Helping St. Louis

A Blog About Helping Each Other

Posts Tagged ‘Public Schools’

Housekeeping

Posted by Schevus on March 18, 2009

My apologies for the delayed posting. Life has been hectic as of late – my wife and I just bought a house! I hope to be back to normal posting soon. Here are some miscellaneous tidbits:

– Time is running out to support education with a comment. I must say, I have been pretty disappointed to have zero participants thus far. Take a moment a leave a comment for a good cause!

– I have volunteered to create a website for Tri-BALL-Athon 2009. If anyone is good with graphic design and would be interested in helping out please let me know! It seems like we are always in need of graphic design help and our current resources are overtaxed and unreliable. Anyone with working knowledge of PHP is also welcome to assist.

– We will be serving a lasagna dinner at Shalom House this Saturday as part of our service commitment for the Shalom Outreach Society. If anyone is interested in seeing the shelter or helping out with dinner, leave a comment and I can get you more information.

– I know it is late notice (sorry I just found out today), but there is a job fair currently underway that runs until 2:00 PM today at the St. Ann Community Center. You can find more detailed information here.

I hope all is well with everyone!

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St. Louis – After School Programs

Posted by Schevus on February 20, 2009

In my first post about education in St. Louis I talked about the importance of after school programs. I have done some research, and it seems that the majority of St. Louis programs are affiliated with the After School for All Partnership (ASAP). ASAP is itself a partnership between Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHS) and St. Louis For Kids.

If you are looking for a program for your children, ASAP offers a comprehensive list of programs. They also offer good homework advice for parents. Remember, you are the first line of defense for your child’s education. If you are interested in volunteering with an after school program, I will highlight three providers.

First is Youth In Need. This organization provides before and after school programs in ten schools in St. Louis. From their site:

Volunteers needed to tutor, play and interact with school-aged children, 5-12, in before and after-school program. Volunteers needed Monday-Friday, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. in 10 St. Louis City Schools.

Youth In Need also offers head start programs and have need of volunteers for that as well. Youth In Need offers many other youth oriented programs including an emergency shelter, a street outreach program, a teen parenting program and more. You can find volunteer information here.

Next is the YWCA of Metro St. Louis. The YWCA provides programs in several St. Louis schools, as well as head start programs. Additionally, the YWCA offers other services for girls and young women. Information on volunteer opportunities can be found here. Be sure to call the appropriate number listed under each category for more information.

Finally I will highlight the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club. Boys and Girls Clubs offer myriad programs and services for kids and teens. In addition to after school programs, they offer character building and mentorship, community involvement, and sports and fitness programs. You can find volunteer information for all of their programs here.

If you find none of these organizations to be to your liking, there are many more that offer similar programs and services and which are not that difficult to look up. I strongly encourage volunteering with an after school program if you are looking for volunteer ideas.

Feel free to share information about other programs. Also, stop by and leave a comment here and $2 will be donated toward education in St. Louis!

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Supporting Education With Comments

Posted by Schevus on February 18, 2009

I feel that education is the cornerstone for significantly improving St. Louis and the nation, so I did not want to move on from it quite yet. With smarter, better prepared youth coming out of our schools there is no limit to the advancements and progression we might see. Because of this importance, I wanted to offer an easy tangible way for you and I to support the education system. Thus the Supporting Education With Comments event.

What I would like you to do is leave a comment sharing a positive or negative experience you have had with a school, teacher, student, or the education system. If it is a negative experience, what might be done to improve the situation? If it is positive, what might make it better still?

For every unique comment that fits this criteria, I will donate $1 to the Active Minds Institute and $1 to the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation up to $50 total (25 comments with the possibility of extension if we reach that number). Comments will be accepted until 11:59 PM central time 31 March.

I look forward to hearing your experiences!

Update:

In light of only receiving one comment submission, I have donated $10 to each charity. Thank you Nessie!

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St. Louis – Education

Posted by Schevus on February 4, 2009

All too often when talking about the declining quality of education in America public schools take the lion’s share of the blame. Certainly there are many aspects of public schools that could be improved, but ultimately many of the shortcomings of our youth’s education are caused by parents. This point is one that President Obama makes regularly. No matter the quality of the school a child goes to, if the parents are not actively involved there is no guarantee that the child will be engaged and productive at that school.

I know that many families are single parent homes with the parent struggling just to make ends meet, let alone being able spend enough time involved with their children’s schoolwork or activities. I think if you absolutely cannot devote time to your children’s education then it is important to get them involved in a program that will serve to fill that role. There are many varied mentorship and after school programs that serve this purpose. If you need help finding one, please leave a comment and I will try to help.

Getting back to public schools, as I said there are definitely problems that need to be addressed. Many public schools are underfunded, which can result in loss of extra-curricular activities, lack of basic supplies, outdated equipment and books, or in some cases not even enough books for all students. It is pretty obvious to anyone that students need some basic amenities for education to be really successful. In many cases teachers spend large amounts of money out of pocket so that their students have the supplies they need. Obviously this burden should not fall on the shoulders of teachers.

Aside from material issues, public schools are often accused of dumbing down the curriculum. This is normally blamed on the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Basically the act states that students must progressively do better on standardized tests from year to year or the school will lose funding and face reforms to “get back on track.” Taking away funding from schools that are not “performing well” seems incredibly foolish to me, but I digress.

Based on these guidelines and fear of lost funding, many schools are accused of “teaching to the test,” rather than actually trying to educate students. Certainly curriculums must be tailored so that they focus on the information covered by the test, and this might limit flexibility.

In an effort to bring back some flexibility, the charter school movement was born. Charter schools are granted a charter to operate in a more unique way or to target certain special needs or at risk groups. Charter schools have their proponents and critics (I happen to be an ardent supporter), but one key point is that they are still open to the general public and still fall under the NCLB act.

After a cursory search, it does not look like St. Louis currently has more than a few charter schools. A friend of mine is currently in the process of setting up a new charter school called the Active Minds Institute.

So, what can we do to improve the quality of education in St. Louis? I have already mentioned what I feel is the most important solution, which is increased parent involvement. Every parent has the ability to improve the education of their children by taking the time to work with them. They also can improve situations at the school by becoming involved in PTA/PTO groups or simply by opening lines of communication with teachers and staff. Schools often welcome volunteers for various activities.

You can become involved in the charter school community by joining a committee at Active Minds, or even starting your own charter school.  Charter schools almost always welcome donations to improve their programs and also normally appreciate volunteers.

If you are interested in donating, but would prefer to improve the public school system, you can donate to the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation. Here is their mission statement from their website:

The St. Louis Public Schools Foundation seeks to fund projects and activities with a measurable impact on academic achievement, high school graduation rates, and the successful transition to post-secondary goals, such as college or entry into the workforce to ensure that each student has the opportunity to become a productive citizen.

Finally, you can volunteer for a mentorship, tutoring, or after school program designed to help at risk or underprivileged children. I have participated in these programs in the past and they are extremely beneficial for the participants. I will do some further research and try to highlight some of these programs in the St. Louis area in a future post.

If we work together we can make our education system better and keep it from continuing its slide compared to other developed nations. Our future depends on it.

Posted in St. Louis, St. Louis Charities | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »