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Discussion. Articles. Resources.

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Appleton's truancy fight heads to school board; here are links to a more humane, pro-active path forward

As the Appleton Area School District (Appleton, WI) Board of Education prepares for the next steps in the district's controversial handling of truancy cases, advocates for policies that favor treating the underlying causes rather than using the hammer of criminal justice are looking toward a solution-based approach outlined five years ago by the State of Washington. We've got links to reports worth reading in advance of the Monday, Aug. 12 school board meeting. Let's make our voices heard.

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Review: Robert Putnam's 'Our Kids' reinforces need for dramatic changes in our schools

If you’re looking for a dose of reality and lots of data about the opportunity gap in the United States to provide some reinforcement for John Wiley’s call for change in our schools, look no further than Robert Putnam’s 2015 book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.”

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Review: Paul Gorski's 'Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty' echoes need for change

Paul Gorski's “Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap” is a great read for anyone who cares about fighting poverty and giving young people the tools to escape a life of hopelessness. It's part of the larger conversation that John Wiley has tried to tap into in his book, "Bottom Half Teens."

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How can we fill idle time with constructive, positive pursuits?

A key part of this book is about the problems that come when teenagers have too much idle time. Whether it's volunteer work or part of a paid apprenticeship, much can be gained if adult mentors help our young people work successfully, John Wiley says. There is a fulfillment that comes with a job well done. How can we help teens fill that idle time in constructive, positive ways?

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Teachers, police, judges all have roles in interupting cycle of poverty

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Desmond visit brings attention to Wiley's book, efforts to fight cycles of poverty

A story on John Wiley, his new book and his efforts to rally the community to fight the cycles of poverty drew attention in The Post-Crescent in advance of a visit from "Evicted" author Matthew Desmond.

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Apprenticeship plan will not burden taxpayers

Implementing a significant apprenticeship program across the community would have no financial impact on taxpayers. Some school funding would have to be reallocated. But implementation should be doable without adding new positions or new local, state or federal funding. The bigger investment would come from participating businesses, which would need to commit to the program, paying students at least $10 an hour and providing the needed mentoring. The payoff: A steady stream of qualified young workers coming into the job market every year.

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A bit of a European approach

John Wiley's apprenticeship plan hints of the European approach to education. There is no forced track in this plan. It's opt in and opt out. But the idea of training a significant percentage of teenagers for the work world after high school is an idea worth exploring.

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10 questions to ask your community

Here are 10 questions to ask your community as you begin conversations on "Bottom Half Teens."

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Let your voice be heard

Let's raise our hands to take part in community conversations about John Wiley's proposal. Don't let others speak for you. Grab a seat at the table and speak up. Let your voice be heard as we turn this into a grassroots movement to give those "Bottom Half Teens" a better chance at an engaged and fulfilling life.

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Let's get a community conversation started

How do we get a community conversation started on these important issues? Try this formula in your community, starting with someone stepping up as a leader.

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Inspired by Matthew Desmond's 'Evicted'

What can we do to give those kids who don't aspire to go to college a more reasonable chance to come into the workforce after high school prepared to succeed? Wiley's book has some ideas worth exploring. As parents, employers, citizens, educators and students, we need to talk about it.

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