, to obtain clarification, we led 25 follow-up interviews. We analyzed the data using the constant comparative method to obtain response categories, and then, we used chi-square tests to learn if statistically significant differences existed between the ethnic groups.

Overall, 68.6% of the participants reported that they do not recite the Pledge, and the chi-square analysis revealed that the Mohawks and the students who classified themselves as Other were less inclined to recite the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance than their European American classmates. With respect to the participants’ rationales, chi-square analysis revealed that the Mohawk students were more apt to give no reason or a limited reason for not participating in the Pledge compared to the European Americans and the students who classified themselves as Other. For example, a Mohawk student commented, “No, because I don’t want to.” Also, chi-square analysis indicated that the Mohawks and the European Americans were more apt to cite their status as a Mohawk, a Native American, or tradition as their reasons for reciting or not reciting the Pledge than students who classified themselves as Other. A Mohawk student stated, “My Dad always taught me that when you’re Native, don’t stay [show allegiance] to one country. Stay to your people. I feel like [the Pledge] contradicts what he always told me.” In addition, the chi-square showed that European Americans and students who classified themselves as Other cited peer conformity more often than the Mohawk students. For instance, a European American wrote, “Sometimes. I would feel out of place if I did because no one else (except teachers) recites it.”

With respect to their thoughts during the Pledge, the chi-square revealed that the Mohawk students were more apt to have thoughts of dislike about the Pledge compared to their European American peers and their peers who classified themselves as Other. For example, a Mohawk student commented, “I don’t really care for it. I don’t listen to it. I ignore it.” In addition, the chi-square tests indicated the Mohawk students were less disposed to have patriotic thoughts during the Pledge of Allegiance compared to classmates who were European Americans or who classified themselves as Other.

U.S. schools were developed to socialize students. In my previous research with primarily European American and African American high school students (Martin, 2012), the students generally expressed positive views about the Pledge. Similarly, in a study with students of unspecified race/ethnicity (Parker, 2007), students accepted the Pledge and saw it as a normal part of life with very little need for critical reflection. However, socialization via the schools is not an automatic process; traditions from the past may change in the present. For example, in our study, 68.6% of our participants chose to reject the Pledge and its underlying call for e pluribus unum. Because U.S. society is becoming increasingly diverse, future research offers an opportunity to examine attitudes about the Pledge on a national level.

KDP is proud to partner with Routledge to share Dr. Martin’s article free with the education community through July 31, 2017.  Read the full article here.

Celebrating Our 2017 Graduates Through Photos

Each spring, KDP staff members organize a photo contest for members to submit their graduation photos on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram) with the hashtag #KDPgrad and be entered into a drawing for one of five $20 gift certificates to the KDP Store.

This year, because the judges received so many great selfies, candids, and professional portraits as well as stories that accompanied, it was SO difficult a decision to choose only 5. But, rules are rules, so we are recognizing honorable mentions as well. (See the full album on Facebook here).

Below are the winners—in alphabetical order.

Saundra Armstrong

Saundra Armstrong, University of the District of Columbia

“After a career in the federal government and in non-for-profits for 20+ years in administrative positions, I was asked to substitute for two weeks. Needless to say 16 years later I’m still working with young children and have earned a BA with honors.”

Alexis Finch-Priester

Alexis Finch-Priester, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

“I started college heading in the nursing track. Throughout my high school years I’ve always had a job where I was working with children, and I continued while in college. During my first year of college a found a job in the local school system and LOVED what I was doing. I just knew that this was the job for me. Being a first generation college student I was a bit hesitant to explain to my family that I was going to be changing my major. I knew I was making the right decision. Without even noticing I had become an advocate for education. I realized my true passion for leading children, making every little moment teachable. I never thought that I would be graduating with an education degree but I am so excited that I get to call myself an educator. I’m so glad that I get to make a positive impact in the lives of children the way so many of my teachers did. I know this job will be rewarding in so many ways and I can’t wait to have my own classroom.”

Malia Rivera

Malia Rivera, James Madison University

“When I was in 8th grade, I had a teacher tell me I wasn’t good at math and I’d never be good. Later in High School I came to the realization that my teacher was very wrong, I was good at math! All I needed was a teacher who believed in my success. Since then, I have been determined to become a secondary math teacher. My journey to becoming a teacher has lead me on a mission to get rid of the mindset of “I can’t do that, I’m not good at math” that many students have. All it takes is one great teacher that believes in them, and I plan on being that teacher.”

Michael Williams

Michael Williams, Georgia State University

“I grew up in poverty and lost my mother at a young age. Growing up, teachers were there for me when I needed them the most. I experienced first-hand how much impact an educator can have on a child’s life. I dropped out of high school in 10th grade for no good reason. If it weren’t for some of my close family and my teachers, I am not sure I would have returned to school and completed my high school diploma. My teachers pushed me to apply for colleges and did everything they could to help me out. After spending two years at a smaller college, I transferred to Georgia State University where I just graduated summa cum laude with my Bachelors of Science in Middle-Level Education with concentrations in language arts, social science, and special education general curriculum. I also completed a minor in special education: high incidence disabilities. I’ll be working through the summer as a 7th-grade social science teacher in Atlanta, GA and will officially begin my teaching career as an 8th-grade Georgia History teacher in Gwinnett County Public Schools for the 2017-2018 school year.”

Kathy Zhao

Kathy Zhao, Stevenson University

“I have always loved working with children since I was 12 years old. I started with babysitting, then in the summer I was a camp counselor, and later worked at a daycare. From there I feel in love and I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher. I believe that teachers are the foundation. My senior year of college, I loved every moment of student teaching and I knew right away that teaching will be my passion. I loved seeing my student’s eyes light up when they understand something they learned. I want to be apart and touch many children’s lives.”


And these are our honorable mentions (in alphabetical order)…

Sierra Becker

Sierra Becker, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (for Best Mortar Board)

“I have always had a caring, passionate personality. Throughout my college career I have dabbled in various career paths; however, I always wandered back to teaching. Once I transferred to UW-Whitewater I dove head first into everything I needed to do in order to excel as a secondary educator. Even with an accident last fall that has postponed my student teaching, I have stayed resilient with my career path. From that, and through the resources that KDP has offered me, I have found a multitude of opportunities to continue my career in the teaching field and continue my service educating our youth!”

Ursula Bryant

Ursula Bryant, University of Saint Thomas-Houston (for Most Inspirational Story)

“I was a teen mom, didn’t get a high school diploma. At 21 I received my GED. I was a single stay at home mother with two children who were disabled. After my son died in 1997, I started school, receiving my degree in teaching at the age of 40. After teaching ten years, I returned for my master’s in school counseling, which I’ve graduated with May 20, 2017.”

Audre Cantrell

Audre Cantrell, Northeastern State University (for Best Action Shot)

“I started my journey by volunteering with Community Action Project in Tulsa, OK (CAP Tulsa). It is an early childhood program for low income families. The program provides early childhood education to the child as well as before and after care. The program also helps the family find work, extra food, and clothing. The mission of CAP Tulsa is to pull the whole family out of poverty. I have been working with the program for the past three summers (first as a volunteer and twice as a part time teacher assistant). Because of this experience, I was motivated to go back to school to receive my Early Childhood Education degree. I have been offered and accepted a lead teacher position in a three year old classroom with CAP Tulsa. I am so excited to share my love for learning and play with my students. Education is a powerful tool to have in life. I want to inspire my students to continue to learn and to become a lifelong learner.”

Research from The Educational Forum: Orienting Schools Toward Equity

Today’s blogger is Rachel Garver, a doctoral candidate in Teaching and Learning at New York University. She writes here about her research on racial and economic inequality, school segregation, and policy implementation recently published in The Educational Forum.

For the last two decades, the United States has pursued educational equity by holding schools accountable for the comparative outcomes of student subgroups.  

Subgroup accountability, part of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) since its 2001 reauthorization, requires states to identify and intervene in schools where the progress of student subgroups based on race, economic disadvantage, or English proficiency is lagging. Cited schools must show improvement for the subgroups identified by the state or they will face a series of increasingly severe sanctions.

Research on subgroup accountability pressure is mixed. In some cases, the subgroups cited by the state show progress in subsequent years and in other cases there was no effect.

The promise of subgroup accountability pressure to promote equity relies on the process of policy implementation in schools. How school-based actors interpret and enact mandates determines the form in which policy interventions reach students and thereby impacts outcomes.

I utilize an ethnographic case study of Germaine Middle School (pseudonym) to explore the means through which subgroup accountability pressure oriented the school toward equity and, more specifically, toward the student subgroups cited by the state—if at all.

I find that subgroup accountability pressure encouraged Germaine to focus on their achievement gaps in general, but did not lead to targeted interventions for the state-identified student subgroups.

Why did the school’s citation hold little weight in the day-to-day practices at Germaine? A lack of transparency in the state’s calculations, a lack of faith in the state exams and test scores used to identify cited schools, and ethical concerns with using accountability data to inform instructional and curricular reforms delegitimized the state’s determinations in the eyes of Germaine’s staff members. School-based understandings of which student subgroups were most in need drove Germaine’s equity work, instead of subgroup accountability pressure. However, district administrators insisted that Germaine align its compliance practices with the state findings and measures, even if they were symbolic and irrelevant to classroom practice.

Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, federal policy has played an important role in equalizing educational opportunity for marginalized student groups across the wide variance in state politics and practices. The promise of subgroup accountability to promote equity in schools is dependent on how it is received and implemented by state, district, and school actors. For subgroup accountability to fulfill its intentions, citations need to be delivered to schools with greater transparency. Moreover, districts, as intermediaries between the state and schools, must support schools in responding to citations in ways that prioritize equity over state compliance pressures.