At the end of this summer, I will be completing my last senior requirement for graduation from Arizona State University in Public Policy with a concentration in Leadership.& Management. For this last class, I will be focusing on an open project that must impact the community in a positive way and references only academic texts, professional journals and research using legal and journalistic databases.
I created this policy memo back in 2016 as part of a public policy class project as an overarching proposal to preventing human trafficking. It evolved and became xhproject.org. My theory is that if we weave STEAM projects with humanitarian based problem solving, at a very early age, we will be able to empower a generation to successfully overcome the adverse or traumatic life events that they will inevitably be faced with, regardless of their environment, and without resorting to exploitation, coercion, or violence against themselves or others. I intend to make this a longitudinal study that follows the impact of the programs that include comprehensive humanitarian based instruction alongside STEAM curriculum versus traditional curriculum alone to see if the humanitarian based STEAM projects enables students to rise above life altering circumstances that could derail their academic and emotional growth. Many schools are beginning programs like this every day and I am beyond eager to document the results.
I will be modeling my project after Dr. Valentin Fuster’s research for heart disease in The Resilient Heart. I think my biggest challenge will be keeping track of the students in the long term.
If you are interested in helping or want to know more, please don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org or message me.
Proposed Sample Policy Memo for the pilot program:
Humanity 101 as a foundation program for the underserved student populations via the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in Pennsylvania
Diana L. Ortiz-Beaudet
Arizona State University
TO: Pedro A. Rivera, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education
FROM: Diana Ortiz-Beaudet, Public Policy student and advocate for education
DATE: September 27, 2016
SUBJECT: Humanity 101 as a Foundation Program for the underserved student populations via the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
Highlighted in the PA Department of Education, ESSA Workgroup Meeting presentation (2016), “…significant gaps for traditionally underserved populations and students in high-poverty districts.” Through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, referred to as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), we now have an opportunity to address this gap through Humanity 101. This innovative program, has the potential to improve motivation, independent learning, and break the cycles of at-risk behavior in underserved student populations. History has proven that one person’s ability to feel concern for others that extends across all boundaries of race and religion (McFarland, 2013), can change the world; Cesar Chavez, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. to name a few. The program of Humanity 101 aims to do just this; teach the significance of identifying with and caring for others regardless of the constructs that divide us, by integrating daily educational life of at risk students with the educational life of students from around the world.
In a 2016 article, “Why School Reform Fails”, student motivation was cited as the leading cause of less than stellar improvement rates within the education system (Samuelson) despite all major reforms in decades’ past. Humanity 101 would be able to address these issues in ways that have never been attempted before, beginning with teacher led collaboration problem solving with students in classrooms and communities from around the world, via live feeds. Through this global educational partnership, a universal sense of compassion, companionship, and humanitarianism is created.
Part D, Section 1401, discusses Prevention and Intervention Programs for children and youth who are neglected, delinquent, or at risk (USDoE, 2015). In section (b) Contracts and Grants – “A local educational agency may use a subgrants received under this subpart to carry out activities described under paragraphs (1) through (7) of subsection (a) directly or through subgrants, contracts, or cooperative agreements.” (USDoE, 2015).
Piloting the program would begin in the districts with the greatest need based on performance data. Starting with the bottom 5% of performers with graduation rates 67% or less, 7% of their Title I funding can be set aside for school improvement (Klein, 2016). The Humanity 101 program would fall under this category. This approach is similar to the documented successful results of a three year study that followed the impacts of targeted, “multifaceted, scalable, community-based empowerment strategy focused on mitigating or preventing ACEs” (APPI & MPR, 2016).
Training to teach the Humanity 101 program can also be an opportunity for teacher led professional growth (Fennell, 2016). In the Title II section, training is addressed, and 95% of the Title II $2.5 billion goes directly to school districts. The funds can be used for notably updated definitions of, ‘professional development for teachers of every subject as well as all other school staff, from principals to librarians to paraprofessionals’ (Fennell, 2016). Paraprofessionals interested in expanding breadth and experience would qualify for funded training.
I look forward to discussing the details of implementing this program on your next trip to Harrisburg. Do not hesitate to send me a list of questions or further research you may need before our meeting so I may be better prepared to assist you in your decision making.
APPI. (2016). The Washington State ACE’s Public-Private Initiative. A collaboration of private, community and public entities working together to learn how communities can prevent and address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Retrieved from http://www.appi-wa.org/evaluation/evaluation-reports
Fennell, M. (2016). What Educators Need To Know About ESSA. Educational Leadership, 73(9), 62-65.
Klein, A. (2016). States, Districts Will Share More Power Under ESSA. Education Digest, 81(8), 4-10.
MPR (Mathematica Policy Research). (2016). New Study Shows Communities Can Reduce the Affects of Adverse Childhood Experiences. August 9, 2016. Retreived from https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/news/appi
McFarland, S., Brown, D., & Webb, M. (2013). Identification with All Humanity as a Moral Concept and Psychological Construct. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22(3), 194-198. doi:10.1177/0963721412471346
PA Department of Education. (2016). ESSA Work Group Meeting #1: Setting the stage. [PowerPoint document]. Retrieved from http://www.education.pa.gov/Pages/Every-Student-Succeeds-Act.aspx#tab-1
Samuelson, R. J. (2010). Why School ‘Reform’ Fails. Newsweek, 156(11), 21.
U.S. Department of Education. (2015). Every Student Succeeds Act (Section 1401). Washington, DC: Government Publishing Office Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-114s1177enr/pdf/BILLS-114s1177enr.pdf