|6/14/2011 11:30:00 AM|
|Superintendent's Update #345|
Superintendent Castillo's bi-weekly updates showcase the efforts and achievements of Oregon schools. Through these regular updates, the Superintendent hopes to increase communications regarding important initiatives for Oregon's students. Click here to access archived issues of Superintendent’s Update.
In This Issue:
The Path to Graduation – Not Always Smooth But Always Worth ItBy Susan Castillo
It’s graduation season again. In schools around the state students are walking across auditorium stages to claim their diplomas. For many, high school graduation has always been part of the plan – a critical step along the road to college or career. But for others, getting to cross that stage and accept their diploma was not always so certain. For students who have struggled in school, either academically or with personal or family issues, graduating from high school is more than an important life event. For these kids, graduation is a personal victory – a victory they can owe to their own perseverance and to the commitment and dedication of their teachers and mentors.
I recently had the great privilege of visiting the Centennial Learning Center (CLC) in Portland to announce this year’s ECMC scholars. The CLC is an alternative program in the Centennial School District helping to get students on track to graduate. Some of these students struggled or were even expelled from previous schools, but at CLC they are finding their purpose and motivation to succeed.
I had the chance to hear the inspiring stories of some of these students – students who have overcome incredible personal challenges to earn that diploma and pursue their dreams of going to college. It was a powerful reminder that there are many paths to a high school diploma. We have to ensure that students who don't fit the traditional academic mold for one reason or another have the opportunity to access a rigorous educational program that empowers them to stay in school and graduate.
The ECMC Scholars Program is unique in that it specifically targets students who might be having a hard time in school. This is not a program for straight-A high flyers. This is a program that seeks out kids flying under the radar and invests in their potential – a program that finds the kids who have what it takes to excel, but just might need that extra support or encouragement to get there.
In communities across Oregon—Portland, Pendleton, Woodburn, LaPine, Milwaukie, Eugene, and Cave Junction —students are nominated for this program by teachers and councilors during their sophomore year. The ECMC Scholars receive mentoring and guidance to prepare them for graduation and college. And upon graduation, students received up to $6,000 in scholarships to continue their education. Many of the students are the first in their families to attend college—a point of pride for the program.
This year, 74 graduating ECMC scholars from across our state are receiving scholarships totaling $440,000. These students get a chance to transform their lives and pursue their dreams. By going to college, they'll start to see themselves and their world in a new light, and they will get a great start to their careers. The world moves at a dizzying pace, with technology transforming how we live, work, and play. While these graduates can't predict what jobs they might have 10, 20, or 30 years from now, a college education will help them to adapt to change and thrive in whatever career they choose.
ECMC's generosity and vision are as inspiring as the stories of these students who show all of us that if you set your mind on a goal, work hard, and get the support you need to reach it, everything is possible.
Photo (left to right): Vicki Whebbe, ECMC; March Kessler, ECMC; Jamie Juenemann, CLC Principal; Susan Castillo, State Superintendent; Jessica Willis, past ECMC scholar; Laura Boone, ECMC coordinator for CLC; Ethan Wilson, 2011 ECMC Scholar. BACK ROW: Samuel Henry, State Board of Education. PHOTOGRAPHER: Jim Clark, The Outlook.
Cuts to ODE Agency Budget Will Impact Students and SchoolsBy Susan Castillo
Earlier this month, I received the legislature’s budget for the Oregon Department of Education. We knew the cuts would be deep, but this budget represents a 25% reduction below current service levels and makes specific cuts to programs and services that will directly impact our students and schools.
While I understand the difficult position the legislature was under to create a state budget in these tough times, I have very real concerns about what this budget will mean for our students.
We are asking more of our kids today than ever before. We have raised the bar and asked our students and schools to rise to the challenge. We need to be providing our students with all of the supports and opportunities possible to reach this higher bar. And we need to be providing our districts and schools with the tools to better support student achievement. Unfortunately, this budget moves us in the opposite direction.
In this budget, the legislature has suspended the writing assessment at 4th and 7th grades and has limited the high school writing test to one opportunity in the 11th grade. This will result in a significant cost shift to districts at a time when they can least afford it and will result in fewer opportunities for our students to demonstrate their mastery of writing. We know that writing is a key predictor of college and career success, and starting in 2013 all students will be required to demonstrate their proficiency in writing in order to meet new graduation requirements. These cuts to the writing assessment mean that we are making it harder for students to earn a high school diploma. Because of this reduction, we will need to ask more of our districts and schools in order to provide the supports and opportunities critical to student success.
I am also concerned about the proposal to defer the needed maintenance to the Oregon School for the Deaf. At a minimum, we need to complete roof repairs and replace the carpeting prior to the next school year. It is essential that we provide our students with a safe learning and living environment, and these critical repairs can easily be addressed with a portion of the existing proceeds from the sale of the Oregon School for the Blind. I will continue to fight to get the authority to use these funds and address these critical repairs.
Other cuts required in this budget will impact our ability as an agency to support teachers and schools, answer the questions or complaints of parents and community members, and provide critical information to Oregon tax payers about our schools. We will no longer be able to conduct state-level standard setting for the Arts, PE, or Health, and there will be fewer staff available to provide assistance to teachers and schools.
I have met regularly with members of legislative leadership throughout this session to advocate for education funding. And while our K-12 budget was not everything we would have hoped for, given the current economic climate it could have been much worse. However, my fear is that the significant cuts to the Oregon Department of Education agency budget will put a further strain on school districts already trying to cope with their own reductions. The work of the Department of Education is intimately connected with the work of our schools and cuts to the agency will hurt our schools and our students. I will continue to advocate for adequate and stable funding of our education system at all levels. And I will continue to work with my partners throughout the state to achieve the best possible outcomes for Oregon students.
Oregon Diploma Talk
This bi-weekly item highlights actions taken, various questions, and background relating to the Oregon diploma.
We have increased Oregon high school graduation requirements to ensure all students are ready for the challenges of college and career. However, these rigorous expectations have to be paired with the supports and extra assistance many students will need to reach this higher bar. One way of giving students that extra support is through high quality after-school programs, summer programs, or other out-of-school time learning opportunities. And thanks to a grant from the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, Oregon will have an opportunity to improve integration, expand access, and improve coordination of these critical programs.
Oregon is one of nine states selected to host a mayoral summit on afterschool learning opportunities. These summits are designed to strengthen the ways that city and state leaders collaborate to provide before and after-school programs, summer activities, and other out-of-school time learning opportunities for youth, with a focus on expanding access to these programs. Oregon Afterschool for Kids, a statewide afterschool network, was selected to host Oregon’s summit.
The 2012 summits will convene mayors, city council members, state agency officials, school and business leaders, and community partners to discuss the importance of afterschool programming and how to expand opportunities to youth by improving policies and partnerships at the state and city levels. This project is generously supported through a partnership between the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Wallace Foundation.
Learn more about Oregon Afterschool for Kids at: http://www.oregonask.org/.
Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools
ODE Seeks New Communications Director
The Oregon Department of Education is currently accepting applications for the position of Communications Director. Qualified applicants will have at least 6 years of related experience including at least two years of management experience. Desired attributes include knowledge of the media, the ability to summarize and simplify complex information and communicate it to different groups, excellent communication skills including research, writing, editing, and presentation skills, and the ability to work well under pressure. Qualified applicants should submit application and supplemental information to ODE by Thursday, June 30. To learn more, visit: http://www.ode.state.or.us/news/announcements/announcement.aspx?ID=7386&TypeID=4.
United States Senate Youth Scholarship 2012
Please take a moment to nominate one of your students for the United States Senate Youth Scholarship. Students with junior or senior standing, who are currently an elected student officer for the 2011-2012 school year, are eligible. Nominated students will then compete for a scholarship award of $5,000 and an all-expense paid (including airfare) one-week trip to Washington, D.C. Completed student nomination packets must be postmarked no later than Wednesday, October 10, 2011. Please visit the website below for more information: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=1496. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact Mindy Addison at (503) 947-5731.
Cyber Foundations Competition for High School Students
The Cyber Foundations Fall 2011 National Competition--being offered in collaboration with the Center for Internet Security's Cybersecurity Workforce Development division and the U.S. Cyber Challenge--is now open for pre-registration. The competition, which is open to high school students, will feature a series of online tutorials followed by quizzes targeting the key areas of knowledge most important for success in cyber security professions: networking, operating systems, and system administration. The goal is to provide learning opportunities for students while putting them on the path toward rewarding jobs in cyber security and information systems management. The competition launches on October 3, 2011. For more details about the fall competition, and to view the list of winning students and schools from the spring contest, visit: http://workforce.cisecurity.org/index.
Week of June 13 – Superintendent Castillo will meet the new director of SMART, Chris Otis; and attend the Governor’s signing of SB 800 regarding mandate relief.
Week of June 20 – Susan will participate in the State Board of Education meeting.
For scheduling inquiries, please visit our website at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?=848
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