Solutions in Education

For Migrant Children, Hope and Struggle

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By Lilly Sullivan | KUSP News

May marks the beginning of picking season, and farmworkers are returning to Watsonville for the harvest. On May 1, 103 families moved into seasonal housing at the Buena Vista Migrant Camp. As farmworkers return to town for a new picking season, their kids prepare for their first days back at school.

Fifteen-year-old Cristian lives at the Buena Vista Migrant Camp. The camp, tucked behind Watsonville’s county jail and landfill, is one of California’s 24 state-run labor camps. Buena Vista has pre-fabricated plywood houses, with yards, a playground, even free childcare while parents work. Rent is just $350 per month—less than half the average rent in the area.

“Yeah, I like it. It’s pretty good,” he says of the unit he’s staying at.

But there’s a catch. A pretty big one.

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The 50-Mile Rule

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By Adia White | KUSP News

It’s May first; Buena Vista migrant housing center opens today for the summer and fall picking season. Only one housing unit remains available. A representative of the center shakes a raffle box while families wait hopefully.

She calls out numbers as she draws them. “Su número es 2664.”

The Buena Vista migrant housing center provides a subsidized home for farmworkers during the peak season. But workers have to move 50 miles away in the off season. Photo: Reid Ramirez

The Buena Vista migrant housing center provides a subsidized home for farmworkers during the peak season. But workers have to move 50 miles away in the off season.
Photo: Reid Ramirez

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Pitching In to Get Kids Reading By 3rd grade

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Vista Pickett [left] stands with Anita Silva. Photo: Adia White.

Vista Pickett [left] stands with Anita Silva. Photo: Adia White.

By Adia White | KUSP News

Three-fifths of Santa Cruz County 3rd graders fail to reach basic levels of literacy. The pilot Santa Cruz  Reading Corps project has seen promising results placing literacy tutors in preschool classrooms to get students an early boost. So far, these interventions look promising. Vista Pickett came out of retirement to participate.

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For Teens On Probation: One-On-One Instruction, Counseling

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Christian Lamonea in the classroom.

More than 5,000 youths remain locked up in California at an estimated cost of $380,000 per day. Community-based programs have proven an effective strategy at keeping kids out of jail. Laura Flynn has this report from Rancho Cielo a community school in Monterey County.

By Laura Flynn | KUSP News -

Teacher Christian Lamonea and 13 students balance short bent wires on popsicle sticks. 18-year-old Anastasia Gonzales explains they’re watching how involuntary muscle activity works.

“We’re learning about like bones, ligaments, and bruises and all that stuff,” she says. “It’s cool to see how, like the body works and stuff.”

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New School Standards Could Encourage Teachers to Take Field Trips

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O’Neill sea Odyssey Education coordinator Laura Barnes. Photo: J.D. Hillard

O’Neill sea Odyssey Education coordinator Laura Barnes. Photo: J.D. Hillard

California and most of the other states will switch next school year to a new set of math and English standards called the Common Core. The hope is this change will help U.S. students improve their progress. A ‘Next Generation Science Standard’ is expected to roll out in a couple years.

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A Diploma and Construction Training For At-Risk Youths

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Construction Academy and Hartnell Community College students install drywall in Rancho Cielo Campus housing under the supervision of John Anderson [red hardhat]. Photo: Laura Flynn

By Laura Flynn | KUSP News

While, U.S. Census data trends link earning less than a high school diploma or GED to lower annual income and higher rates of unemployment, research also correlates it to poorer health outcomes and disproportionate rates of incarceration. All of these factors have compounding effects on families and whole neighborhoods.

In Monterey County, Rancho Cielo offers its own set of strategies to prevent dropouts and incarceration. Its Construction Academy helps students graduate high school and learn the ins and outs of the construction trade.

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Cooking Up a Brighter Future

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Students at Rancho Cielo's Drummond Culinary Academy develop restaurant skills in a professional environment. Photo: Laura Flynn.

Ana Lopez and other students at Rancho Cielo’s Drummond Culinary Academy develop restaurant skills in a professional environment. Photo: Laura Flynn.

By Laura Flynn | KUSP News

It’s Friday night. Inside the Drummond Culinary Academy restaurant smiling and wide-eyed students stand ready in position. Nervous energy permeates the air. Students busily prepare to give tonight’s expected 56 diners a full-fine dining experience. Front house trainer Andrea Mullany-Moneypenny talks to students about their jobs for the night.

From Probation to Culinary Art

This isn’t an ordinary culinary school. Not all, but many of the students have had brushes with the law. The academy helps 16-25 year-olds get their high school diplomas and learn culinary arts skills by certified chefs. Founding teacher Paul Lee announces the first order:

“Soup for two,” he says. “Here we go. Rock and roll. We’re live.”

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Helping Troubled Youths Find Their Way

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Elizabeth Campos credits her mentorship with Feeta Bishop for helping her turn from partying and juvenile hall to education and helping others. Photo: Laura Flynn

Monterey County this month hired a full-time coordinator for a new county wide strategy to reduce youth crime.  In Santa Clara County a volunteer program called Fresh Lifelines for Youth or FLY has helped kids who commit crime stay out of trouble.  Laura Flynn reports on the impact FLY has had on two people’s lives.

Elizabeth Campos learned she’d have a mentor form her probation officer as she was being released from juvenile hall. Flynn 1: Campos’ mentor was working with Fresh Lifelines for Youth, a nonprofit in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. FLY’ s mentor program connects adult role-models  to at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth. When it works it does more than keep a kid out of jail. FLY staff say it costs about $100,000 to incarcerate  a youth for one year whereas participating in the mentorship program is $5,500.  In Campos’ case there was a lot to overcome. Her  first  assigned mentor didn’t show up, something she was used to.

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A One Stop Shop – Helping Teachers Find Field Trips

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sb_welcome_lfHadley Robinson | KUSP News

With a focus in California schools on math and language arts testing, science learning often takes the back seat. To fill in the gap, some teachers look to outside organizations that run field trips or in-class, hands-on lessons. But what each classroom gets for science, especially in elementary schools, is spotty at best. Hadley Robinson reports a group of educators hope to change that for the Monterey Bay area.

On a beach near Capitola, sixth graders from New Brighton Middle School are counting sand crabs.

“When it gets to the red line we pull it up and see how many sand crabs we got ,” says one of the students.

They determine who will count, who will dig through the sand and who will record results.  They count crabs and record data points like age, whether it’s a male or female and if it’s pregnant. The area erupts with youthful exclamation as they find a crab carrying eggs.  The activity is guided by Ann Wasser who runs  LiMPETS (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experimental Training for Students).

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Learning to Stop Bullying Before it Hurts Education

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By Lillian Mongeau

Bullying hurts kids’ performance in school, but schools have trouble responding. Victims fear shame and retaliation so they don’t report, and some institutions fail to respond to reports for fear of besmirching their reputations. A Santa Cruz group called Kidpower plans to equip kids with effective social responses as well as some physical ones.

Photos: Lillian Mongeau

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