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The Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers Are Combating the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools

This post is by Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools.

In jopp equst over a month my book – our book — hits the bookstores and I’m going to be hitting the road.  The Opportunity Equation is part personal story, large part Citizen Schools story, and most of all a call to action to citizens across the country to get active in addressing our nation’s growing opportunity and achievement gaps.

The book is already getting pre-publication reviews and they are encouraging. Kirkus Reviews calls the book “a call to action for citizens and educators so that the achievement gap can be closed as rapidly as possible.”  And Publisher’s Weekly said, “Combining data-rich statistics with frequently funny and animated accounts of his work with Citizen Schools, including a bracing candor about mistakes and learning on the fly, Schwarz offers…a constructive blueprint for boosting achievement without abandoning public education.”

It is my hope that this book will provoke new thinking about education, build understanding, influence policy, and mobilize citizens to do their part in lifting up opportunity for all children. Stories like that of Alan Su, a whiz kid engineer at Google who taught a computer programming apprenticeship five times at the Clarence Edwards Middle School, and of Margie Tkacik, who allowed me to the be first Citizen Teacher in our program when I taught a journalism apprenticeship in her classroom, will help readers see themselves as key participants in the change that needs to happen.

I want to use the book and a planned 20-city book tour in September to advance the ideals of Citizen Schools and advance understanding of the opportunity gap that exists—and is growing—for low-income youth. The conversation needs to shift from blaming convenient scapegoats like teachers unions and poverty to lifting up solutions and finding practical ways to empower everyday citizens to improve our schools. This message can only truly take root if we mobilize thousands of citizens like you to promote the ideas of the book and the values that Citizen Schools represents. We’ll be in touch before the September 2nd launch date with more ways you can be a part of this movement, but for now want to share a few ways to help us build momentum:

  1. The book is now available for pre-order, so if you’d like to be one of the first to read it, click here to learn about ordering options.
  2. Learn more about the book and share the site via social media to spread the word!
  3. Read excerpts from the book and start a dialogue with others in your network.
  4. Plan on coming to one of the book tour events in September (30+ events in 20+ cities) and commit to promoting the book and the events in your network via social media and personally inviting your friends.
  5. Share your own Citizen Schools story. We want all elements of this book tour to celebrate the impact that Citizen Schools has on the students, Citizen Teachers, AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows, and more, and we need your help. Submit your story to our blog!

I look forward to reflecting back on these upcoming months and seeing that they truly galvanized those inside and outside of the Citizen Schools community to elevate our conversation about education and lift up opportunity for all children.  Thanks in advance for your interest and commitment.

North Carolina Students WOW the Crowds

A Neal Middle School student shows offs his golf swing

A Neal Middle School student shows offs his golf swing

What happens when middle school students present to a group of adults on topics like the physics behind a golf swing, how to invest  in the stock market, or how to launch a rocket? Chances are, they won’t just be impressed, but they will say “WOW!” From top executives of major companies to parents and teachers, the adults that fill the room at the culminating WOW! events are consistently blown away by what students have learned with volunteer “Citizen Teachers” over the course of a semester in Citizen Schools.

This spring things were no different at three schools in North Carolina…

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PRESS RELEASE: CA Technologies Supports Citizen Schools’ STEM Programs

Press Contact: Holly Trippett, Citizen Schools, 617-695-2300 x1161 or 301-452-3904, hollytrippett@citizenschools.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CA TECHNOLOGIES SUPPORTS CITIZEN SCHOOLS’ STEM PROGRAMS

Boston, MA – June 25, 2014– Citizen Schools, a leading national education nonprofit, announced today it has received a $50,000 donation from CA Technologies, a leading IT management software and solutions company, to help fund its science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for students across six schools in Massachusetts.

Citizen Schools partners with underserved public middle schools to dramatically expand the learning day by 400 hours each academic year. During the additional school hours, the organization mobilizes AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and volunteers from companies like CA Technologies who provide academic support and teach hands-on “apprenticeships” that help students make the connection between what they are learning now and a future career path. Over half of the skill-building apprenticeships are focused on STEM subjects and activities.

”We are proud to support the important work Citizen Schools is doing to expand educational opportunities for students,” said Erica Christensen, VP, Corporate Social Responsibility, CA Technologies. “Supporting STEM learning is a top priority for CA Technologies, and through initiatives like this we hope to help provide young people with the tools they need to succeed and encourage the next generation of technology leaders.”

The demand for professionals in the STEM fields is projected to dramatically outpace supply over the coming decades. By 2018, the U.S. is expected to face a projected shortfall of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree STEM workers. The Bureau for Labor Statistics also predicts that STEM jobs will grow 55 percent faster than non-STEM jobs over the next 10 years. Among the teenagers who express interest in science and math careers, nearly two-thirds indicate that they are discouraged from pursuing them because they do not know anyone who works in these fields or understand what people in those fields do.

“Our apprenticeships bring relevance and unique hands-on learning opportunities to students, sparking new interests and increasing their engagement in school,” said Tom Birmingham, Executive Director of Citizen Schools Massachusetts. “We are pleased to have CA Technologies as a partner as we work to improve and expand our STEM apprenticeships for the students and schools we serve.”

CA Technologies volunteers have taught apprenticeships to students in Citizen Schools in Boston, MA and New York, NY. The projects in Massachusetts have included “Measuring the Solar System” and “Life is a Laboratory,” where students transform into scientists for a semester. In New York, students created technologies to improve New York City and pitched their ideas to technology executives in “Back to the Future.”

About Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support, in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit http://www.citizenschools.org/.

About CA Technologies

CA Technologies (NASDAQ: CA) provides IT management solutions that help customers manage and secure complex IT environments to support agile business services. Organizations leverage CA Technologies software and SaaS solutions to accelerate innovation, transform infrastructure and secure data and identities, from the data center to the cloud. Learn more about CA Technologies at www.ca.com.

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Expanded Learning Time Panel Discusses How Community Partners Can Make an Impact for Students

“Extended learning may be the only reason some young people come to school.” – Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, US Department of Education.

On May 19, the Center for American Progress (CAP) hosted a panel, All Hands on Deck: How Expanded Learning Time Schools and Community Partnerships Work Together to Improve Outcomes for Students, to discuss how expanded learning time (ELT) and community partnerships can create a positive impact for students and schools.

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Cognizant Volunteer is a Force of Good in Newark

For Shivani Mehta volunteering isn’t just a weekend activity, it runs through every aspect of her life. Throughout high school and college she gave her time to make an impact in the lives of children. When she started working at Cognizant in New Jersey, Shivani was able to participate in a new volunteer opportunity, teaching an “apprenticeship” class with Citizen Schools.

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