Wednesday, November 15, 2017

International Education Week

The week of November 13-17 has been designated as International Education Week. This event is a joint initiative of the State Department of the United States and the US Department of Education. The purpose of the event is to “promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.”
This week, Florida Southwestern College in Ft. Myers sponsored a program featuring noted children’s author Alma Flor Ada. Born I Cuba, Ada spoke of the importance to” preserve our humanness,” and believed that expressing yourself in writing was an important part of that goal. She said that diverse views and opinions must be heard and that “ we need to build bridges, not walls.”
In a standing room only gathering of students, faculty and community members, Ada challenged the gathering stating,” Without justice, we will have no peace.”
Many of those in the room were future teachers and Ms. Ada told them to never stop reading and to pass that notion along to their future students.

c.2017 J. Margolis

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Preparing for Veterans Day

November 11 is fast approaching and if teachers have not done so already, it is time to plans for a Veteran’s Day commemoration. In past years school have held assembly programs to honor local vets, often inviting them for lunch after a program. Some schools have prepared certificates of appreciation and have placed flowers at local veterans cemeteries. In some states, the education departments have identified World War Two vets who had not obtained high school diplomas and issued honorary high school certificates of completion. There is no one best way to honor veterans and to thank them for their service. Any acknowledgement is appreciated.

Teachers looking for printables and lesson plan ideas may wish to view these four websites. (There are others)

1) has K-12 worksheets and activities including a fact sheet about the origins of Veterans Day.
2) The national Education Association also has downloadable and printable materials for classroom use at all grade levels.
3) the public Broadcasting Station has an activity, designed for a 45 minute class period entitled” The Greatest Sacrifice- A Veterans Day Lesson Plan.
4) also offers lesso0n plan ideas.

However you choose to honor veterans in your school be sure that you take the time to honor them.

C.2017 J. Margolis (former US Army)

Monday, October 16, 2017

DACA Teachers Face Danger of Deportation

There has a great deal of news in recent weeks about the current administration’s plans to deal with DACA children. Estimates indicate that there are approximately 800,000 people in the US who fall in that category. And while changes in government policy will have an impact on those DACA students currently enrolled in school, nothing has been mentioned about teachers. According to a USA Today article, there may be as many as 20,000 DACA teachers currently employed in schools throughout the United States. These are teachers who came into the United States as children with undocumented parents. They attended school, obtained good grades, were admitted to colleges and universities and graduated with degrees. They were also able to obtain teaching certifications in the various states. Some obtained advanced degrees and are teaching in institutions of higher education.
Imagine what would happen if those teachers were deported. They came here, not on their own volition, and made the best of the American experience.

According to reports from labor unions and professional teacher organizations, there are already significant teacher shortages throughout the nation’s public schools. Some estimates are cited at over 300,000. A loss of 20,000 additional teachers could be catastrophic, especially if you agree that many of these teachers are bi-lingual and speak fluent Spanish.

IT is imperative that the education community stay on top of this issue, by contacting their legislators, writing editorials and letter to the editor to keep this issue in the public forefront.

C.2017 J. Margolis

Monday, October 9, 2017

Bilingual Education in Kindergarten?

 Schools in the United States are among the minority in the developed industrialized nations that do not start a bilingual education program at early grade levels. As a consequence of this ,many American high school and even college graduates are mono- lingual, which in today’s global economy can be a handicap in obtaining a job.
A program that is currently being explored in the West Windsor- Plainsboro (New Jersey) public schools would implement a pilot dual language program at the elementary grade levels. The proposed program, should it be adopted, would have children being taught classes with two languages from kindergarten to grade five.
The alternate language choices would be Spanish or Chinese. The program would align itself with the state academic standards for English/ Language arts, and all of the other content areas.
Participation in the program would be voluntary. Parents would need to request participation in the program when registering their children for school. Those students who would be in the program at the outset would begin in kindergarten.
From the first through fifth grade half of the student’s classes would be in English and the other half would be in the alternate selected language. Needless to say this is a very bold and progressive step and students, parents and teachers would all have to engage for it to be successful.
Other schools around the country should take a serious look at this model or something like it, to provide an education that keeps American students competitive with its European and Scandinavian peers.

c.2017  J. Margolis

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Make Way for a Student Influx

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, many families chose not to rebuild and left the area, heading for Texas. A good number of these families settled in the greater Houston area. This sudden migration placed a great strain on the pubic school districts that had to scurry to find portable classrooms and hire additional teachers and staff to meet the needs of the onrushing new student population.

Thanks to Hurricane Maria, the same thing is about to happen in Puerto Rico.
Many of the families affected by the storm and who are able, will be leaving the island for the mainland. Many of these people may never return to Puerto Rico.
They are heading to live with relatives and friends who live in the continental United States. According to my estimation, many of these families will be coming to Florida and New York, two states with substantial Puerto Rican populations. They will enroll their children in the local public schools so that the student’s can catch up with their education. Most students have already missed two weeks of school and according to some reports; schools on the island may not reopen this year at all.
School administrators of districts about to be impacted need to be proactive and get ready. Teachers and counselors will need to be empathetic to the needs of these children who have been uprooted by the cruelty of nature. It will be a trying time for all. Different curricula, the need to establish new friendships- all will need to be addressed. Public school educators in  this country have a knack for being resourceful. This will  be one more time when all of our collective resources will have to be marshaled and extend a hand to fellow Americans.

c.2017  J. Margolis

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Teachable Moments From Harvey and Irma

As of this writing some students in Florid public schools are still not in class due to the ravages of Hurricane Irma. They will have missed almost two weeks of class time. For many of these children being in school is the last thing on their mind. Many families lost their homes and their possessions. Others are relying in government agencies or charitable organizations to provide them with food and clothing. One wonders what the phrase “ Getting back to normal” will mean.  I have always maintained that school is as much a social institution as it is an educational one. Teachers and classmates will need to come together to serve as a support network for those suffering from loss. For many, including first- responders and volunteers, there is the risk of depression and PTSD. They will need support too. I saw an interview this morning on TV with a couple in Texas, both who are teachers, and were flooded out for a second time in recent years. What is to become of them? How can we, the greater education community, come together to help folks like them?
Somewhere down the road is the new normal. We, as the education community, will have to find a way to make fractions and parts of speech relevant again. Until then, stay safe, and be of use.

c.2017 J. Margolis