SKCE Disappointed with the Salem Keizer School Board

We at the Salem Keizer Coalition for Equality want our parents, families, supporters and community at large to know our deep disappointment and frustration towards what we witnessed at Wednesday’s School Board meeting to elect a Chair and Vice-Chair.

Through their actions, the Salem Keizer School Board has shown again their ​disconnect​ from the ongoing traumatization of communities of color. Wednesday’s election was proof that the community’s voice has no impact on this board. After weeks of turmoil, they ignored the statements of hundreds of community members, asking for a person who would uphold their values, who had the community’s trust, who could listen and be fair. Over 130 community members expressed that Sheronne Blasi should be Chair. Instead they blocked her from both Chair and Vice-Chair. They did significant damage to our relationships and ability to work together. However, we must give credit to Jesse Lippold. He heard the community, spoke up and turned down his own nomination. It was a brave move and appreciated by many of us.

Our Parent Leadership Group has worked long and hard to build relationships with each board member, hosting dinners, sharing our priorities for our children, trying to help board members understand our culture and the issues our children face in education. Board members have surely learned a few things, and expressed their desire to assure our children feel safe in school. But the sentiment is not enough. They must be willing to take actions that are not politically correct for their “Party.”

The children cannot feel safe because society has not changed. Immigration laws have not changed. Policies have not changed. White supremacism has not disappeared. Racism is on the rise, all over the world. Almost all of our leadership is white in the district. They see themselves on TV being abused. They hear about their abuse all day long. They hear, “you are not wanted” day in and day out.

The most important and positive thing this board could have done during the testimonies was to listen with open minds and hearts, suspend their personal judgements and egos and try to empathize. If they had done that, they would have concentrated on feeling pain for what is happening to people who don’t look like them. Instead, board members expressed coldness, annoyance and impatience.

Our School Board’s response to the upheaval in our society and our School District has been callous and defensive. Their silence proclaimed judgement on thousands of people of color—children, youth, parents, and community members—implying that we are not worthy of their time and consideration. That they had more important things to do.

True leaders would know (or learn) how to respond to personal and systemic accusations. Instead, they immediately dismissed and denied all complaints, called our reactions to police abuse “knee-jerking,” and tried to shut us down.

They answered demands with “knee jerk” absolutes. Instant personal proclamations. No forethought. No desire to be a collective body—a Board of Directors.

We urge the board to reconsider everything they have said and done. To see the humanity they thought themselves worthy to represent. Our children don’t need politicians with agendas. They don’t need the Union’s agenda. They don’t need the “conservative” agenda. They don’t need the “liberal white progressive” agenda. They don’t need ADULT AGENDAS at all.

With the unnecessary challenges that our students encounter, our children need school board members who are mature adults, who care most about a unified and effective agenda for positive change. Then our students and families can have faith that the adults who are administering their education can also keep them protected and thriving. With that support, students can focus on achieving their education, instead of being distracted by having to overcome a system of obstacles and prejudice.

Most of our board members have made it clear they have no intention of changing any of their core beliefs. They have no desire to gain a new understanding for race issues and systemic racism. They are steeped in a lifetime of white privilege they have no intention of acknowledging. We are shocked at the School Board’s stubbornness and arrogance. Their inability to listen or change, to embrace their weaknesses and question themselves even a little. They are outraged at the accusations hurled at them, about the “blackface” incident, the laughter, the offensive photos and jokes on social media. But they showed no outrage whatsoever for the murders of black men across the nation and no empathy for the stories of our students.

This has been the Salem Keizer School Board’s pattern for three years. It has to change.

We must have equal representation on our School Board and in our District Leadership.

 

Salem Reporter: How will distance learning impact Salem-Keizer students? No one really knows.

Salem-Keizer teachers and principals have seen online class participation fall in recent weeks as some families have burned out on remote schooling. With no grading or in-class tests, educators say it’s hard to measure how students are learning, or what gaps will exist when classes resume in-person.

By Rachel Alexander – Salem Reporter

June 8, 2020 at 9:50am

Jared Vergara Santana, left, Evelyn Francis, right, Iris Johnson, right back and Lillyana Green, back left, work on newspaper articles at Hoover Elementary School. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

In late May, about 10 teachers and classroom aides from Judson Middle School gathered online to plan for the end of the school year. They talked about final projects, which for many students included a video presentation about an African country, and swapped ideas on how to recognize and say goodbye to students without doing so in person.

The discussion included bright spots for distance learning, the largely online schooling which began in mid-April, after Oregon’s students had been out of school for one month.

Danyelle Thomas, who teaches sixth and seventh grade language arts and social studies, said they’ve gotten to know more about students’ home lives through calls home and one-on-one help.

But teachers also reported struggling with sometimes low participation and said it’s been difficult learning how best to teach individual students in a completely new environment. “Trying to figure out what works best has been such a challenge,” said Kim Daniels, who teaches seventh grade language arts and social studies.

The impacts of mass school closures related to the coronavirus will be the subject of education research for years to come, but early results suggest a grim forecast for kids, especially those who were already struggling before schools shut down.

Researchers at McKinsey & Company estimated low-income students could return to school a year behind where they would have been had schools not closed, assuming in-person classes resume in January 2021. An average student would be about seven months behind.

Black and Latino students will also lose more ground than white students, because they’re more likely to attend schools where the quality of remote instruction has been poor and less likely to be able to access classes, researchers found. “In short, the hastily assembled online education currently available is likely to be both less effective, in general, than traditional schooling and to reach fewer students as well,” researchers wrote.

Oregon may suffer less because state officials required districts to offer some form of distance learning, while 28 states required no instruction after schools closed. In the Salem-Keizer School District, administrators had embraced data as a tool for tracking both individual students’ learning and the needs of schools and the district as a whole.

Now, they’re largely blind to how students are doing.

By state mandate, schoolwork now is optional for students and ungraded. State standardized tests in the spring were canceled, and district tests used to measure elementary schoolers’ progress in reading and math weren’t done.

Administrators know educators have been in touch with about 96% of elementary school students at some point since schools closed in mid-March, assistant superintendent Kraig Sproles said. That still leaves about 700 kids with no contact with teachers at all.

The percentage for middle schools are similar, and about 100 high schoolers haven’t been in touch with their schools. Sproles said Salem-Keizer doesn’t have demographic data about the kids it hasn’t reached, but he knows anecdotally the same kids who were struggling before schools closed. Homeless students or those with unstable home lives were especially unlikely to tune in, he said.

Despite large laptop distributions at every high school in the district, schools were still passing out Chromebooks in late May – seven weeks after the start of remote classes.

Teacher track “engagement” in online classes, a measure teachers said doesn’t capture whether students are actually learning. “We have to count them as engaged if they breathe in Google Classroom, not if they do work,” Daniels said.

Other teachers described a similar pattern. The first two weeks of distance learning in April were hectic as students got Chromebooks, parents adjusted schedules and everybody figured out how classes would work.

“It was chaos,” said Lucia Sanchez, a parent of two Salem-Keizer students, speaking in Spanish.

Sanchez is a parent educator at the Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality, which works with Latino parents. She and other coalition staff called about 500 families to assess needs and connected with about 300. Many reported they didn’t know how to get online or use the computers the district had sent home. Some were caring for nieces and nephews while their parents worked or were managing schedules for four children at the same time.

“We realized that many families were dealing with depression, anxiety, panic, stress but said ‘I don’t have anyone to talk to,’” Sanchez said. Many were concerned about their kids falling behind in school. Coalition workers suggested a daily schedule for parents of young children and talked through problems over the phone, delivering Chromebooks for families who couldn’t drive and printed packets of schoolwork for families who couldn’t get online. They also helped parents reach school counselors and principals for direct help.

Sanchez said she’s seen many parents become more confident working with their kids as the closure stretched on. “We as parents are the first and most important teachers of our kids,” she said.

Educators said they’ve seen many parents make Herculean efforts to keep kids engaged in school.

Jessica Brenden, principal of Hallman Elementary School, said student engagement has been higher in the school’s Spanish-English bilingual classrooms than in English-only ones. The northeast Salem school has among the highest poverty rates in the district.

Daily, between 30% and 60% of Hallman’s students participated in school, she said. Over the course of a week, teachers report nearly every student was in class.

Some parents said the new format was a positive experience. Flora Galindo is the mother of three Hallman students in kindergarten, second and third grade. She was let go from her job in a children’s clothing store in Salem because of the pandemic, so she’s worked through classes with her kids.

Galindo said she’s learned more about how one son’s ADHD impacts his learning and thinks she’ll be better able to help him with school in the future. She’s also brushed up her own understanding of math. “We were stuck on fractions for a good two days maybe,” she said. “We all taught ourselves and we all learned together as a single bunch.”

But Brenden and teachers said they’ve seen less engagement as the spring has worn on. Some parents have given up, exhausted by the demands of balancing schedules for multiple students.

At Judson, Thomas said her students’ engagement has dropped weekly. Daniels reported a dip in weeks three and four, followed by some improvement. By late May, about two-thirds of her students were regularly completing assignments, she said. Brenden said she’s talked to parents who have stopped sending kids to classes entirely because they were burned out or overwhelmed.

Superintendent Christy Perry said she’s asked educators to prioritize relationships with students and is optimistic the connections built under challenging circumstances will lead to teachers to connect better with students once classes resume in the fall.

“Every kid’s going to be coming back with a gap of some sort,” she said.

Brenden said at Hallman, educators see kids who struggle with behavior in class shine in online classes, while some students who do well in regular school have trouble staying focused online. She said those observations are leading teachers to discuss how they can better tailor school to serve everyone when classes resume.

“It’s given us a really great experiment to see what would happen if school weren’t mandatory,” she said. “What we’ve learned is that … we always want to have schools that kids want to be at, but we’ve got work to do to make sure that happens.”

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: rachel@salemreporter.com or 503-575-1241.

 

TRADUCCION EN ESPANOL DE GOOGLE

¿Cómo afectará el aprendizaje a distancia a los estudiantes de Salem-Keizer? Nadie lo sabe realmente.

Los maestros y directores de Salem-Keizer han visto caer la participación en clase en línea en las últimas semanas, ya que algunas familias se han consumido en la educación remota. Sin calificaciones ni exámenes en clase, los educadores dicen que es difícil medir cómo aprenden los estudiantes o qué brechas existirán cuando las clases se reanuden en persona.

Por Rachel Alexander, reportera de Salem

8 de junio de 2020 a las 9:50 a.m.

A fines de mayo, alrededor de 10 maestros y ayudantes de la escuela secundaria Judson se reunieron en línea para planificar el final del año escolar.

Hablaron sobre proyectos finales, que para muchos estudiantes incluyeron una presentación en video sobre un país africano, e intercambiaron ideas sobre cómo reconocer y decir adiós a los estudiantes sin hacerlo en persona.

La discusión incluyó puntos brillantes para el aprendizaje a distancia, la educación en gran parte en línea que comenzó a mediados de abril, después de que los estudiantes de Oregon habían estado fuera de la escuela durante un mes.

Danyelle Thomas, que enseña artes del lenguaje y estudios sociales en sexto y séptimo grado, dijo que han llegado a conocer más sobre la vida en el hogar de los estudiantes a través de llamadas a domicilio y ayuda personalizada.

Pero los maestros también informaron que tenían dificultades con una participación a veces baja y dijeron que ha sido difícil aprender la mejor manera de enseñar a estudiantes individuales en un entorno completamente nuevo.

“Tratar de descubrir qué funciona mejor ha sido un gran desafío”, dijo Kim Daniels, quien enseña artes del lenguaje y estudios sociales de séptimo grado.

Los impactos de los cierres masivos de escuelas relacionados con el coronavirus serán objeto de investigación educativa en los próximos años, pero los primeros resultados sugieren un pronóstico sombrío para los niños, especialmente aquellos que ya estaban luchando antes de que cerraran las escuelas.

Los investigadores de McKinsey & Company estimaron que los estudiantes de bajos ingresos podrían regresar a la escuela un año antes, donde no habrían cerrado las escuelas, suponiendo que las clases en persona se reanudarían en enero de 2021. Un estudiante promedio estaría atrasado unos siete meses.

Los estudiantes negros y latinos también perderán más terreno que los estudiantes blancos, porque es más probable que asistan a escuelas donde la calidad de la instrucción remota ha sido deficiente y es menos probable que puedan acceder a las clases, hallaron los investigadores.

“En resumen, la educación en línea rápidamente disponible actualmente es probable que sea menos efectiva, en general, que la educación tradicional y que llegue a menos estudiantes”, escribieron los investigadores.

Oregon puede sufrir menos porque los funcionarios estatales requieren que los distritos ofrezcan algún tipo de educación a distancia, mientras que 28 estados no requieren instrucción después del cierre de las escuelas.

En el Distrito Escolar de Salem-Keizer, los administradores adoptaron los datos como una herramienta para rastrear tanto el aprendizaje de los estudiantes individuales como las necesidades de las escuelas y del distrito en general.

Ahora, son en gran medida ciegos a cómo están los estudiantes.

Por mandato estatal, el trabajo escolar ahora es opcional para los estudiantes y no está calificado. Las pruebas estandarizadas del estado en la primavera fueron canceladas, y las pruebas del distrito solían medir el progreso de los estudiantes de primaria en lectura y matemáticas.

Los administradores saben que los educadores han estado en contacto con aproximadamente el 96% de los estudiantes de primaria en algún momento desde que las escuelas cerraron a mediados de marzo, dijo el superintendente asistente Kraig Sproles. Eso todavía deja a unos 700 niños sin contacto con los maestros.

El porcentaje para las escuelas intermedias es similar, y alrededor de 100 estudiantes de secundaria no han estado en contacto con sus escuelas.

Sproles dijo que Salem-Keizer no tiene datos demográficos sobre los niños a los que no ha llegado, pero conoce anecdóticamente a los mismos niños que estaban luchando antes de que cerraran las escuelas. Los estudiantes sin hogar o aquellos con una vida familiar inestable eran especialmente improbables de sintonizar, dijo.

A pesar de las grandes distribuciones de computadoras portátiles en todas las escuelas secundarias del distrito, las escuelas aún distribuían Chromebooks a fines de mayo, siete semanas después del comienzo de las clases remotas.

Los docentes hacen un seguimiento del “compromiso” en las clases en línea, una medida que los docentes dijeron que no captura si los estudiantes realmente están aprendiendo.

“Tenemos que contarlos como comprometidos si respiran en Google Classroom, no si trabajan”, dijo Daniels.

Otros maestros describieron un patrón similar. Las primeras dos semanas de aprendizaje a distancia en abril fueron agitadas cuando los estudiantes obtuvieron Chromebooks, los padres ajustaron los horarios y todos descubrieron cómo funcionarían las clases.

“Fue un caos”, dijo Lucía Sánchez, madre de dos estudiantes de Salem-Keizer, hablando en español.

Sánchez es educador de padres en la Coalición por la Igualdad de Salem-Keizer, que trabaja con padres latinos. Ella y otro personal de la coalición llamaron a unas 500 familias para evaluar las necesidades y se conectaron con unas 300.

Muchos informaron que no sabían cómo conectarse o usar las computadoras que el distrito había enviado a casa. Algunos cuidaban a sobrinas y sobrinos mientras sus padres trabajaban o administraban horarios para cuatro niños al mismo tiempo.

“Nos dimos cuenta de que muchas familias estaban lidiando con la depresión, la ansiedad, el pánico, el estrés, pero dijeron” no tengo con quién hablar “”, dijo Sánchez. Muchos estaban preocupados por el retraso de sus hijos en la escuela.

Los trabajadores de la coalición sugirieron un horario diario para padres de niños pequeños y hablaron sobre los problemas por teléfono, entregando Chromebooks para familias que no podían conducir e imprimieron paquetes de tareas escolares para familias que no podían conectarse. También ayudaron a los padres a comunicarse con los consejeros y directores escolares para obtener ayuda directa.

Sánchez dijo que ha visto a muchos padres tener más confianza trabajando con sus hijos a medida que el cierre se prolongaba.

“Nosotros, como padres, somos los primeros y más importantes maestros de nuestros hijos”, dijo.

Los educadores dijeron que han visto a muchos padres hacer esfuerzos hercúleos para mantener a los niños interesados ​​en la escuela.

Jessica Brenden, directora de la Escuela Primaria Hallman, dijo que la participación de los estudiantes ha sido mayor en las aulas bilingües español-inglés de la escuela que en las que solo están en inglés. La escuela del noreste de Salem tiene una de las tasas de pobreza más altas del distrito.

Diariamente, entre el 30% y el 60% de los estudiantes de Hallman participaban en la escuela. En el transcurso de una semana, los maestros informan que casi todos los estudiantes estaban en clase.

Algunos padres dijeron que el nuevo formato fue una experiencia positiva. Flora Galindo es madre de tres estudiantes de Hallman en jardín de infantes, segundo y tercer grado. Fue despedida de su trabajo en una tienda de ropa para niños en Salem debido a la pandemia, por lo que trabajó durante las clases con sus hijos.

Galindo dijo que aprendió más sobre cómo el TDAH de un hijo afecta su aprendizaje y cree que será más capaz de ayudarlo con la escuela en el futuro. También ha repasado su propia comprensión de las matemáticas.

“Estuvimos atrapados en fracciones durante unos dos días, tal vez”, dijo. “Todos nos enseñamos a nosotros mismos y todos aprendimos juntos como un solo grupo”.

Pero Brenden y los maestros dijeron que han visto menos compromiso a medida que avanza la primavera. Algunos padres se han rendido, agotados por las exigencias de equilibrar los horarios de varios estudiantes.

En Judson, Thomas dijo que el compromiso de sus alumnos se ha reducido semanalmente. Daniels reportó un descenso en las semanas tres y cuatro, seguido de algunas mejoras. A fines de mayo, alrededor de dos tercios de sus estudiantes completaban tareas regularmente, dijo.

Brenden dijo que habló con padres que dejaron de enviar a los niños a clases por completo porque estaban agotados o abrumados.

La superintendente Christy Perry dijo que ha pedido a los educadores que prioricen las relaciones con los estudiantes y es optimista de que las conexiones creadas en circunstancias difíciles llevarán a los maestros a conectarse mejor con los estudiantes una vez que las clases se reanuden en el otoño.

“Todos los niños volverán con una brecha de algún tipo”, dijo.

Brenden dijo en Hallman que los educadores ven a los niños que luchan con el comportamiento en clase brillar en las clases en línea, mientras que algunos estudiantes que obtienen buenos resultados en la escuela regular tienen problemas para mantenerse concentrados en línea.

Ella dijo que esas observaciones están llevando a los maestros a discutir cómo pueden adaptar mejor la escuela para servir a todos cuando se reanuden las clases.

“Nos ha dado un gran experimento para ver qué pasaría si la escuela no fuera obligatoria”, dijo. “Lo que hemos aprendido es que … siempre queremos tener escuelas en las que los niños quieran estar, pero tenemos trabajo que hacer para asegurarnos de que eso suceda”.

Comuníquese con la reportera Rachel Alexander: rachel@salemreporter.com o 503-575-1241.

Aprenda cómo hacemos nuestro trabajo en Salem Reporter: lea nuestros principios.

 

During Coronavirus, Spanish-speaking Parents Face More Obstacles

During the Coronavirus pandemic, Spanish-speaking immigrant parents are facing more obstacles to helping their children with their education.

The pandemic created a unique situation, and we had to respond with flexibility and creativity. We had to cancel our luncheon in April and cancel parent classes for the remainder of the school year. We had to stop planning for summer education programs through the school district and the Oregon Department of Education. But our funders stepped up with emergency support and extra funding.

We had to figure out a different way to do what we do best – help Spanish-speaking parents with their children at home. We decided that mailing resources and calling parents individually were the most important priorities. In addition, families began calling us right away, so we had an idea of what the needs and questions were.

In March:

We researched and put together packets of resources and a newsletter and mailed almost 4000 families. It was a task to find resources in Spanish, and at the same time we were working with other organizations who were also looking for resources in Spanish. We translated some when necessary. Ultimately, the packets were about 12 pages worth, back and front on 6 papers. It was a tremendous amount of work and took almost 50 reams of paper. Staff and volunteers, and their children, worked at home with piles of envelopes, folding and stuffing hundreds of packets for over two weeks. All the packets were mailed by the last week of March.

Gathering the resources and making the packets gave staff the training they needed to be able to answer questions when parents called them and to prepare for the phone calls we planned to make to parents.

In March and April:

We developed a survey and started making hundreds of phone calls. The result was hundreds of messages left with offers of assistance, and 326 surveys finished. Questions were conversational, and each call was about 30 minutes long. Many of the parents were moms at home who welcomed the contact with someone to whom they could express their concerns. Most had received the packets of resources and expressed gratitude. The surveys assessed families’ technology access, availability of books, art and educational supplies, ability to connect with educational resources and basic needs. We also relayed current information from the school district and referred to resources in the mailed packet. Other questions asked about emotions, general concerns, parenting challenges, and worries about their children’s learning. In addition, we emphasized basic Coronavirus safety protocols and problem solved for unusual situations. Finally, we offered coaching and mentoring, made appointments and assigned staff to follow-up.

We also collected over 1000 reading books, and enough art supplies, school supplies, and paper to pack and distribute over 120 bags with age and grade level appropriate materials and activities in both Spanish and English.

In April and May:

The result was that 211 parents asked for a call back in April (and parents continued to call us also from our many other contacts). We gave parents guidance about parenting skills from our evidence based programs, helped them develop a structure and routine for their children, address emotional and mental health issues, and overall, made a connection to their world to mitigate isolation, anxiety and depression. School started the first week of April, so our call-backs also focused on helping them get connected to the internet or problems with picking up the children’s Chrome Books. However, 159 parents wanted some form of mentoring or coaching, from intensive parenting assistance to structuring a routine for the online education their children were starting. After the second call back, we were down to about half of parents who wanted more call-backs, and now, in the beginning of June, we have under 30 parents still wanting more assistance on the phone. These call-backs created important relationships that we want to make sure and capitalize on in the future.

June 2020:

We area now planning for what is to come. We envision continuing a lot of one-on-one mentoring and coaching, possibly some small group classes, and increasing the resources for parents to teach and provide extra learning experiences at home, since our children may continue falling behind. Happily, the school district is going to let all students keep their Chrome Books over the summer.

We are continuing virtual participation and training for parent leadership development and civic involvement of our parent leadership group (see post about the school budget process).

Meanwhile, we applied for a grant to help us continue our work with parents over the summer to help their children be more ready for fall and hopefully catch up in the lost education they have suffered. We hope to do a version of the program, “READY! for Kindergarten (¡Listo! para Kinder)” and plan on delivering many packets of “homework” practice for other age groups. Most importantly, we will keep up our relationships with parents, talking about their children’s future and offering assistance.

Salem Reporter article about home schooling

 

 

Latino/a Parents’ Priorities for their Children’s Education

 

Parent Leadership Group with Superintendent Perry and school board member Sheronne Blasi
El Grupo de Padres Lideres con Superintendente Perry y miembro de la mesa escolar Sheronne Blasi

 

On May 12th, Superintendent Christy Perry presented her pre-Covid-19 budget.

She decided it would be counter-productive to spend her energy making detailed cuts with no information on the economy and state school funding. Instead, she continues to look for resources, savings, reserves and grants, and is preparing for multiple scenarios in the next few years. We won’t know the extent of the cuts until later in the summer.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Oregon’s economy was good and education funding was plentiful. We at SKCE and Latino/a parents were all excited about the new Student Investment Account (SIA) funds from the state that we planned on using to close the achievement Gap.

Now we are facing the unknown.

SKCE leadership, staff and parent leaders wrote a public letter to the school board and budget committee, to outline our four main priorities.

View the full letter In English

View the full letter In Spanish

Salem Reporter coverage of our parent leaders’ priorities

English language proficiency – English language proficiency was the highest priority in all the focus groups with Latino/a parents. They want their children to be bilingual, but they know that their children must be proficient in academic English vocabulary and comprehension. In this district, lack of English proficiency affects the educational success, graduation, and college-readiness of literally thousands of students. The district must continue designing the program as they planned in the SIA process. The new model is about doing things differently. We must also prioritize the “catching up” of hundreds of children currently behind due to lack of academic English.

Mental and emotional health and safety – Stress, trauma and the emotional condition of children and families affects discipline, behavior issues and school safety, which in turn, significantly impact school success. We need more Spanish-speaking specialists of color that understand how race, ethnicity, language and poverty interact with adults’ perceptions of behavior. We also need teachers and staff trained in culturally responsive practices and brain development so they can recognize an emotional or mental health crisis as more than just challenging behavior. Especially during the coronavirus crisis, we need to be aware of the increased potential for behavior issues that can reduce school success, lead to discipline problems, and can feed the School to Prison Pipeline.

Teachers that reflect students’ language and experience – This means doing a better job of recruiting, interviewing, hiring and retaining bilingual, bicultural, Spanish-speaking teachers, as well as teaching all staff to be culturally responsive. We must continue to fully fund the Human Resources Department programs, and their focus on representing the student population. We must retain newer diverse and bilingual teachers who may be at risk of first layoffs, and prioritize principals’ training in the Equity Lens and implicit bias in the interview process. We must continue to strengthen teacher training in cultural responsiveness, brain development, mental health, and challenging behavior. Teachers must apply the Equity Lens in their classrooms.

Meaningful parent, youth and community Involvement – Parent involvement is critical to student success. Community partners are needed to support education, especially in times like these. Youth must also be included as partners and critical stakeholders in their own education. Healthy relationships between youth and adults must be a priority and SKCE staff and parent leaders want to see district leaders, the school board, and staff help to make healthy adult/youth relationships at the center of education. Relationships with parents and youth can overcome a certain amount of prejudice and increase cultural responsiveness–a highly successful alternative to expensive training. The district also must prioritize involving parents as co-teachers and community organizations as essential partners.

That’s why SKCE is concentrating more than ever on investing in parents by providing the tools, resources, skills and support they need to work with their children in their education and relationships, and to work with schools and teachers to advance their child’s success.

We are currently working with 115 parents on the phone and on videoconferencing to mentor and coach them as they do the important work of parenting and homeschooling. We are prepared to continue this model for the next year, in addition to any in-person work that may be doable or effective.

Meanwhile, it is, and will be, a constant effort to keep funds flowing so that mentoring and coaching of parents continues uninterrupted. As a result, hundreds of parents will know how to teach reading at home, will connect frequently with schools and resources, will receive deliveries of books and learning materials from SKCE, and will be connected to technology resources.  And they will have easy access to emotional support and mental health first aid through relationships with our talented Spanish speaking staff  who are parents and whose culture and experiences are the same as the parents they are supporting.

 

View the May 12 Budget Message on YouTube.

View the May 26 Budget Committee with SKCE Parent Leaders’ Testimonies also on YouTube.

View the Bill of Rights for Children and Youth

 

Salem Reporter coverage of the our parent leaders priorities

 

Latino groups push for improved bilingual education, mental health support in budget

With budget cuts on the horizon, Latino organizations in Salem are urging Salem-Keizer administrators and the school board to move forward with plans to better serve students.

By Rachel Alexander – Salem Reporter

June 1, 2020 at 9:20am

Students organized by Latinos Unidos Siempre urged the new Salem-Keizer School Board to address the mental health needs of immigrant students and stop policies that disproportionately punish students of color at a July 2019 meeting. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Latino community organizations are calling on Salem-Keizer School District leaders to push ahead with plans to improve bilingual education and mental health services next school year, even with budget cuts on the horizon.

“We all must work together to ensure that our children do not lose ground, and instead continue the upward trend of closing the achievement gap and increasing graduation. In the next few months, please reach out and include us in your decision-making processes,” wrote Annalivia Palazzo-Angulo, executive director of the Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality.

Leaders of eight other organizations, including Latinos Unidos Siempre and PCUN, Oregon’s farmworker union, signed on in support. The May 26 letter was addressed to the Salem-Keizer School Board and the district budget committee.

The letter is an effort to salvage for students of color some of the school improvements that Salem-Keizer planned with money from the Oregon’s Student Investment Account. The account was intended to enhance local school budgets to tackle a variety of issues.

The district was to receive $36 million in the fall to be used for better serving students who have historically struggled in local schools, including bilingual students, those with disabilities, students of color and homeless students.

But as Oregon confronts budget shortfalls and significant drops in tax revenue from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s almost certain school districts won’t get the full amount they were expecting.

Districts are also facing significant drops in allocations they normally get from the state. Superintendent Christy Perry said the state’s latest projection would mean about $38 million less for Salem-Keizer next year without legislative action.

Perry said in an interview she expected much of what the Latino groups asked for would be possible. She and other administrators are looking for ways to include new initiatives but on a smaller scale.

Perry said she’s committed to not cut employees whose work is to close gaps for students, like the black and Pacific Islander graduation coaches who have helped boost graduation rates for both ethnic groups to historic highs in Salem-Keizer.

“Those positions have to be held harmless first,” she said.

Palazzo-Angulo said she knows the district can’t do everything it had planned, but outlined four priorities she wants in next year’s plans, based on discussion with Latino parents involved in the coalition.

Improving the district’s bilingual education in elementary school is a top priority, ensuring native Spanish speaking students learn to read proficiently in English while keeping their Spanish fluency.

Salem-Keizer’s plan called for hiring more coaches and mentors to help teachers at eight elementary schools improve English instruction for bilingual students. In the letter, community leaders urge the district to continue that plan on a smaller scale, with at least one elementary school that could serve as a model for bilingual teaching.

Mental health support is another priority, including hiring behavior specialists, counselors and social workers who “understand the intersection between race, ethnicity, language and poverty with adults’ perceptions of good and bad behavior.”

Palazzo-Angulo said district employees need to understand the school-to-prison pipeline, a term used to describe how students of color are more likely to face discipline at school than their white peers and may ultimately end up facing criminal prosecution.

That concern is heightened as students are expected to return to school this fall after months of stress from social isolation and the economic impacts of the pandemic.

“The stress and trauma both adults and children are going through, both at home and at school, can and will lead to negative interactions. The results will be devastating if we are not proactive,” the letter said.

The other two priorities cited by the group are continuing programs to recruit and retain more teachers and educators of color and bilingual teachers, and working to improve partnerships with youth while continuing to build connections with families.

“It’s an appropriate time to have a strong voice on the things you don’t want people to forget, the most important things out there, since there are going to be cuts,” Palazzo-Angulo said in an interview.

The district budget committee last week approved the budget for the 2020-2021 year that starts July 1, but it is certainly going to change. The approved budget, which by law must be approved before the new fiscal year starts, doesn’t account for the expected cuts or costs of the pandemic.

Any cuts in the new budget year will likely come later in the summer once the Oregon Legislature convenes and Gov. Kate Brown has decided how state spending should be reduced to account for steep drops in tax revenue.

Perry and district administrators would then propose cuts if needed, but school board and budget committee members would likely vote on a final plan.

Board chair Marty Heyen said it’s too early to speculate about what might be possible to save since the full impact of the state revenue slump on the district is unknown. She said she’d like to see the coalition’s priorities preserved so long as doing so doesn’t require cuts elsewhere to harm reduce services to students.

“The needs that were laid out by the coalition really are not necessarily needs for a particular group of children. All behavior issues and things they refer to in their document run through all cultures and societies, all our kids, all the different groups,” she said.

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Our Annual Luncheon is Cancelled for 2020

Sadly, we at SKCE have decided that we must cancel our annual luncheon “Celebrating Latino Parents – the First Teachers,” that was scheduled for April 23rd.

After Governor Brown closed public schools and limited gatherings to 25 people, the decision was made to not live-stream or even postpone the luncheon. SKCE is committed to reducing the spread of COVID-19, so we have taken every precaution by cancelling all programs. Staff have been working remotely since March 13th.

SKCE relies on our annual luncheon to support our programs and services. The pandemic has caused a financial setback that has required us to rethink the way we provide support to parents. We are actively working on a plan to provide services remotely so we can continue to coach and mentor on parenting and child development. We will also continue to provide books, activities and art supplies to support academic achievement for children at home. This means purchasing equipment and materials that SKCE had not otherwise budgeted.

If you would like to contribute, please visit our donation page. This would be a great time to sign up for ongoing monthly gifts!

An email letter will be sent out to individuals, organizations and businesses that have made reservations or have sponsored the event.

If you have purchased a ticket, please read here.

If you sponsored the luncheon, please read here.

SKCE’s First “Forming Strong Families” conference at Waldo Middle School

Our first Formando Familias Fuertes parent conference (Forming Strong Families) on Saturday February 22nd was a success!

About 35 Spanish speaking parents and 36 children attended the parent conference at Waldo Middle School from 10:00am to 3:00 pm.

The morning began with introductions and welcoming statements from Joe Valencia, Assistant Principal of Waldo; Javier Quiroz, Director of the Parent Organizing Project of SKCE, and Christy Perry, Superintendent of the Salem Keizer School District.

Superintendent Perry shared an overview of the Student Investment Account process, and the final recommendations that the School Board would be voting on the following Tuesday (Feb. 25). (Testimony and voting begins on 1:19:44.)

Next, Carlos Ruiz, Assistant Principal of North Salem High School, introduced the Keynote Speaker, Teresa Tolento, Principal of Cesar Chavez Elementary School. Her speech struck a chord of the hearts of the families and brought tears to many listeners. She spoke of her immigrant Mexican parents and the struggle learning English while trying to hold on to her culture and language of her family, and the divide between the families and the schools. See the video here.

Participants had a variety of classes they could attend regarding the districts’ Positive Behavioral Interventions System (PBIS) program, addressing mental health issues of children and youth, addressing mental health issues of adults, bullying and harassment policies, helping children structure their time at home, effective parenting for preteens and teens, and effective advocacy for school success.

The overwhelming majority of parents attended the classes addressing mental health issues of their children and youth, showing that the ideas behind the Student Success Act’s funding are hitting the target. Programs for children of color, additional mental health supports, increased attention to school climate and culture, among others.

Lunch was donated by Tony’s Tacos and Don Panchos. Twenty organizations and businesses provided popular resource tables during lunch and thanks to our local United Way’s Give360 program, Amazon products were donated for both conference supplies and wonderful free raffle prizes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The grand prize was donated by Castro Monroy Group: a beautiful bicycle!

Waldo Middle School is a Title I school, where 100% of the students receive free breakfast and lunch. Donations and sponsors are critical for our Nonprofit Organization to provide services and continue our work helping thousands of Latino/a/x children succeed in school.

Many thanks to the Salem Keizer School District for helping fund the project, and to Waldo Middle School for hosting the conference. A special thanks goes to Joe Valencia who worked with our conference coordinator and program staff for months in preparation and provided all we needed for classrooms, childcare, lunch, gym activities, and student volunteers. The dedication of our Latino/a/x staff, teachers and administrators in the Salem Keizer District is amazing to behold. School staff who dedicated their Saturday to Latino/a/x parents:

  • From Cesar Chavez Elementary School: Principal Teresa Tolento, Assistant Principal Teresa Alfaro, and Instructional Mentor Nubia Green.

  • From Auburn Elementary School: Assistant Principal Erica Manzo.

  • From Parrish Middle School: Alyssa Darnell, Math teacher.

  • From the school district: Jed Thomas, Psychologist and Victor Juarez, LSCSW, both from the Office of Behavioral Learning.

Formando Familias Fuertes, Forming Strong Families, is also a program of SKCE throughout the year. We look forward to making this parent conference bigger and better, and making it a collaborative tradition in the years to come.