Each Thursday in April our blog posts will focus on the theme “Throw-Back Thursday” and I will share past blog posts with you.
Today’s Throw-Back Thursday theme is academic enrichment.
Education is as integral part of the solution to achieve better long-term outcomes for youth in foster care. Foster youth deserve access to the same academic resources, services, extra-curricular and enrichment activities available to all students. Educational stability and high quality education should be a part of the permanency plan for all youth in care. Please feel free to share your thoughts here or on the individual blog posts.
Academic Enrichment Blogs:
We are all aware of the sad statistics and educational obstacles that youth in foster care encounter. A student must adjust to different curricula, different school culture, different teachers, and different peers each time they enter a new school. Regularly changing schools often has negative social, emotional, and academic effects on youth already burdened by past trauma. Many young people in foster care are diagnosed with learning disabilities, are over-medicated, are placed in remedial classes, must repeat grades, or must contend with low expectations overall. These experiences often result in minimal academic achievement or youth dropping out of high school. It has been reported that less than 70% of youth in foster care finish high school before leaving care.
Improving educational outcomes for youth in care is a critical component to increased emotional well-being, a smoother transition into adulthood, and long-term economic security. Today I want to continue our academic empowerment blog series with additional strategies to help students do their best in school.
Years ago I worked in a school-based program and at the start of each new school year I organized a parent workshop related to helping your child have a successful school year. Topics included things like the importance of school and home partnership, parent-teacher conferences, homework and study tips, understanding your child’s report card, and the roles of pupil personnel workers and guidance counselors. I also offered similar parent engagement workshops in the community.
There were cyclical patterns that emerged each school year. I could count on high stress levels of parents and students in the transitioning grades – 5th, 8th, and 12th. I learned to anticipate a flood of requests for tutors and mentors once the third semester report card was distributed. And about this time of year as students take midterm exams and begin to select courses for next school year I would be asked the question “is it better to get a B in a harder/advanced class than an A in an easier/regular class?” My answer has always remained the same – it depends on the student. School can be very demanding. Academic, social, and emotional pressures affect each person in unique ways and each person’s academic ability and stress threshold is different. Each student should be evaluated individually based on their interests, strengths, and personal motivations.
Mastering certain life skills is essential to successful independent living. Life skills includes more than learning how to prepare a meal, drive a car, schedule a doctor’s appointment, or dress for a job interview. Our last blog post explored Common Core Standards And Youth In Foster Care. The Common Core Standards are skills acquired for use both inside and outside of the classroom. A key aspect of the Common Core Standards is to support educators in teaching students how to apply the knowledge they learn in school in the real world.
Major Common Core Standards Categories are:
- Life and Career Skills
- Flexibility and Adaptability
- Initiative and Self-Direction
- Social and Cross-Cultural Skills
- Productivity and Accountability
- Leadership and Responsibility
It’s officially “back to school” time. The rush is on – new school supplies, dorm needs, uniforms and fashionable fall clothing. Is this what the start of a new school year has been reduced to? Education is so much more!
Education is a key factor in the attainment of economic stability and self-sufficiency. Educational failure has long been linked to higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration. In general, jobs that require high levels of education and skill pay higher wages than jobs that require few skills and little education. Adults who obtain colleges degrees, earn significantly more than those with only a high school diploma. According to some estimates:
Rich Korb is an author and educator with 34 years experience working with youth in traditional and alternative schools, residential facilities, and juvenile detention centers. He has also served as an athletic coach. Rich is known as the “Behavior Answer Man”. He shares his wisdom through Pioneer Education Consulting.
As an Educator and Administrator he has supported youth in foster care to breakdown barriers to learning that include special education, school disruptions, and risk of drop out. Rich operates by the motto “creativity is necessary for success”. He says there is no youngster he can’t reach and no situation he won’t take on. This belief system has lead to his success with youth and is the foundation for his six step approach to youth engagement. The six steps are:
Exavier Pope owns The Pope Law Firm. He is a Sports & Entertainment Attorney, Media Personality, Fortune 500 Speaker and Peak Performance Strategist, Writer, Economic Developer, and former foster youth. Exavier shared his amazing story for our National Foster Care Awareness Month blog series on teen males.
Exavier’s foster mother, Emma Lily Mitchell, declared to him that it was his “God given right and destiny to become someone of great influence to impact change.” Exavier’s father was a pimp and his mother was a prostitute. Exavier, his twin sister, and older brother entered Ms. Mitchell’s home when Exavier was six weeks old. They remained in Ms. Mitchell’s care until Exavier was seven years old. Between the ages of seven and nine years old, they lived in an abusive home with their biological mother. At nine years old the children requested to return to Ms. Mitchell’s home and their request was granted.