Browsing articles in "News from US"

What If You Could Change Your Child’s Future In One Hour Every Week?

Aug 22, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on What If You Could Change Your Child’s Future In One Hour Every Week?

An educator and entrepreneur believes he has found an untapped resource to help more struggling students succeed in reading. The secret? Families.

An educator and entrepreneur believes he has found an untapped resource to help more struggling students succeed in reading. The secret? Families.

On a summer afternoon, Ciara Whelan, a teacher at a New York City elementary school, knocks on the apartment door of one of her students in the Bronx.

Melissa, the student’s mother, welcomes her guest with a huge platter of snacks — shrimp rolls and dill dip. Melissa explains that this past school year — third grade — her daughter, Sapphira, fell behind in her reading because she got a phone and spent too much time messaging her friends on apps like TikTok. (We’re not using their last names to protect the student’s privacy.)

“I think it was not even about school itself — I think it was just distractions in class,” Melissa says.

Raising Kids Who Want To Read — Even During The Summer

This home visit is the kickoff to a reading program called Springboard Collaborative.

Springboard runs after-school and summer programs with struggling readers in low-income elementary schools in 12 cities across the U.S., including Girls Prep Lower East Side Elementary School, which Sapphira attends. Once each week, a family member — mom, dad, grandma, an older sibling — attends an hourlong workshop to help learn and practice the strategies students are learning in class.

“Parent engagement is the beating heart of our programs,” says founder Alejandro Gibes de Gac. “It’s the spirit in the cocktail.”

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Here’s why he believes this is so important. About 1 in 3 fourth-graders in the U.S. is reading below grade level, according to the test known as the Nation’s Report Card. This figure hasn’t changed for decades — not with more testing, not with the Common Core.

Gibes de Gac points out that children spend most of their waking hours outside the classroom. Like an orange, he likes to say, you can try to squeeze as much juice as you can out of that wedge that is class time, but there’s a lot of untapped potential in the remaining segments. Yet most parent-engagement efforts from schools, he argues, are lightweight, marginal — a fundraiser here, a game night there. He says few programs directly share teaching strategies from the classroom for a core subject.

Sapphira’s Springboard program is held in an upstairs classroom at Girls Prep Lower East Side, a charter school in Manhattan. A roomful of dads and moms are crammed into little chairs alongside their daughters. Everyone is wearing a blue T-shirt that says “SPRINGBOARD COLLABORATIVE” on the front. Jehron, Sapphira’s dad, sits with his daughter, holding an index card to help mark her place in the book Sideways Stories From Wayside School.

“You’re going too fast, OK?” he tells her. “Right now you need to slow down.”

After a few minutes of reading together, Whelan tells parents to ask students to summarize what is happening every few pages, to check comprehension. “If they can’t tell you, it doesn’t always mean the book is too hard,” she explains.

Building Teens Into Strong Readers — By Letting Them Teach

In the past seven years, Springboard has collected what Gibes de Gac calls, tongue-in-cheek, a “nauseating” amount of data to prove its effectiveness. For example: In just five weeks, on average, 3 out of 4 students get to the next reading level or even further. One district, Oakland Unified School District, had an independent evaluation that found that Springboard was one of its most effective enrichment investments.

The program also gives books to each child. Backpacks full of school supplies and tablets are offered as incentives for completing the whole program. The idea, Gibes de Gac explains, is for families to practice setting goals and forming new positive habits. When the program follows up six months later, the evaluations show that families are still reading together more than before.

Gibes de Gac started this program when he was only 22, and his personal experiences played a big role in its development. His father is a Chilean playwright who was imprisoned by Augusto Pinochet’s regime for a political play titled Libertad! Libertad!. His mother, a teacher, was born in Puerto Rico, and his parents met in Paris and subsequently toured with their own theater company.

When Gibes de Gac was in kindergarten, his parents came to the United States in search of better schools. It wasn’t always a friendly place to be. As an eighth-grader, he published a memoir of his experiences being bullied as an immigrant student. “I became passionate about the right of other people to a great education.”

He made it to Harvard University. Then Teach for America in Philadelphia. “I was teaching in a Puerto Rican neighborhood. I saw myself in my students. I saw my parents in their parents.

“It was more than just our shared language and complexion,” he explains. “It was the look! My students’ parents looked at their children with all the love, commitment and potential that any parent sees in their child. And yet my school and our system approached low-income parents as liabilities rather than assets.”

He said that the school system often treated his parents as “pushy immigrants with bad English.” Instead, he says, parents are “the single greatest underutilized resource to helping children who are struggling.”

This is true, he maintains, even if parents aren’t educated or fluent in English. About a third of Springboard parents don’t speak English as a first language, and many, like Sapphira’s parents, are immigrants.

To prove that families like his own could be powerful partners in learning, he held his first Springboard workshop eight years ago at the school where he taught in Philadelphia.

The Gap Between The Science On Kids And Reading, And How It Is Taught

At the first home visit, teachers ask for parents’ help. “The parent promises the child, ‘Here’s how much and how often I’m going to read with you together.’ ” And the child, in turn, promises to read on his or her own. That promise is powerful: On average, Gibes de Gac says, 91% of the families come to every single workshop.

That has been true for Jehron, who works as a private driver. Melissa, Sapphira’s mom, has been busy at her job as a nanny. The family commutes an hour and a half each way to Girls Prep.

“So far so good,” says Jehron. “She’s doing really well. I think she went up half a level.”

Sapphira is not so enthusiastic about spending her summer mornings inside. “It’s … OK.”

But, she admits, she can see the improvement too.

“When I’m reading, [it] sounds more better, every time … because I know most of the words.”

Springboard plans to scale up by franchising its model, with a goal of reaching 100,000 children in the next four years. It is also creating an app. Currently it’s running tests in different cities to see which parts of the program are essential and which could be cut if a particular school lacks the budget for them. For example, the free tablet and backpack, it has found, don’t seem to make much difference in the program’s success.

The key instead is the promise that parents make to their children.

Cambridge Engineers Set Out To Break Piano Playing Record

Aug 22, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Cambridge Engineers Set Out To Break Piano Playing Record

The Daily Mail reports they wanted to break the record for most people playing the piano at the same time. They had school kids design long mechanical fingers to allow 88 people to play at once.

Ride-Hailing Revolution Leaves Some People With Disabilities Behind

Aug 21, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Ride-Hailing Revolution Leaves Some People With Disabilities Behind

Disability rights advocates say transportation giants Lyft and Uber are not doing enough to ensure equal transportation access as required under federal law.

Poems For Billie Holiday And Bessie Smith From The Blair House Collective

Aug 21, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Poems For Billie Holiday And Bessie Smith From The Blair House Collective

In the fall of 2018, Adia Victoria approached Ciona Rouse and Caroline Randall Williams about coming together for a group reading to celebrate her work as a blues musician. After attempts to meet at various locations all over town, the three women found themselves at Caroline’s house on Blair Blvd. The house is old, high-ceilinged, wild and bought and paid for by another black woman writer — novelist Alice Randall.

Billie Holiday - Turning The Tables

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When Adia, Ciona and Caroline sat down on the black velvet couch in the Blair House living room, a sisterhood was born. Together the three women have worked to number a series of creative projects together. The first, a series of poems devoted to Rosie, a blues woman of their own conception, inspired them to start thinking about the living, breathing, earthbound women who inspired their archetypal Rosie. Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith were the natural next thought.

Each member of the collective has written two poems — one for Billie, one for Bessie — and “plaited” a third. The Plait Poem, as we call it, consists of three stanzas. The first stanza is made up of lines from Adia and Caroline’s poems, selected and arranged — or plaited — by Ciona. The second stanza is made up of lines from Ciona and Caroline’s poems, selected and plaited by Adia. The third stanza is made up of lines from Adia and Ciona’s poems, selected and plaited by Caroline. The exercise of trusting your sisters to find new ways to lift your words and share your stories is a hallmark of the Blair House Collective’s collaborative work and spirit. —The Blair House Collective

Billie Poems

“HOLIDAY”
by Ciona Rouse

Lady dresses herself in his name and gilds it

        even though he made himself a stranger.

Lady claims truth from her larynx

        looks the man in the eye, calls out his strange

bedfellows. Although the dart of her lips rise
         at dawn, the day is blue and glows something strange.

A lady’s father is killed today the way they
killed her father then. Do you hear the strain gently

pulse in her throat? Lady, too, is killed
        
then, black and restrained, just

the way a black lady still holds

        and releases and dies today.

“Billie”
by Adia Victoria

Lady placed

just so onstage

gardenias splayed open

displayed mid-scream as crown upon her head

their impossible white

temporal, yes, yet–

by images are myths

made to rest

the lady remains both

siren and silent, wired

upright, electric in our memory
still.

i wonder after the final note

dragged out riding the collapse

of your breath

do you release rough

arms and straining breast in the snatch

of solitude you could collect

when the curtain falls?

do you ease out from under

those gardenias?

do you smile at the petals

so dead-ended, now touched

by spreading brown?

“Treble”
by Caroline Randall Williams

This red in the bone / this blood
in the home / this / high / yellow / moan
oh its violent / all white / everything / is violent
yes violent / yes / light / skin only mean
one thing / trouble

trouble to get / trouble to wear / a hard
story / a half mirror / this skin / mean
my blood / trouble / a high /in the voice
treble / junk for the high / trouble/ get white
in the head / it’s violent

do you see / this sweet brown
in my hand / can you see me / seeing you
see me dark my skin to play
detroit / can you call me a lady
for the treble hours / those high white
notes of daylight / trouble / strain
my vein / for that treble/

                                       /it’s violent/
so I get alright / with my all white / hey

can you hold that mirror / and my blues
just this high / yellow / arm trying
to get some on purpose junk in the blood

Billie Holiday photographed by Leigh Wiener

Billie Holiday photographed by Leigh Wiener

Bessie Poems

“SMITH”
by Ciona Rouse

“Bessie”
by Adia Victoria

Say she a well

reaching through blood-watered

earth

Say her roots run

South to grapple against all

that red, red,

red war-blasted clay

Say she drown loose

sister graves packed still

inside Jim Crow fist

Say she rock awake

a whole shock of brown

seed scattered the whole

South over.

“Altar”
by Caroline Randall Williams

Teach me how to come to my own river
I said, Lord, let me get rough, like Bessie,
I said God Jesus sent me some of that Stop
singing to spit
     that     unfettered flow
                                                                   I don’t know
which rules I follow
that I really believe in —             Bessie, let me be wild.
                                                                          Let there be gin.
Let my body be its own prayer,
myself an altar to myself.     I’m in my sin
I am of God   and                  I’m in my sin

–come let me deliver me.

Plait Poem for Billie and Bessie

from “Billie,” “Treble,” “Bessie,” and “Altar”
plaited by Ciona Rouse

Lady placed just so on stage
This red in the bone / this / high / yellow / moan
oh its violent

Say she a well. Say her roots
grapple against all that red red red

Say she rough, like Bessie
Be wild / Be gin / Be myself an altar
I’m in my sin

Ease out from under those gardenias

from “HOLIDAY,” “Treble,” “SMITH,” and “Altar”
plaited by Adia Victoria

from “HOLIDAY,” “Billie,” “SMITH,” and “Bessie”
plaited by Caroline Randall Williams

Pakistan Tries To Stop Militants From Benefiting From Animal Hides

Aug 20, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Pakistan Tries To Stop Militants From Benefiting From Animal Hides

One way for Pakistani charities to raise funds is by collecting animal hides after Eid holiday meals, and selling them to tanneries. But militants also raise money by gathering animal skins.

NYPD Officer, Who Used Banned Chokehold On Eric Garner, Is Fired

Aug 20, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on NYPD Officer, Who Used Banned Chokehold On Eric Garner, Is Fired

NPR’s Noel King talks to Cindy Rodriguez of member station WNYC and legal scholar Paul Butler about whether the family of Eric Garner has received justice for his death in 2014.

Tenants Pushed Out As Developers Buy Single-Room-Occupancy Properties

Aug 19, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Tenants Pushed Out As Developers Buy Single-Room-Occupancy Properties

Single room occupancy housing, or SROs, have been a crucial place to live for low-income renters. The units are being threatened by developers looking for more profitable buildings.

World Cafe Nashville: A New Music Roundup

Aug 19, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on World Cafe Nashville: A New Music Roundup

Hear Lillie Mae’s “You’ve Got Other Girls for That” in this New Music Roundup

Misael Arriaga/Courtesy of the artist


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Misael Arriaga/Courtesy of the artist

Hear Lillie Mae’s “You’ve Got Other Girls for That” in this New Music Roundup

Misael Arriaga/Courtesy of the artist

In the pop music world, artists’ windows of opportunity to break through seem shorter than ever. As quickly as they make names for themselves, they’re pushed aside by the next big batch of next big things, whose use of social media is even more savvy, up-to-the-minute and meme-worthy. Nashville is one destination for newbies seeking industry support in launching mainstream careers, but it’s just as much a place where music-makers steadily sustain themselves, and roll with the changes over decades, and where those who’ve spent time in supporting roles build on their professional reputations as they step out front. Here’s a roundup of new and recent releases from artists in the midst of the long haul.

Chuck Mead

Chuck Mead, a veteran of hopped-up country music since his early ’90s days with the youthful, knowledgeable revivalists BR549, has never felt the need to disconnect his sharp, roots-minded craft from its red-blooded rhythmic engine. In other words, he’s not looking to mellow out. After celebrating a historic Nashville studio space earlier this decade, he’s now made his Memphis album, Close To Home, whose track “Big Bear In the Sky” hurtles, lurches and rumbles beneath his vigorous, hiccupping jive.

Sarah Potenza

Sarah Potenza logged plenty of blues-belting club gigs and a profile-boosting stint competing on The Voice before she started making albums of her own, beginning with 2016’sMonster, whose soul-pop sound had brassy, blue-collar spirit. But it’s the follow-up Road to Rome (and its accompanying visuals) that more vividly captures Potenza’s earthy-yet-imperial displays of outsized attitude and campy theatricality. During “Diamond,” she teases, talks tough and testifies in the name of self-love.

Adam Chaffins

On paper, aspects of Adam Chaffins’ path are as traditional as it gets for contemporary string bandperformers; he’s a product of rural Eastern Kentucky who’s logged a lot of time as a bassist in major bluegrass bands. But he’s also the sort of musician who’s attuned to the potential sophistication of downhome forms—the jazzy complexity and expressive depth of bluegrass and country. Still taking gigs as a Nashville-based sideman, he only began releasing solo work last year. His recent billowy, rhythmic, unplugged rendition of the Keith Whitley gem “I’m Over You” artfully captures transparent denial and agonized pining.

Amelia White

Over the last couple of decades, East Nashville fixture Amelia White has built a folk-pop catalog that’s as unfussy as it is consistent in quality, and full of insinuating hooks, slyly sleepy singing and lean, jangly backing. “Rhythm of the Rain,” the title cut of the album she released in January, looks at the current political frenzy from a seasoned, bohemian remove.

Stephcynie

Stephcynie thoroughly honed her vocal chops — through church singing, a formal, New York music education and a few years hustling as a Nashville pro-for-hire (whose gig load once included a wedding band) — before fleshing out her identity as a solo artist. Her earliest releases spanned a torchy-to-rootsy range of guitar-driven singer-songerwriter pop, but with last October’s I Don’t Love You EP, she settled into an approach reliant on glistening synth textures and smooth, neo-soul expressions sensuality and self-determination. Its title track is a showcase of fluttery, rueful rumination and fully centered performing presence.

Shannon Sanders

Shannon Sanders has seen the Nashville music business from every side, and that’s not simply because of his proximity to the action as a lifelong resident. A sometime-front man as well as a pro songwriter, keyboardist, producer and choir arranger, he’s been called in on projects spanning RB, neo-soul, country, gospel, roots and pop by acts who either operate out of Nashville or just use it as a recording destination. He’s grown acquainted with so many working singers that he organized the Nashville Urban Choir, a group that’s brought a mass choir sound to awards shows and albums, and released “Fight On,” a slice of anthemic message pop powered by a martial, hip-hop-inspired drum cadence.

Lillie Mae

Lillie Mae Rische was already holding down gigs at tourist-targeted Nashville honky-tonks as a pre-teen, the singing, fiddle-playing kid sister in a family group that eventually weathered a dead-end major label deal. She entered Jack White’s carefully curated orbit in her twenties; first she backed him on albums and tours, then releasing her first solo album as Lillie Mae on his Third Man Records. Rische kept taking on work as a side person while also performing her own stuff and expanding her repertoire. On her upcoming album Other Girls, and its title track, she’s brought pointed perspective to her lyrics and airily arresting Laurel Canyon mystique to her melodies and arrangements.

Sunday Politics

Aug 18, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Sunday Politics

We have an update on the political stories of the past week.

Pokémon World Championships In Washington, D.C.

Aug 18, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Pokémon World Championships In Washington, D.C.

It’s the final day of the 2019 Pokémon World Championships. The world’s best Pokémon players are competing in Washington, D.C., for a share of $500,000 in prize money.

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