Author Archives: Tanya Paperny

About Tanya Paperny

Tanya Paperny is Bellwether's managing editor. More at https://bellwethereducation.org/staff/tanya-paperny.

Media: “Culture-Based Education Looks Like This Wellness Program for Native Youth” in EdPost

In June, I had the privilege of attending a Native American wellness camp focused on encouraging middle-school youth towards academic success and healthy choices. The camp inspired me to reflect on the role of guest speakers in my own life — and challenged me to understand why culture-based education is particularly important for the resilience of Native youth.

Read my op-ed in Education Post, tied to November’s Native American Heritage Month. Here’s an excerpt:

Native communities are flush with role models, elders and spiritual leaders, so schools just need to make sure these individuals are integrated into learning and extracurricular opportunities. As college-aged camp aide Avery Underwood, member of the Comanche tribe who grew up in non-Native urban communities, told me: “How different my school experience could have been with an Indian community backing me.”

Other Bellwether writing on Native education issues can be found here.

Media: “To reform education, Kentucky must focus on rural, impoverished schools” in the Louisville Courier Journal

We have an op-ed in today’s print and online editions of the Louisville Courier Journal about overlooked rural communities in Kentucky:

One-third of Kentucky’s student population, or almost 200,000 students, live in rural areas. In fact, half of Kentucky’s counties are rural, but you wouldn’t know this from the conversations about education in the media, among funders or between state policymakers.

Despite the concentration of rural students in Kentucky, education reform efforts continue to focus almost exclusively on two of the largest school districts in the state: Jefferson and Fayette counties. On top of that, the state’s existing reforms strategies don’t always reach rural communities or address their primary concerns.

Read our full op-ed here, and check out Bellwether’s new resource, “Education in the American South,” for more context.

Announcing a New Series of Bellwether Ventures

Here at Bellwether, we’re all about innovative, provocative, and forward-looking ideas to address different aspects of the education world. One area we’ve always cared about is ensuring healthy food for kids — our 16 for 2016 collection included pieces on local, quality food for school lunches, for example.

Now we’ve taken it a step further. After incubating a series of entrepreneurs-in-residence, today we’re happy to announce a new line of service offerings: Bellwether cafes. Continue reading

Bellwarians React: Is P.E. Class Terrible?

Last week, Atlantic staff writer Alia Wong lifted the lid on the often-satirized state of physical education. Despite all the gym class parodies, Wong points to a real problem: sometimes gym class is so bad that kids skip school to avoid it.

So I asked our team: what are some of your most salient P.E. memories? (As a place that champions ideological diversity and doesn’t take organizational positions, Bellwether encourages staff to share — and to disagree.)

Here are a few quick takes from across the Bellwether team:

Alyssa Schwenk, director of development:

P.E. at my high school was designed as a student-herder: you basically got dropped into whatever class worked with the rest of your schedule. One-seventh of the school was in P.E. at any given period, and this meant that a.) it was an enormous group of kids, and b.) you were probably friends with very, very few of them. It was democratizing and bewildering and generally barely tolerated.

Once all 200 kids were in the gym complex, you selected a couple of sub-units for the semester, like yoga, volleyball, or Billy Blanks videos. At some point I selected “aerobic activity,” which consisted of lapping the indoor track and keeping your heart rate above a certain level. But the heart-rate monitors were calibrated based on your age and weight, not fitness levels…and I was on the swim team. And had been since I was seven.

So while the true purpose of signing up was to walk and talk with the people you knew, I suddenly realized I would need to be running sub-eight minute miles for forty minutes every other day to pass. I hated running then (like, really hated running) but was simultaneously terrified that I would get a C in gym and wreck my GPA, therefore ruining any and all chances at getting into college.

Eventually I managed to wheedle and cajole enough that I was allowed to participate without the heart-rate monitor, and everyone involved agreed that I was getting “aerobic activity” via swimming three hours a day after school. GPA disaster averted. Continue reading

Best of Bellwether 2018: Our Most-Read Publications and Posts

Below are the most-read posts from Ahead of the Heard and our most-read publications in 2018! (To read the top posts from our sister site TeacherPensions.org, click here.)

Top Ten Blog Posts from Ahead of the Heard in 2018

1.) Moving Away from Magical Thinking: Understanding the Current State of Pre-K Research
Marnie Kaplan

2.) What I Learned About Retaining Teachers From Having Done It Badly as a New Principal
Tresha Ward

3.) Three Questions About the Bezos Day One Fund
Ashley LiBetti

4.) Two Graphs on Teacher Turnover Rates
Chad Aldeman Continue reading