Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2008 School Report Cards and 2008 Statewide Assessment Report

The New Jersey Department of Education has released the 2008 School Report Cards and the 2008 Statewide Assessment Reports.

As public accountability documents, the Report Cards contain detailed statistical profiles of all public schools in the state in the areas of school environment, student information, student performance indicators, staff information, and district/charter financial information.

The Statewide Assessment Report is the state's annual summary of the results for the assessments administered in the spring of the year. School- and district-level information is grouped by DFG. In addition to the complete reporting of the disaggregated proficiency levels for each test at each grade level, there are highlights and trend information contained in graphs and charts for each test.

The report cards, established by legislation in 1995, are produced for all elementary and secondary schools, as well as vocational schools, special education schools, charter schools, and Special Services School Districts.

In addition to being a resource for community members to check the progress of their schools, the report card contains state-level information that is helpful in providing an overview of education in New Jersey.

Advanced Placement participation has risen from 15% statewide in 2005-06 to 18% in 2007-08.

State-level percentages of students' intended pursuits after graduation in 2008 are as follows:

. Four-year college . 54 %
. Two-year college . 31 %
. Other college . 1.0%
. Other Post-secondary School . 2.3%
. Military . 1.4%
. Apprenticeship . 0.2%
. Employment . 6.3%
. The rest are undecided or other .

For districts with a K-12 population, the median administrative salary is $111,311 and the median for years of administrators experience is 22. For the K-12 faculty, the median salary is $57,242 and median for years of experience is 9.

The statewide average ratio of students per computer used for instruction has dropped over the years between 2001 and 2008 from 4.3 to 1 to 3.3 to 1.

All teachers must be certified by the state in the subjects they teach, but the state encourages teachers also to attain National Board certification which is a rigorous process that includes observations of a teacher's classroom teaching. The numbers of teachers who are Nationally Board Certified has increased from 103 in 2006 to 152 in 2007 and 173 in 2008.

State assessments for grades 5-8 show only one year of results because they are new tests. Grades three and four will not be changed until next year. In this year's NJ ASK3 math, the number of students scoring advanced proficient rose from 4.5% in 2006-07 to 23.3% in 2007-08.

There are 37 different Advanced Placement courses offered in high schools throughout New Jersey. The top six courses with the percentage of students that take them are as follows:

. English Literature and Composition . (7.5%)
. Calculus AB . (7.5%)
. United States History . (7.0%)
. Biology . (6.5%)
. Chemistry . (5.5%)
. Spanish language . (5.5%)

Many students in New Jersey live at home with parents who speak a language other than English. In 2007-08 the top six languages statewide that are spoken at home are as follows:_
. English . 77.6%
. Spanish . 10.8%
. Korean . 0.6%
. Portuguese . 0.5%
. Arabic . 0.5%
. Mandarin . 0.4%

The report cards released today are the fourteenth to be produced under the 1995 state law that specifies much of the information to be reported and requires its annual distribution. They also represent the 18th time New Jersey has issued a report on its public schools, since the first report cards were distributed in 1989.

The school report card is on the department's Web site at http://education.state.nj.us/rc/
The statewide assessment reports are on the department's Web site at http://www.nj.gov/education/schools/achievement/2009/

New Book on New Jersey's Efforts to Close the Achievement Gap Shows That Money Matters - But So Do Well-Supported Teachers and a Coherent Plan

With the No Child Left Behind Act up for renewal, education reform is among the many areas the Obama administration will need to address. As the president and his team consider policies and funding to improve academic success for all students, a new book from The Century Foundation about New Jersey's efforts to close the achievement gap offers lessons about how - and how not - to improve public education.
"In Plain Sight: Simple, Difficult Lessons from New Jersey's Expensive Effort to Close the Achievement Gap" explores what happened when the state education department partnered with city school districts in an attempt to close the achievement gap between poor, minority students in urban districts and their counterparts in the predominantly white and more affluent suburban districts. The program, created as a result of the landmark New Jersey Supreme Court case Abbott v. Burke, provided generous funding to improve educational outcomes in poor districts. The focused effort by many of the state's poorest school districts on closing the achievement gap by introducing effective early literacy practices, rather than relying on packaged programs and curricula tied to preparing for the achievement tests, led to a fairly dramatic improvement in the state's test scores. Only in Massachusetts did fourth graders score higher than those in more diverse New Jersey on the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test.

The lessons from New Jersey apply in any American city that has concentrations of poor children in failing school districts. When attention is focused on supporting and enhancing teachers' efforts to assess the needs of their students and tailor their instruction to those needs, dramatically better results are possible. However, if no coherent plan for improved classroom instruction is implemented, more money makes no difference.
"In Plain Sight" was written by Gordon MacInnes, a fellow at The Century Foundation and lecturer at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School, who has devoted four decades to government service and leadership on issues related to education, poverty, and urban living. He served from 2002 to April 2007 as assistant commissioner for Abbott implementation for the New Jersey Department of Education, where he oversaw a division that was created to coordinate the implementation of Abbott v. Burke, the nation's most prescriptive and sweeping state supreme court ruling on school funding for the state's poorest cities. He was also elected to the New Jersey General Assembly and Senate, where he served on the education committee. MacInnes provides a frank and comprehensive examination of those districts where poor, minority students have demonstrated continued academic improvement. Based on lessons from New Jersey, he offers recommendations for policies and practices that will narrow the achievement gap and improve the academic prospects for all. These include:
- Academic achievement trumps other important objectives.
- The state, and the district, must set forth a clear set of ambitious academic goals by grade level and content.
- Priority must go to teaching primary grade students to read and write English well.
- The district must keep track of the progress that each student is making in meeting academic goals.
- When a student falls behind, there must be a system for rescuing him or her, which includes spending whatever additional time is required to bring that student up to par. The expense for such attention must take precedence over other spending demands.
- Teachers must be treated as front-line professionals and provided continuous support in their efforts to improve their student's academic results.
- The process and set of practices must never end. Effective instruction involves constant adjustment, checks on how the adjusted instruction is working, and then (usually) readjustments.
- As students become literate in language and mathematics, the next step is to make school an engaging, fascinating experience. That means using diverse instructional materials that cut across content areas, and projects that showcase the wonder of learning.

MacInnes concludes that the most important lesson from New Jersey is that the restoration of teaching as the primary activity of schools, and the return of respect for the professionalism of those who oversee and teach in those schools are the essential ingredients for improving educational prospects for all children. He suggests that in difficult economic times, these simple, straight-forward prescriptions must command scarce resources in states and school districts. However, he believes that the results in New Jersey show that it's an investment worth making.

In Plain Sight: Simple, Difficult Lessons from New Jersey's Expensive
Effort to Close the Achievement Gap
129 pages, paper, $14.95
ISBN 978-0-87078-513-9

Obama: 'We've let our grades slip'
The president takes on unions, backs teacher merit pay in new plan
The Associated Press
updated 11:49 a.m. ET, Tues., March. 10, 2009

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Tuesday embraced a new approach to public education that adds up to merit pay for the better teachers and longer days and school years for students.

These proposals, which constitute the new president's vision of an education system that meets 21st century challenges, were sure to generate loud criticism, particularly from teachers' union.

Educators oppose charter schools because they divert tax dollars away from traditional public schools. Merit-based systems for teachers have been anathema to teachers' unions, a powerful force in Obama's Democratic Party. 

Obama acknowledged this in his talk to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

"Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom," he said, delivering the first major education speech of his presidency. "Too many in the Republican Party have opposed new investments in early education, despite compelling evidence of its importance."

'An economic imperative'
But he argued that a far-reaching overhaul of the nation's education system is an economic imperative that can't wait, despite the urgency of the financial crisis and other pressing issues.

"Despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us," Obama said. "The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, unsustainable for our democracy, and unacceptable for our children. We cannot afford to let it continue. What is at stake is nothing less than the American dream."

The ideas the president promoted were nearly all elements of his campaign platform last year. He only barely mentioned the reauthorization of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, which introduced sweeping reforms that schools are struggling to meet without the funding to match. Obama said his administration would "later this year" ensure that schools get the funding they need and that the money is conditioned on results.

Among the principles Obama laid out were:

  • Challenging states to adopt world-class standards rather than a specific standard. Obama's economic stimulus plan includes a $5 billion incentive fund to reward states for, among other things, boosting the quality of standards and state tests, and the president said the Education Department would create a fund to invest in innovation.
  • Improved pre-kindergarten programs, including $5 billion in the stimulus plan to grow Head Start, expand child care access and do more for children with special needs. He also said he would offer 55,000 first-time parents regular visits from trained nurses and said that states that develop cutting-edge plans to raise the quality of early learning programs would get an Early Learning Challenge Grant, if Congress approves the new program.
  • Reducing student dropout rates. To students, Obama said: "Don't even think about dropping out of school." But he said that reducing the dropout rates also requires turning around the worst schools, something he asked lawmakers, parents and teachers to make "our collective responsibility as Americans."
  • Repeating his call for everyone to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training, with the goal of highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020.
  • On charter schools, he said the caps instituted by some states on how many are allowed aren't "good for our children, our economy, or our country."

    Teacher policy
    Obama also spoke at length about what he described his policy toward teachers, what he called an `unprecedented commitment to ensure that anyone entrusted with educating our children is doing the job as well as it can be done." In up to 150 more school districts, Obama said, teachers will get mentoring, more money for improved student achievement and new responsibilities.

    Also, Obama said, "We need to make sure our students have the teacher they need to be successful. That means states and school districts taking steps to move bad teachers out of the classroom. Let me be clear: if a teacher is given a chance but still does not improve, there is no excuse for that person to continue teaching."

    The president acknowledged that a rethinking of the traditional American school day may not be welcome — "not in my family, and probably not in yours" — but is critical.

    "The challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom," Obama said. "If they can do that in South Korea, we can do it right here in the United States of America."

    After the speech, Obama stopped at a hotel to drop in on another meeting, an already scheduled and ongoing round-table discussion between Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which involves the heads of education from every state and U.S. territory.

    URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29612995/

    © 2009 MSNBC.com

    Monday, March 9, 2009

    School Choice and Vouchers Position Paper #1

    Patricia McGhee
    School Choice and Vouchers Position Paper # 1
    March 10, 2009

    Despite the fact that the topics of school choice and vouchers are not new, they remain controversial topics that provide a broad spectrum of opinion and very adamant view points. Lisa Snell in a Los Angeles Times article entitled, “Vouchers, alive, well and working”, describes vouchers as “bringing hope to thousands of students trapped in poorly performing schools. On the other hand, David Tokofsky, in a responding Los Angeles Times article entitled, “Vouchers don’t have a monopoly on choice”, contradicts the importance of voucher’s role in improving education by stating, “The irony is that while Bush’s Florida might have more voucher programs, more of its schools are under the federal “Performance Improvement” (failing schools) category than schools in most states. “ Vouchers are described by the leadership of the American Federation of teachers as “robbing the poor to help the rich.” This reflects one of my personal beliefs. In addition opponents of school choice state that public schools perform similarly to private schools when teaching similar groups of students, and that the conception of public schools as “failing” in comparison to private school is more due to the demographic differences between public and private schools than to actual differences in the quality of education the schools offer.
    “School choice is everywhere in American education. It is manifest in the residential choices made by families [and] in the housing prices found in neighborhoods [and] when families, sometimes at great financial sacrifice, decide to send their children to private schools… In all instances, these choices… are strongly shaped by the wealth, ethnicity, and social status of parents and their neighborhoods.” (Richard Elmore and Bruce Fuller). For many years, parents have been choosing to send their children to religious based schools. In the article by Hannah Boyd, published at the website, education.com, entitled The School Voucher Debate, the author states that the vast majority of students in voucher programs attend religious schools rather than secular private schools. Many criticize the idea of diverting public money into religious institutions and they further state that this action violates the Constitutional principle of separation between church and state.
    Our text Curriculum Foundations, Principles, and Issues states that Vermont has had a voucher program since 1869. Milwaukee in strong opposition to teacher unions has instituted a successful school choice and voucher program. One form of the voucher program is called comprehensive choice.” Joseph Bast and Herbert Walberg in our text state that “Comprehensive choice funds that now go to public schools go instead to parents, in the form of certificates or scholarships that are deposited into a type of educational savings account for parents to withdraw from this account and pay tuition at participating private and public schools. Other types of voucher programs include the Universal Voucher Program, the Means-Tested Voucher Program, Failing Schools, Failing Students Voucher Program, Special Needs Voucher Program, Pre-Kindergarten Voucher Program and Town Tuition Program. With the Universal Voucher Program all students are eligible; however the other voucher programs mentioned address specific groups of students. Proponents of school vouchers point out that poor and non-white students are the most likely to be stuck in a failing public school. Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman “argued that vouchers would diversify schools as children from low-income families would have money to attend private school. Many who support vouchers believe that more choice is better.
    When considering school choice and vouchers opponents say that it is important to remember that public schools under No Child Left Behind are forced to participate in strict standardized testing requirements, but private schools are not required to demonstrate academic gains. In addition private school teachers are not required to be state-certified. Public schools and the private schools that parents choose are in fact playing by two different sets of rules. Opponents of school choice and vouchers for the school s chosen by parents further question the quality of education in private schools which are not regulated by the state. Opponents further predict that dwindling public school funds will be further eroded by implementing a school voucher system on an even larger scale.
    Finally, as a public school teacher who sent her children to private school I am totally in favor of the school choice movement. School choice is about empowering parents and students. The federal No Child Left Behind Act provides parents of students in failing school with options to attend the school of their choice; however, these options are limited to public schools. I also believe that school choice does foster competition and that public schools should do more to compete for the students who live in their geographical areas and who are being siphoned off into area charter and other private schools. One of the problems for me with the school choice movement and voucher programs are the fact that my research indicates that in some instances the parents and students who need the school choice and vouchers the most are not receiving the benefits of these two programs. Several researchers pointed out that a part of the school choice movement is rooted in the concept of majority parents wanting to segregate their children from minority children. Should this kind of thinking be rewarded with vouchers, scholarships and tuition tax credits? I don’t believe so. Those parents who choose choice and can afford to pay should not benefit from any voucher program especially at the expense of the public school system or the limited tax dollars for education from the state and federal government. In my opinion choice is a right; vouchers are wrong. In conclusion, choice in American education is here to stay. School choice fosters a wide range of learning opportunities. State legislatures and voters continue to agree and disagree over voucher programs.


    Bolick, Clint. Voucher wars: Waging the legal battle over school choice. (2003).
    Washington, DC: Cato Institute.

    Corwin, Ronald G. & Schneider, Joseph E. The school choice hoax: fixing america’s
    schools. (2005). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

    Ealy, Lenore T. & Enlow, Robert C. editors. Liberty and learning: Milton friedman’s.
    voucher idea at fifty. (September, 2006). Washington, DC: Cato Institute.

    Henig, Jeffrey R. Rethinking school choice. (1994). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton
    University Press.

    Lee, Jackson, F. & Rinehart, James R. American education and the dynamics of choice.
    Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers.

    Walberg, Herbert J. Point of view: School choice evidence. (September 1, 2004).School Choice News.

    Saturday, March 7, 2009


    Alicia Richards
    Fundamentals of Curriculum Development
    Position Paper 1-Multiculturalism

    The American Heritage dictionary defines multiculturalism as “of or relating to a social or educational theory that encourages interest in many cultures within a society rather than in only a mainstream culture”. The definition of multiculturalism is interpreted in a variety of ways in applying the theory to education. Individuals tend to mold their idea of multiculturalism to fit their own focus. Some concentrate on a curriculum shift of varying degrees, others on classroom climate issues, teaching styles, institutional issues (tracking, standardized testing, funding), while still others link multiculturalism in education to a larger societal transformation. Christine Bennett of Indiana University calls multicultural education “an approach to teaching and learning that is based upon democratic values and beliefs, and seeks to foster cultural pluralism within culturally diverse societies and an interdependent world”. The impact this idea of multiculturalism has on curriculum and how it can be used to improve our educational system are the essential questions facing educators.

    Many of the original immigrant populations in our country sought to assimilate into the great American melting pot. Since those populations were primarily from Europe and Great Britain, the “American” identity became white, Anglo/European, Christian and middle-class. With the progress blazed in the United States by the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, other marginalized groups sought to have their cultural heritage and societal contributions acknowledged. Today, the “melting pot” concept has evolved into more of a “salad bowl” idea. Instead of sacrificing their cultural identity, people want to integrate their rich history into a new American identity. This concept is called cultural pluralism; many small groups who maintain their unique cultural backgrounds while integrating to form one cohesive nation. The US census bureau projects that by 2042 non-Hispanic whites will no longer make up the majority of the population. Our society is made up of people from every nation and to ignore that diversity is to reject what makes us strong and vital. The traditional educational perspective needs to change to better address this new societal reality.

    Why do we need a multicultural curriculum? By including diverse perspectives, multicultural education (M E) broadens students understanding of their own and other’s cultural background and beliefs. M E provides a more accurate picture of our country’s and the world’s history. Students learn the value of other ways of life and recognize the contributions of diverse ethnic groups. Students make connections between what they learn in school and their home lives. Research has shown that student’s achievement increases when culturally familiar information is part of their everyday curriculum. M E makes curriculum relevant and inclusive for all students.

    By facilitating the recognition of the strengths and values of diverse cultures, M E combats racism, sexism, and all forms of prejudice and discrimination. Students learn to respect and appreciate diversity. Students from different ethnic groups become classroom resources when their history and experiences are tapped to add depth to lessons. Curriculum that in unbiased and refutes stereotypes imparts more complete and accurate information to students.

    M E also promotes critical thinking skills. One way it does this is by encouraging students to analyze information from a variety of perspectives and then synthesize that information into a new understanding. The more points of view students are exposed to the more fully they will comprehend a subject. M E also requires learners to question the inherent bias in some educational material. They must ask whose point of view is being imparted and whose voice is being excluded. How does this alter the information presented? By making knowledge relevant to all students, M E increases the likelihood students will comprehend new information. M E requires teachers to be sensitive to different ways of learning, which also increases a student’s chance of achieving.

    In an increasingly small world, M E prepares students for the future by increasing their awareness of global issues and cultural dynamics. Technology and globalization have created a more interconnected and interdependent society. In order to succeed, people need to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to interact with different cultures on a global scale. The cultural connections curriculum builds in elementary and secondary school will empower students to change the inequities they see in their own communities and the larger world community.

    The use of multiculturalism in education varies by degree and application. Some educators focus on content. They attempt to incorporate more factually correct information about ethnic and cultural groups. Content-oriented programs analyze textbooks and instructional materials for bias and select materials that provide accurate representations. The degree of multicultural integration varies. Some educators teach about “other” ethnic groups in isolation from the standard curriculum; Mexican culture is celebrated on Cinco de Mayo and black inventors take the stage for one day in February. The level of commitment to M E can increase from this token level by adding more multicultural materials and themes to curriculum. The highest level programs integrate multicultural content throughout the curriculum. Student-oriented programs focus on the achievement of students from particular groups, usually without changing curricular content. These programs require teacher sensitivity to culturally different learning styles. Student-oriented programs emphasize bilingual education and student adjustment to the mainstream culture. Socially-oriented programs offer the most holistic multicultural experiences. They make educational changes to engender a larger societal transformation. These programs combine both content and process to reduce bias, increase racial and cultural tolerance and understanding and emphasize the relationships and connections between all people. Socially-oriented programs are the epitome of multicultural education.

    Multiculturalism offers a way for educators to acknowledge the rich, diverse history of our nation and world. It provides a remedy to the injustices and marginalization suffered by many who call themselves American and who desire to be valued for their past as well as their present. It allows all students a way to better understand the world and their place in it. We can see the benefits of multiculturalism in respect to many of the issues we’ve studied. NCLB demands that we find a way for ALL children to succeed; multiculturalism is one avenue to that goal. Ruby Payne encouraged us to understand the cultural background of disadvantaged children and to be sensitive to their needs; multiculturalism advocates understanding and sensitivity. Global competition requires critical thinking skills and an understanding of the way other countries/cultures operate; multicultural education increases both. One way to decrease the rate of student dropouts is to ensure that they are fully engaged in the learning process. Multiculturalism allows students to see themselves in the subjects they learn, to picture themselves as successful. Implementing a multicultural curriculum has many challenges, but the end result certainly seems worth the effort.

    For more information on multiculturalism, check out these websites:

    http://www.mcrcenter.org/ The Multicultural Resource Center is an independent school collaborative that works with member schools in the Philadelphia area to develop programming that promotes and enriches diversity in our schools.

    Founded in 1991 by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation's children.

    http://www.teachingforchange.org/ Teaching for Change provides teachers and parents with the tools to transform schools into centers of justice where students learn to read, write and change the world.

    http://www.edchange.org/ EdChange is dedicated to equity and justice in schools and society. We act to shape schools, organizations, and communities in which the full diversity of people have opportunities to live, learn, and thrive free from oppression.

    http://www.nameorg.org/ National Association for Multicultural Education Advocates for educational equity and social justice

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    Patricia Quinn Benn
    Fundamentals of Curriculum Development
    Dr. Jay Dugan
    10 March 2009

    Position Paper #1: Multiculturalism

    As educators, we often hear the term multiculturalism. We know that a multicultural education is supposed to be supported and taught within our classrooms and schools, but do we really know what it is, how to define it, and, more importantly, how to implement it within our classrooms? It seems that many schools across the nation attribute multicultural education to celebrations on Cinco de Mayo and recognition of heroes, such as Martin Luther King Jr. (Holland, 2004). However, theorists and experts in the field would venture to say that it is much more. In her novel Ed Speak, Diane Ravitch defines multicultural education as, “an approach to education that draws on historical, cultural, and scientific contributions and experiences of a wide variety of racial, ethnic, national, and cultural groups” (Ravitch, 2007). Therefore, for an educator, multicultural education is about understanding not only one’s own culture, race, religion, etc., but understanding the students’ lives including music, food, behaviors, community, etc. (Warren, 2006).

    The multicultural education movement began and developed from the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. Activists worked to put an end to discrimination in the fields of education, job market, housing, etc. At this time, multicultural education was attributed mostly to African Americans and women (Ornstein et. al, 2009). Today, our definition of multicultural education has expanded to include not only gender and race, but sexuality, religion, special needs, and socioeconomic status. Therefore, students are “defined by a culture which reflects [their] belief systems and behaviors,” (Nuri-Robins et. al, 2007). Once we as educators recognize this, our schools and classrooms will be better adapted to foster, nurture, and provide equal education to all.

    Before one can create a multicultural classroom appropriate for 2009, one must sift through the many terms and colloquialisms associated with such. Some of today’s hot terms include culturally responsive, culturally proficient, and cultural pluralism. What do each of these terms mean? Do they all have similar definitions, or are they vastly different? How should each be incorporated within our multicultural educated classrooms? To understand them, they must be examined and defined:
    1. Culturally responsive – when students, teachers, schools, and parents work together as a unit or team in understanding and supporting different cultures
    a. Schools must send a strong message to families that they are willing and able to be culturally responsive.
    b. Culturally responsive schools are “student-centered, powerful enough to transform, connected and integrated, focuses on critical thinking, incorporates assessment and reflection, and builds relationships and community,” (Saifer and Barton, 2007).
    2. Culturally proficient – a way to talk about, understand, and embrace differences in such a way that all are respected individually and within their cultures
    a. Cultural proficiency is an “inside-out approach that makes explicit the values and practices that enable [us all to interact],” (Nuri-Robins et. al, 2007).
    b. Schools that utilize such a method are growing and adapting to educational practices of today and the future.
    c. Culturally proficient schools focus on “us” and “our practices,” respect and include all, indicates diversity and inclusion as goals, and examines existing policies and procedures and adapts as necessary.
    3. Cultural pluralism – enables various groups to obtain power needed to improve political, economic, and social status
    a. A culturally pluralistic classroom is one in which students can study their own cultures and well as others.
    b. A cultural pluralism perspective believes that all Americans should be multiculturally aware and understand and respect all facets (Rothstein-Fisch & Trumball, 2008).
    Some would argue that all are necessary for a rounded-out multicultural classroom/school. Culturally responsive and culturally proficient classrooms/schools utilize the concept of having everyone from parents to students to staff work together to create a school that acknowledges and works together to understand and implement the concepts of multiculturalism. Cultural pluralism takes it a step further and suggests that it is important that the students and families have the opportunity to continue to embrace their own cultures while learning and respecting new cultures.

    These ideas sound wonderful in theory, but are they plausible and feasible? Many experts and researchers say yes. Many suggest that teachers design interdisciplinary lessons to incorporate cultural knowledge. To do such, it is suggested that the teacher go out and understand other cultures by experiencing them (Leiding, 2007). It is once someone is no longer ignorant to a culture, that he/she can truly respect different cultures and the individuals who populate them. Respect is a concept that is highly valued in other countries, much more so than in America. A multicultural classroom engages and demands respect of teachers to students, students to teachers, and students to students. This respect allows the different cultural values and beliefs to become the core of the classroom and school’s vision. While the research is a bit vague, it does allow teachers the flexibility and opportunity to interpret multiculturalism for their own particular classroom whether in the mid-western states such as New Mexico and Texas, or up north in places like Boston, Massachusetts, and New York, New York (Rothstein-Fisch & Trumball, 2008).

    With the advent and continual development of No Child Left Behind and the increasing numbers of ethnic and minority students within our classrooms increasing by the year, it is our duty as educators to embrace multicultural education. Although it will require work, time, and effort to be successful and meaningful, it will be a means of opening the door to students who otherwise always met a closed one.

    Works Cited

    Holland, R. (2004). Divisive multicultural mold. The Washington Times. B04.

    Leiding, D. (2007). Planning multicultural lessons. Principal Leadership. September , 48-51.

    Nuri-Robins, K. (2007). Cultural proficiency. Principal Leadership. September, 16-22.

    Ornstein, A., & Hunkins, F. (2009). Curriculum: foundations, principles, and issues. New York:

    Ravitch, D. (2007). Ed speak. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

    Rothstein-Fisch, C., & Trumball, E. (2008). Managing diverse classrooms. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

    Saifer, S. (2007).Promoting culturally responsive. Principal Leadership. September, 24-28.

    Warren, J. For teachers, diversity more than a lesson on King Day. (2006, November 20). The Chicago

    Sunday, March 1, 2009


    President Barack Obama addressing Congress, February 24, 2009

    I doubt I am the only one who picked this up...

    We started our February 24 class with the position paper reports on high school dropouts. After class, President Obama was on TV addressing Congress. Part of the address was about...you guessed it...dropouts. It is nice to be current with the issues...being a few hours ahead of them, however, was a real bonus.

    The president said "dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country, and this country needs and values the talents of every American."

    President Obama went on to say that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations now needed young recruits to have at least a high school diploma.

    One of the 75%?

    I would like to see where those statistics came from...not that I disbelieve what our president said...but because I am inclined to believe that nearly 100% of the fastest growing occupations would, by now, require a high school diploma.

    For related articles/tables on this subject, try these links: