Morning Bell: A summer camp for children dealing with trauma
Good Wednesday morning, and happy Fourth of July!
As we enter the mid-summer months (just four weeks until OKC schools reopen), many children are attending summer camps. Camp Hope is an annual weeklong camp for kids who have witnessed or been victims of domestic violence, and it appears to be making a difference in a state that has high rates of children exposed to trauma, abuse and parental incarceration.
“A lot of the families that we have here that have been involved in domestic violence," said Darren Ransley, a member of Camp Hope's leadership staff. "Law enforcement are the people that take away a specific part of the family. Fear comes from that. If you have law enforcement here, you have the opportunity to create a relationship with a friendly law enforcement officer.”
The Oklahoman's Kayla Branch had a story this week on the camp and its impact on the children and teenagers who attend.
In fiscal year 2017, Oklahoma had 15,289 confirmed cases of child abuse — the highest rate in at least decade, according to a report by the Department of Human Services.
This type of trauma has a major impact on public schools. While Oklahoma schools have struggled through a decade of per-student funding decreases, resulting in larger class sizes and fewer classroom resources, it has come at the same time the rate of students dealing with a slate of social challenges has increased, exacerbating the negative impact of budget cuts.
The combination of the two forces has created a public school system that has floundered with low academic achievement and graduates who lack basic skills needed to succeed in today's job environment, often ensuring the problems plaguing students are repeated for another generation.
"I think we have a lot more traumatized kids than we used to," said Unsicker-Durham, 56, who first started teaching in the late 1980s. "My ability to focus on getting students to become better writers and better readers is much harder. I can't do what I even did just two years ago."
You can read more about the impact student trauma has on local schools here.
New superintendent begins job at OKCPS
Monday was the first school board meeting for new Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel.
"I am really looking forward to my time here, which I hope is long and productive," McDaniel said.
The lightly attended meeting at Northeast Academy featured a presentation by ADG, the Oklahoma City firm hired by the district in May to complete a physical assessment and demographic study, reports The Oklahoman's Tim Willert.
Project manager Kyle Lombardo, one of two ADG representatives to address the board, told members more than half of the 84 buildings targeted have been evaluated so far.
"We are well into the facilities assessment, having completed assessing 53 schools at this point," Lombardo said.
Oklahoma teachers receive national awards in math, science
Two Oklahoma teachers have been named recipients of the prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). PAEMST, established in 1983, is the highest recognition a K-12 mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States.
Michelle Rahn of Will Rogers Junior High School in Claremore and Macey Stewart of Washington Elementary School in Norman will receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. Awardees also traveled to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony. You can read more from the state Department of Education.
Students get 'too little' civics teaching, principals say
Fifty-two percent of the school leaders surveyed by Education Week said that there is “too little” civics education in schools, while another 48 percent said there is just the right amount.
“I think there’s not enough, and I think there’s not enough of an expectation,” said Julia Putnam, the principal of James & Grace Lee Boggs School in Detroit, a charter school serving students in grades K through 8. “I don’t think that the way we talk about education makes it a goal or an expectation that students come out feeling like informed active citizens.”
Enjoy your Fourth!