Celebrating National School Counseling Week

This week is National School Counseling Week, which we are celebrating at City Connects because we have many school counselors among the ranks of our School Site Coordinators. Sponsored by the American School Counseling Association, the focus of this week is “School Counselors: Helping Students Be Brilliant.”

To commemorate the work of school counselors, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released a statement yesterday:

I want to salute the thousands of professionals across the country engaged in school counseling. Every day, these unsung heroes in American education help millions of students sidestep the roadblocks of life. They help them succeed, achieve their dreams, reach their potential, explore their curiosity and more.

For more information:

  • Follow the American School Counseling Association on Twitter @ASCAtweets

Report Details Decrease in “Dropout Factory” High Schools

The America’s Promise Alliance is a cross-sector partnership of corporations, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and advocacy groups founded by General Colin Powell working to improve lives and change outcomes for children. They released a report this week, “Building a Grad Nation,”  that detailed a significant decline in the number of high schools where fewer than 60% of students graduate, known as “dropout factories.” According to the report, from 2002 to 2008, the number of “dropout factories” fell by 13%. Even though these schools represent a small fraction of all public high schools in America, they account for about half of all high school dropouts each year.

Massachusetts showed modest gains with the percentage of high school graduates rising from 77.6% in 2002 to 81.5% in 2008. When looking at all 50 states, the Commonwealth tied with Hawaii to rank 13th overall in terms of  the largest gains.

“Public schools are showing improvement thanks to reforms and other efforts that have been put in place, but we need to dramatically increase the pace of progress,” said Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education. “No principal, school board, teachers’ union or mayor can resolve a community’s dropout crisis alone. It takes everyone working together to make progress every year and build on success.”

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Three Massachusetts Groups Awarded “Promise Neighborhood” Planning Grants

The U.S. Department of Education yesterday awarded 21 “Promise Neighborhood” planning grants to nonprofit organizations and universities across the country, three of which are based in Massachusetts. The one-year grants of up to $500,000 are designed to help these groups create plans to provide comprehensive “cradle to career” services for children.

“Communities across the country recognize that education is the one true path out of poverty,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These Promise Neighborhoods applicants are committed to putting schools at the center of their work to provide comprehensive services for young children and students.”

The Massachusetts winners are Community Day Care Center of Lawrence, Inc. in Lawrence, the United Way of Central Massachusetts in Worcester, and the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston.

As reported in the Boston Globe, “the $500,000 grant to the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a community-based organization, represents a major milestone in replicating the Harlem Children’s Zone locally. For years, different groups of city leaders, philanthropists, and community activists have toured the Harlem program, returning each time to Boston energized, but unable to sustain the momentum.”

One of City Connects’ schools, Orchard Gardens, is located in Dudley Street’s target neighborhood of Roxbury, which is also part of Boston Mayor Tom Menino’sCircle of Promise,” a 5-square-mile area in where the Mayor and Boston Public Schools have been trying to set up a coalition to provide wraparound services for children. Dudley Street will partner with the City of Boston, nonprofit groups, philanthropists, after-school providers, religious leaders, and universities to advance this agenda.

Next year, the President has requested $210 million in his budget, including $200 million to support implementation of Promise Neighborhood projects and $10 million for planning grants for new communities.

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