Community Engagement Committee - Fairfax County, VA
News from the Coalition of the Silence

0_0_0_0_187_139_csupload_63360322_largeCOTS WELCOMES FCPS’ NEW SUPERINTENDENT DR. KAREN GARZA
COTS board members Tina Hone and Lolita Mancheno-Smoak had the privilege of meeting with FCPS’ new Superintendent, Dr. Karen Garza.  We were impressed by Dr. Garza’s openness, candor and, most of all, her intuitive understanding of the challenges facing COTS kids and her laser focus on solutions to address these challenges.  COTS is excited by the prospect of working with Dr. Garza on behalf of COTS kids.  Please extend your welcome to Dr. Garza and share your suggestions with her by completing the survey found here:
The first school board meeting for the new school year is TOMORROW – Thursday, September 12 at 8:00 PM in the Luther Jackson Middle School Auditorium, 3020 Gallows Road.  THE BOARD WILL BE VOTING ON CHANGES TO TJ’S ADMISSION POLICY.  Please try to attend. The proposed changes are small but potentially meaningful in the long term.  For example, the amended policy emphasizes science and technology before math – consistent with the founding purpose and NAME of the school. Second, language that created bright line “minimum standards” which fostered an overemphasis on standardized test math scores (which were then gamed through a virtual industry of “drill and kill” test prep factories), would be changed to “rigorous standards.”  COTS agrees that admission to TJ should be based on merit.  However, COTS categorically rejects the idea that admission to TJ should only be determined by the highest test scores.  MERIT IS ABOUT MORE THAN JUST STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES.  The most promising proposed change is the reintroduction of a “holistic approach” to admission.  Be clear: nothing about this ‘holistic approach” is directed towards increasing diversity in TJ admissions.  However, by using a holistic approach to admission, the TJ admission team will be better able to assess which students are not just good at math, but who are truly passionate about science, technology and engineering.  While COTS views these proposed changes as favorable steps, it continues to stand firmly behind the allegations raised in its Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights Complaint and will continue to aggressively pursue a final resolution to ensure that qualified Black and Latino students have fair access to TJ and the pipeline that feeds into it.

Posted on September 11th, 2013

10 things you need to know about Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month
As we prepare to celebrate this year’s Hispanic Heritage month, here are some facts about its origin. 
In September 1968 Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, to beobserved during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. The observance was expanded by Ronald Reagan in 1988 to a month long celebration (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15). Hispanic Heritage Month was enacted into law on August 17, 1988. During that month America celebrates the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. 
1. September 15 to October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. 

2. Hispanic Heritage Month coincides with the celebrations of Independence Dayin many Latin American countries—including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (September 15), Mexico (September 16), and Chile (September 18).

3. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hispanics make up 16.3% of the national population, or 48.4 million. In Los Angeles County, this number jumps to 47.7%. The highest concentration of Hispanics is in California and Texas.

4. In the interest of being politically correct, many cities, especially in California, have renamed it “Latino Heritage Month.” Debate has centered over which term is more politically correct.

5. The celebration was first authorized in 1968, when President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating “National Hispanic Heritage Week.”

6. President Ronald Reagan expanded on President Johnson’s proclamation by enacting “Hispanic Heritage Month” into public law in 1988.  

7 Some “Famous Firsts” include Antonia Coello Novello, who was both the first Hispanic and the first woman U.S. Attorney General  (1990-1993); Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice (2009); and the first Hispanic 4-star general, Richard E Cavazos (1976).

8 Many states offer special events for Hispanic Heritage all month long. These are wonderful – and often free! – learning opportunities for both educators and  students . Check your state or local county’s website to see if any events are going on near you.

9. While official use of the term “Hispanic” dates back to the 1970 U.S. census, the term “Latino” was officially adopted in 1997. In the United States, “Latinos” or “Hispanics” are defined as “a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.”

10. Hispanic Heritage Month provides a great opportunity to teach students about other cultures. There are many online resources with ideas on integrating it into your lesson-planning. Other useful sites include Florida DOE’s list of recommended books, helpfully divided by grade level; the Library of Congress’Hispanic Reading Room for great photographs and video footage; and for the more adventurous, field trip possibilities abound with the National Park Service’s list of historic properties significant to Hispanics.

Posted on September 4th, 2013

Back to School at Fairfax County Public Schools

Summer is over, and kids are back to school today.  There are many news to report on as it pertains to our Public School System.  For one, we have a brand new Superintendent, Karen Garza, who is intent to bring about much needed reforms to the school system.  Reducing the achievement gap in the minority and disabled student population is one of them, and many parents, including myself, are very excited about that.  Read from Ms. Garza herself what her plans for reform are in an article published in the latest “My FCPS Family” newsletter. The Washington Post features an article today on her vision for the school district.  What are your thoughts?  Are you ready for a brand new school year?  Happy Back-to-School!

Posted on September 3rd, 2013

Is America Still the Land of Labor?

On this Labor Day, it is a good time to reflect on status of the economy and employment in our nation.  Are we still the land of opportunity and labor?  The Heritage Foundation explores this subject in this very compelling blog.  Read away and enjoy Labor Day!
For all the talk these days of how to revive our supposedly moribund American Dream, it took a college dropout-turned-actor to state the obvious.“I believe that opportunity looks a lot like work,” Ashton Kutcher recently said at the Teen Choice Awards. “I never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”

Posted on September 2nd, 2013

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