Saturday, June 16, 2018

Visit America’s Museums



Now that it is (just about) officially summer, many teachers and families will be headed for their summer vacations. While many will be seeking relaxation at the beach, the lake or in the mountains, families should take the time to visit the vast number of museums spread across America. Having just returned from 2000-mile driving trip through a number of Southern states, I would like to make a number of recommendations.
Tallahassee, Florida- The State Museum. Here is an opportunity to learn about the history of Florid dating back to the Spanish conquistadors and how Florida was and is a multicultural state.

Pensacola, Florida- National Naval Aviation Museum. This is probably one of the best museums I have ever visited. Acres of planes, blimps, helicopters and other memorabilia are there to explore. Sit in a cockpit. Opportunities to get into a flight simulator or see an Imax film are also available. This is also the home of the Blue Angels and visitors can attend practice flights several times a week. Admission to the museum as well as parking is free. (Navalaviationmuseum.org)

New Orleans, Louisiana- The National World War Two Museum is a must see. Originally built to honor D- Day, visitors to this museum can trace the progression of WW II I both the European and Pacific theatres. Artifacts and soldiers’ stories abound. Don’t miss the cafĂ© for lunch. Be sure to see the Tom’s Hank’s narrated film “Beyond All Boundaries”(nationalww2museum.org)

Montgomery, Alabama- Two new museums in Montgomery this past spring.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is a somber tribute to those African- Americans who were the victims of lynching in the South. Note that this memorial is outdoors and it gets quite hot in the summer and sometimes rainy. Still find a way to see and learn abut tis tragic page in American history.

The other museum is the Legacy Museum- From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration is located in a warehouse that at one time housed slaves waiting to be auctioned.
The museum traces the African- American experience in the United States from Slavery to the civil rights movement to current issues of race in America.(eji.org)

During your travels if you come to state capitol be sure to stop in for a tour and learn how governments works!
Safe travels and have a great summer.

C.2018 J. Margolis


Sunday, May 13, 2018

US News Annual Rankings Announced




U.S. News and World Report recently reported the results of its annual rankings of America’s high school. The magazine partners with the research firm RTI international to evaluate over 20,000 high schools. The criteria they utilize include Advanced Placement programs, International Baccalaureate program scores, performance on state standardized tests, graduation rates and low-income student performance. Massachusetts scored highest in college readiness and had the highest percentage of nationally ranked schools. The states of California and Maryland also scored well. As with all quantitative information, what do you do with it?
Some states can pat themselves on the back; other must face the fact that there is room for improvement. Several of the states where there have been recent teacher demonstrations are not on the top of the list. The US News survey also ranked the STEM and the best charter schools. For more information you can access the full report at www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools.


c.2018 J. Margolis

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Week



The week of May 7, 2018 has been designated Teacher Appreciation Week. It is traditionally the first full week in May and has been created to pay tribute to the work of teachers as an important cog in the fabric of American society. Teaching, after all, is the career that prepares students for all other careers. This year has been a very trying one for America’s teachers. In West Virginia, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma and elsewhere, teachers have been protesting for not only long overdue increase in salary, but for funds to be allocated to improve school building infrastructure and to purchase updated books and materials.
For teachers at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida, it had to deal with the aftermath of an unspeakable tragedy, a lone gunman opening fire with an automatic weapon on the defenseless student body.
While it might be nice to make a card or bring snacks to school to show appreciation, there are more significant things to do. Teachers often purchase needed supplies and pay for them out of their own pockets. Parents and students can purchase the supplies for the school.  Groups can initiate “Gofundme” campaigns for supplies, books, field trips and such. Parent and community groups can attend school board meetings and advocate on behalf of the teachers so that they have the supplies they need to be successful educators and work in an environment that is safe for all students, teachers and administrators.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!


C.2018 J. Margolis

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

NAEP Scores Reveal Continued Shortcomings




The release of the 2017 national student performance data should not give educators or parents anything to cheer about. There was no performance level above 50% in any assessed category at and of the tested grade levels (4th, 8th &12th).
Here are a few examples of how US students performed.

Mathematics (Percentage of students at or above proficiency levels)
Grade 4- 40%
Grade 8 34%
Grade 12-25%

Science

Grade 4-38%
Grade 8-34%
Grade 12- 22%

Reading

Grade 4- 37%
Grade 8-36%
Grade 12- 37%

The numbers were even more abysmal for civics, US history and geography.

Some individual states, like Florida, did experience some increased at some grade levels in some of the specific content areas.
 This would not be the first warning to educators, parents, and government officials, that unless we as a nation do something to turn the tide of student performance, the US will continue to face a decline in areas a expertise on the world stage.
Charter school have not helped neither has giving every student a laptop made any significant difference.
The recent teacher demonstrations in several states have uncovered a truth; states have been shortchanging their students by cutting education costs and allowing facilities to decay and textbooks to become obsolete. The time has come for all like- minded concerned citizens to come together devise plans to shore up our education infrastructure.

For more specific information about the nation’s report card go to nationsreportcard.gov.

C.2018 J., Margolis


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Teachers Getting Their Voice



First it was the teachers of state of West Virginia, clamoring for a livable salary.
Their message is now beginning to resonate across the country in Oklahoma and Kentucky. But the message of these teachers and those community members who support them is not just about salary. It is about conditions in schools that are falling apart. It is about textbooks that are disintegrating and are obsolete. It about schools that have to meet only four days a week because the district cannot pay for a fifth day of electricity. There are schools wit ipads for students but no Wi-Fi for them to connect to. These teachers, who are committed to the success of their students, are storming the halls of their state legislatures. It is unfortunate that students are missing school days, but it is hoped that this is short lived and that they days will be made up. How can we as a nation continue to lead the world in scientific development and economic prowess if we have substandard schools, many that been neglected for too long.
The US Secretary of Education is strangely absent on these matters.
In the meantime, the students, teachers, parents and community leaders of Parkland, Florida continue on their quest to protect students through school safety measures and gun control.
According to reports the state of Arizona may be next for teacher activism. As this drive gathers momentum, it will be up to the public to determine what the future of education in America will be.


c.2018 J. Margolis