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May
22
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Education & Poverty
While wages for the vast majority have stagnated or declined, the “top 1 percent” in the U.S. get a lot of attention. Why do we care so much about skyrocketing income and so little about the children who inhabit the opposite end of the wealth spectrum? MORE

Apr
07
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Early Childhood
What if you could invest today knowing you’d make $12.90 on every dollar down the road? I'm not a gambler, but quality early childhood education is a good bet for everyone. MORE

Mar
19
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Early Childhood
Even before babies try to talk, they hear the sounds of language and words in context from their families and childcare providers. Those words become a foundation for their first language, and later, the foundation for reading and writing. MORE

Mar
12
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Education & Poverty
Watch young children building with blocks. They learn quickly that towers fall without support. Working with families is the best way to make the early learning years count for children. MORE

Feb
19
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Early Childhood
Last time, I talked about why early childhood education gets strong support from law enforcement officers. Why? Let me show you two well-researched and respected programs. You'll find plenty of evidence, confirming what the law enforcement community says. MORE

Feb
12
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Early Childhood
This may surprise you: Law enforcement officers are some of the strongest supporters of early childhood education. Yes, they know the value of quality early childhood education because they see what the lack of it does to kids who grow up in poverty. I was somewhat surprised when my colleagues from juvenile justice expressed the same support 25 years ago. MORE

Feb
05
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Early Childhood
When it comes to young children, poverty is especially mean. These indicators reflect the same educational challenges facing families in our North and South Omaha programs. Recently, I heard a story about a little boy in one of our programs – I'll call him Aaron. MORE

Jan
27
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Early Childhood
As we celebrated the opening of the new Learning Community Center of North Omaha, I especially enjoyed Family Day. Seeing children and families enjoying all the learning activities seemed far away from the stress that comes with poverty – but that's why we're here in North Omaha. MORE

Dec
16
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Early Childhood
While early childhood poverty grows in Douglas and Sarpy counties, strong programs like Educare help kids in poverty thrive nationwide. Because it uses research findings from highly successful early childhood programs, the Educare model is proven to help children start school ready to learn. MORE

Nov
18
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Education & Poverty
To our partners and supporters, don’t let recent headlines discourage you. The fact is that Learning Community superintendents support our programs. They know your work has a measurable impact in North Omaha, South Omaha and in school-based elementary programs throughout the metro area. MORE

Oct
25
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Family Learning
Our Greater Omaha community works better together. If you saw a recent KETV news segment about the Learning Community Center of South Omaha, you know we are working with parents to improve their English language skills. MORE

Oct
14
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Education & Poverty
Not everyone realizes it requires the about same basic reading, writing and math proficiencies to enter a two-year skilled trade program, as it does to enter a four-year degree program. We should expect every young person to attain some kind of post-secondary education, and we need to do more to support students with an aptitude for the skilled trades. MORE

Oct
06
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Early Childhood
Educators nationwide are starting to understand. We need to involve families in their child’s early learning to have results that last. MORE

Sep
24
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Teaching Quality
We expect new teachers to start their first day meeting all the responsibilities of experienced teachers, but the time they have had to practice with close, supportive supervision is limited. MORE

Sep
17
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Early Childhood
I enjoy speaking in the community – neighborhood associations, service clubs and employer groups – to people interested in how early childhood education works for kids in poverty. MORE

Sep
02
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Early Childhood
The votes are in. A new national poll shows strong public support for increased early childhood education across all political parties. MORE

Aug
24
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Teaching Quality
With school starting, it is a good time to remember what parents and researchers already know – a great teacher makes all the difference. MORE

Aug
06
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Education & Poverty
A country with severe poverty teaches educators around the globe. A new university study confirms early childhood education helps kids living in poverty grow into successful, contributing adults. MORE

Jul
21
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Education & Poverty
We know growing up in the harshness of poverty can interfere with learning in and out of the classroom. The fact is this: Education comes second when families are suffering, and this hurts a child’s ability to achieve in school. MORE

Jul
14
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Early Childhood
Research is clear – spending time reading as a family is one of the best things a parent can do for their young children's educational future. MORE

Jun
30
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Teaching Quality
I’ve written before about poverty growing at a faster rate. Knowing this, we need more teachers prepared to meet the educational needs of children and families facing the challenges of poverty. MORE

May
05
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Family Learning
I watched our first class of parents graduate from Family Literacy classes at the Learning Community Center of South Omaha (LCCSO) recently. These parents truly want to help their children do well in school, as shown by the two years of hard work they dedicated to Family Literacy classes. MORE

Apr
15
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Teaching Quality
The Federal government’s use of accountability as the primary lever for improving performance began in the Clinton administration and accelerated mightily with President Bush and No Child Left Behind. MORE

Mar
31
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Early Childhood
Early learning makes a big difference. However, about half of children in the U.S. start school behind in learning. We need to do more for young children and the caring adults in their lives. MORE

Mar
19
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Early Childhood
If you think the jury is still out on the potential for early childhood programs to help kids do well in school, I encourage you to reconsider. MORE

Mar
04
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Early Childhood
Despite increasing research showing quality early childhood education helps children do better in school, some taxpayers may be asking why state dollars should go to support other families’ children. MORE

Feb
24
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Education & Poverty
The United States is in the middle of a divisive, confusing conversation about the government’s role in healthcare. Educators need to pay attention because that conversation will affect how America deals with education in the future. MORE

Feb
10
3 comments
Education & Poverty
This article, which first appeared in The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog, provides great perspective on changing cultures in our nation’s public schools. Poverty is increasing in America. As educators and policymakers, we need to do things differently or teachers will have increasingly less time to teach. MORE

Jan
16
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Achievement Gap
Compared to other developed countries, U.S. students rank about the same as years past - about average. The latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results found 15-year-old students in the U.S. scored slightly above average in reading, slightly below average in math and average in science. MORE

Jan
03
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Early Childhood
We are fortunate to have a talented community of educators working with families in poverty throughout the greater Omaha metro area. Still, only 63 percent of fourth graders who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch in our community are proficient readers. MORE

Dec
20
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Education & Poverty
Whatever your opinion on “income distribution,” the number of families in poverty is growing faster than our ability to handle it. And with that growth comes the associated educational challenges. MORE

Dec
13
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Early Childhood
Don't be lulled into thinking we're anywhere close to where we need to be. Minority students are doing better in our public schools, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2011-2012 report by the Institute for Education Sciences. MORE

Dec
06
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Early Childhood
Most educators have seen the evidence on early childhood and are starting to buy in. For children in poverty, early childhood education means working with caring adults to teach simple but important concepts. We've been taking the simple things for granted for far too long. MORE

Oct
18
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Family Learning
We’ve reached an important milestone. After years of planning and hard work, the Learning Community Center of South Omaha is open. With Family Literacy classes now in year two, community partners have much to celebrate. This is the first of two community centers in the Omaha-metro area focused on supporting parents to improve student achievement. Years in education have shown me that parents in poverty are not unlike parents outside it. They care about their children and want to help them do well in school. And they’ll work hard to do so. We have learned that there may be some many obstacles thrown at these families... MORE

Sep
19
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Education & Poverty
This study from the National Academy of Sciences proves it: Home visits work. By visiting with families in their home setting, parents connect with their child’s teachers outside of the classroom. The result is typically a more open, comfortable conversation about some of the better ways to help a child learn and family routines that may help a child succeed later in school. Home visits reinforce the importance of family interaction. MORE

Aug
29
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Early Childhood
With the Coordinating Council vote to move forward with design and construction of the new Learning Community Center of North Omaha, we take a bold step in a small geographic area with two elementary schools. MORE

Aug
16
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Early Childhood
If we want children in poverty to do better in school, we need to support the people who care about them most. That’s the message in the latest video from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. MORE

Jul
26
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Education & Poverty
Advances are being made to integrate digital games as a supplemental tool to regular classroom lessons. MORE

Jul
16
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Achievement Gap
A new study by the Council on Foreign Affairs shows how education allows the U.S. to compete economically and also gives a new angle on the effects of the widening achievement gap – weakened national security. MORE

Jul
10
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Teaching Quality
A 2008 study, co-authored by Margaret Burchinal, has been a great resource for the Learning Community here in Omaha. The CLASS tool is used to evaluate classroom quality. MORE

Jun
11
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Early Childhood
Early Childhood education matters because kids are the future to our local and national economies. MORE

May
27
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Performance Indicators
As the Learning Community works towards improving education for metro-area children living in poverty, I want to weigh in on what should be common ground related to the Common Core. MORE

May
24
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Performance Indicators
Teachers, school districts, and more recently, states and now the nation, have always quietly struggled with what is supposed to be taught in our classrooms. MORE

May
14
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Achievement Gap
Recently, The New York Times published a column by Stanford University education and sociology researcher, Sean Reardon, about achievement disparities between rich children and poor children. Reardon has been conducting educational research for some time. He specifically probes the impact of racial/ethnic and socioeconomics in student achievement. MORE

May
06
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Early Childhood
With poverty increasing, we should be concerned about engaging parents of newborns and helping them shape brain development in simple, positive ways and working with childcare providers. MORE

May
01
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Early Childhood
The United States is behind on developing a culture of caring for children at birth; the U.S. is slow on embracing early childhood education. MORE

Apr
04
2 comments
Performance Indicators
In order to hold our educators, administrators and legislators accountable, we need “indicators.” At the state level, it is important to pick a handful of state indicators that tell us how the state system is working. It is unnecessary to pick through the thousands of pieces of evidence for the performance of thousands of students. Common indicators are vague and don’t provide us with enough information to be useful. MORE

Mar
18
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Teaching Quality
For the last few years, “accountability” has been a central term in policy conversations regarding improving education outcomes. But accountability in education is still a relatively new policy arena for state government and for the Feds. Not long ago, education was all local, with no thought that anyone else had a role in accountability. Evidence of student success was largely the province of teachers. When policy leaders began to realize that education was an economic issue, not just a social one, education moved to the state and federal policy platforms that were formerly occupied only by advocates for civil rights for minorities, the poor and disabled students. Now it is about all kids, not just “those” kids. There has been resulting confusion for the last 20 years about who is accountable for what and to whom. While there are thousands of pieces of evidence with regard to student performance, we have not been clear on which ones ought to matter, to whom they should matter, and who is responsible. There was, and still is, a tendency to assume that the teacher is responsible for all of it, illustrating a lack of profound respect for teaching, as I discussed in my previous post. It’s assumed that everyone else - from the principal to the president of the United States - just supervises. We should think a little differently. Instead, a useful principle may be “shared accountability.” The key question is, “What support is necessary to achieve the desired student performance?” Certainly teachers and parents have the first line of responsibility, but who supports them? Who supports the administrators? Who supports the districts? Shouldn’t accountability for performance be shared across all of these? If we acknowledge that governors and legislators have a role with responsibility for economic indicators like unemployment, why are they not partly responsible for education indicators? MORE

Jan
25
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Teaching Quality
Much of education current reform misses the mark because it does not include a profound respect for teaching. Reforms often attempt changes in school governance, or try re-arranging school schedules, or they call for all manner of exhortations and sanctions to improve school performance. Those reforms seldom result in sustained improvements. MORE

Jan
10
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The purpose of this blog is to post some reflections on our education system, so we may join the national discussion. My posts won’t always be related directly to Nebraska, but will focus on education, the role of community and of course, the Learning Community. Join the discussion with your feedback – perhaps we’ll learn something new as a result. Keep checking back for more posts! MORE

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Ted Stilwill,

Learning Community CEO, leads evidence-based programs to challenge the impact of poverty in the Omaha metro area. From classroom teacher to high-level administrator, Ted believes in student performance data and meaningful innovation. FULL BIO