Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How are you celebrating Presidents Day?

February is a month that is general devoid of great holidays. At one time, the birthdays of two of America’s presidents were celebrated during the month, that of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. More recently Presidents Day was established as one of the third Monday Celebrations to commemorate the efforts of all 45 of our US Presidents. In many schools across the country, President’s Day is a “no school” day. Many retail establishments have used the day to have sales and special events. Other schools will be in session making up missed day from snowstorms or the hurricanes.
If you are searching for some websites to obtain teaching materials and lessons, you may wish to try one of these: The National Education association has helpful lesson plans and ideas. The Center for Civic Education Plenty of information and links about the President’s home
You may also wish to access the websites to the 13 official Presidential Libraries.
Happy Presidents’s Day

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Stop Killing Our Children !

It is becoming far too commonplace. Hardly a week goes by without hearing about a shooting in one of our schools. There have been 6 deaths and 25 injuries since the start of 2018. The most recent incident occurred in a Los Angeles middle school where four students and a teacher were injured Innocent children and teachers get murdered for no good reason.  The shootings are not limited to one geographic area of the United States. Recent incidents have occurred in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, North Carolina and Arizona. Schools are supposed to be safe places- a nurturing environment where young minds can get challenged to reach their full potential. For many students school is also the place to get a nutritious meal or basic medical care. Schools are mini- communities where students can learn social skills and the value of positive peer relationships. Schools are also training facilities for future athletes.
Schools across the country have had to implement extra security procedures and have hired police officers or sheriff’s deputies to patrol school buildings. We need to continue to seek ways to keep our children safe. The discussion of school safety will ultimately lead to a discussion about gun control. Usually, when someone brings the issue up after a horrific shooting, there is always someone who states,” This is not the time to talk about gun control.” Actually it is. Sadly there have even been deniers who claim that the Sandy Hook Massacre was a hoax!
 Remember, “ Even on your worst day as a teacher, you are some student’s best hope.” With that in mind, we must find a way to keep our children safe.

C.2018 J. Margolis

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The War on Public Schools?

I recently received n invitation to attend a public forum with the title “ The War on Public Schools.” I was anxious to attend but was unsure of the points for discussion. The “panelists “ were comprised of one current school district employee, one former employee and two representatives of the areca chapter of the NAACP. As I soon learned the focus of the meeting was about charter schools.  Charter schools, the panelists maintained do not have to meet the same standards as the public schools. They can pick and choose their students and can accept both private and public funding. Apparently, charter school are siphoning off some of the top students and taking with them state funding.  Charter schools have fewer students on free and reduced lunch, etc. The NAACP members, not surprisingly, are for school choice, whereby parents can send their children to any district school they choose, providing there is space for them. One of the audience members happened to be both an executive of a charter school as well as a member of the local school board. She proceeded to call the panelists liars and a shouting match ensued.
The meeting did proceed with a Q and A, which I fear did not do a whole lot to enlighten the situation. My suggestion was to create magnet schools- public schools with state certified teachers and administrators and whose students must meet state graduation standards. I am a product of a magnet school and I have seen the success of such programs. Unfortunately none of the panelist knew what a magnet school was and believed that the district did not have any- even though they did have a highly regarded and successful technical high school (which does qualify as a magnet school). Cities across the US have preforming arts high schools as well as middle and high school STEM themed programs.

Given the current administration’s views on public education, I fear that other such unproductive meetings will be taking place across the country. My suggestion to public educators and parents is to join the dialogue, make your voices heard and be part of the solution.

c.2018  J. Margolis

Thursday, January 18, 2018

US Needs to Step-up Early Child Care Efforts

Conventional wisdom as well as academic research has both pointed to the importance of early childhood education.  Currently about two-thirds of American children-four year olds- attends preschools or other early education programs.
However, according to a recent report by the RAND Corporation, American children lag behind their peers in other countries. A recent article by Barbara Janta, senior analyst at RAND, noted “ the US is alone among major Western democracies in its failure to invest in child care for all.”( Rand Review Jan/Feb 2018). Janta’s research pointed to the success of a recent program enacted by the government of Great Britain where childcare is offered for free to working families. The program is costing the government over $1 billion. According to her report, in the UK a couple earning average wages can spend over 25% of their income on childcare. This new program can certainly ease the burden. Janta cited studies conducted by Nobel Prize recipient James Heckman that the success rate for pubic preschool programs has been undeniable. Children who have participated in these programs have exhibited lower risk of deviant behavior and have earned higher wages during their working careers.     We in the US must strive for universal early childhood education and promoted the many benefits of such programs. For more information about this issue, please read the current issue of the RAND Review.

c.2018 J. Margolis

Monday, January 1, 2018

Fight Winter Doldrums with Virtual Fieldtrips

With the frigid and snowy weather in much of the United States it is impractical, if not dangerous to take students on a field trip. In many districts around the country, schools on tight budgets have cut student field trips as part of cost-saving measures. Fortunately in today’s hi-tech age, virtual field trips are available to a wide variety of museums and historic sites and with some advance planning teachers can develop plans for a meaningful and educational experience for their students.  IN addition, most of these experiences are free.Below are some suggestions for possible student trips.

1)   Learn how chocolate is made. Take a tour of the Hershey Chocolate factory (sans the smells)
2) Students can learn about key battles of the American
3)   Interested in art or art history? Try a virtual tour of Le Louvre. The web site is
4)   The National Archives and Records Administration  (NARA) has quite a few on line exhibits, including an up closed look at the Constitution of the United States.
5)   There are a number of sites that can be accessed by going to the scholastic web site.

c. 2018 J. Margolis