“Already, we have made an historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We have dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life. We have made college affordable for nearly seven million more students. And we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children’s progress.
But we know that our schools don’t just need more resources. They need more reform. That is why this budget creates new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We’ll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools.
It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it.”
Last night, President Obama made his first State of the Union Address in which he discussed several crucial issues affecting America that he intends to work with both the House and the Senate on. In addition to the plans he outlined on our economy, health care reform, and domestic security, he also detailed some initiatives on education and school reform.
There are two distinct types of school reform. The first affects what and how the student is taught in the classroom, and is related to the school’s subject matter and teaching methods. An example would be increasing the amount of computers in the classroom, expanding concept-based mathematics programs, and stressing multicultural influences in social studies and literature. The second type affects how schools are managed and what roles teachers and administrators play, and is related to school administration and governance procedures. An example would be sharing leadership roles and increasing community involvement programs.
Even though school reform is a complex and thorough issue that has many factors at stake both on a state and national level, education reform can be started by powers from outside the school. Tutor mentor programs across the country are striving to make sure that students succeed on a daily basis. It is important for our tutors and mentors to stay informed in school policy and procedure when reform does occur. This can be simply done by asking questions and staying informed about school policies that may affect a tutor/mentor’s student both inside and outside the classroom. Don’t be intimidated by doing research about the school your tutee or mentee attends like checking out the school’s website or subscribing to the school’s newsletter.
Other ways to stay informed is to take advantage of open meetings and trainings the Tutor Mentor Connection offers. The T/MC web portal has great resources, tips, and strategies for connecting with students listed on its site and blogs. Many school reforms are driven by the idea that students need to be more competitive in order to excel in college and the job market. Our schools provide the education that is needed for students to be productive in the marketplace. Emily Gunn, a fellow intern at Cabrini Connections, is working on expanding the alumni group to help re-connect past students to the program. The general focus of her blogs will be on careers, and she plans to write and link to articles on resume-building, job searching, and interview tips. The point is to share our experiences of Cabrini while also encourage both past and present students to succeed by becoming more effective in pushing our youth towards college and careers. A central goal of the Tutor Mentor Connection is to help youth go through school and enter a job career by the age of 25.
As the African proverb states, “it takes a village to raise a child”. Regardless of whether or not we have the capacity to affect school reform that is inevitable, we can still make a profound positive influence in our students’ lives.