Public Policy

Citizen Schools Calls on Presidential Candidates to Reduce Opportunity Gap

National Non-Profit Organizes 11 National Groups Asking Candidates to Commit to Improving Middle School Education FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Boston, MA—February 29, 2016— National non-profit Citizen Schools, as part of its participation in the Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative, is calling on all candidates for President of the United States to adopt a policy platform which helps reduce the opportunity gap that exists in low-income, urban schools where students receive 6,000 fewer instructional hours than their more affluent counterparts.

“Upper-income families have tripled their investment in their children’s education in a generation—amounting to a gap of 6,000 hours of extra learning by 6th grade. Lower-income children count on public schools, even though most students only spend 20 percent of their waking hours in the classroom. We want to expand learning opportunities for low-income students, with a special focus on the critical, but often neglected, middle school years,” said Emily McCann, CEO of Citizen Schools.

A letter (click here to download) on behalf of the organizations which comprise the Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative has been sent to each presidential candidate focusing on four major policy strategies:

  1. Leverage human capital: Hiring teachers costs money that many districts simply don’t have. This is why school systems need to examine designs which utilize community partnerships with non-profits like Citizen Schools, businesses, and national service programs like AmeriCorps and VISTA, which offer expanded learning opportunities at minimal cost to the district.
  2. Focus on middle school: These are critical years for a child and a time when they need to be more fully engaged and shown a path to success in high school and beyond.
  3. Encourage public-private partnerships to grow high-quality expanded learning and mentorship opportunities, with a particular focus in the STEM fields.
  4. Support investing in what works: Commit to continuous improvement programs to ensure that the money which is invested in education can provide for the greatest outcomes for all children.

The letter is endorsed by eleven regional and national non-profit organizations that serve hundreds of thousands of middle school students across the nation. These organizations have come together to ensure these important education issues are part of the public policy debate.

Media Contact: Matt Ellis, Ellis Strategies, Inc. matt@ellisstrategies.com | 617-777-3776

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/

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Citizen Schools Applauds Sen. Elizabeth Warren for Passing of New Federal Education Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE BOSTON, Mass—December 9, 2015— Citizen Schools, which partners with public schools to provide academic support and hands-on learning for middle school students in high-need communities in seven states, applauds U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for her efforts to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act, which rewrites No Child Left Behind. The legislation, approved by the Senate Wednesday, provides a new opportunity to improve education in America through greater adoption of expanded learning time in public schools, says Steven M. Rothstein, chief executive of Citizen Schools.

The Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives on December 2, 2015, with strong bipartisan support. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law before the end of the year. Senator Warren sits on the Senate Health, Education, Pensions, and Labor Committee and played a key role in supporting expanded learning time throughout the process.

"This is the biggest commitment the federal government has ever made to expanded learning time. This is a historic milestone for underserved students and a strong statement from a bipartisan group of legislators. It will be an important step to reduce the opportunity gap that has grown over the years,” said Rothstein.

Citizen Schools commends the U.S. Congress for producing legislation that keeps important accountability components for closing the achievement and opportunity gap for low-income and historically underrepresented students, but does away with one-size fits-all federal requirements.

In particular, the organization applauds Congress for the inclusion of Expanded Learning Time in several areas of the legislation—most notably, within the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, the only federal program dedicated solely to delivering after-school, before school, expanded day, and summer services for low-income students.

“Preserving targeted programs like 21st CCLC, as well as targeted funds for school improvement and innovation, will benefit millions of students across the country,” said Rothstein. “We commend the Congress for its efforts to increase STEM learning opportunities and to promote evidence-based practices in K-12 education.”

Media contact: Matt Ellis Ellis Strategies, Inc. matt@ellisstrategies.com | 617.278.6560

Citizen Schools Applauds Passing of New Federal Education Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE BOSTON, Mass—December 9, 2015—U.S. Senate passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which rewrites No Child Left Behind, provides a new opportunity to improve education in America through greater adoption of expanded learning time in public schools, says Steven M. Rothstein, chief executive of Citizen Schools which partners with public schools to provide academic support and hands-on learning for 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders in high-need communities in seven states.

The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives on December 2, 2015, with strong bipartisan support. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law before the end of the year. "This is the biggest commitment the federal government has ever made to expanded learning time.

This is a historic milestone for underserved students and a strong statement from a bipartisan group of legislators. It will be an important step to reduce the opportunity gap that has grown over the years,” said Rothstein.

Citizen Schools commends the U.S. Congress for producing legislation that keeps important accountability components for closing the achievement and opportunity gap for low-income and historically underrepresented students, but does away with one-size fits-all federal requirements.

In particular, the organization applauds Congress for the inclusion of Expanded Learning Time in several areas of the legislation—most notably, within the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, the only federal program dedicated solely to delivering after-school, before school, expanded day, and summer services for low-income students.

“Preserving targeted programs like 21st CCLC, as well as targeted funds for school improvement and innovation, will benefit millions of students across the country,” said Rothstein. “We commend the Congress for its efforts to increase STEM learning opportunities and to promote evidence-based practices in K-12 education.”

Media contact: Matt Ellis Ellis Strategies, Inc. matt@ellisstrategies.com | 617.278.6560

A capital victory

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Guest Post by CEO Steven Rothstein

I wish you could have been with me last week in our nation’s capital. I am so inspired by so many of the students, principals, corporate partners, and others who joined us there.

On Monday, we had a special briefing on key education and STEM issues at the White House. On Tuesday, we organized, with the partnership of many other groups and organizations, the first-ever Expanded Learning Summit: Meeting In The Middle. Many joined in person and hundreds more participated in the conversation via live stream or social media. Then on Wednesday, we continued the advocacy and momentum and brought students, educators, corporate partners and our team to Capitol Hill for meetings with 36 Democratic and Republican members in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on key education issues.

The summit was the first time a group of this scale – including more than 55 distinguished speakers and panelists – has convened to discuss how expanded learning can help close the opportunity gap for our nation’s young people. We had a range of thought leaders and policy makers participate, including our chairman, Dr. Larry Summers; the Mayor of Washington D.C.; Wendy Spencer; the Deputy Mayor of New York; a representative from the George Bush Center, and literally dozens of the “best and the brightest” in our field.

We were honored to receive a special message from President Obama himself. “Events like this summit,” he wrote, “bring together those of us working on the front lines to make better use of educational time… If our next generation is going to meet the challenges of this century, they will need more time in the classroom.”

We are deeply grateful to all of those who participated in the summit, and to the many supporters and convenors who made this event possible. They are all highlighted on our event website. We are committed to the thousands of children whom we serve, and to growing the field of expanded learning. We believe that last week’s activities were critical in advancing this agenda.

As we recognize our 20 years of service, the Expanded Learning Summit highlights how much more there is to do in our next phase. In the coming days, we’ll continue to share opportunities to engage with these important ideas, including archived video from all summit sessions.

Yours in service,

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CEO, Citizen Schools

P.S. We welcome your support to help more students across the country build the skills, access, and beliefs required for them to thrive as students and succeed as adults.

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Vote...and Serve

Eric Schwarz is the Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools. On this very important day for America, I am thinking a lot about the election, about policy and about Citizen Schools. The New York Times has been featuring a video that a former Citizen Schools staff member named Jessica Lander helped create. In it, the legendary filmmaker Errol Morris interviews a number of young people talking about whether or not they should vote in today's election. One young man is Philip Parham, who served in the Citizen Schools Teaching Fellowship and then helped recruit hundreds of people to spend two years inspiring children. Errol Morris is stopped short when Philip shares that his own grandmother did not have the right to vote.

The video definitely got me thinking. In a lot of ways, Citizen Schools was created out of a sense that voting alone is not a satisfactory or sufficient expression of citizenship. We need to step up in deeper ways. We need everyone to vote, and also to participate in building a stronger country by raising the next generation.

I think the whole business of social entrepreneurship, which we've been a part of for the last 18 years, is really an effort to try to find some alchemy between direct service work and systemic change. How is the hard work in the classroom teaching students connected to a larger policy dialogue about changing things for the kids in our country? We've set out to answer that question since the beginning of Citizen Schools. From me working with 10 kids to publish a newspaper, to starting one after-school program in Dorchester, Massachusetts, to operating an organization with partners in 8 states and 15 communities.

We are trying to prove something in a number of places, learn from it, continue to improve it, and share it. We're not only influencing the lives of thousands and thousands of kids; we're creating 31 proof-points across the country that are building a narrative that can influence the political process and the culture to drive change for millions of kids.

Elections are an important part of that. So I want to ask everyone to get out and vote. Encourage other people to vote. Vote for whoever you want, but do participate. Get a dialogue going with your friends, families and your communities about how voting is married to service and impact and creating broader change in our country.

And then, when the returns are in, think about how you can fulfill your citizenship for the rest of the year. Serve your community; inspire the children around you. You'll swing the future of the country as much as the electoral college.

White House Blog: Citizen Schools Inspires

Sometimes "I can’t" really means "it takes more than I am willing to try.” On Wednesday, August 2, the White House Blog featured a story about Citizen Schools and its unique model for engaging America’s youth in STEM education.

This story has two layers. The first is about Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, Massachusetts, which people believed could not be fixed. The second is about that school's current principal, who was told his son would never walk.

The world is full of “can’t.” Schools like the Edwards can’t be turned around, and children like Liam can’t walk. Why bother trying? Principal Leo Flanagan doesn't accept “can’t.”

Edwards Middle School and Citizen Schools launched Expanded Learning Time (ELT) together a few years before Flanagan became principal. The extra time allowed for more academic support and apprenticeships—where kids work alongside volunteer engineers, computer programmers, web designers, and more. The kids build skills and dreams, and the school blossoms. Five years after launching ELT, Edwards Middle School is now one of the top performing schools in the district.

Flanagan inspired change at home as well. Every day he helped his son learn to walk. Every difficult step was one step closer to success. Today his son not only walks, but runs on steady, strong legs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-YgWdHmPHM&feature=youtu.be

Principal Flanagan's world is full of “can." His students can achieve and succeed, a child can walk despite the odds. Flanagan says, “Sometimes, when you have a kid who ‘can’t do things’ it really means 'what it takes for them to do it is more than I am willing to try'.”

"I want us all to think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering," says the president. "To encourage young people to create and build and invent—to be makers of things, not just consumers of things."

But kids growing up in poor communities live in the world of "can't." They don’t have the same opportunities as kids growing up where engineers and scientists and inventors are abundant.

As Principal Flanagan says, “It takes an engineer at an engineering firm to get them to believe that they, too, belong there and they can do whatever they want to do.”

Together, we can show them that they can. When STEM professionals and other successful adults enter their world through Citizen Schools, they do.

Do you have what it takes to turn "can't" into "can"? Learn more about teaching an apprenticeship in, New YorkNew JerseyNorth CarolinaIllinoisTexasNew Mexico and California.

Help Save Education Service Programs!

What’s happening?  Our nation faces the largest budget cuts ever to education and national service programs. The U.S. House of Representatives has proposed deep cuts to domestic programs for the upcoming federal fiscal year.  These and other programs also face more than 9% in additional cuts if spending reductions ordered in the budget deal and debt ceiling agreement reached in Congress last summer go forward. This could cause crippling cuts in services to students and schools across the country. Click here to read more about the House budget threat and sequestration. How can I help? Here is how you can take action and engage Congress to save funding for education and service programs which provide vital capacity and services to schools through nonprofit, community partner organizations like Citizen Schools: Sign the “Stop the Cuts!” petition—The Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of education groups working together to secure adequate federal support for our nation’s educational system, is in the midst of a campaign to stop the substantial proposed cuts to education funding, which threaten the stability of our education system and economy. For more information on the cuts, read here.

Take Action with Save Service: The Save Service in America campaign is working to ensure policy makers preserve national service programs, such as AmeriCorps. The campaign’s efforts led by constituents across the country saved national service programs from budget cuts (and elimination) last fiscal year, and we need to continue the momentum! Click here to sign up for action alerts, tweet, send an e-letter to Congress, and share your story of service with a local paper. May 1st -3rd, 2012 Citizen Schools supporters throughout Citizen Schools’ eight regions participated in the Save Service “District Day”—joining forces with other service-oriented organizations and volunteers to visit local US Congressional offices in their districts and share stories and results of the positive impact service has on schools and communities.

Where Will the Teaching Fellowship Lead You?

Ann Lambert is a Second Year Teaching Fellow at the Irving Middle School in Roslindale, MA When beginning to think about their future, it is not uncommon for job-seekers to be asking questions like:

  • “What’s in it for me?”
  • “How will this position help me progress in the long run?”
  • “What are the perks to working for this organization over another?”

Part of the answer to these questions lies in the opportunities for career and professional development that an organization provides.  Knowing the pathways taken by those that have gone before you can be a valuable insight into what the future holds for you as well.

At Citizen Schools, second year Teaching Fellows are provided with job search support such as personal career advisors, resume and cover letter workshops, and a career fair with over 25 participating organizations that want to recruit Citizen Schools talent.

As a result, graduating Teaching Fellows pursue a number of paths in diverse fields.  The four main career pathways are these:

Classroom Teaching:  After discovering he wanted to be closer to “the front line of education”, Chris Conroy joined the TF Class of 2008. The opportunity to instruct, work within the Boston Public School system, and communicate with families and community members gave him the opportunity to see his students’ lives and development from a very broad perspective and in turn allowed the kids to “shine a little light into my life.” Chris has since become a special education teacher at Codman Academy where he strives to create a positive and supportive classroom culture for his students.   Chris teaches ten students from grades 9 through 12 in a classroom called the Higher Learning Institute, for students having difficulty accessing mainstream curriculum.  Chris says his experience at Citizen Schools prepared him for the “complexity of working in a school system.”  It was during his time as a Teaching Fellow that he learned to “respect the young people I worked with and where they come from.” What started at Citizen Schools has become a dedication to “meeting students where they are.”

 Nonprofit Leadership: Emily Msall came to Citizen Schools right after she graduated from Columbia University.  In her second year as a Teaching Fellow, Emily had a morning partnership at Citizen Schools Headquarters in Staff Alumni Engagement.  While at Headquarters, Emily met with a few Education Pioneers Fellows.  As she learned more about the organization, she decided to apply for a position with them.  Emily has been with Education Pioneers since her Fellowship ended, working first as a Program Associate and now as the Manager of National Admissions.  She is still involved with Citizen Schools, serving as the 2009 Class Marshall and volunteering to be a resource for current fellows.  Emily knows that her time at Citizen Schools prepared her for her work, teaching her how to balance many responsibilities at once and how to communicate effectively with a variety of stakeholders.  During her time with Citizen Schools, Emily also learned that her passion lies not in the classroom, but rather in the behind-the-scenes work of supporting other people to do their job well.

Public Policy and Advocacy: “Citizen Schools was an amazing collection of smart and passionate people,” says Ben Duda.  “We could achieve as much as we wanted to. There were leaders, inspiring teachers, and higher-order thinkers that I had not had exposure to in the non-profit sector.   After Citizen Schools, I knew more about how to articulate and pursue outcomes and strategies.”  After the fellowship, in 2006, Ben earned a Master’s Degree in Public Policy with a focus on Urban Policy and Non-profit Management from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. In Baltimore, he also served in a mayoral fellowship and as the graduate assistant at Innovation High School. Currently, Ben is the Executive Director of AmeriCorps Alums, which is an organization that, among other things, works to highlight the pathways that AmeriCorps Alumni take.

For Profit Sector: Valerie worked with Citizen Schools from 2001 to 2003 as a Teaching Fellow at the McCormack Middle School in Massachusetts. The Fellowship taught Valerie how to be a dynamic communicator. “I had to learn the facets of creative communicating and instruction,” she says. Along with communication, Valerie learned team management, a skill that she has brought with her to Goulston and Storrs, the law firm where she currently works. The thirteen-year-old energy that was so hard to harness as a Teaching Fellow taught her a lot about group management and motivation. So how did she end up in a law firm? After the Fellowship, Valerie went to law school and spent her summers interning at fair-housing practices. “In every place I’ve lived, I have been curious about neighborhoods and communities – the history, the housing choices, the availability.” She now works for the Goulston and Storrs where she deals with for-profit and non-profit developers to create affordable housing in Boston.

These snapshots provide an idea for the kind of growth and development that Citizen Schools fosters for its Teaching Fellows in an effort to ensure their continued success after they depart from the organization.

Need more convincing?  Below, you can find a list of organizations where Teaching Fellow Alumni have worked.

How has a company’s network and career development initiatives set you up for success?  Share stories below!

 

Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School
ACCESS
Balfour Academy, Northeastern University
Booststrap
Boston Preparatory Charter Public School
Boston Public Libraries
Brannen, Dunn, & Stewart, PLLC
Breakthrough Collaborative
Catholic Charities
Citizen Schools
Codman Academy
COROEducation Pioneers
Edward W. Brooke Charter School
Endicott College
Excel Academy Charter School
Executive Office of Health and Human Services
Global Kids
Goulston & Storrs
Jobs For The Future
KaBoom!
KIPP
Landmark School
MATCH School
New England Institute of Art
Project HEALTH
RMC Research Corporation
Roxbury Preparatory School
SPARK
Suffolk County House of Correction
Teach For America
The Posse Foundation
Uncommon Schools
University of Chicago
USS Constitution Museum
YES Preparatory Public School