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Morning Shots

First Fridays Tour Of Capital City PCS

My Friday morning journey to Capital City Public Charter School (PCS) was filled with transit catastrophes and rainy weather, but when I entered the school, all negativity melted away when I was met with a warm atmosphere and welcoming faculty. The school building itself is massive, since all grades learn in the same building, but a student named Avery was sweet enough to walk me to my starting point of the tour. Capital City uses a hands-on learning approach, which is evident by the project-based learning model implemented in all classrooms. In fact, expeditionary learning is quite literally built into the framework of the school because in 2011, the seventh and eighth grade students created and published goal books for environmentally friendly buildings and presented their findings to the school board. Students really do become advocates, an initiative that is important to the social curriculum of character development that Capital City PCS values.

Capital City PCSThroughout my tour, I saw the hands-on learning approach put into action with projects starting with preschoolers learning about ants, up to high school students presenting research on healthy lifestyles. Research, fieldwork, and findings were all posted on the walls of the school and students were participating in curriculum based on that topic. In a fifth grade classroom I sat in on, they were discussing their unit about the Constitution and Bill of Rights and they were highlighting important points and making comprehensive explanations for younger grades. They also reflected on their “Day Without Rights” experience and spoke about how laws were important in order to cultivate a safe and free society. At Capital City, in order for students to move onto middle school and later, graduation, they must present a packet of lessons they have learned to

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Yanking Schools Into 21st Century”: President Obama’s ConnectED to the Future Initiative

On Wednesday, President Obama spoke to an audience of 110 superintendents from across the nation to address closing the technology gap. In “ConnectED to the Future,” Obama reiterated the five-year plan to have 99% of students connected to high-speed Internet. In the President’s remarks, he called upon the teachers and administrators to get on board with the focus on the future. Students are already more technology savvy than most adults, so it is time to reach them at a level that ensures that they are learning in circumstances in which they are comfortable and excel the most.

The President addressed many different ways to approach achieving the initiative of technology heavy education. For one, the FCC has doubled its investment in broadband for schools in an effort to connect more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students to high-speed Internet. The government is also releasing an infrastructure guide to help districts make the best decisions, according to resources, and a checklist to encourage turning tools into practice for students. This initiative is exciting because it transcends the idea of government-oriented education and instead requires cross programming across the board to get the job done. It requires more than just policymakers in Washington; technology companies are chipping in to ensure that classroom software is up to date, parents are signing up to learn to use the technology that their students will have access to, and superintendents are signing pledges to move their districts towards this time of change.

Another inspiring prospect of education reform that the President addressed was that of free advanced placements assessments. Obama noted that the districts that offered those classes for free saw improving results and better college-readiness. As someone who has benefited from this notion first-hand, I could not agree more. My high school was unique in

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The Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem

“Would you like to give your child a chance to achieve greatness? If you want that, then this is the place for your child,” says Sisulu-Walker public charter school teacher Shawn Lane when asked how he would recommend the school he teaches at to prospective parents.

Sisulu-Walker Crest

The Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem focuses on educating tomorrow’s future leaders so they can make a difference in their community and the global community at large. An appropriate focus as the school’s namesakes, Walter Sisulu and Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, were each instrumental in helping civil rights leaders Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. respectively.

“I am responsible” is printed on the back of each scholar’s shirt, reminding students that if they want to be successful, they must choose to do the right thing, and “part of that is making sure you’re responsible for yourself and your actions,” says principal Michelle K. Haynes.

But don’t take our word for it – watch this video to see just how this public charter school is personally impacting the lives and futures of its students, and why The Center for Education Reform fights so hard every day to create conditions that allow schools like this to thrive.

To learn more about this school, the first-ever charter school to open in New York, check out the book A Light Shines in Harlem, available for purchase here.

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