Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Recently I was interviewed by a top-notch reporting team (the HB Buzz news crew). The topic of the day was Fairness. Fairness is one of the Six Pillars of Character on which Harriet Bishop students and staff are focusing this year. The main point of distinction being asked of me was, "What's the difference between fairness and equality?"

Fairness, in my opinion, has everything to do with having equal opportunity to succeed. The example I used was this: If I gave 10 students each a pari of shoes, but only gave them each a size 12, I am treating them equally. However, the chances that each student will be successful in competing in their sport and in those shoes are slim. If I gave them shoes that were the right size and soles matched the playing surface (football, track and field, soccer, basketball, etc.), each student's chance of success go way up!

While the illustration is simplistic, it helps kids to understand that fair doesn't mean equal- fair does not mean we are all the same- fair does not mean we treat each person exactly the same. Rather, it's providing an environment that gives all stakeholders the best opportunities to succeed.

At Harriet Bishop, we feel all students should be treated FAIRLY and given and EQUAL opportunity to grow and to learn. We have worked hard to create a comprehensive and flexible learning environment that meets the needs of a variety of learners, helping them to flourish!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanks to All!

Last Wednesday was Grandparents' Day at Harriet Bishop! Hundreds of grandparents and special guests filled our gymnasium and classrooms throughout the day to participate in dancing and other activities. There was a sort of magical flow to the day from beginning to end.

Thank you to all of you who attended, all of our volunteers who helped make the day special, and to our staff, especially Mrs. Perry, for coordinating the activities of the day!

Grandparents' Day complements our approach at Harriet Bishop. We believe in helping kids to grow in all facets of their lives - honoring the past, making the most of of the present, and contributing toward a better future. What better way to do that than by bringing generations together in the school!

The Wealth Gap and How It Affects Children

I saw the following article and felt compelled to share it. It comes from InvestMN (Implementing a New Vision to Educate Students for Tomorrow in Minnesota).

International academic rankings of U.S. schools often disappoint us when we consider those rankings (test scores) in isolation. In truth, those rankings may not only give us a narrow profile about how our students do in school, but may more importantly be an indicator of how our students are supported (or are not supported) out of school.

A 2010 UNICEF report ranks 24 of the world’s wealthiest nations in three key areas that appear to be linked to the academic outcomes for kids.

Numbers to know and share:
  • In the category of our children’s material well-being, the United States ranked 23rd of the 24 wealthy nations.
· 20% of American children live in poverty
· More than 40% of American children live in low-income housing.
· Over the past decade, the percent of impoverished children has grown by one third.
  • On measures of health, U.S. children ranked 23rd of the 24 wealthy nations.
  • On measures of education, the U. S. ranked 19th among the 24 wealthy nations.

Although there are other variables, such as which students are tested or language and cultural alignment, there appears to be a strong correlation between the support children experience and the academic accomplishments of those children. (The preceding data is taken from Ken Mitchell, The School Administrator, October, 2011.)

The changes in average household income for Americans over the past three decades have increased the wealth gap, and therefore, the childhood well-being gap.

Numbers to know and share:
  • The bottom 80%t of average household incomes have remained relatively constant.
  • The top 20% of household incomes have doubled.
  • The top 1% of household incomes of have quadrupled.
  • The top 20% of Americans own 80 percent of the wealth.
  • The bottom 80% share the remaining 20 percent of the wealth.

A Pew Research Center study – based on U.S. Census data – revealed growing wealth inequity between races that has occurred during the current recession (Perspective: Tricia Rose on America’s growing inequality, July 29, 2011). Considering the correlation between socioeconomic status and school success, this is a clear and compelling threat to the future prosperity of our country and our state.

Numbers to know and share
  • Median wealth in white households has dropped 16%.
  • Median wealth has dropped 53% in African-American households.
  • Median wealth has dropped 54% in Asian households.
  • Median wealth has dropped 66% in Hispanic households.
Often our means as a state or nation is referred to as if it is a static number—never to change in response to the needs or dynamics of our evolving circumstances. We talk about means as a limitation – “we must learn to live within our means” – but rarely as an opportunity to invest in a more prosperous future. In reality, our means are defined by politicians, often to reflect a specific political platform including how much and who our lawmakers are willing to tax.

Research has shown, confirmed, affirmed and reaffirmed that the best possible investment of our tax dollars—with the greatest monetary return—is in early childhood education. Research also shows that high school and college graduates will earn more, contribute more and experience greater life-time success than non-graduates. We will all be richer if we take seriously our constitutional responsibility to provide a high-quality and equitable education to all of our children, and if we logically invest in the fundamental support systems necessary for those children’s success.

We will not have the means to sustain our quality of life as a state or a country if we do anything less.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Excitement Builds

I'm feeling that sort of nervous excitement an athlete feels before a game, a student feels before a big test for which they are prepared, or what some of you might feel at 11:59 p.m. on Thanksgiving - just before the Black Friday frenzy begins. No, it's not for any of these reasons, however. Instead, it's because so many people will be coming through the school in the next week.

On Wednesday we are hosting Grandparents' Day at Harriet Bishop. I'm excited for the activities our teachers and students have planned when our grandparents and special friends come to the building. Cross-generational celebrations and learning opportunities bring past, present, and future together. It is fun to hear conversations that start, "When I went to school..." or "Did you do something like this when you went to school?" The school will be buzzing with excitement as we expect well over 800 people to visit us on Wednesday!

Next Monday is the first of two parent informational nights for families looking to join our school community next year. Word has definitely spread about the terrific and innovative things we are doing with our students at Harriet Bishop. Each year parents attend these nights filled with questions. Connecting with each of you is a passion of mine, so please don't hesitate to ask questions that night or anytime (952-707-3900)!