Orlando Ramos

Candidate for Ward 8 Springfield City Council

Education

Orlando reading to a classroom of children at head start

Orlando reading to a classroom of children at head start

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” -Malcolm X

Education is the foundation for the future of our society. It is essential for government at every level to strive for a better educational system. As a single father raising a little girl, I value the importance of education. Education is an investment; not an expense! I believe that in order to strengthen our effort to build a better future for this city, we have to do a better job at preparing tomorrow’s workforce; and we can do this by investing in our school system.

Drop-Out Prevention:

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” – George Washington Carver

As your City Councilor, I will propose a 5 point initiative to help reduce the dropout rate in the Springfield Public School System.

Parental Involvement:

“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today” – Unknown

M. Marcus Kiley Middle School

M. Marcus Kiley Middle School

The City of Springfield has ten schools that have been designated as Level 4 schools (in 2010). I had the privilege of being selected as one of the stakeholders (click here) for M. Marcus Kiley Middle School in Springfield. As a result of our efforts, the M. Marcus Kiley Middle School was one of a dozen schools in the state-and the only one in Western Massachusetts-to receive a grant in the first round of funding designed to help improve low-performing schools. Kiley received a $2.2 Million grant in August of 2010 (see article). Part of the turnaround plan selected for Kiley includes increasing parental involvement.

Our children deserve a better education! Although the curriculum is primarily regulated at the state level-and is limited by MCAS-I do believe that there are policy changes that we can make at the local level to improve our students’ learning experience. I believe that in order to help improve their performance, we need to focus on encouraging parental involvement. Research has consistently found that parental (or family) involvement has a direct, positive effect on a student’s achievement and is the most accurate predictor of a student’s academic success. If elected, I will work closely with the School Committee to create an initiative to promote and increase parental involvement at all grade levels in every school in the city.

Suspension Reduction:

School suspensions are on the rise and in many cases may lead the (suspended) student to fall behind on school work and eventually dropping out of school. In most cases, the student is forced to stay at home for the length of the suspension-wasting valuable time that he/she could be learning. My solution for suspension reduction: an alternative to at-home suspension. Modeled after a similar award winning program created and operated by the Greer, SC police department in 1998-a centrally located education detention center.

The student will be bussed back and forth from the location (for the duration of the suspension), where he or she will first meet with a counselor. After that process is completed, their day will consist of community service (approx. 3 hours), school work (approx. 3 hours), and (approx. 1 hour) of physical activities/exercise. After completing the program the final step would be to visit the councilor once again for evaluation before exiting. This evaluation process will help us better identify whether or not the student has a behavior problem or a learning disability.

The goal of this program would be to reduce suspensions city wide by making the concept of “suspension” less attractive to the student-because suspensions will no longer be a 5 or 10 day vacation-but also to reduce city wide suspensions by identifying the reasons why our children are getting suspended and hopefully cutting down on unnecessary suspensions.

School/Community Collaboration

I believe that all groups in a community should be involved in the process of providing collective support to the schools. We have to put together a strong collaborative effort to create a supportive environment where students can thrive and achieve. This effort includes the participation of area businesses, as well as faith-based organizations-to assist with mentoring and tutoring.

Safe Learning Environments

I would like to see a stronger, more comprehensive violence prevention plan that includes conflict resolution for potential violence as well as crisis management. I believe that our students are entitled to a safe learning environment at all grade levels. There is no room for bullying in the Springfield Public School System!

After-School Opportunities

Many schools provide after-school and summer enhancement programs that inspire interest in a variety of areas. I fully support such activities/programs which are particularly important for students that are at high risk of dropping out of school. In addition, we need to invest in longer hours for our libraries; and keep our youth centers open in the evenings and on weekends. Accessibility to these activities will keep our children engaged and off the streets. If elected, I will be committed to finding ways to increase funding for youth activities and after-school programs.

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