How Do We Ensure Personalized Learning is a True Equity Initiative?

By Maria Moser, Senior Director of Teaching and Learning, NCLR and Ace Parsi, Personalized Learning Partnership Manager, National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Personalized learning is the new “it” in education. This approach, often defined by flexible learning environments that meet student interests, assets and challenges, has achieved the mantle of educational panacea, and has plenty of smart, committed advocates highlighting its potential as a game changer in educational equity conversations. Representing equity groups working in this space, we remain cautiously optimistic, knowing that there’s inevitably a gap between aspirations and reality and closing that gap demands a lot of work.

Like other advocates, we are excited by the potential of personalized learning to better serve students with disabilities (SWDs) and English Language Learners (ELLs). In principle, personalized learning invites students to demonstrate learning in multiple ways and address skills and topics at a flexible pace. It creates a systemic lens that not only identifies student challenges—and subsequently directs more timely supports to address those challenges—but also builds off students’ strengths and interests. In a world where skills such as self-advocacy, collaboration and communication are as important as content mastery, the personalized learning movement seems to demand high expectations and opportunities to develop these 21st-century competencies for all learners. Last, but not least, personalized learning builds off proven practice in serving students with disabilities and ELLs such as personalized plans, cultural responsiveness, and universal design for learning.

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On the Betsy DeVos Nomination: We Oppose

Education Secretary Nominee Betsy DeVos. Photo: betsydevos.com

Yesterday NCLR sent a letter to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray opposing the nomination of Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education.

One in four children in U.S. schools are Latino, and that number will only rise. It is critical that their needs are addressed by the U.S. Department of Education, but for this to occur, the nominee for secretary of education must be committed to upholding civil rights. However, during her hearing, DeVos was only asked one question about civil rights, related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and expressed unfamiliarity with the law. Due to the limited questioning, it is uncertain that she would protect the civil rights of minority children.

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Education: The 21st Century Civil Rights Issue

By John Monteleone, Fellow, National Institute for Latino School Leaders, NCLR

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I often find that within educational circles, the word equity can be controversial and confusing. Those who are more affluent and privileged often become squeamish, while those from economically-disadvantaged districts become increasingly engaged. However, while this conversation can be difficult to have with different audiences, the difficulty only emphasizes its importance. Pursuing equity in education can prevent some districts from falling into the achievement gap—and help prevent deeper inequality from taking root in our society.

In a country that prides itself on the mantra that “We The People” are treated fair and just, providing every child with an equitable education should not be controversial.

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Latino Education Has Improved, but We Still Have Work Ahead

By Ana Martinez, Midwest Regional Executive Director, New Leaders, National Institute for Latino School Leaders

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I am a U.S. citizen who was born in El Salvador at a time of civil turmoil. Like many others from that country, my family fled to the United States in search of the American Dream. One could argue that their journey, at least in terms of my life’s prospects, has paid off. I was the first in my family to go to college and graduate, and the first in my family to have a career of my choice.

However, the reality of the current state of Latinos in our educational system is one in which my story is the exception, not the norm. Now more than ever, the future success of Latinos in our educational system is at stake, and we have a moral obligation to ensure that we are steadfast in our commitment to advancing the Latino community.

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Kids Are at the Heart of the Padres Comprometidos con CHISPA Training

By Eddi Ortiz, Parent and Family Engagement Coordinator, Para Los Niños Charter Schools, NCLR Affiliate

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After traveling to San Antonio for the Padres Comprometidos (PC) con CHISPA training, I walked into the venue and discovered a room full of educators much like myself. Most of us were meeting each other for the first time, but all of us were at the training for the same purpose: to learn from each other and discuss how to best engage parents and families in STEM through the PC con CHISPA program. Now in our third year, PC con CHISPA introduces Latino parents around the country to the STEM concepts their children are learning at school. As a parent facilitator at the training, I had an opportunity to network, share ideas, and work in groups to improve my skills.

I discovered at the training that other parent facilitators face similar challenges in engaging parents. Para Los Niños Charter Schools, located in Los Angeles, works with our city’s most at-risk children, and provides a comprehensive approach to education. We not only focus on academic achievement, but also work to meet each student’s emotional, social, and psychological needs. The PC con CHISPA training allowed me to share best practices and ideas that are working for us at my school.

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