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A High-Poverty High School in Tennessee Is Using National Student Clearinghouse Data to Fuel a Revolution in Smart College Counseling

Chattanooga, Tennessee

In a modest and disorganized office at Howard School, where poverty rates are high, Nicholas Siler, a college counselor, wields a powerful software tool that significantly increases the likelihood of his students successfully completing college.

I observe as Siler pulls up an individual student’s data on his user-friendly dashboard. This data unveils information that was previously unknown just two years ago. For instance, Siler can now instantly identify colleges with graduation rates above 50 percent for black Howard alumni.

Siler is at the forefront of a revolution so fresh that many high schools across the nation are unaware that such a revolution is taking place. By combining robust data and effective college matching strategies, counselors are able to find colleges where students are more likely to earn a degree. This approach moves college counseling away from outdated methods where students were often sent to colleges with high rates of failure.

These practices were initially pioneered by top charter school networks, which successfully increased college graduation rates for their low-income, predominantly minority graduates – students who previously struggled in college. Now, some traditional school districts are adopting these practices. Consequently, high schools will soon be categorized into two groups: those that offer intelligent, data-driven counseling backed by alumni track records provided by the National Student Clearinghouse, and those that do not.

At Hamilton County schools, the impact of these practices is remarkable. College enrollment has significantly increased to 73 percent, and the six-year college graduation rates currently stand at 55 percent. These figures would typically be expected in a much more affluent district.

How unique is Chattanooga’s situation? Several school districts, such as Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., and Atlanta, are becoming increasingly skilled at utilizing Clearinghouse data for their counselors. They are often supported by non-profit organizations that assist in analyzing the data. In Chattanooga, the forward-thinking Public Education Foundation fulfills this role.

However, these districts are exceptions. Most school districts are navigating blindly. According to a survey conducted by RAND, only one-third of principals, who comprise a nationally representative sample of 750, have access to individual student data regarding college enrollment.

Why is this information crucial? Without knowing which of their students have enrolled in college, schools cannot tailor their instruction and counseling to improve outcomes. Principals might be aware of the problem, but they lack the necessary tools to address it.

The same problem exists in regards to college remediation classes: only 15 percent of principals have individual student data on who ended up in remedial courses, which can redirect vulnerable students who cannot afford to take non-credit classes.

Again, the lack of tools prevents the resolution of this issue.

Lastly, the survey demonstrated that less than one-fifth of school leaders knew which of their students successfully earned a bachelor’s degree within six years – a crucial data point for any district that takes responsibility for their alumni’s future.

In all three areas – enrollment, remediation, and graduation – more school leaders have access to aggregated data about their alumni. However, without individual data, such as knowing which students have succeeded or failed, school leaders cannot implement effective strategies to improve these rates.

One reason K-12 leaders hesitate to tackle this issue is because high schools traditionally do not consider college success to be part of their mission. Isn’t it the responsibility of students, parents, and universities? We already have enough tasks to handle!

While it is true that high schools already face numerous responsibilities, they have no choice but to embrace the future in an era where college is seen as the new high school. Many middle-skill jobs that previously did not require a college degree now do.

In Chattanooga, Siler cannot imagine being a college counselor without access to this data. As an example, if a Howard senior is seeking a historically black college within a reasonable driving distance, Siler confidently recommends Talladega College in Alabama. Why? While federal records indicate a 50 percent graduation rate for low-income students, Siler possesses insider data from the Clearinghouse that reveals a success rate of 87 percent for Howard graduates at Talladega. It’s a promising option!

The movement to hold school districts accountable for the success of their graduates is relatively new, and only a small group of experts fully understand its nationwide implications. Kimberly Hanauer, the founder of UnlockED, an education consulting firm, is one of these experts.

According to Hanauer, when provided with data regarding college enrollment and graduation rates, school leaders are empowered to take action. They can collaborate with local colleges to improve graduation rates for struggling students or learn from colleges with successful graduation rates to enhance their own practices.

Hanauer gained her expertise as the former director of college prep for the District of Columbia Public Schools, one of the few pioneering districts in the country to utilize data-driven college guidance alongside Chattanooga.

Chattanooga’s Public Education Foundation began utilizing education data years ago primarily as a diagnostic tool. Their goal was to determine which educational interventions were effective and which were not.

However, both the foundation and school officials quickly realized that the true value of the data lay in a different realm. "The data do not simply measure impact," explained Dan Challener, the foundation’s president. "They also expose students and parents to the various opportunities available to them."

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Disregarding the fact that she is only 15 years old and in 9th grade, Rachel Trail feels a bit out of place among the young children in the waiting room of the state-run health clinic in this Washington suburb. Despite this, when it comes time for Rachel to get her shot, she insists on receiving a treat, just like the other children in the clinic.

Rachel explains, "I’m a bit of a panicky person. So when I get my shot, I want a sucker and a sticker."

To her delight, Rachel returns to the waiting room after receiving her shots to find a Dora the Explorer sticker placed proudly on her chest. She reassures others that the shots were painless, describing them as "just a pinch."

Rachel is just one of the many teenagers in Maryland who recently received vaccinations for hepatitis B and varicella. In 2005, state health officials decided to accelerate the vaccination schedule, leading to thousands of teenagers being immunized through a new device that administers shots through the skin using compressed air. Maryland’s efforts to get middle school students up to date on their vaccinations serves as an example for schools and public-health officials across the country.

Vaccines have been a significant advancement in medicine, eradicating many previously threatening diseases. Ensuring that children are vaccinated has typically been enforced through school attendance requirements. However, implementing changes to immunization policies is not an easy task for school officials.

Debbie Somerville, coordinator of student services for the Baltimore County school system, explains, "We’re responsible for enforcing these policies. It becomes the school’s responsibility to identify who is not compliant."

Several states, including Maryland, are currently considering changes to their immunization requirements to include the new vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV). Although no state has made the HPV vaccine’s administration mandatory, it is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is essential that children be properly immunized before attending school in all states. While medical exemptions are available in each state, 28 states allow religious exemptions and 20 states allow personal beliefs to be an exemption.

Maryland added the requirement for hepatitis B and varicella vaccination in 2000, slowly implementing it year by year, starting with kindergartners. Accelerating the schedule meant that school districts in the state had to sort through incomplete records to identify older students who had not received the shots. Approximately 55,000 students were found to be non-compliant. These students had to schedule appointments to receive the shots, provide proof of prior vaccination, or risk missing part of the second semester of school.

As of mid-January, some districts reported that they were still attempting to reach the remaining families who had not responded to previous contact efforts.

Implementing immunization policies becomes more challenging when the vaccines are targeted towards adolescents. While parents are generally aware of the vaccines required for babies and toddlers, their knowledge about recommended vaccines for older children is often lacking.

Medical experts recommend certain vaccines specifically for adolescents. However, not all states require these vaccines.

"Even with ongoing outbreaks of measles, some parents are not prioritizing immunization," stated Dr. Walter A. Orenstein, the director of the vaccine policy and development program at Emory University. Dr. Orenstein, who was previously the director of the National Immunization Program, explained that schools play a crucial role in encouraging parents to prioritize vaccination.

To illustrate this point, an outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) occurred at a large high school in Winnetka, Illinois, in December. Despite receiving pertussis vaccines during childhood, more than 30 cases were reported among sophomores, juniors, and seniors, as the effectiveness of the vaccine had dwindled over time. Although the school took measures to prevent the spread of illness by excluding students with coughing symptoms, the county health department noticed that the rate of booster shots remained low among students, contrary to recommendations. As a result, the health department had to purchase vaccines and administer booster shots on campus.

Dr. Catherine Counard, the assistant medical director for communicable-disease control at the Cook County Department of Public Health, mentioned that some parents encountered difficulties obtaining the vaccine, while others simply did not perceive the need for it. Dr. Counard attributed society’s complacency towards infectious diseases to a lack of firsthand experience.

However, school involvement in immunization efforts is not without its challenges. Ann Hoxie, the administrator for student wellness in the St. Paul district, highlighted how time-consuming it can be for personnel. She recounted a trip to Atlanta where the CDC discussed whether the hepatitis B vaccine should be recommended for children. During the discussion, someone suggested passing a law to make it mandatory, to which Ms. Hoxie responded by questioning the resources required for such an initiative.

Ms. Somerville, from the Baltimore County school system, shared that extensive preparations were made to implement Maryland’s revised immunization policy. Although the policy was initially planned to be enforced in the 2006-07 school year, schools were granted a one-semester extension. Weeks were dedicated to engaging with parents and addressing their concerns. Rhonda C. Gill, the director of student services in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, echoed Ms. Somerville’s experience, emphasizing that the focus has shifted to working with school personnel who handle truancy. Families that the district has been unable to reach likely have children facing chronic attendance issues.

According to Ms. Gill, difficulties in ensuring children receive necessary vaccinations have always existed. However, the current immunization mandate has garnered more attention and publicity. She believes that once this period passes, vaccination efforts will become routine.

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The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to review a case regarding "zero tolerance" discipline policies in schools and whether they infringe upon students’ constitutional rights. The case involved an eighth-grade student named Benjamin A. Ratner from Virginia who was suspended for possessing a knife on school grounds. Ratner had taken the knife away from a classmate who was contemplating suicide and stored it in his own locker. Despite some people commending Ratner for his actions, the Loudoun County school district immediately suspended him. A school administrative panel and the county school board’s discipline committee later extended the suspension until February 2000.

Ratner’s mother, Beth Haney, filed a lawsuit on his behalf, arguing that the school district’s decision violated his 14th Amendment rights to equal protection and due process of law. However, the federal district court in Alexandria, Virginia dismissed the case, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Virginia upheld the dismissal. One judge on the panel expressed sympathy for Ratner, stating that he was a "victim of good intentions gone too far."

The judge acknowledged that the four-month suspension imposed on Ratner was unwarranted but did not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. In their appeal to the Supreme Court (Ratner v. Loudoun County Public Schools, Case No. 01-746), Ratner’s lawyers argued for a review of the constitutionality of zero-tolerance policies. They claimed that the school district’s actions were arbitrary, capricious, and irrational.

The lawyers questioned the impact of such policies on ordinary students who may unknowingly violate them, given that Ratner faced semester expulsion and a permanent record for trying to save a life. The school district, however, defended its actions, arguing that its disciplinary policy did not align with the definition of "zero tolerance." The district’s stance was that its policy allowed officials to consider the individual circumstances and determine an appropriate punishment. They considered Ratner’s suspension for the remainder of one semester as an exercise of discretion, given that the policy required a minimum one-year suspension for weapons possession. The district justified the one-semester suspension by claiming Ratner knowingly possessed the knife and chose to keep it in his locker rather than surrender it to the school.

Overall, the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the case leaves the constitutional questions surrounding zero-tolerance policies in schools unanswered.

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Deafness is the most prevalent sensory issue among school children in the United States. Although it has been extensively studied, researchers are just starting to uncover the impact of sound and language on the learning growth of deaf children. Recent studies presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science shed light on how deafness interacts with other challenges, such as autism, and problems with language and executive function.

Richard Meier, a linguistics and psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, emphasized the importance of researching developmental disorders in signing children. By studying deaf students, researchers can gain insights into other cognitive issues, such as autism spectrum disorders. Previous studies have shown that students with autism tend to use names instead of pronouns like "you" or "me" when identifying pictures of themselves or researchers. A similar pattern was observed in deaf students with autism, even when the names were difficult to finger-spell.

In the United States, over 1 in 500 children are born deaf or hard of hearing, making it the most common congenital sensory problem. These children also have higher rates of neurological issues, including autism. However, only about 1 in 4 children with hearing loss are properly diagnosed and receive services before the age of 6 months, despite the fact that 98 percent of newborns undergo a hearing test.

The experiences of deaf children in their first six months of life vary greatly. Depending on whether they are born to hearing parents or deaf parents who use sign language, their language development can differ significantly. Approximately 5 percent of deaf children are born to deaf parents and are exposed to sign language from birth. These children typically reach language milestones at similar ages to hearing children. However, the majority of deaf babies (9 in 10) are born to hearing parents who may take months or years to learn sign language fluently, if they do at all. This lack of early language exposure can have long-term effects on attention and self-control in children with hearing problems.

Language deprivation, rather than auditory deprivation, is the primary factor contributing to executive function problems in deaf children, according to research by Matthew Hall and Peter Hauser. To illustrate this, a study found that kindergarten teachers had to gesture twice as often to gain the attention of children who had not been exposed to significant sign language before age 3, compared to those who had been signing since birth. Another study by Hauser tested deaf children’s executive function skills and found that those who had learned to sign before age 3 performed significantly better than those who started signing later. Similarly, a study on deaf children with cochlear implants showed that those who were fluent in American Sign Language performed on par with hearing children, while those who received the implant but no sign language performed worse.

In conclusion, further research on the language and cognitive development of deaf children is essential for both practical and scientific reasons. It allows researchers to understand the similarities and differences between typically developing children and those with developmental disorders who use sign language. This knowledge can inform interventions and support systems to improve the learning and overall well-being of deaf children.

“The significance of early language and instruction for parents and classrooms is immense," stated Hauser. This statement may be met with controversy, as some researchers argue that deaf children who receive cochlear implants should only be provided with spoken interventions. However, a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, which examined over 400 studies conducted over a period of 20 years, compared different interventions for deaf children. Only a few studies compared the use of sign language with oral language for children who had hearing deficits before the age of 3, and the quality of these studies varied greatly.

The use of sign language can also benefit educators and researchers in understanding children who are not developing typically. For instance, researchers studying autism, such as Aaron Shield, a speech-language pathologist at Miami University of Ohio, have long debated why children with autism often have difficulty using pronouns. In previous studies, hearing children with autism tended to refer to specific names instead of using "you" or "me." Some suggest that this may be because pronouns are not distinct enough in meaning; for example, the word "me" can have different meanings depending on the speaker. However, American Sign Language (ASL) simplifies the use of pronouns by using finger pointing to indicate "you" or "me." Shield reasoned that if students with autism avoid using pronouns for the sake of clarity, then deaf children with autism should have no problem using pronouns.

However, Shield’s study, which involved 23 deaf children with autism who had been signing since birth, yielded different results. Even when they had to use longer or more complex finger-spelling for names, the deaf children with autism still preferred using specific names instead of pronouns, just like their hearing counterparts with autism. Similarly, when learning new signs, the deaf children with autism accurately copied the signs rather than mirroring them. This mirrors the behavior of hearing students with autism who often "echo" a speaker’s words instead of responding to them.

These findings in deaf children further support the idea that language difficulties in autism may be linked to perspective taking and other cognitive skills related to language itself, rather than speech processing or articulation. "Having rich and comprehensive exposure to language is not enough to acquire it; one must also possess the social skills to access it," explained Shield.

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Months after education leaders in Montana expressed concerns about the urban bias of a federal education grant, those same leaders are now preparing to apply for the next round of funding. Montana was one of only 10 states that chose not to apply for the first round of funding, with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Denise Juneau, stating at the time that Montana should not be forced to conform to federal requirements that do not fit the unique needs of the state. In July, Juneau wrote to the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, calling for significant changes to the rules of the grant. The letter received support from all major education groups in the state.

Juneau explained that Montana would have had to compromise local control of schools and change teacher evaluations in ways that could violate labor contracts in order to qualify for the program. Additionally, they may have to consider transferring quality teachers from one district to another. However, with state revenues decreasing and school districts facing a $42 million shortfall, education officials have decided to compile an application for the grant. If successful, Montana could receive between $25 million to $75 million. Governor Brian Schweitzer emphasized the need for a "Montana plan" that addresses the specific challenges faced by the state.

Juneau, who met with federal officials in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, acknowledged that some low-performing schools in Montana would benefit from the reform initiatives of Race to the Top. She also highlighted that the grant program now focuses on supporting "innovative" schools, which she believes Montana has many of.

Eric Feaver, president of the MEA-MFT teacher’s union, was initially critical of Race to the Top, referring to it as "devastating and irrational." However, he has now committed to assisting in writing the state’s application. His main concern is to ensure that the state maintains its core values, including local control, public schools, collective bargaining, and teacher licensure. Other education organizations, such as the Montana School Boards Association, School Administrators of Montana, and the Montana Rural Education Association, have also expressed their willingness to collaborate on the application.

Feaver acknowledged the importance of not rejecting the federal government’s offer outright, considering the state’s current financial situation. Although the funding would be one-time-only, he believes it is necessary to explore all available revenue streams. Once the application is completed, it will be presented to school districts for their input. School districts must agree to apply for the funds before the application can be submitted.

Juneau expressed optimism about Montana’s chances of receiving funding in the second round, especially since only one out of the 15 states that were finalists in the first round was from the West. She hopes that the Obama administration will strive for geographical balance in the allocation of funds.

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The latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress suggest that it is inconclusive whether the No Child Left Behind Act is effectively raising student achievement. While there have been minor improvements in math scores, reading achievement has remained stagnant for the past two years.

According to the 2005 NAEP results, the average national scores for reading have only increased by one point for 4th graders since 2003, and have actually decreased by one point for 8th graders. Furthermore, reading scores for both grades have remained relatively the same since 1992. On the other hand, math scores have shown more significant improvements since 1990, but the rate of improvement has slowed in recent years. Fourth graders have seen a three-point gain since 2003, while 8th graders have only seen a one-point gain.

In terms of proficiency, 36 percent of 4th graders and 30 percent of 8th graders were rated as "proficient" on the 2005 math test. Additionally, a larger percentage of students demonstrated at least basic skills compared to previous years, with 80 percent of 4th graders and 69 percent of 8th graders displaying these skills.

Secretary of Education Margaret S. Spellings has claimed that the gains on the long-term-trend NAEP exams are proof of the effectiveness of the No Child Left Behind Act. However, the recently released results, which had a larger sample size, indicate that progress has slowed or stagnated in the past few years. This raises questions about whether the law has had the desired impact on student achievement.

The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002, aims to improve overall student achievement, with a focus on reading and math. The NAEP tests are considered the most reliable source for measuring national student achievement in core subjects. The tests also provide state-level results.

Secretary Spellings noted the gains made by African-American and Hispanic students, particularly a 2-point gain in reading for African-American 4th graders and a 3-point gain in reading for Hispanic 4th graders. She expressed satisfaction with the progress made by these students, as it aligns with the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act.

However, the significance of these gains is subject to debate. While the gap between lower-scoring black and Hispanic students and higher-scoring white students has slightly narrowed, the minority students still lag behind by more than 20 points. Cathy L. Seeley, the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, acknowledged that the math results are promising but highlighted that the achievement levels for minority students and those in poverty are still unacceptably low.

At a press conference, Grover J. Whitehurst, the acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, suggested that consistent, small improvements over a 15-year period could potentially close the achievement gap between minority students and their peers. However, much work still needs to be done to improve the educational outcomes for these students.

"The broader issue with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) presents a different challenge as it is designed to impact everyone," he remarked. "We should expect to see some effects of it, but the question is, how quickly should we see them?"

"When we look at the overall scores, especially at the 4th grade level," Mr. Shanahan continued, "there is no doubt that the scores have increased, but only by a small amount."

However, Darvin M. Winick, the chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, emphasized that expecting rapid change in a large and complex education system like public schools may be unrealistic. "Anticipating significant change every two years is probably not practical," he stated at the press conference.

While the nation may be making progress in improving elementary school education, the reading performance of 8th graders is concerning. "As a former English teacher, the decline in reading skills distresses me," said John H. Stevens, the chairman of the governing board’s reporting and dissemination committee. "I believe that we need to explicitly focus on reading skills and content throughout high school and across all subjects," he argued.

Mr. Shanahan also highlighted that efforts should not stop at the early grades. "If we only focus on reforming reading instruction in the lower grades, it may not necessarily lead to higher achievement across the board."

"I wish I could solely blame the policymakers," he continued. "There are many people in the field who believed that improving primary grades would fix the problem."

State Differences

According to Mr. Winick of the NAEP governing board, the state-level results on the 2005 assessment were mixed, but several states showed positive outcomes due to their investments in improved instruction and increased accountability measures. "If we examine the data state by state, those states that prioritize results tend to achieve them," he explained. "Whenever we look, these states demonstrate significant gains in math and reading."

This was particularly evident at the 4th grade level, where Texas experienced a 4-point increase in reading scores and a 5-point increase in math scores. Idaho and Pennsylvania also showed higher scores in these subjects at the 4th grade level. Overall, seven states had statistically significant improvements in reading scores for 4th graders, while seven states saw a decline in scores for 8th graders. In terms of the math test, more than 30 states, including Texas, showed improvements for 4th graders, and seven states did so for 8th graders.

In addition to the test results, this year’s NAEP reports included information on the changing racial and ethnic composition of student populations between 1992 and 2005. "As our country becomes more diverse, so do our student populations, which vary across states and over time," stated Mr. Stevens from NAGB. "Therefore, we should interpret achievement data and trends as a reflection of both changing demographics and school effectiveness." He also mentioned that the size of the Hispanic student population has more than doubled nationally in the past 15 years, indicating the need for analysis that accounts for these demographic changes.

"It is noteworthy that as our student population becomes increasingly diverse, the scores continue to rise," argued Secretary Spellings. The national assessment, which started in 1969, has also become more inclusive over time, offering accommodations for students with disabilities or limited English fluency. This raises questions about how to interpret the results, particularly when the percentage of excluded students varies across states. For example, Delaware, Louisiana, and Virginia excluded 10% or more of their 4th grade students with disabilities from the 2005 reading exam, while New Mexico and Texas excluded 7% and 6% of students who were still learning English, respectively. Previous analyses have shown a slight correlation between exclusion rates and aggregate scores, with states that raise exclusion rates tending to have higher scores on the next assessment, and vice versa.

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The principles that underpin the "effective schools" movement are being embraced by an increasing number of school districts and states, as stated by educators, parents, policymakers, and state officials who gathered at a conference last week. This movement was sparked by a concise document called "A Blueprint for Action II," which was created at a conference two years ago, according to participants of the 4th National Conference on Educating Black Children. Over the past four years, this annual event and the resulting blueprint have become the building blocks of a national movement to enhance education for minority children using the principles of "effective schools," they affirmed.

This year’s conference, attended by minority leaders and advocates from 27 states and the District of Columbia, served as both a platform for strategizing and a celebration of the progress made in the last four years. "At the first conference, we met amidst confusion and a lack of trust, but we ignited a flame of understanding that has sustained us," said Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and founder of the informal group that organized the meetings. Owen L. Knox, founding co-chairman of the National Conference on Educating Black Children and lecturer at the University of California-Los Angeles’s graduate school of education added, "Never did I imagine that just four years later, we would be discussing all these positive developments. Prior to the first conference, I was deeply troubled by what I perceived as our own involvement in our own demise. Now, things are changing."

The "Blueprint for Action II," a document formulated at the group’s conference in 1987, represents a consensus among participants that the most effective approach to achieving their goals is through the implementation of the "effective schools" approach, which was notably advocated by the late educator Ronald Edmonds. Edmonds believed that all children, regardless of their race or social class, could receive a successful education. Drawing from his research in various city schools, Edmonds concluded that successful schools serving black students possessed five key qualities: strong instructional leadership from the principal, a disciplined environment, high expectations where no students were allowed to underperform, a focus on teaching fundamental skills and academic tasks, and regular evaluations of student progress. The blueprint, which is based on this work, provides specific steps for students, teachers, administrators, parents, policymakers, and the community to turn around the often challenging conditions in and around urban schools, where 85 percent of black children are educated. At the recent conference, titled "Ensuring America’s Future: Educating Black Children," participants placed particular emphasis on strengthening parental involvement in education. The "Blueprint II" has served as a model for school improvement plans nationwide and has sparked discussions in numerous regional meetings organized by the National Conference.

"We cannot afford to think and act insignificantly," remarked LaVerne Byrd Smith, coordinator of the Virginia education department’s minority-student achievement program. "We must be proactive about this issue because time is running out." The blueprint has formed the foundation for draft recommendations developed by Ms. Smith to enhance the academic performance of minority students in Virginia. Her report, to be presented to the state board later this month, calls for coordinating all of the state education department’s initiatives within the overarching plan for minority achievement. A statewide plan is expected to be adopted by December. Educators from Delaware and California also shared the progress their states have made in implementing the blueprint’s recommendations, as did school officials from Portland, Oregon, New Orleans, and Frederick County, Maryland. Portland’s plan, known as "Success for Students At Risk," will guide each school in their planning for the 1989-90 school year, explained Michael L. Grice, a researcher for the Portland public schools. The plan stands out due to its focus on collaboration between the groups responsible for implementation and its emphasis on assessment and accountability, which was influenced by the city’s business community.

The National Conference on Educating Black Children, with its main base in Washington, is supported by a diverse range of educational and black associations. Generous contributions from corporations and philanthropic organizations ensure the yearly gatherings can take place. Mr. Knox expressed that despite the well-attended regional conferences, it has proven challenging to stay updated on the advancements being made. To address this issue, the organization intends to create a clearinghouse that will diligently monitor our actions and gauge the effectiveness of our blueprint implementation.

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Wheatley opens her eight line block form poem by saying “‘Twas merci brought me out of my Pagan land.'” This means that God Almighty’s compassion brought her from Africa. Her imagery is based on her experience as an African slave. When she was a young girl, her skin color was the same as Cain’s. The poem is a combination of light, dark and gratitude. It’s a testament to the fact that she was introduced to Christianity. Line 2 mentions that her “benighted spirit” is saved by God from sin and evil. This means there is God who is watching over and protecting her in her darkness. If God is not known as a personal salvation, the darkness is not eternal.

America is compared with Africa, the land that is non-pagan and free. It can erase the darkness. Africa, Wheatley’s pagan world, is where people live in houses made from mud. Hospitals are far and away. And children have to travel long distances just to get water. In Africa, food costs a lot if your needs aren’t met. For example, if you’re not a teacher or farmer. HIV/AIDS happens because sex becomes a way to pass time when electricity is not available or there are no other entertainment options. She doesn’t speak much of her journey from Africa but she does see it as an important part of her life. Wheatley uses many different images to represent physical and mental darkness in her poem “On being brought from Africa into America”. In Africa, or the pagan land that she describes, her soul does not become cleansed. Wheatley’s soul is not cleansed when she is in Africa, or pagan land as she refers to.

Wheatley is a poet who breaks down barriers by learning to read and to write. Wheatley’s “American Dream” is to come to America, so writing for her is a way to fulfill that dream and not feel like a slave. Bystanders will notice that “. . . Negros black as Cain”, when Cain’s name is brought up, God protects him just as he does the dark of the slavers that pretend to not know the Lord. They are also protected despite their sins. It is true that the destruction of slavery helps her to restore her faith after being removed from Africa by someone else.

The speaker has never spoken ill of slavery. She realizes she’s there at the perfect time and place for a good reason. Phillis is hoping for redemption through the poem. America, she believes, will bring her salvation but as with everything in life, there can be obstacles. Blacks show a similar behavior to Cain the first Christian murderer who killed Abel. The statement. . . Wheatley’s claim that blacks can be refined the same as other races, and then join them on the angelic railway, impacts our decision. The angelic train represents Heaven, where all believers will be gathered once they treat each other equally as Christians. This is like supporting the best team in football and hoping that everyone will prosper. The speaker does not just ask for equality; he also tells the listeners that God welcomes everyone.

It is negative to say that “Some look down on our sables race” and call slaves black. The expression “Their color is diabolic” means that they are covered in wickedness. This event is accompanied by racism, with humans being called diabolic dice or remaining around to benefit the other race. Considering God’s race creation evil is antichristian. Phillis is a shining example of a change in the way Christians treat one another according to God’s Word. The word darkness is used to suggest the idea of evil, or black people without any spiritual understanding.

This address, which focuses on religion, gratitude, & understanding, reveals the essential loyalty of Negroes to power. If whites do not expect blacks be anti-white then oppression and degrading of people black like Cain must stop. The speaker isn’t resentful, even though she doesn’t mention forgiveness. As society wishes to eradicate the black race from the world, “On being brought from Africa into America” makes the reader feel what a slave would have felt, as they leave behind everything and begin a new life.

Imagine being separated by family members and friends. Wheatley has lived in isolation for so many years that she’s numb about what will happen to her. She’s relieved with praises, blessings, and comforting words. Phillis Wheatley, who is not very familiar with Christianity, did not doubt God’s intentions when she left Africa. She realized, however, that God had always been by her side, even though she hadn’t seen him. Her continued faith allowed her to stay strong and adaptable to new environments.

In the end, it is most important that someone’s color does not hinder them from living their lives. When life hands you lemons to make lemonade, as the well-known quote says, someone will be in an even worse situation than expected. Wheatley, and other Africans brought to America as slaves, suffers from excessive pain and labor. She still believes everyone can come together. Wheatley is confident and strong in her own abilities, despite all the hardships and struggles. Phillis believes everyone should be treated equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion.


Original: Furthermore

Paraphrased: In addition

Wheatley, Phillis. “On Becoming Brought to America from Africa.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Robert S. Levine. 422.

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Fidessa is a character that is introduced by Edmund Spenser, in book 1, second canto. This character is vital to understanding Spenser’s message in this poem: The Roman Catholic Church is corrupted and interprets Christianity incorrectly. Fidessa’s name, Fidessa’s description and dress as well the death of Fidessa’s Fiance are key elements in understanding Spenser’s message about the Roman Catholic Church.

Fidessa appears to be the young, beautiful daughter of an emperor. Fidessa is the quintessential young maiden in the chivalric tale. She is beautiful (the knight can’t keep his eyes off her [26]), and is dressed in a grand manner (13). She is accompanied her champion, who was brought into her life by the noble prince with whom she had been betrothed (23-24). Fidessa is a beautiful, innocent girl who seems to need protection and help. Her father is an Emperor (22). By examining the way Fidessa’s character is depicted, we can see who she is and what her symbolism is. Fidessa’s intricate, scarlet-colored dress is reminiscent of a woman in purple in the Book of Revelation of The Bible. She represents false religion. Fidessa is an analogy for the Roman Catholic church because her father was a Roman Emperor. Spenser compares Roman Catholicism and false religion. Spenser is not a fan of the Catholic Church (which is understandable given that Elizabeth was Protestant).

Spenser uses symbolism to describe the character of a name throughout his works. Fidessa, which means “faith”, suggests that Fidessa represents faith. Fidessa actually has the name Duessa. This means “two-faced”, and informs readers that Fidessa is a duality. Fidessa being accompanied by Sans fey, a Saracen who represents “false religion” or false piety, shows that Fidessa has false faith. Her champion knight being a Saracen is an important and odd fact. It’s ironic, after all, that a girl with a faith-based name has a “infidel”. Fidessa’s insincerity will be revealed to the reader. Fidessa has a name that means faith, but she is not sincere. This fact fits in with Archimago’s theme to separate the Redcrosse-Knight from the truth. Archimago tricked the Redcrosse-Knight into thinking Una was immoral and caused him abandon his quest.

Spenser shows his views regarding the Roman Catholic religion through Fidessa’s death. Fidessa’s fiance represents Jesus Christ as a “faithful”, a “meek” and a “debonaire”. This Christ figure dies a “dead innocent” death and is then mysteriously removed. Fidessa searched for her fiance’s corpse for many years. Fidessa’s fiance is Jesus Christ. Fidessa’s represents the Christian Church. Christ’s “body” does not exist because He ascended to heaven and rose from the grave. Fidessa’s search for Christ’s body is an example of the Roman Catholics’ theology being based on a misinterpretation. Therefore, the Catholic Church as a whole is invalid.

Fidessa has an important role in Spenser’s poem “The Faerie Queen” as it helps him convey one of its main themes: the Roman Catholic Church being a hypocritical, false institution. Spenser cleverly weaves his opinions into the allegorical tale he has written. This allows the reader to both enjoy the tale of the chivalric knight’s adventures and the author’s viewpoints.

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