Center for Educational Opportunity Seeks Post Doctorate Research Fellow

If you are looking for a post doctoral career opportunity, the Center for Educational Opportunity is looking for you! The Center for Educational Opportunity (CEO), via a grant from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Center for Advancing Opportunity, seeks to hire a Limited Term Assistant Professor/Post Doctorate Research Fellow. The successful candidate may teach two classes during the academic year, coordinate research with Director of the CEO and provide service support to the CEO, among other duties. For more information, contact or APPLY HERE.

National Home Education Research Institute Examines Barriers to Homeschooling In Fragile Communities

By: Dr. Brian Ray

Many millions of parents now find themselves as school-teachers-at-home during this serious health concern and are finding out that they, as parents, are teachers, by definition. Parents should relax and enjoy their children and realize that relationship and learning are more valuable than “following the institutional school curriculum.” 

Parents, read aloud to your child for 15 minutes per day and have them read aloud to you something they choose for 15 minutes per day. Discuss what you read. Have your child write a letter per day to grandma, the zookeeper, or the store-owner. Help him or her do a math lesson, at whatever level he or she is, then move on to the next.

There are many “free” online learning resources that are not dependent on public and private school systems that homeschoolers have been effectively using for decades. Go on long walks with your child. Remember to relax and enjoy learning with your children and not try to duplicate institutional school in your home.

If your child cannot yet read, go online and find a simple and enjoyable phonics program, and do it together. You can do, in home-based education, generally in two hours with a child what it takes about 6 hours for him or her to accomplish in six hours in traditional school.  Although many families are not able at this time to go to libraries, museums, and family co-ops (co-operatives) as homeschoolers usually do, the barriers to homeschooling are coming down across the United States and around the world as parents find out that they are competent to teach and do not necessarily need government-provided curriculum, state-licensed teachers, and $12,000 of tax dollars for their children to learn and enjoy learning.

Parents who have been forced to teach at home are learning many of the things that the last 35 years of homeschooling have brought to the table.
For more insights, view Dr. Ray’s recent interview on WGN9 Chicago

The Center for Educational opportunity has funded research for Brian Ray, Ph.D., founder of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) to survey and talk with parents in fragile communities, with special attention given to African Americans in Georgia to determine and understand the barriers to homeschooling for them and identify factors that would mitigate these barriers.

During COVID-19 Crisis School Closures Affect Everyone

Albany, Dougherty County, Georgia, located in the Southwest region of the state, is home to 90,000 citizens. Despite its population, per capita, the city has been profoundly affected by the coronavirusThe county has the highest number of incidents statewide. As a result, citizens have been told to shelter in place. The disruption of  life as we know it has been absolute. 

The education sector accounts for many jobs in the region and school closures nearly touch everyone. Albany State University has an enrollment of 6,001with 2,844 employees. Dougherty County has a total of 13 schools with 14,549 students enrolled in the public school system and over 1,000 employees. Albany Technical College has an enrollment of 3,640 students with 142 employees. Turner Job Corps Center serves 732 students and 300 employees.

All University System of Georgia schools, including Albany State University, have been closed and a number of employees are currently working under telecommute agreements. Classes, which began March 30th, have been placed online for the remaining of the semester. Faculty and staff members are not to return to campus until further notice. Students were given dates to remove their personal belongings from all dormitories. 

While school officials from K-12 and higher education have painstakingly sought ways to assist students, parents and employees as they move from face-to-face instruction to a digital modality, sending home packets of work and troubleshooting distance learning and telework plans, one can only imagine the long-lasting effect on students and families who were already in survival mode before this crisis.

Many students do not have computers in their homes. In rural counties, access to broadband internet is limitedThe Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative has worked to identify areas without broadband to assist with broadband planning efforts, mapping by county households and businesses served and unserved.

“With Georgia’s schools closed through April 24, students who lack internet access are at risk of falling behind,” said Dr. Caitlin Dooley, Georgia Department of Education Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning in a recent Georgia Public Broadcasting interview. “One of the biggest challenges coming to light during the pandemic is the internet connectivity barriers facing rural areas of the state. Internet connectivity for Georgia’s students and teachers is more important than ever.”

Given the reliance most families place on public education to teach their children, many of them feel overwhelmed and challenged to teach their children at home, even with technology tools at their disposal. Clearly, children who were already experiencing an educational achievement gap will be even more impacted by the loss of classroom instruction time and the “homework gap” created by distance learning.

Beyond instruction, school rooms are an essential part of the safety net for many poor children who receive free and reduced lunch and other social benefits. In Dougherty County, 60 percent of all students receive free lunch and 9 percent of  Dougherty County SchoolSystem pay $.40 per day for lunch. School closures affect fragile families more than any of us could ever know.

While the government decides what types of financial aid each American receives, now is the time that we must all pull together, even while practicing “social distance,” to aid our neighbors who may be in need. Albany, Dougherty County has experienced crises before, during the devastation of Hurricane Michael and the 100-year flood of 1994, both of which have left indelible marks. Like then, this is our collective battle to wage and win.

Researcher Evaluates Teach for America Retention Efforts in Fragile Communities

Teach for America (TFA) has long-sought to improve schools and educational outcomes in fragile communities. However, the organization has struggled to attract and to retain teaching candidates to these communities. Especially in the rural south, TFA participation rates are low, while teacher burnout and exit rates are high with some regions seeing entire cohorts leave after their two year commitment is complete. 

TFA implemented a new program at the 2019 Teach For America corps who were trained at Teach For America’s Greater Delta Institute and adopted new practices designed to foster greater personal commitment and love for rural communities. 

TFA hopes to catalyze partnerships and sustainable, bottom-up efforts that address the community’s needs. Research will evaluate the efficacy of the new community immersion program through a randomized control trial.

The Center for Educational Opportunity has funded Albert Cheng, Ph.D. who will evaluate the efficacy of the new community immersion program through a randomized control trial.

Methods that improve teacher retention among the Teach for America corps, will provide much-needed continuity of learning for students.

Morehouse College Professor Pilots Life Success Readiness Curriculum for High-Risk Populations

Systemic economic deprivation in black and brown communities is rampant in America. Breaking the cycle requires collective societal focus and action. Dr. Belinda Johnson White, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Leadership, Morehouse College; Atlanta, Georgia, believes that targeted educational interventions play a crucial and critical role in addressing economic scarcity issues in minority communities. White’s successful work of more than 27 years teaching leadership skills, self-efficacy and life success skills at Morehouse College, demonstrates the power of formal life-skills educational intervention to the success of black and brown lives. 

Using the leadership development model created through her teaching and research, White is building a holistic life success curriculum targeted to middle and high school students (6th – 12th grade boys and girls) in fragile communities in urban and rural populations. The curriculum goal is to assist young learners in developing and practicing personal leadership and professionalism skills in order to form habits of excellence that will lead to life-long success through economic stability and growth, self-sufficiency, entrepreneurial mindset, and generational wealth. 

The Center for Educational Opportunity has funded the Phase 1 pilot curriculum. It was launched in October 2019 through the ASPIRE (Amazing Students Putting in Resilient Effort) Program at Alabama State University (ASU), Montgomery, Alabama, where Cynthia Handy serves as director. ASPIRE is an after-school enrichment program located on the campus of Alabama State University. ASPIRE partners with Montgomery Public Schools to encourage students to stay in school, foster college-preparatory academic success, and promote positive social development.

“The beauty of Dr. White’s model is the holistic approach to personal development—a life experience based on spiritual, physical, social, emotional, academic and financial well-being,” said Handy.