Four Berkshire School Districts Share $740K Federal Grant For Arts …

Four school districts in Berkshire County will split a $740,000 federal grant to fund professional development in arts education. 

Even though the region is one of the cultural capitals of the Northeast, schools in Berkshire County often must consider cutting arts programs to balance their budgets.

Now, North Adams, Adams-Cheshire Regional, Pittsfield, and Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public school districts have been awarded nearly $740,000 over the next four years by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement.

North Adams Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Malkas says more than half of the students pre-kindergarten to grade 12 at each of the schools – and 60 percent in North Adams – come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Arts education improved motor skills, language developments, decision making and the critical thinking skills developed through making choices in the course of creating art, visual learning, inventiveness, cultural awareness, and improved academic performance,” Malkas says.

In the first round of funding, about $144,000, educational leaders are incentivized to form school-community partnerships to create arts education professional development opportunities for teachers.

The Berkshire Museum, Berkshire Theatre Group, Clark Art Institute, Jacob’s Pillow, Barrington Stage Company and MASS MoCA are eyed for the school-community partnerships.

Jake Eberwein, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Dean of Graduate and Continuing Education, says helping teachers get high-quality instruction in music, dance, drama, media arts and visual arts from the community is essential. Eberwein heads the Berkshire Compact, the county’s education think tank. 

“The ability to further strengthen collaborative partnerships, connections and opportunity across our region is foundational and fundamental to the compact,” Eberwein says. “We are confident that this project advances the collective effort significantly. It will connect educators from across our region in learning, in building skills, strategies and networks, therefore shifting mindsets of how the arts can be applied in building pathways to student engagement and student learning.”

The newly formed Berkshire Regional Arts Integration Network project, or BRAINWorks, will lead the way. Eberwein says it will encourage students who have gained skills and connections to stay in the region, which has experienced a significant population decline.

“It further positions our Berkshire brand, right? A place where arts and creativity are valued, celebrated and integrated into what we do, what we are known for, advancing our creative economy, which continues to be critical to the future of our region,” Eberwein says.

Programs for teachers are already in the works for the summer at MCLA.

North Adams Public Schools Director of Curriculum Kimberly Roberts-Morandi says schools will be better equipped to integrate the arts into English Language Arts, mathematics, social studies, science, technology and movement classes. Roberts-Morandi co-authored the winning grant proposal.

“The infusion of the arts can facilitate differentiated learning and learning that is more personalized – taking advantage of a student’s natural talents and their curiosity,” Roberts-Morandi says.

This is the first grant awarded to Massachusetts from the federal Professional Development for Arts Educators program since 2009.

$740K federal grant to fund arts education professional development for 4 school districts

NORTH ADAMS — In an era of cuts to education budgets, Berkshire County is getting a boost for a sector that tends to get cut the most — the arts.

On Thursday afternoon, about 30 stakeholders gathered to celebrate the announcement of the city earning an award earmarked at nearly $740,000, delivered over the next four years, from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. It will help provide professional development for four school districts in which 50 percent of students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds: North Adams, Adams-Cheshire Regional, Pittsfield, and Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public.

Nationally, the program approved nearly $7 million in new grants for its Professional Development for Arts Educators program, and out of the 70 applications reviewed, the education department funded 20 proposals representing work across 14 states. This is the first award for a Massachusetts program, at least since 2009.

The grant, which includes the approval of $144,245 for the Berkshires in this first year of its cycle, incentivizes the development of school-community partnerships to help train teachers to deliver high-quality instruction in the areas of music, dance, drama, media arts and visual arts, including folk arts, in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Initial partners will include arts companies that already work with Berkshire County schools and teachers, including Barrington Stage Company, Berkshire Museum, Berkshire Theatre Group, Clark Art Institute, Jacob’s Pillow and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, among others.

“To really become productive and inclusive participants in society, we need the arts,” said Barbara Malkas, superintendent for the North Adams Public Schools.

Last year, she and North Adams Mayor Richard “Dick” Alcombright co-authored a narrative titled “Every Student Succeeds with Art,” in response to the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act including arts instruction in its definition of a well-rounded education.

Alcombright said he believes that arts can offer long-term academic and social benefits for the region’s children, and said this new network will have a twofold responsibility: first, to lay the groundwork of writing good curriculum and metrics for evaluating their work, and second, to help figure out a way to provide sustainable funding for arts opportunities for children.

“If they come with with the ideas that are so good, so possible … I’m convinced that we can find a way to fund or make things happen,” he said. “But it’s about what we make our priorities.”

The city’s school district, along with the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ Arts Management Program and the countywide Berkshire Compact education think tank, will lead this endeavor that’s being called the Berkshire Regional Arts Integration Network project, or more colloquially, BRAINWorks.

“When smart, creative people get together, they generate really great ideas,” said MCLA President James “Jaimie” Birge.

The MCLA campus will likely serve as a home for summer institutes, beginning in summer 2018, that will offer professional development programming for 30 to 40 local arts and nonarts teachers. Grant funding will be used to run these programs, which include paying staff and offering a stipend and professional development credits for participating educators, according to Lisa Donovan, an MCLA Fine Performing Arts Department professor who has been working on regional and national arts education initiatives for the past 15 years.

The county already has a professional learning community of arts educators and has surveyed the region’s arts assets and resources, which will soon be published with support from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. Donovan called the greenlighting of this project “a real moment in time,” that validates the existing work of connecting the arts across disciplines in the Berkshires because of the research that backs successful outcomes in student achievement and engagement.

“All of these synergies are happening, and this grant is the icing on the cake,” she said.

Berkshire Compact leader Howard “Jake” Eberwein III credited Donovan for co-authoring the winning grant proposal with North Adams Public Schools’ Kimberly Roberts-Morandi and MCLA’s Lynette Bond.

Eberwein said the project highlights three key areas for success: how the project will connect artists, educators and administrators; how it “advances the Berkshire brand” in being a rich region for arts and cultural connections; and how it will give students confidence and interest in participating in the region’s creative economy by giving them skills and “opening their eyes to the rich existence and open abundance of creative opportunities in their backyard.”

Four Berkshire School Districts Share $740K Federal Grant For Arts Education

Four school districts in Berkshire County will split a $740,000 federal grant to fund professional development in arts education. 

Even though the region is one of the cultural capitals of the Northeast, schools in Berkshire County often must consider cutting arts programs to balance their budgets.

Now, North Adams, Adams-Cheshire Regional, Pittsfield, and Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public school districts have been awarded nearly $740,000 over the next four years by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement.

North Adams Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Malkas says more than half of the students pre-kindergarten to grade 12 at each of the schools – and 60 percent in North Adams – come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Arts education improved motor skills, language developments, decision making and the critical thinking skills developed through making choices in the course of creating art, visual learning, inventiveness, cultural awareness, and improved academic performance,” Malkas says.

In the first round of funding, about $144,000, educational leaders are incentivized to form school-community partnerships to create arts education professional development opportunities for teachers.

The Berkshire Museum, Berkshire Theatre Group, Clark Art Institute, Jacob’s Pillow, Barrington Stage Company and MASS MoCA are eyed for the school-community partnerships.

Jake Eberwein, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Dean of Graduate and Continuing Education, says helping teachers get high-quality instruction in music, dance, drama, media arts and visual arts from the community is essential. Eberwein heads the Berkshire Compact, the county’s education think tank. 

“The ability to further strengthen collaborative partnerships, connections and opportunity across our region is foundational and fundamental to the compact,” Eberwein says. “We are confident that this project advances the collective effort significantly. It will connect educators from across our region in learning, in building skills, strategies and networks, therefore shifting mindsets of how the arts can be applied in building pathways to student engagement and student learning.”

The newly formed Berkshire Regional Arts Integration Network project, or BRAINWorks, will lead the way. Eberwein says it will encourage students who have gained skills and connections to stay in the region, which has experienced a significant population decline.

“It further positions our Berkshire brand, right? A place where arts and creativity are valued, celebrated and integrated into what we do, what we are known for, advancing our creative economy, which continues to be critical to the future of our region,” Eberwein says.

Programs for teachers are already in the works for the summer at MCLA.

North Adams Public Schools Director of Curriculum Kimberly Roberts-Morandi says schools will be better equipped to integrate the arts into English Language Arts, mathematics, social studies, science, technology and movement classes. Roberts-Morandi co-authored the winning grant proposal.

“The infusion of the arts can facilitate differentiated learning and learning that is more personalized – taking advantage of a student’s natural talents and their curiosity,” Roberts-Morandi says.

This is the first grant awarded to Massachusetts from the federal Professional Development for Arts Educators program since 2009.

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DeVos touts school choice, STEM for $4 billion in grants

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has put forth a new set of priorities for states, schools and universities competing for federal grant money.

The priorities include school choice, science and technology, special education and school safety.

The Education Department awards approximately $4 billion per year in new and continuation competitive grants across some 80 programs, the agency said Thursday. Education secretaries have historically used these competitions to push their priorities.

“It’s a little nudge,” said Chad Aldeman, an associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners. “This allows the department to nudge the education field toward these priorities.”

There are a total of 11 priorities on DeVos’ list. After receiving public comments on these proposals, the agency will settle on one or several of them.

Promoting school choice has been a key focus of the Trump administration. School choice refers to providing parents and their children with options besides their district public school, such as charter schools, vouchers or education savings accounts to attend private schools.

DeVos and her supporters say these options better serve students’ individual needs and can benefit children whose local schools are underperforming. Critics say charter and private schools don’t necessarily outperform neighborhood schools and they lack accountability mechanisms.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate committee devoted to education, criticized DeVos’ priorities as a way to privatize education and said the department should be focusing on supporting local, public education.

“Since her confirmation hearing, I have voiced concern that Secretary DeVos would abuse her position to prioritize privatization, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing,” Murray said. “Instead of listening to the millions of students, parents and teachers who stood up against her extreme ideological agenda, her proposal will allow her to prioritize applicants that would siphon taxpayer funds away from the public schools that serve the vast majority of students.”

Betsy DeVos releases her priorities for US Education Department grants. Guess what’s No. 1.

Analysis Interpretation of the news based on evidence, including data, as well as anticipating how events might unfold based on past events

Cal State receives federal grant to prepare more Latinos to become teachers

Sarah Tully, EdSource

October 11, 2017

Numerous studies show black and Latino students do better in school when their teachers look like them, but across the country and in California, most teachers are white.

A new $8.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to the California State University will fund efforts to prepare more Latinos to become teachers.

The money aims to give the state’s largest student demographic group more opportunities to learn from a Latino or Hispanic teacher.

Three CSU campuses — Sacramento, Long Beach and Sonoma State University — will each receive roughly $2.7 million over a five-year period.

“There’s incredible value added” from the grant, said Shireen Pavri, dean of the College of Education at CSU Long Beach. “There’s a strong outreach component to bring in new students who we probably would not have brought.” Pavri said the grant will allow for more recruitment of teacher candidates at high schools and community colleges.

With roughly 6,800 annual graduates, the CSU system produces more teachers in California than all other institutions combined. The federal grant money will help the campuses develop strategies to attract more Latino candidates for teaching careers and provide the candidates with social and professional services that give them both a sense of community and greater hands-on training in the classroom. The grant will also pay for developing data-keeping systems to track the progress of student-teachers.

In 2014-15, two-thirds of California’s teachers were white and a fifth were Hispanic, according to state data. That’s an inversion of the state’s student population, which is 54 percent Hispanic and 25 percent white.

“There’s a growing body of research that shows the congruence between teachers and students on race, ethnicity and even gender appears to help students,” said Thomas S. Dee, a professor of education at Stanford and director of the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis.

He said there are several factors that contribute to students performing better when taught by teachers of similar backgrounds. “Teachers may exhibit unconscious biases that influence student learning,” he said, meaning that white teachers may instinctively discipline or second-guess black and Latino students differently than white students. Dee also cited stereotype threat — the phenomenon of individuals performing poorly because they feel pressure to disprove the stereotypes about them — as another reason some students may do worse when taught by white teachers.

Students may also be motivated to perform better because they’re likelier to view teachers who look like them as role models. “Such representation could increase the cultural value students place on academic success,” according to a Brookings Institution summary of education research.

But while Dee said he “applaud[s] the effort to promote teacher diversity,” he worries the focus may draw attention from other important aspects of teacher training. “We have such a majority-white teaching workforce,” he said. “We don’t want to lose sight of the imperative to help white teachers be effective with under-represented students.”

Some observers of the teacher pipeline say racism among teachers harms students. In an essay by Andre Perry, the former teacher college dean wrote that “Extolling the need for more black teachers is not the same as demanding white teachers be less racist.”

Other studies suggest that while white teachers are more likely than black teachers to view black students in a negative light, no discernible differences were found for Latino students taught by Latino teachers.

Part of the challenge facing California in recruiting Latino teachers is that fewer Latinos enter and complete college than do whites or and blacks. A report out today from Georgetown University shows that 12 percent of the state’s Latino workforce has a bachelor’s or higher, compared to 24 percent for blacks and 43 percent for whites.

Still, CSU’s teacher programs enroll a large number of Latino students. According to data from CSU, nearly a third of the system’s teacher credential candidates are “Hispanic/Latinos.” Roughly 10 percent are Asian-American and around 2 percent are African-Americans. Those figures are slightly higher for the system’s doctoral programs in educational leadership.

The CSU grants are funded by the Title V Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions section of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 — the chief federal higher education law in the U.S. The money for the grants will expire September 30, 2022.

Elsewhere on the California teacher recruitment front, a new organization called the California Center on Teaching Careers is using $9.4 million in money approved by state lawmakers in July to attract new teachers in rural schools as well as in the fields of math and science, English-language learners and special education — areas that are particularly in need of teachers.

“This year more than 155,000 students in California’s public schools are being taught by adults with no sure evidence of being trained to teach,” said Jim Vidak, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools, in a statement. The county helped to create the California Center. “This data is concerning to us, as administrators and as parents, and we look forward to the Center’s focus on not only recruiting new teachers, but also ensuring they are empowered with high-quality educational opportunities and training.”

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Cal State receives federal grant to prepare more Latinos to become …

Sarah Tully, EdSource

October 11, 2017

Numerous studies show black and Latino students do better in school when their teachers look like them, but across the country and in California, most teachers are white.

A new $8.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to the California State University will fund efforts to prepare more Latinos to become teachers.

The money aims to give the state’s largest student demographic group more opportunities to learn from a Latino or Hispanic teacher.

Three CSU campuses — Sacramento, Long Beach and Sonoma State University — will each receive roughly $2.7 million over a five-year period.

“There’s incredible value added” from the grant, said Shireen Pavri, dean of the College of Education at CSU Long Beach. “There’s a strong outreach component to bring in new students who we probably would not have brought.” Pavri said the grant will allow for more recruitment of teacher candidates at high schools and community colleges.

With roughly 6,800 annual graduates, the CSU system produces more teachers in California than all other institutions combined. The federal grant money will help the campuses develop strategies to attract more Latino candidates for teaching careers and provide the candidates with social and professional services that give them both a sense of community and greater hands-on training in the classroom. The grant will also pay for developing data-keeping systems to track the progress of student-teachers.

In 2014-15, two-thirds of California’s teachers were white and a fifth were Hispanic, according to state data. That’s an inversion of the state’s student population, which is 54 percent Hispanic and 25 percent white.

“There’s a growing body of research that shows the congruence between teachers and students on race, ethnicity and even gender appears to help students,” said Thomas S. Dee, a professor of education at Stanford and director of the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis.

He said there are several factors that contribute to students performing better when taught by teachers of similar backgrounds. “Teachers may exhibit unconscious biases that influence student learning,” he said, meaning that white teachers may instinctively discipline or second-guess black and Latino students differently than white students. Dee also cited stereotype threat — the phenomenon of individuals performing poorly because they feel pressure to disprove the stereotypes about them — as another reason some students may do worse when taught by white teachers.

Students may also be motivated to perform better because they’re likelier to view teachers who look like them as role models. “Such representation could increase the cultural value students place on academic success,” according to a Brookings Institution summary of education research.

But while Dee said he “applaud[s] the effort to promote teacher diversity,” he worries the focus may draw attention from other important aspects of teacher training. “We have such a majority-white teaching workforce,” he said. “We don’t want to lose sight of the imperative to help white teachers be effective with under-represented students.”

Some observers of the teacher pipeline say racism among teachers harms students. In an essay by Andre Perry, the former teacher college dean wrote that “Extolling the need for more black teachers is not the same as demanding white teachers be less racist.”

Other studies suggest that while white teachers are more likely than black teachers to view black students in a negative light, no discernible differences were found for Latino students taught by Latino teachers.

Part of the challenge facing California in recruiting Latino teachers is that fewer Latinos enter and complete college than do whites or and blacks. A report out today from Georgetown University shows that 12 percent of the state’s Latino workforce has a bachelor’s or higher, compared to 24 percent for blacks and 43 percent for whites.

Still, CSU’s teacher programs enroll a large number of Latino students. According to data from CSU, nearly a third of the system’s teacher credential candidates are “Hispanic/Latinos.” Roughly 10 percent are Asian-American and around 2 percent are African-Americans. Those figures are slightly higher for the system’s doctoral programs in educational leadership.

The CSU grants are funded by the Title V Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions section of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 — the chief federal higher education law in the U.S. The money for the grants will expire September 30, 2022.

Elsewhere on the California teacher recruitment front, a new organization called the California Center on Teaching Careers is using $9.4 million in money approved by state lawmakers in July to attract new teachers in rural schools as well as in the fields of math and science, English-language learners and special education — areas that are particularly in need of teachers.

“This year more than 155,000 students in California’s public schools are being taught by adults with no sure evidence of being trained to teach,” said Jim Vidak, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools, in a statement. The county helped to create the California Center. “This data is concerning to us, as administrators and as parents, and we look forward to the Center’s focus on not only recruiting new teachers, but also ensuring they are empowered with high-quality educational opportunities and training.”

Comments

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Federal grant to expand STEM education for Albuquerque students

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A federal grant is about to help better prepare Albuquerque students for careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Nearly $8 million will go towards expanding STEM education with new labs at Mission Avenue Elementary, Garfield Middle and Valley High School.

APS says it’s part of the district’s push to create more magnet schools, catered to students’ particular goals.

“It is capturing what out students want and then offering it a situation like this where they really get hooked on learning,” APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy said.

The money will pay for equipment to round out STEM labs and programs already in the works.

 

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