Months after data collected by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights showed deep disparities between poor and minority students and their more advantaged peers when it comes to educational resources, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is putting school districts and states on notice that the office for civil rights can investigate states, districts, and even schools that aren’t doing enough to ensure equal access on everything from high-quality facilities to Advanced Placement courses.

The department outlined OCR’s role in ensuring equal access to resources in a letter sent today to states, school districts, and schools. The “Dear Colleague” letter marks the first guidance on the issue of resource equity released during the Obama administration.

Duncan talked up the guidance in a speech today to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Public Policy Conference, saying it will put important tools in the hands on schools and communities.

“We will be a partner in that effort, but we will also be a watchdog,” he said. “We must be serious about increasing economic opportunity and … [recognize that we are] offering students of color less than what we offer other students.”

The letter makes it clear to school districts, states, and educators that OCR can look into resources disparities in a range of areas, including:

  • Equal access to educational opportunities, such as Advanced Placement courses, gifted and talented programs, college-preparatory programs, and extra-curricular activities. There could be many schools and states that fall under scrutiny—Of schools serving the highest percentages of black and Latino students, only 66 percent and 74 percent offer chemistry and Algebra 2, respectively, according to the federal civil rights data collection. 
  • Equal access to qualified teachers and school leaders, as measured by factors such as turnover, absenteeism, professional development, and whether or not the teacher is leading a subject in which he or she holds a degree. Schools have a long way to go in this area, too, according to the federal data collection. Nearly 7 percent of black students attend schools where more than 20 percent of teachers hadn’t yet met all state certification requirements. That figure was four times higher than for white students. OCR can also look into whether states and districts are providing poor and minority kids with their fair share of qualified support staff, such as school psychologists, guidance counselors and paraprofessionals, according to the letter
  • Equal access to school facilities. OCR can consider factors such as overcrowding, lighting, and accessibility for students with disabilities, as well as the quality of areas such as athletic facilities and science labs.
  • Equal access to technology, including laptops, tablets, the internet, and instructional materials, such as calculators and library books.

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Disclaimer

Stamford Achieves (SA) acts only as an intermediary between employers posting internship and job opportunities and student candidates. All hiring and compensation for work performed by students is handled directly between the student and the employer. SA also reserves the right to refuse to post or remove internship or job postings.

We do not guarantee or take responsibility for (a) the truthfulness, accuracy, quality, safety, morality, desirability or legality of employer information and position listings, (b) the ability of employers to offer internship and job opportunities, or (c) the hiring, recruiting or other practices of any employer. Students are urged to perform due diligence in researching employers when applying for or accepting employment.


For Students:

An internship, particularly for students at least 16 years of age, is a great way to get to know yourself a little better while building skills that will make you better prepared for the future. Internships can help you understand how a professional organization functions in the real world. While interning, you will have the opportunity to assess and refine your career goals. It is a “trial period”, an opportunity to test ideas about your interests and potential professions – whether it’s entertainment, non-profit, technology, health – without requiring a lengthy commitment. Just remember, no matter what you do and how long you do it for, do it to the best of your ability.

Some internships are “salaried” positions and some are strictly volunteer. Either way, you will likely gain valuable experience. Please note that most are highly competitive and you should pay close attention to the application deadlines.

Many organizations do not advertise the availability of internships or jobs and so it often requires some initiative on your part. With this portal, Stamford Achieves is seeking to aggregate internship and job opportunities for Stamford’s high school students.

Although we would ultimately like to post all student internship and job opportunities that is simply not realistic. Therefore, it is recommended that you conduct an internet search, look out for postings and check newspaper listings. Also, please use your networks – guidance counselors, teachers, parents, relatives, family, and friends – anyone who may have contacts within businesses or organizations that interest you.


For Employers:

The City of Stamford benefits tremendously from a large and diverse group of employers. These employers can and often do offer our high school students internship as well as job opportunities. However, employment opportunities are not typically aggregated so as to streamline the process for both the prospective employers and students. This portal is designed to be a simple and efficient way to maximize our tremendous resources.

We welcome your feedback as to how we can make this portal as productive and efficient as possible so please do not hesitate to email us at info@stamfordachieves.org and thanks so much for participating.

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