Welcome

This summer issue of the CRUE newsletter is devoted to systems change and education reform. We explore the development of an inclusive organization, the restructuring of the UCD teacher education program and the implications of district resource allocation policies. To continue your exploration of this topic, we recommend the book “Radical Possibilities” by Jean Anyon. Anyon’s book takes a big picture perspective on urban school reform, how economics and public policies impact schools and argues that only a social movement can produce true educational justice in our schools.

 

 

Promising Practices in the Field

Denver is home to the Community Resource Center (CRC), a non-profit organization that provides training, technical assistance and consultation to non-profits and community groups across Colorado. CRC has a long history of assisting organizations to promote social change. A foundation of their mission is inclusiveness.

CRC began the process of becoming an inclusive organization in 2004, as a response to their work with the Denver Foundation. They created an inclusiveness committee and developed a mission statement that reflected their new commitment. In 2006 they began work with the entire staff and brought in an outside consultant to facilitate their conversations. This was a critical component, according to Gabriel Guillaume, Executive Director, and Training Directors, Jamie Morgan and Ruth Zerezghi.

The journey to inclusivity has helped CRC develop tools and processes that they are able pass on to other groups. Guillaume stresses that becoming inclusive is a complex, continuing process. Organizations engaging in these conversations have to be fully committed to the concept and prepared to devote time and emotion to the process. What stands to be gained, however, is a far stronger organization that is able to draw from the infinite variety of perspectives and experiences that its people have to offer.

Inclusiveness continues to be a vital process within CRC. The organization shares articles relating to inclusiveness with the entire staff, increasing awareness of the issue, which leads to further discussions and opportunities for growth and education. They also hold regular “courageous conversations” where a team of staff members chooses a topic and then facilitates a 2-hour dialogue with the whole staff. The team is rotated to allow every staff member an opportunity to facilitate. CRC also continues to work with outside consultants. They feel strongly that bringing in someone who does not have a stake in the conversation balances the power differentials and allows for a more honest conversation.

So we leave you with a question… What does inclusiveness really mean to your organization and what do you stand to gain by engaging in the process?

If you would like more information about CRC, please contact Ruth Zerezghi at zerezghi@crcamerica.org.

 

 

Contents:

Promising Practices

Research into Practice

CRUE News

Did You Know

In the News

Featured Article

Watercooler

Research into Practice at UCD

Dr. Wanda Blanchett, Associate Dean for Teacher Education and Partnerships, joined the School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) in the fall of 2006. Dr. Blanchett’s research focuses on issues of inequity including urban teacher preparation, issues of race, class, culture, and gender, disproportionate representation of students of color in special education, severe disabilities, and issues of sexuality for students with disabilities. She has been at the forefront in the restructuring of the Initial Professional Teacher Education Program (IPTE) curriculum at UCD. Dr. Blanchett along with IPTE director, Cindy Gutierrez, and the IPTE faculty have been able to leverage the resources of the federally funded Achieving Special Education Equity through Diversity (ASEED) grant to engage in a curriculum review with a specific focus on assessing the extent to which the curriculum reflects culturally responsive educational practices and the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

The impetus for the restructuring of the IPTE program began in 2006 with a strategic planning process that, among other things, redefined the mission of the SEHD to include a commitment to graduate culturally responsive practitioners who are competent and confident in working effectively in urban environments and/or with diverse students/clients. Dr. Blanchett and the IPTE faculty and staff saw the strategic planning process as an opportunity to improve an already good teacher education program. With the award of the ASEED grant, Blanchett and colleagues have been able to leverage the resources of ASEED to achieve the SEHD’s strategic planning goals for teacher education. For example, through the support of ASEED, during the fall 2007 semester, they conducted a comprehensive review of the current research on preparing candidates for urban settings, social justice teaching, and meeting the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse learners including those with special needs. This information was used to compare the existing curriculum to the professional literature to determine areas of alignment and potential areas of improvement. In February 2008, the SEHD brought in experts in the areas of culturally responsive education, special education, linguistically diverse education, and social justice from around the country to provide them with an external review of the current curriculum. The recommendations from that review are in the process of being implemented throughout the program. Additionally, a component of the strategic plan called for assessing the extent to which each program in the SEHD is indeed preparing culturally responsive candidates that can provide leadership for equity through the development of a unit level assessment system. As an initial step in the development of the SEHD’s Unit Level Assessment System, the SEHD Assessment Workgroup was formed which includes a representative from each of the SEHD’s 13 academic programs. The work of this Assessment Workgroup resulted in the development of a common assessment measure they call the “SEHD Equity Leadership Rubric”. The purpose of the SEHD Equity Leadership Rubric is to evaluate students' proficiency relevant to the SEHD's commitment to urban/equity values and to ensuring that all candidates demonstrate proficiency in relevant awareness, knowledge, skills, and dispositions.


Dr. Blanchett is passionate about the changes taking place in the School of Education and Human Development and the importance of those changes to school districts and the children they serve. Public education is under high scrutiny, she says, with teacher education programs often being blamed for many of its shortcomings. She believes that though the needs of students/candidates coming into teacher education programs have changed drastically over last couple of decades, the teacher education programs themselves have not and it is past time for those changes to occur. But she stresses that improving teacher education programs is only one component of a complex problem in terms of ensuring that all children, regardless of their race, ethnicity, language, ability, and socio economic level, have equitable learning opportunities and outcomes. She notes that changes also need to be made in funding public education, the quality of general education and the curriculum that is used in our classrooms.

Dr. Blanchett envisions a teacher education program that works hand in hand with the districts it serves, that turns out skilled professionals who lead for equity and who are inducted and supported by their districts through their initial teaching years as they continue to grow into high quality, high performing practitioners. She believes that by examining the curriculum in teacher education programs, taking stock of how candidates believe their programs prepared them for their professions, and engaging in continuous program improvements, we create positive change for the children.

If you would like more information about Dr. Blanchett’s work here at UCD, please contact her assistant at ann.sanders@ucdenver.edu.

 

 

What’s new at CRUE?

Dr. Shelley Zion, director of the CRUE Center, has been offered and has accepted the position of Executive Director of Professional Development and Continuing Education here at UCD. Shelley will continue to oversee the work at CRUE but will also be sharing her expertise with a greater population through the development of UCD’s Professional Development Center. Congratulations, Shelley!

 

 

Did You Know?

The National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Department of Education, is the primary entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the United States. The NCES website has an interesting tool called “Build a Table”. You can build your own table, creating a customized set of public school data using CCD (Common Core of Data), the Department of Education's primary database on public education. The CCD survey is completed annually across the country and houses information on states, counties, districts and schools.


 

In the News

Please visit our site at: www.cruecenter.org/news.php for Local News as well as National News. We add articles on a regular basis, so it is your one stop shop for equity issues and legislation as it happens! Please know that our articles are collected from a variety of sources and do not necessarily represent the views of the CRUE Center. Our goal is to keep you informed on the latest happenings in our field and give you something to discuss with your teams. This month, be sure to check out the New York Times feature “The next kind of integration” and the Denver Post’s “Time is ripe to fix education”.

 

 

Featured Research Article

How district policies that deploy resources can support (or undermine) district reform strategies
Marguerite Roza
May 2008

This month’s article from the Center for Reinventing Public Education explores the effects of budgeting decisions and shows how they can support or hamper a district’s school improvement effort.

The framework presented in this article is intended to help district leaders recognize the different kinds of allocations available and how each type might advance or interfere with district reform strategy. Click here for full text access to this article.

 

Around the Watercooler…

We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts about this month’s content as well as equity issues affecting your schools. Do you have any ideas to share with other CRUE members? Best Practices that are working in your classroom, school, or district? Please click here to tell us more: contact.

 

FOR MORE INFO:

Culturally Responsive Urban Education
1380 Lawrence Street, 6th Floor
Denver, CO 80204