Salem Keizer teachers and staff are once again giving up some of their summer break to attend the Summer Language and Culture Institute at SKCE. This set of Spanish language lessons, workshops, classes and field trips is provided as an aid to teachers and staff in connecting with and understanding Latino students and their families. The Institute is provided over two weeks. It includes morning Spanish classes so teachers can begin to communicate with students in basic Spanish. The afternoon sessions are either at SKCE or by taking field trip. The field trips introduce teachers to Latino neighborhoods and businesses, and to immigrant classes and organizations. The on-site SKCE workshops are a combination of meeting Latino students who discuss problems they face, classes covering equity vs equality, Popular Education, and meeting Latino business people.
In the first week, Annalivia Palazzo-Angulo talks with the Institute attendees while everyone keeps cool in the shade at Northgate Park.
Phil Decker speaks with attendees at SKCE.
Some teachers get the feel of long, flowing skirts for a Mexican folk dance.
A visit to PCUN in Woodburn to talk with Ramon Ramirez, past President of PCUN
The second article in the Salem Reporter focuses on Four Corners Elementary School, and the challenges that they have in providing education to their students. Annalivia Palazzo, the SKCE Executive Director, also comments on some of the challenges.
Teachers, administrators and other staff attended the 2018 Summer Culture and Language Institute from the Salem Keizer School District and other school districts in the area. This was the second year the Summer Institute was offered and co-sponsored. The curriculum was appreciated last year, and it was reflected in the attendance, which doubled this year.
The Institute began on June 29th and ended on July 3rd. Mornings were spent learning Spanish, and afternoons were spent with speakers presenting on both culture and education equity. Field trips were also provided to schools that have a high ration of Latino students, a neighborhood that illustrated the problems that Latino families must encounter, as well as Latino businesses and organizations.
This Institute is co-sponsored by the Salem Keizer Coalition for Equality and the Salem Keizer School District.
The following slideshow will give an overview of the kinds of activities that school personnel engaged in during the Institute.
The Oregon Community Foundation has awarded a 3-year grant to SKCE, beginning in the summer of 2018. The goal is to strengthen the fundraising and marketing capacity for programming that helps spanish speaking parents improve the educational achievement of their children.
The first year award is $30,000, the second year is $25,000 and the third year is $20,000.
Board members Arturo Sarmiento-Linares, Christi Ortiz, Fabiola Camacho, Chris Brantley and Charlie Benitez were on hand to accept the grant award along with Annalivia Palazzo-Angulo, the SKCE Executive Director. Susan fuller, the Oregon Community Foundation volunteer representative, presented the grant award.
(Photo L to R: Arturo Sarmiento-Linares, Christi Ortiz, Fabiola Camacho, Annalivia Palazzo-Angulo, Susan Fuller, Chris Brantley, Charlie Benitez)
On March 14th, 2018, the Spirit Mountain Community Fund awarded a grant to SKCE. Annalivia Palazzo Angulo and Yadira Juarez received the $40,000 award for SKCE. The Spirit Mountain Community Fund awarded this grant to SKCE so that we can, using our Early Learning parent engagement programs, increase the success of Latino students with immigrant backgrounds and Spanish as their home language in the Salem Keizer School District. Thanks to the generosity of the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, these programs will be in several Title I elementary schools in the spring and fall of 2018.
SKCE Works to Help Parents Reduce the Achievement Gap
There is an achievement gap between ELL (English Language Learners) and Latino students compared to White students in the Salem Keizer School District. Research shows that if struggling readers have not successfully met the achievement skills of their peers by third grade or age nine, we risk losing up to 75% of them to low performance, low attendance rates, failure to graduate, not being ready for college, or dropping out altogether. Our Parent Engagement programs are successful in affecting student success, from pre-school to high school, all of which use culturally relevant methods and curriculum, with Latino Parent facilitators who have the same culture and life experiences as participants.
The Improvement in the Latino Student Graduation Rate was “impressive”
In aStatesman Journal article, two interviews discussed the improvement in the graduation rates for Oregon students over the last few years. Acting Superintendent for the State of Oregon Department of Education, Colt Gill, and Annalivia Palazzo-Angulo, the Executive Director of SKCE, were interviewed about graduation rates.
Superintendent Gill discussed overall graduation rates and different ways to view the graduation rate data. Annalivia Palazzo-Angulo also discussed graduation rate data, but her information was more specific to the Latino student graduation rate, which was described as an “impressive” gain in the last few years.
There was also discussion of how graduation rates change when graduation time is increased beyond 4 years, and when students who graduate through GED, online classes, or other methods are included.
On the Salem Keizer School District website, graduation rates are also discussed. The first paragraph leads to a more in-depth discussion of graduation rates, “According to the Oregon Department of Education’s recently released graduation rates for the 2016-17 academic year, Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS) increased its graduation rate by nearly two percentage points. Additionally, the drop-out rate decreased by nearly one percentage point. The graduation rates were based on a four- and five-year cohort of students entering the ninth grade in the 2013-14 or 12-13 academic year. The dropout rate reports on students in grades 9-12.”
The increase in the number of students graduating was led by the Latino student graduation rate
In 2012, 59.5% of Latino students graduated. In 2017, 72.5% graduated. This is a substantial improvement of 13% in 3 years. Seen in number of students instead of percentages, for every 100 Latino students who should have graduated in 2012, only 59 graduated. However, for every 100 Latino students who should have graduated in 2017, 72 graduated. That’s 13 more out of 100 who graduated in 2017 than graduated in 2012.
Graduation rates must increase for Oregon
However, even with the good news, Oregon didn’t reach a 78% graduation rate. For the present, that means the state Department of Education goal of a 90% graduation rate by 2024 is not on track. (The state legislature has instructed the Oregon Department of Education to have a 100% graduation rate by 2025.) Our graduation rate is currently 49th in the nation.
In the last three years, with a new partnership with the Salem Keizer School District we are working to increase teachers of color in schools by promoting systems change in recruiting, hiring, retaining and culturally responsive training. Our shared vision is a culturally responsive workforce that represents and meets the needs of its diverse students and families.
The school district’s 42,000 students include over 50 native languages and nationalities. Half of the students are considered students of color. Nearly two-thirds of the district’s children are low-income or live in poverty.
Generational and historical obstacles to graduation and higher education in Oregon has resulted in a teacher workforce that reflects very little diversity. Many studies have been done over the years and across the nation showing improved achievement for students of color when teachers reflect the diverse backgrounds, cultures and languages of the students. Also critical is the ability of all teachers of any background to have the relational skills, the “culturally responsive” skills, to interact successfully with students and parents who are different from them.
To this end, one of our activities this past year, in partnership with Salem Keizer District’s Human Resources, was a Language and Culture Institute for teachers, a summer professional development opportunity here at the Salem Keizer Coalition for Equality.
The institute was accredited by Western Oregon University for the teachers’ continuing education requirements and consisted of Spanish language class in the mornings and a Culture Institute in the afternoons. Seventeen teachers attended 15 days of trainings in June and July of 2017, from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM. By all accounts, they had a fabulous time. Several stated in their evaluations that the experience had been life-changing.
In addition, we have helped the district with two local job fairs for classified employees. The last one was this past November. With our help, the district was able to double the attendance of Latino job seekers, and Human Resources was prepared to interview and hire people at the fair for various open positions in the non-licensed workforce. Another evidence of systems change is the district’s desire for more parents to participate on interview teams. Five of our parent staff helped interview dozens of candidates during the fair.
These are just a few examples of what nonprofit partnerships with school districts can accomplish toward the goal of education equity for all students.