The Financial Fitness Fair

Saturday, February 5, 2011
9:00 am – 3:00 PM
John Hope Hope Settlement House
7 Thomas P. Whitten Way
Providence, RI

FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

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Feria de la Salud Financiera

Sabado, 5 de Febrero, 2011
9:00-3:00 PM
John Hope Settlement House
7 Thomas P. Whitten Way
Providence, RI

GRATIS Y ABIERTO AL PUBLICO

“La metáfora del canario del minero nos ayuda a entender por qué y cómo el tema racial continua siendo silencioso. Comunidades raciales señalan problemas en la manera en que hemos estructurado poder y privilegio. Esta patología no se encuentra en el canario.” Dr. Pedro Noguera – “El Problema con Varones Negros: Y otras reflexiones sobre Raza, Igualdad y el Futuro de la Educación Pública.”

Por Peter D. Lee, MSW
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Apunta aqui para leer y imprimirla en ingles

PROVIDENCE, RI – Dentro de poco, se le va a pedir a la comunidad de RI que provea comentario público a la Junta de Regentes sobre su propuesto plan de institucionalizar un sistema de graduación con 3 niveles de diploma para los estudiantes (puede encontrar más información en ingles aqui en el artículo del Providence Journal por Jennifer D. Jordan).

En este articulo, la Comisionada de Educación Deborah Gist dice, “[e]sta propuesta no disminuye las expectativas de los estudiantes. Teniendo múltiples diplomas…. Se identifica una preocupación que todos compartimos, el que, demasiadas veces, estamos apuntando al medio. Con este diseño, estamos realmente elevando el piso. No es como controlar el avance educativo de los estudiantes. Este es un diseño que recompensa rendimiento.”

No estoy claro como esta propuesta puede elevar “el piso” y para quien: para el sistema? ¿Para los maestros? ¿Para los Estudiantes? ¿Para los Padres? Me parece que esta propuesta crearía muchos “pisos”, y de que cada piso significará una dirección implícita en el futuro de los estudiantes. ¿Sera una buena idea ahora, cuando a muchos de nuestros estudiantes se les ha venido diciendo, “no te preocupes por ir a la universidad,” “tú no tienes lo que se necesita para ir a la universidad,” o, “quizás deberías tomar el GED?”

De acuerdo a Kid Count RI, en el año escolar 2008-2009 del Departamento de Educación de Providence, el 43% de estudiantes del secundario estuvieron ausentes 18 días o más. A nivel del Estado, para el mismo año, el promedio de graduación para estudiantes Negros y Latinos fue de 67% y 64%, respectivamente. Yo creo que el sistema de 3 (en realidad 4) niveles de diploma, aumentaría estas realidades.

La Comisionada dice que “esto (la propuesta) no es para mantener control del rendimiento educativo de los estudiantes.” ¿No lo es? ¿Por lo menos un poco? Bajo la propuesta del sistema de 3 niveles de diplomas de graduación, estudiantes que pasen el Programa de Evaluación Común de Nueva Inglaterra (En inglés es el New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP)) con puntajes igual o superior a “Distinción con habilidad” recibirán un diploma con honores; estudiantes que obtengan puntaje igual o superior a “habilidad”, recibirán un diploma de regentes; los estudiantes que obtengan un puntaje de habilidad parcial, recibirán un diploma; y los estudiantes que no obtengan habilidad parcial, recibirán un certificado.

¿No sería suficiente que solamente el NECAP fuera el estándar para asegurar que la mayoría de los estudiantes están logrando éxito académico? Históricamente, los estudiantes que sacan buenos puntajes en el test de NECAP no han tenido dificultad en ser aceptado a “buenas” universidades. Además, los consejeros de las escuelas saben muy bien que las universidades están mayormente interesados en las notas: que clases tomaron los estudiantes; tomó alguna clase de honores, clases avanzadas, o cursos de Bachiller Internacional; tomó algún examen de habilidad, y que puntaje saco; cual fue su puntaje en el examen de SAT; cual es el promedio general, etc. Con todas estas preguntas, ¿realmente importa si un estudiante recibe honores o un diploma de los regentes?

De la misma manera, ¿qué valor real ofrece un certificado? Un estudiante con un certificado en la mano ha demostrado cumplimiento, haber completado un portafolio, los créditos necesarios para graduación, y servicio comunitario, pero el estudiante no puede pasar el NECAP. ¿Cuáles son las opciones? ¿Se convierte en estudiante del 5to año del secundario o acepta el certificado y las consecuencias de recibir ese certificado? Si el estudiante decide cursar el 5to año de secundario, tendrá acceso a los programas que le ayudarán a estudiar para pasar el examen? “En los Estados Unidos, las escuelas penalizan más frecuentemente a los estudiantes con la necesidades académicas, sociales, económica y emocionales mas grandes (Noguera).” ¿Recibirán mas apoyo los estudiantes con este sistema de 3 diplomas?

Creo que el plan propuesto, aun con las mejores intenciones, es miope. Creo que hay estrategias que no hemos considerado del todo, que pueden hacer una verdadera diferencia para nuestros niños. A lo largo del país, escuchamos que los superintendentes dicen que los distritos no pueden “lograrlo” solos. La pregunta es si el “logro” ha sido claramente articulado.

Estudiantes- y particularmente estudiantes de color- están desertando la escuela en números altísimos. Hay más hombres negros en la cárcel que en las universidades. La diferencia en el logro académico entre Latinos está aumentando. En algunos distritos, “Latinas están por debajo de los varones Latinos (Disminuyendo la Diferencia Académica: Estrategias para Educar Estudiantes Latinos, Negros) [Susan J. Paik and Herbert J. Walberg]).” Y el mito del modelo minoritario, la creencia de que todos los estudiantes Americanos Asiáticos Pacíficos tienen altos rendimientos académicos (Hune & Chan), sigue vivito y coleando.

Demasiadas veces, “[n]iños negros no son validados y se los ve como traspasando cuando superan expectativas académicas (Paik, Walberg). Eso hace que sacrifiquen sus logros y su espacio en programas para estudiantes sobresalientes o talentosos para mantenerse junto al grupo donde se sienten cómodos”. Por lo tanto, los estudiantes de color no se integran. Ellos saben que la educación es importante pero, ellos no creen que la educación es su oportunidad para salir de la pobreza (Noguera).

No estoy apuntando dedos. Todos nosotros – distritos, superintendentes, escuelas, maestros, organizaciones comunitarias, reverendos, padres, estudiantes, fundaciones, grupos interesados, etc – son responsables de ayudar a todos los estudiantes a lograr éxito. Pero para lograr esto, debemos primero saber quiénes son nuestros estudiantes. Y todos debemos creer mas allá de la retorica, que todos los estudiantes, especialmente el gran número de estudiantes de color, pueden lograr el éxito académico.

En mi mente, la propuesta del sistema de 3 diplomas solo aumenta la diferencia entre los estudiantes. No incluye ningún apoyo adicional, ni establece ningún clima en el cual éxito académico es posible y recompensado para todos.

En muchas instancias hoy en día, “…las escuelas dividen a los niños basado en varias medidas de acuerdo a sus habilidades académicas, y los ubican en sendas que influencian los roles económicos y los trabajos que tendrán como adultos. Al hacer esto, juegan un rol en determinar quien será líder y manejará corporaciones y gobiernos contra quienes serán liderados y gobernados por aquellos a cargo.” (Bowles & Gintis, 1976; Oakes, 1985)

Al introducir la propuesta del sistema de 3 diplomas, estamos, como dice la Comisionada Gist, “¿elevando el piso?” O estamos en realidad, dividendo?

“The miner’s canary metaphor helps us to understand why and how race continues to be salient. Racialized communities signal problems with the ways we have structured power and privilege. These pathologies are not located in the canary.” – Dr. Pedro Noguera from “The Trouble With Black Boys: And Other Reflections on Race, Equity, and the Future of Public Education.”

By Peter D. Lee, MSW
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Click here to print and share the Spanish version.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Very shortly, the RI community will be asked to provide public comment to the Board of Regents’ proposed plan to institute a 3-tiered high school diploma system (click here to see the November 19 article by Jennifer D. Jordan). In this article, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is quoted as saying, “[t]his proposal does not water down expectations. Having multiple diplomas … addresses a concern we all share, that, too often, we are shooting for the middle. With this design, we are really raising the floor. It’s not like tracking students. This is a merit-based design.”

I am unclear how this proposal would raise “the floor,” and for whom: for the system? for teachers? students? parents? It seems to me that the proposed system would actually create multiple “floors,” and that each floor would carry with it an implied life direction. Is this a good thing, when many of our students are already being told, “don’t bother applying to college,” “you’re not college material,” or, “maybe you should just take the GED?”

According to Kids Count RI, in PPSD school year 2008-2009, 43% of high school students were absent 18 or more days. For the State (same year), the graduation rate for Black and Latino students was 67% and 64%, respectively. I believe the 3 (really 4) tiered system would exacerbate these realities.

The Commissioner states that “it’s (the proposal) not like tracking students.” Isn’t it? At least somewhat? Under the proposed 3-tiered system, students who pass the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) with a score equal to or above “proficient with distinction” would receive an honors diploma; students who score equal to or above “proficient” would receive a regent’s diploma; students obtaining partial proficiency would receive a diploma; and those who do not obtain partial proficiency would receive a certificate.

Should not the NECAP alone be a sufficient standard to ensure that more students are achieving success? Students who do well on the NECAP, historically, do not have difficulty getting accepted into “good” colleges. Furthermore, guidance counselors know full well that colleges and universities are primarily looking at high school graduates’ transcripts: what courses did the student take? did s/he take honors, Advanced Placement (AP) and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses? did s/he take the AP exam? what did s/he score? what was her/his SAT score? what was her/his grade point average (GPA)? With these questions at the forefront, does it really matter whether a student receives an honors or a regent’s diploma?

In the same vein, what real value-add does a certificate provide? A student with a certificate in hand has demonstrated diligence, completed a portfolio, the required Carnegie units, and community service, but s/he still can’t pass the NECAP. What are the options? Does s/he become a 5th year student or does s/he accept the certificate and take her/his chances? If s/he decides to become a 5th year student, will s/he have access to programs that will help her/him study for and pass the test? “Throughout the United States, schools most frequently punish the students who have the greatest academic, social, economic and emotional needs (Noguera).” Does the 3 tiered system provide greater supports for students?

I believe the proposed plan, for all its good intentions, is short-sighted. I believe there are strategies we have not yet fully embraced that can make a difference for our children. Across the country, we hear superintendents saying that districts can’t do “it” by themselves. But has the “it” been clearly articulated?

Students – and particularly students of color – are dropping out in record numbers. There are more black men in jail than in college. The achievement gap among Latinos is growing. In some districts, “Latinas fare even worse than Latino males (Narrowing the Achievement Gap: Strategies for Educating Latino, Black and Asian Students [Susan J. Paik and Herbert J. Walberg]).” And the myth of the model minority, a belief that all Asian Pacific Americans students are high achievers (Hune & Chan), is alive and well.

In too many instances, “[b]lack kids don’t get validation and are seen as trespassing when they exceed academic expectations (Paik, Walberg). They turn on it, they sacrifice their spots in gifted and talented classes to belong to a group where they feel good.” Thus, students of color are not engaged. They know that education is important but, they do not believe it will be their ticket out of poverty (Noguera).

I am not pointing fingers. All of us – districts, superintendents, schools, teachers, community-based organizations, ministers, parents, students, stakeholders, foundations, etc. – are responsible for helping all students succeed. But to do this, we must first know who our students are. And we all must believe beyond rhetoric that all students, particularly greater numbers of students of color, can achieve academic success.

In my mind, the 3-tiered proposal only enhances the differentiation of students. It does not implement additional supports, nor does it establish a climate in which academic success is attainable and rewarding for all.

In many instances today, “…schools sort children based on various measures of their academic ability and place them on trajectories that influence the economic roles and occupations they will assume as adults. In doing so, they play a role in determining who will lead and manage corporations and government and who will be led and managed by those in charge.” (Bowles & Gintis, 1976; Oakes, 1985)

By introducing the proposed three-tiered diploma system, are we, as Commissioner Gist says, “raising the floor?” Or are we, in fact, sorting?

Please leave a comment here or on the John Hope Facebook page and let us know your thoughts.

New Year’s Resolution Number One
EARN MORE MONEY THROUGH the
EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT (EITC):

Tax Season is upon us.  Did you know that you may qualify to pay less in taxes or get more money back?  It’s true: if you earned a low to moderate income, you probably qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the nation’s largest and most important anti-poverty program.

The best way to know if you qualify? Call John Hope Settlement House, at 401-421-6993; we’re here to help. We’ll let you know if you qualify, and we’ll tell you where to go and what you need to bring with you. John Hope is lead agency of the Providence EITC/VITA Coalition, which is funded by the United Way of RI and which also includes the following sites:

  • Olneyville Housing Corporation,
  • Federal Hill House,
  • Open Doors,
  • Community Co-Op,
  • International Institute of RI,
  • Providence Seventh Day Adventist Church, and
  • Socio-Economic Development Center for Southeast Asians (SEDC).

Commercial tax sites make their money by taking a percentage of your hard-earned return. VITA sites provide free tax preparation services with IRS trained and certified volunteer tax preparers and we can connect you to financial literacy programs designed to help you balance your budget, overcome debts, and become financially fit.

So drop by a VITA site, file your taxes, and check New Year’s Resolution Number One off your list!

For more information, please contact Tanisha Watkins, Family Economic Success Coordinator at John Hope Settlement House, at twatkins@johnhope.org or  401-421-6993 #334.

Examining Responsibility and Relevance…
Words from John Hope President/CEO, Peter D. Lee

Click here to see past posts “From the President/CEO” blog

Tomorrow evening, December 9, John Hope Settlement House will take a moment to step back and celebrate the good and hard work of its dedicated staff, volunteers and residents. We will publicly renew our pledge of responsibility to the children and families who live in our neighborhoods. We will commit to ensuring that all services and programs we facilitate and build will be the most relevant services and programs for the children and families who live in our neighborhoods today. And in the face of continued and broadening disparities, we will further commit to ensuring that all programs and services we facilitate will be those that will provide the greatest value for our families in their efforts toward success in the 21st century.

At John Hope, we see every child and every family as a gift. And knowing them to be gifts, we do not take their presence lightly. The challenges they face daily are many. It is our challenge – our responsibility, even – to meet our families where they are, to understand the climate in which they live, and to work within the context of existing realities to help forge individual and collective pathways to success.

Every for-profit business knows that if it is to survive and grow, it must be able to clearly demonstrate to consumers that its product is a smarter purchase than those offered by its competitors. This reality holds true as well for not-for-profits, especially in times of reduced funding. While we do not see other agencies as “competitors,” per se, we must be able to clearly articulate and demonstrate the value of our programs and services.

I believe the greatest value John Hope provides is that first and foremost, we recognize and celebrate strengths. In doing so, our approach to the “fix” becomes a holistic one that actually enlists these strengths as resources. In her book entitled, Can we talk about Race?: And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation, Beverly Daniel Tatum, President of Spellman College, defines the ABCs in this way:

A = affirming identity
B = building community
C = cultivating leadership

The ABCs as Dr. Tatum defines them are alive and well at John Hope Settlement House. They are the very essence of responsibility and relevance, they are non-negotiables, they are at the core of what has brought in generations of children and families to John Hope, and they are what will draw in the generations to come.

Tomorrow, December 9 at 6:00PM, when we open our doors to celebrate and own our place in this work, we will recognize those who have made a real difference over the past year: Rosa Ortiz, as Staff Person of the Year; Dennis Davis and Ysa Luna for their outstanding service to community; Adriana Vicente as an exceptional youth leader.

The Honorable Senator Deacon Harold M. Metts will receive the most prestigious Paris Vaughn Sterrett Award.

Our Keynote speaker will be Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, who for decades has been a passionate and tireless advocate for children, and especially boys, of color.  Dr. Kunjufu’s latest book, “100 Plus Educational Strategies to Teach Children of Color,” is a concrete tool for all of us who work with children of color, and it will be available for purchase.

I hope you will join with me tomorrow evening as we embrace responsibility and relevance. For ourselves, for our children, for our community.

In the words of Dr. Kunjufu: “After all is said and done, whatever you see in the child is what you’ll produce out of the child.”

Sincerely,
Peter D. Lee

Tickets are still available to the December 9, 2010 Awards Presentation and Community Event at John Hope Settlement House. Purchase your single ticket or table for ten today!  For more information, call 401-421-6993 or click here to purchase your tickets online.  (español abajo)

John Hope Settlement House
Annual Awards Presentation & Community Event
“RESPONSIBILITY AND RELEVANCE”

Thursday, December 9, 2010
6:00 – 11:00 PM
John Hope Settlement House
7 Thomas P. Whitten Way
Providence, RI

Keynote Presentation by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu & Special Tribute to Senator Harold M. Metts. The program also includes a Light Dinner, Mingling & Music.

For more information, to purchase individual tickets or tables, or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, call 401-421-6993 or click here to download the flyer.  Or purchase your tickets directly online at www.johnhope.eventbrite.com.

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Todavia hay entradas para la Entrega de Premios Anual y Evento Comunitario de John Hope Settlement House en 9 de Diciembre, 2010.  Comprelas hoy sus entradas individuas o entradas por mesas con 10 asientos!  Para mas información llame al 401-421-6993 o haz clic aqui para comprarlas por internet.

John Hope Settlement House
Entrega de Premios Anual y Evento Comunitario
“RESPONSABILIDAD Y RELEVANCIA”

Jueves, 9 de Diciembre, 2010
6:00 – 11:00 PM
John Hope Settlement House
7 Thomas P. Whitten Way
Providence, RI 

Presentación magistral por el Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu y Homenaje Especial al Senador Harold M. Metts.  El programa también incluye cena ligera, musica y oportunidad de compartir.

Para mas información, para comprar las entradas individuas o de la mesa, or para recibir informacion sobre patrocinios, llame al 401-421-6993 o haz clic aqui para ver el anuncio.  O compre sus entradas directamente al internet: www.johnhope.eventbrite.com.

By Peter D. Lee, MSW
Click here to see past posts “From the President/CEO” blog

This past Sunday, December 5, John Hope was recognized at the annual Holiday Tea of the Northeasterners, Inc. Massachusetts chapter. I had the distinct honor of attending this event, which was held in Weston, MA.

“The Northeasterners, Inc. was founded in New York by Agatha Scott in 1930. She was impressed with young African-American debutantes she met while visiting several cities. They all seemed to have similar interests and backgrounds. The idea caught on and several young women representing various states in the Northeast came together with the aim of keeping in touch with each other socially, keeping abreast of cultural trends and rendering services to the community. Some of the past projects were organized to aid community and educational causes. Some included an annual scholarship to Howard University, contributions to the Infantile Paralysis Library Project at Tuskegee Institute, contributions to the NAACP, the Urban League, the United Negro College Fund and the American Cancer Society, among others.”

On Sunday the 5th of December, John Hope Settlement House was recognized and presented with more than 20 new children’s books. In my conversations with members, I learned of the joy they had experienced in selecting the books, especially those that featured successful African-Americans and individuals of color. I was honored to listen to their stories, to learn of the professional lives of these now retired women of color, and gain insight into their passion for keeping this network alive. I couldn’t help but think how their founding story was so similar to John Hope’s genesis.

I want to personally thank Ms. Sybil Wilson, President of the Massachusetts chapter, for selecting John Hope. And I wish to extend a special word of thanks as well to Northeasterner member Lynn Edmonds, a close friend of John Hope, who nominated our agency for this prestigious award.