Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Public School Parents Must be Involved in the High Stakes Testing Hearings!

Reblogged from Save Our Schools NJ.... 

Please click here to let Governor Christie and NJ Education Commissioner Hespe know that the commission they are creating to review testing in New Jersey must include public school parents concerned about high-stakes testing, and that the commission must hold public hearings across the state.  

The commission will be appointed soon and we want the Governor and Commissioner to know that the people of New Jersey are watching!

Thanks to your calls, emails, letters and testimony, A3081/S2154 (the anti high-stakes standardized testing legislation), received overwhelming, bipartisan support in the New Jersey Assembly (74 yes; 4 no; 2 abstentions), and was poised for an equally strong, bipartisan vote in the New Jersey Senate (the legislation has 5 Republican and 8 Democratic Senate sponsors).
The A3081/S2154 legislation would create an independent, expert task force that includes public school parents, to hold statewide public hearings and thoroughly examine alternatives to high-stakes standardized testing; student data privacy concerns; implementation and cost of the new PARCC test and Common Core; and teacher evaluation.  The legislation also freezes for at least two years all the punishments associated with the PARCC test, for students, teachers and public schools.

Instead of agreeing to sign A3081/S2154, Governor Christie issued an executive orderUnlike the legislation, the executive order is very limited in its scope.  It calls for a quick review of "the quality and effectiveness of student assessments administered to K-12 students" and "recommendations on the volume, frequency, and impact of those assessments" and of the Core Curriculum Content Standards.
The executive order also gives Governor Christie complete control over who serves on the commission and does not require that public school parents be involved, or that the process include any public input. 

Please click here to let Governor Christie and Education Commissioner Hespe know that the people of New Jersey are watching and expect the commission to hold statewide public hearings to enable commission members to hear from New Jersey residents; and that the commission must include public school parents who are concerned about high-stakes standardized testing.

Your energy and passion are why the A3081/S2154 legislation moved so quickly and with so much bipartisan support.  This is only the first step in a broader campaign against high-stakes standardized testing.  Please stay tuned for information regarding additional legislation and other actions.
Thank you!

                                              How are the Children?

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Academy Way: Is There a Super Hero In Your Mirror?

The Parent Partnership Association (Academy Parents mostly from out of town) are still calling for the removal of the high school Principal and Administration. They have some nerve to complain that the Assistant Principal does not exist online. They complained that he is not prominent on the Englewood Public School District website. It seems they want someone famous. Wow.

Now that is really reaching. Mr. Armental does not maintain the website. These people have been endowed with too much power. They are making demands that should be ignored. They are costing us an awful lot of money. No one has been able to show where Englewood Cliffs pays to educate their children at all. That needs to end. We are paying to educate their children and they are demonizing ours.

Did you know that teachers in the North building (the main building with the tower) are not allowed to teach honors courses?

Did you know that if a child from Englewood does not wish to declare a major in the 8th grade that they set themselves up to be chastised, demonized and looked down upon for the rest of their high school careers. Academy students must choose a major and stick with it through graduation. They have no choice. It takes more courage to just say "No" than to backstab any and everyone in order to be accepted.

Any Englewood Resident students who excel in subjects must be subjected to the Academy Way. Only Academy teachers are allowed to teach honors. How many of you think they are better teachers than DMHS teachers? If all of you raised your hands, you are right. They are not. It is a known fact that the Academy way discriminates against Englewood students.

Academy teachers have been allowed to reject STEM Education Programs when the entire world is embracing STEM Education.

Academy teachers are resistant to change. The program is 12 years old and has undergone very little change except that they have squandered over 30 million dollars and lost funding. Now the entire district suffers because of the Academy Way. They are stagnate, old fashioned and some are plain old lazy. There it is...

Academy teachers and out of town Parents have been allowed to have too much power. They are above the law. In any other School district their actions would be deemed insubordination. Increments (raises) would be withheld and teachers would be brought up on tenure charges. In Englewood, they are heroes, because the people you elected indulge them. You are paying them to dis you and your children every single day. That is the Academy Way.

Why do 5 members of our Board of Education allow teachers to run the entire district into the ground. The Academy Way is ruining the education of Englewood students all the way down to Pre-Kindergarten. Your tax dollars is funding this indulgence. Howard Haughton and his supporters must be called upon to justify this obvious slight of Englewood voters.

Out of town Academy Parents stand up for their "Academic Segregation". They have been indulged by

people that you elected. They have been funded by your tax dollars and based on their actions, they despise you and your children.

When are Englewood Academy Parents going to stand up for Equal Opportunity in Education for their own children?  

You may begin by demanding the dismissal of the teacher sleeping on the table during the school day that has gone viral among students, teachers, administrators, parents, community members and school board members. Who knows, it may have been during her preparation period and she is allowed to catch a nap during that time. What is good for one is good for another. It is time you started to collect information and to fight for yourselves and your children. There is no Superman or Batman waiting in the wings to lead you. You must find the heroes in your own mirrors. You have more reason to protest than they do. You also have more power. It is time you started to use it.  Stop the vicious cycle. Protest with the full force of your being. It is a Civil Rights Violation of every single child in the district. It is illegal. It is damaging your children. It is against Englewood's own school policy that must be enforced by the Superintendent of Schools.

We need a leader. We need a good Superintendent who can shut these people down. They are running our school district and damaging our children.

Hang in there, Mr. Armental and DMHS Administration. There are more of us who think these folks are crazy than anyone hopes. The program is not sustainable in its present state. It has never been evaluated to determine whether it is doing anything positive for Englewood Residents. It is certainly NOT integrating DMHS. It is only helping the Special interest groups. The Haves and the Have Nots. What does that even mean in this town? The Academy Way is killing our school district. We see it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Building Positive School Climates

Building Positive School Climates

May/June, 2014 • Volume 44 • 6
ADL’s Making Diversity Count program can help reduce bullying and bias

Today’s youth live in an increasingly diverse country. The U.S. Department of Education reports that in 2013, 49 percent of K-12 public school students were students of color, compared to 39 percent in 2000. By 2021, projections show that number will increase to 53 percent of K-12 public school enrollment.
New Jersey mirrors the national trend. According to New Jersey Department of Education data, in 2000 40 percent of K-12 public school students were students of color. That percentage grew to 50 percent in 2013. However, diversity does not necessarily translate into inclusion and respect for differences. Bias, discrimination and identity-based bullying among youth persist and can escalate into violence.

According to the National Center of Education Statistics, 28 percent of students ages 12-18 have been bullied in school. Findings from the Teen Online and Wireless Safety Survey indicate that 24 percent of respondents report being cyberbullied during their lifetimes. Students’ identity or perceived identity, such as sexual orientation, religion, race, ethnicity and physical appearance, is often reported as a key motivator for bullying. One in 10 students reports that someone at school has used hate-related words against them and over a third have seen hate-related graffiti at school. These experiences are teaching young people that it is acceptable to exclude, demean and behave maliciously toward those considered different.

Forty-seven percent of high school students do not tell anyone if they are the target of bullying behavior. They remain silent for fear of retaliation or of being accused of tattling or snitching. They do not think adults will handle it well, reporting that adults either do nothing or their actions did not improve the situation.

In light of these trends and demonstrating its commitment to anti-bullying, New Jersey passed the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act (P.L.2010, c.122) in January 2011, and amended in March 2012. This comprehensive bill established a strong statutory, regulatory, policy and program framework to support the prevention, remediation and reporting of harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) in schools.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), founded in 1913, is an organization that remains committed to combating anti-Semitism, bias and bigotry through advocacy and anti-bias education programs. ADL has been a long-time leader in the development of Pre-K-12 curriculum affirming diversity and addressing bias and prejudice in schools. More than a decade ago, ADL was among the first to recognize the threat of bullying and cyberbullying and to develop effective bullying prevention and intervention programs for educators, students, parents and the community.

One of the programs ADL offers to schools and school districts across the country is a comprehensive online anti-bias training course called Making Diversity Count. This easy-to-navigate, self-paced online course provides teachers, administrators, counselors and school staff with useful tools and information to improve school climate and build culturally responsive and inclusive classrooms that promote respect, fairness and equity.

The course offers educators practical skills for helping students develop effective response strategies when they or others are targets of bullying. Through video vignettes of classroom situations, participants witness various acts of bias in the classroom. They then practice ways to respond to the bias by choosing different solutions and seeing the resulting outcomes. They can click on expert advice tabs and listen to authorities in the field offer suggestions in how to handle difficult and often unexpected situations. They can complete interactive activities, participate in a moderated discussion board, write reflections in a journal, adapt lesson plans for use in their own classrooms, and customize an action plan to integrate multicultural practices into their teaching. Upon completion, participants receive a certificate for 15 professional development hours.

Topics covered in the course include: working through the challenges of diversity in the classroom, exploring personal and student identity, defining exclusive and insensitive language, creating culturally responsive classrooms, understanding value-laden conflicts and confronting bias, bullying and name calling.
Educators say that this course is unique because it provides clear and practical ways to handle uncomfortable conversations and challenging circumstances. One educator said, “The course is designed to engage teachers by presenting real and interesting scenarios that truly tested the way I think about and approach diversity in my classroom. Diversity should count and for me, this course helped me examine my own teaching and provide tangible ways to make it count.”

In recent course evaluations of Making Diversity Count, 84 percent of participants reported that the course gave them specific tools to help make their classrooms more inclusive and bias free, 86 percent stated that it showed them ways to be more proactive managing cross cultural communication and 87 percent said they would recommend Making Diversity Count to a colleague.

The comprehensive course includes nine modules and typically takes 12-15 hours to complete. ADL suggests that participants complete the course in 12-16 weeks, which amounts to a commitment of about one hour per week.

ADL offers the course to a school or district for their teachers for a nominal license fee. For more information, contact Andrea Topper 212-885-7837.

Andrea Topper is project director of ADL Making Diversity Count.

Source: New Jersey School Board Association Newsletter

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mount Laurel students use ocean exploration to learn about STEM

May/June, 2014 • Volume 44 • 6
Under the Sea
Mount Laurel students use ocean exploration to learn about STEM

When the Mount Laurel School District wanted to start a new middle-school program a few years ago in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – teacher Maureen Barrett was intrigued.  Barrett, who was an eighth-grade life sciences teacher, as well as an avid scuba diver, had seen a program on underwater robots during a marine educators conference, and “kept it on the back burner of something I’d like to do.”
The teacher submitted a proposal for an elective course on ocean exploration, and her idea was selected.  Almost three years after the STEM program began at Harrington Middle School in 2011, the class, which teaches scientific and engineering concepts by having seventh-graders build and use underwater robots, has become extremely popular with students and parents.

The ocean exploration course, which began as an elective, is now part of the regular schedule for all seventh-graders. An after-school club, the Sea Perch Team Club, competes in underwater robotics competitions, taking students to Rowan University, the University of Southern Mississippi and elsewhere. An Ocean Exploration Night for families is in the planning stages at the middle school.
The program was also recognized by the New Jersey School Boards Association in its 2013 School Leader Awards.

“What’s really great is the students are using a lot of tools. They’re building the control box from scratch, stripping wires and crimping and completing the circuit, putting in toggle switches. They’re learning to work with each other and collaborate, and they’re learning basic engineering principals,” Barrett said. “It’s not just, build a robot and play in the pool.”

The class gives kids a taste of what it really feels like to be an engineer or scientist. Students collaborate in teams of four to brainstorm and design ROVs – Remotely Operated Vehicles – using the engineering design process. They construct their robots from PVC pipe, wiring and assorted hardware. Using the robots in an 8-by-12-foot portable pool, they then perform underwater tasks like capping a miniature well, simulating the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I wasn’t sure it would actually work in the water,” said one student in the end-of-class assessment. “It seems like only engineers do this type of stuff, not middle-school students.”
The students utilize other underwater robots called “Sea Perch” to do jobs such as collecting “crabs” made of PVC pipe and pipe cleaners. Students document their work throughout, in writing and a video journal, and do oral presentations. 

Learning opportunities go beyond the classroom. Students hear from guest speakers from the Philadelphia Naval Yard and industry; take field trips; and discuss current events in which underwater technology is used, such as the search for the missing Malaysian jetliner earlier this year. An autonomous underwater vehicle was employed in that search effort.

“They had to do research on not just that, but where else are (underwater vehicles) used?” Barrett said. “We’re building this cool little thing in class, but this is real life. This is how we’re exploring our oceans.”
Teamwork plays a big part in the course. Often that draws the most pride from kids.
“I’m most proud of our group,” wrote one student. “I’m proud of our group because we worked together and listened to what each other had to say.”
Mount Laurel Schools Superintendent Dr. Antoinette Rath said the program was so well-received “it was apparent we had to do more.” The district expanded STEM offerings to fifth through eighth grades, on topics such as LEGO robotics and the environment. 

A STEAM course – science, technology, engineering, arts and math, which brings arts in as well – was also added in middle school.

Corporate donations from partners such as Lockheed Martin and The Sallie Mae Fund, and grants from NJAET – the New Jersey Association for Educational Technology – and the Mount Laurel Public Education Fund, have provided support.
“These courses continue to be highly sought after,” Dr. Rath said, “and have opened new doors for many of our students.”
NJSBA’s School Leader Awards judge programs based on innovation, how well they meet student needs, the relationship of the program to the state’s curriculum standards, and program results.
Jeanette Rundquist is NJSBA communications officer.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Your Child Is Going To School In September. Are You Ready?

Your child is beginning school in 

September: Are YOU READY?

What questions are you asking? 

  • What should I do before my child starts school?
  • What will my child’s kindergarten teacher expect of my child? 
  • What can I do at home to help my child succeed in school?
  • How can I tell how well my child is doing in school?
  • How can I get the most out of parent-teacher conferences?
  • How can I encourage my child to read?
  • How much homework should my child have?
  • How should I help my child with homework?
  • How I can be more actively involved with my child’s school?
  • What can I do to help make sure that my child’s school is safe and drug-free?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pride and Prejudice?

After the School Board Meeting on June 26, 2014, I noticed a young parent waiting around with her family. She spoke to her son saying, that is Mrs. Walker. I thought, oh no.
She approached me with her son and introduced the 2 of us. Another Community member was holding her youngest child. The young man stepped forward and told me this:

"I am an Academy student, but I will graduate from Dwight Morrow High School." He spoke with the pride and certainty that has been missing from the graduates of A@E since the first class earned diplomas from our Alma Mater.

Looking at them, I knew that at least one Englewood family understands what our group is trying to do. I hugged both of them and thanked them for the encouragement. That one exchange gave me enough fuel to carry on for a long time.
Join us. Help us dodge the bullets. Join the fight to save our traditions. We value our history. Some of our children are being taught to value their history also.

        Adios and Vaya Con Dios

How are the children?