01 Jun 2010

Considering families’ network compositions in schooling matters

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In recent years, the concept of “social capital” has been thoroughly examined in school contexts. Most research tends to suggest that dense networks of resourceful relationships help students and families navigate the learning process more efficiently and successfully. Some of my recent research with homeless families, however, suggests that dense peer networks can have significant negative influences as well. In these situations, I have found that families linkages with those who are strategically “different” from them can be of more utility in helping them realize new life courses. These findings are consistent with Nan Lin’s (1999; 2000) findings that, for those who are seeking major life changes or advancement, network heterogeneity is often more important than network density. I presented these findings at the 2010 AERA conference in Denver and will continue to examine social network-related issues in my future work.

27 May 2010

Homeless Education Network in Pittsburgh

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A host of resourceful community stakeholders, including the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, the Allegheny Department of Human Services, Pittsburgh Public Schools, and Duquesne University, have come together to form the “Homeless Education Network” (HEN)– an attempt to develop a comprehensive system of service meeting the needs of the expanding population of homeless children and families in Allegheny County, PA. HEN is an intriguing example of community members coming together to address the complexities associated with education and family homelessness. It is particularly appealing given the typically fragmented nature of services that are provided to these students. For more information about HEN, contact the Homeless Children’s Education Fund (homelessfund.org) or feel free to e-mail me (pmmiller2@wisc.edu) to learn about research related to HEN.

25 May 2010

Duquesne Educational Leadership Symposium

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The Department of Foundations and Leadership at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh will be hosting its third annual Duquesne Educational Leadership Symposium (DELS) this week. A host of educational leadership scholars will be joining the distinguished Duquesne faculty and a number of Pittsburgh leaders and educators to consider key issues in the re-framing of educational leadership. The event is affiliated with the UCEA Center for Leadership and Social Justice, which is housed at DU. If you haven’t checked out the work being done in Dept of Foundations and Leadership at DU, I suggest you do — it’s promising and innovative across a number of fronts. Among the DU leaders playing key roles this week are Jim Henderson, Rick McCown, Connie Moss, Gretchen Givens-Generrett, Launce Brown, Rodney Hopson, Jim Schreiber, and Bob Furman.

21 May 2010

Conditions of homelessness matter

Research No Comments

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act provides students who are experiencing homelessness with the chance to maintain school stability, but some schools (and/or those who work within school systems) do not understand the implications that different “conditions of homelessness” have for families. That is, families that are “doubled-up” with others tend to have different needs than those who are in emergency shelter or those who are in longer-term transitional housing. There is, therefore, a need to develop understandings of homelessness in its diverse contexts and, in turn, schools must craft differentiated systems of response and intervention. Some of my recent work examines these issues and provides suggestions for school and community-based practitioners.

20 May 2010

Homelessness on the rise in schools

Research No Comments

The recent NAEHCY survey of 2271 school districts in the U.S. indicated that 876 districts served more homeless students August-February 2010 than they served the entire 2008-09 school year. These numbers are not altogether surprising given the scale of the recession, but they do highlight the importance of well-conceived school and district plans for serving kids who are homeless. Developing ways to immediately enroll and transport students who are homeless should obviously be central elements of these plans–these are often cited as major hold-ups in the process–but attention must also be paid to ongoing professional development for staff. Teachers, counselors, social workers, and administrators all play key roles and need to be informed about research-based best practices. For helpful resources in developing more effective and efficient systems of practice in service of students who are homeless, refer to the NAEHCY and NCHE websites. You might also refer to some of my research papers, which are listed in the research section of this website.

17 May 2010

Promise Neighborhoods

Research No Comments

The development of “Promise Neighborhoods” in a number of urban areas throughout the U.S. is an interesting — and, in my opinion, exciting — element of President Obama’s education plan. These comprehensive community education programs will seek to replicate aspects of the Harlem Children’s Zone’s (hcz.org) philosophy of action. This Promise Neighborhood plan will necessarily bring many community-based folks into the mix. Check out UNCA — an organization that could unfold as a key player…

United Neighborhood Centers of America (UNCA) is a voluntary, nonprofit, national organization with neighborhood-based member agencies throughout the United States. Formerly known as the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers, it was founded in 1911 by Jane Addams and other pioneers of the settlement movement. UNCA members build neighborhoods with neighbors. More information about UNCA is available at www.unca.org.


29 Apr 2010

New Course Offering

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I’m delighted to announce my new course offering in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis for Fall 2010 entitled ELPA 780: School-Community Relations. ELPA 780 examines theories, purposes, and structures associated with school-community partnerships. Read more

28 Apr 2010

Summit on Homeless Education

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This video, presented to the Pittsburgh Summit on Homeless Education in November 2009, introduces a report on the findings of a two-year longitudinal investigation of homeless services in Pittsburgh to a group of politicians, policy-makers, educators, and other community stakeholders.
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28 Apr 2010

Teachers College Record Feature

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Video discussion featured on “Teachers College Record” (tcrecord.org) regarding the institutional disconnect between homeless shelters and schools and the implications for homeless children.

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