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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Recently, the Center for Disease Control released a report stating there was a 300% spike in individuals getting infected with measles. You can read the full report at https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html . As a parent and as a former Superintendent of Schools, I find this incredibly disturbing. It is my opinion that this 300% spike could have been 100% avoided.

As a Superintendent of Schools, I enforced the New Jersey law of “no shots, no school”. There was one significant exemption to the law; you can write a letter to the district stating you decline to have your child vaccinated (for any disease) for religious reasons. It has been my experience that a majority of the letters submitted were because parents could not afford the shots or did not have the time to get the student vaccinated. In both cases, we attempted to accommodate the issue. We distributed a myriad of information on where and when you can get free vaccinations in town or in the county. We arranged free vaccinations through the county health department. We even brought in our district physician (every NJ district has one) to the school to administer shots to students and staff. We would try to provide any reasonable means to ensure that students attending school in the district could have access to vaccinations. Yet, there were still parents who declined.

Being a parent, I fully understood the right to the parent’s primary objective in advocating for your child. Should religion truly be at the forefront of your concerns, I would never hold that against you. Yet upon speaking to scads of religious leaders, I have not come across any religious leader or representative who said getting a vaccination would be interfering with their faith.

Before parents would turn in the letter, I would remind them of the one caveat of submitting such; as the Superintendent of Schools, I am allowed to prohibit your child from attending school, at any time, for any amount of time should there be an illness “floating around the school” or an outbreak of anything. You read that right; if there is a cold that’s being passed around, I can keep your child at home for as long as I see fit. The reason for such is simple in that your child is much more likely to not only become ill but can experience more complications from the illness. I recall one instance in which I kept a student out for 3 weeks because half of the class had a virus. After the third week, the parent had their child vaccinated with no objections. We also had policies in place where if a parent was not vaccinated, they would not be permitted to volunteer in any school activity where there is interaction with others.

In sum, based on the aforementioned report and seeing first hand what can happen to your children if you don’t vaccinate, it is paramount that you have your child (and yourself) vaccinated. These are not random shots or an experiment; this is clinical medicine that has proven results that keep your child safe. This is a work of science, not a work of science fiction. Your child being unvaccinated puts your child and all those who interact with them at risk. As the Chief Education Officer for all those who attend and work in the district, it is my chief responsibility to keep all safe. No learning can or will take place if the basics (i.e. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) can’t be fulfilled. Enough of the fake news and superstition; it’s time to participate in our society in a safe manner for all so we can continue to grow, learn and move onward.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

In one of my favorite Portlandia sketches, everyone in Portland promotes their DJ night. Sometimes it feels like every teacher is turning into a blogger like citizens of Portland compelled to spin records. This is a fundamentally good thing: it allows teachers to share and access great practices while creating positive digital footprints. Here is some advice for teachers considering starting an education blog.

Why Blog?

You are a teacher in the United States of America. You work too hard for too little pay. Who goes to bed at night worrying about telling the world how great you are? No one, that's who. Teachers have to tell their own story. 

Further, we encourage students to create digital portfolios. Teachers need digital portfolios too. What better way to introduce students to digital portfolios than sharing your own?

Finally, you never know what the future holds. What if your dream job in another school opens? What if you have to move? What if your school has cuts? Be armed with a powerful digital portfolio to showcase what you do. Everyone has a resume. Your blog will make you stand out.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

 

Are you kidding me? Hard to believe. We saw the photos of the polar vortex. Brrrr.

Gorgeous ice formations, but feh! The havoc wreaked, maybe not over yet. Time will tell what Mother Nature has in store with her fickle surprises lately.

Looked like a disaster movie, maybe the one with Dennis Quaid, Day After Tomorrow, where the kids ended up burning books in the library to stay warm. But they were saved in the end. Happy ending, reunion. I like happy endings. I'm not so sure this story about the hockey game has a happy ending. Let me know what you think about the whole fiasco. Oops, meant to, well, sort of, hold back my opinion. Here goes.

Oh boy, call me crazy! And the best part of this story is, well not gonna' tell you. Just a quick read here to find out!

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Debunked.  It's true. Learning styles theory has been thoroughly debunked. 

Kaput. Put out to pasture. At least for now. Things come and go in education, that pendulum swings mightily, but right now, gone or going fast. And for those teachers and administrators who still believe in styles based pedagogy, common to the core no more.

I just don't get it. Tonight after another crazy busy day, I am writing to you, instead of watching Netflix, almost anything would be ok tonight. This is my second night working on this blog. I thought I would knock it out in a couple hours yesterday. I thought about it for a week. I planned to give you a bunch of thoughts based on my fervent beliefs in the concepts of learning styles and a bit of multiple intelligences theory. That was then.

It's not like you don't know all this, or much of this, or have distinct opinions. It's also not my goal to convince you of anything, simply to add a bit to the discussion. I read, as I did a little 'debunking', 2018 research, that about 90 percent of teachers believe in the idea of learning styles or preferences. That's a lot of believers.

If that is accurate, then, along with the '80's and '90's self-esteem movement, the notion that everybody has a distinct learning style naturally leading to academic success, made sense. Not so easy to correlate preferences and success. Not anymore. Not with brain research more updated due to, among other things, MRI imaging. 

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Just my Opinion, but….

JUST SAY NO to standardized testing. It’s time. Right before elections it’s turning into a political football, local, state and federal. At the national level, the leap to ‘for profit’ schools, slaps us into the face of reality.

Tests. Lower the bar, fix or dump the tests? A conundrum. Is the bar too high? If no kids can reach that bar, what’s next? Same thing, same results, right? Or what? Is this the way to judge schools, teachers and children’s future success in our changing landscape? Does rigor insure academic success? I think not.

Something is more than a little off kilter, the ship is going out to sea in the wrong direction. In fact, we are bailing water out of this boat. New ship needed! Let’s stop being on the Titanic, rearranging deck chairs.

Because I am an optimistic person by nature, and always see the good in things, or nearly, I am confident we can turn the tide here, as a collective voice. Because policy makers usually have not been teachers, or even spent any time in a classroom, the new wave of teacher educators running for political office at all levels is heartening.

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