Monday, March 26, 2012

Hoboken Board of Education Meeting- Notice and Agenda:- March, 2012


DATE: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TIME: 7:00 pm

LOCATION: Hoboken Board of Education Meeting Room

1115 Clinton Street Hoboken, NJ 07030


1. Budget Hearing

2. Report of School Superintendent

3. Report of School Business Administrator

4. Board President Report and Board Committee Reports

5. Approval of School Superintendent Agenda and Interim School Business Administrator Agenda

Notice is hereby given that a public hearing will be held by the Board of Education of the City of Hoboken in the County of Hudson and the State of New Jersey on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 7:00 pm in the Board meeting room located at 1115 Clinton Street, Hoboken, New Jersey, with respect to a budget which has been tentatively adopted by the Board of Education of the School District of the City of Hoboken in the County of Hudson and the State of New Jersey for the school year beginning July 1, 2012 and ending June 30, 2013 and the amount of money appropriated for the operation and maintenance of the public schools of said school district for the school year and with respect to various items and purposes for which the same is to be appropriated.

The school district has proposed programs and services in addition to the Core Curriculum Content Standards adopted by the State Board of Education. Information on this budget and the programs and services it provides is available from your local district.

The said budget will be on file and open to the public in the office of the Secretary of the Board of Education in the Administration Building, 1115 Clinton Street, Hoboken, New Jersey from the date hereto until the holding of said Public Hearing. The available times are from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Published by the order of the Board of Education of the School District of the City of Hoboken.

Any matters relating to the above items that may come before the Board. Please be advised that the Board may be required to go into closed executive session during this meeting to discuss litigation, negotiations and personnel items. Action may be taken on all agenda items.

Published by order of the Board of Education of the School District of the City of Hoboken

William Takacs

Board Secretary

March 27 2012 BOE Stated Session Agenda

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Momentum Builds for Dual-Language Learning- Education Week article by Lesli A. Maxwel

Dual-Language programs are becoming increasingly popular around the country as this recent article in Education Week points out. Recall, during my time in the Hoboken School District we wanted to bring a dual language program into the public schools but the Board of Education was against the idea by a close vote . In the interim, the program applied for and received a Charter from the State of New Jersey and the school is currently flourishing. The ignorance and emotional response that we experienced in Hoboken is not uncommon-- however, more thoughtful and reflective Boards are now very open to the idea of dual language immersion programs. Clearly, its time has come. -Dr. Petrosino

By Lesli A. Maxwell
Premium article access courtesy of
San Jose, Calif.

In a preschool class at
Gardner Academy, a public elementary school near downtown San Jose, teacher Rosemary Zavala sketched a tree as she fired off questions about what plants need to grow. "¿Qué necesitan las plantas?" she asked her 4-year-old charges in Spanish. "Las flores toman agua" was the exuberant answer from one girl, who said that flowers drink water. A boy answered in English: "I saw a tree in my yard." The next day, Ms. Zavala's questions about plants would continue—but in English.

This classroom, with its steady stream of lively, vocabulary-laden conversations in Spanish and in English, is what many educators and advocates hope represents the future of language instruction in the United States for both English-language learners and native English-speakers.

The numbers of
dual-language-immersion programs like this one have been steadily growing in public schools over the past decade or so, rising to more than 2,000 in 2011-12, according to estimates from national experts.

That growth has come even as the numbers of transitional-bilingual-education programs shrank in the aftermath of
heated, politically charged ballot initiatives pushing English immersion in states like Arizona, Massachusetts, and here in California.

Experts say the interest in dual-language programs now is driven by an increased demand for bilingual and biliterate workers and by educators who see positive impacts on academic achievement for both English-learners and students already fluent in English.
In California—home to more than 1 million ELL students and some of the fiercest battles over bilingual education—the earlier controversies are showing signs of ebbing.

While the state's
Proposition 227 ballot initiative, approved by voters in 1998, pushed districts to replace many bilingual education programs with English-immersion for English-learners, the state is now taking steps to encourage bilingualism for all students: Graduating seniors can earn a "seal of biliteracy" on their high school transcripts and diplomas, which signifies they have reached fluency in English and a second language. Last year, 6,000 graduates in the state earned the seal.

"The momentum behind these programs is really amazing," said
Virginia P. Collier, a professor emeritus of education at George Mason University, in Virginia, who has studied dual-language programs extensively.

"And we are not talking about a remedial, separate program for English-learners or foreign-language programs just for students with picky parents," she said. "These are now mainstream programs where we’re seeing a lot of integration of native speakers of the second language with students who are native English-speakers."

Types of Programs
Part of the 33,000-student San Jose Unified School District, Gardner Academy offers a two-way immersion program, in which native speakers of English and native speakers of a second language—usually Spanish—learn both languages in the same classroom. Generally, to be considered a two-way program, at least one-third of the students must be native speakers of the second language.

Many of Ms. Zavala's 4-year-olds will continue to receive at least half their instruction in Spanish as they move into kindergarten, 1st grade, and beyond. The goal is to establish strong literacy skills in English and Spanish in the early grades, and to produce fully bilingual, biliterate students by the end of elementary school. Because of the state’s Proposition 227 law, parents must "opt" for their children to enroll in the two-way program.

In one-way immersion, another form of dual-language learning, either native English-speakers or native speakers of the second language make up all or most of the students enrolled and instruction takes place in two languages.

First grade students in Gardner Academy's two-way, dual-language program in San Jose, Calif., take part in a classroom exercise. Even though California's Proposition 227 initiative effectively ended bilingual education in that state more than a decade ago, public dual-language programs are proving to be more politically palatable. The goal at Gardner is for both native English speakers and speakers of a second language to be fully biliterate and bilingual by the time they leave elementary school.

The number of one-way and two-way programs is roughly equal, according to
Leonides Gómez, an education professor at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas, who developed a two-way-immersion model that is widely used in the state’s public schools.
There are variations in how dual-language programs work, but all of them share a few hallmark features.

At least half the instructional time is spent in the second language, although in the early grades, it may take up as much as 90 percent. There must also be distinct separation of the two languages, unlike in transitional bilingual education, in which teachers and students alike mix their use of both languages.

Spanish is by far the most prevalent second language taught in dual programs, followed by Mandarin Chinese and French, according to national language experts.
For English-language learners, the dual-immersion experience is dramatically different from that in most other bilingual education programs, in which teachers use the native language to help teach English with the goal of moving students into regular classes as quickly as possible, said Mr. Gómez, who serves on the board of the National Association for Bilingual Education, or NABE.

"The goal isn’t to run away from one language or another, but to really educate the child in both and to use the native language as a resource and an asset," said Mr. Gómez. "Content is content, and skills are skills. When you learn both in two or more languages, it moves you to a different level of comprehension, capacity, and brain elasticity."

Role of Motivation
Research examining the effects of dual-language programs has shown some promising results for years, although there is not consensus that it’s the best method for teaching English-language learners. One problem with discerning the effect of dual-language methods is determining how much self-selection is a factor. All such programs are programs of choice, with students and their families having the motivation to opt for the dual-language route.
Another factor is the great variability among dual-language programs.

"I think many of the new programs aren't able to achieve the ideal conditions for them to truly work, especially for English-learners," said Don Soifer, the executive vice president of the Lexington Institute, a think tank in Arlington, Va., that generally supports English immersion for the teaching of English-learners.

For starters, Mr. Soifer said, finding teachers is a major challenge because they need strong skills in two languages, as well as subject-matter competence. He said it’s also necessary for two-way programs to have an even balance of native English-speakers, a feature that he says is difficult to achieve in some districts.

Still, several studies in recent years have demonstrated that ELL students and other frequently low-performing groups, such as African-American students, do well in dual-language programs.
Ms. Collier and her research partner, Wayne P. Thomas, found in a 2002 study that ELLs in dual-language programs were able to close the achievement gap with their native English-speaking peers, and that the programs achieved important intangible goals, such as increased parental involvement. The study examined 20 years of data on ELLs in 15 states who were enrolled in dual-language, transitional-bilingual-education, and English-only programs.

North Carolina Results
Ms. Collier and Mr. Thomas are also conducting an ongoing study of students in two-way dual-language programs, most of them in Spanish and English, in North Carolina. The researchers have found so far that gaps in reading and math achievement between English-learners enrolled in dual-language classes and their white peers who are native English-speakers are smaller than gaps between ELLs who are not in such classes and white students.

The data are also showing that English-speaking African-American students who are in dual-language programs are outscoring black peers who are in non-dual classrooms, Ms. Collier said.
Texas has more dual-language immersion programs than any other state—with between 700 and 800 of them in schools—including some of the most mature, according to several experts.
One district in the state's Rio Grande Valley along the Mexican border—the
Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District—is likely to become the nation's first to have dual-language programs in all its schools, including middle and high school, Mr. Gómez said. In June, the fourth cohort of students who have been in dual language since kindergarten will graduate from the district’s four high schools.

In Utah, a statewide dual-language-immersion initiative funded through the legislature—the first such broad-scale effort in the United States, according to experts—is now in its third year, said Gregg Roberts, a specialist in world languages and dual-language immersion for the state office of education.

By next fall, public elementary schools across Utah will offer 80 programs under the state initiative, with roughly 15,000 students enrolled in Spanish, Mandarin, French, and Portuguese. The goal is to have 30,000 students enrolled in 100 programs by 2014, Mr. Roberts said.
"Utah is a small state and, for our future economic development and the national security of our country, we have to educate students who are multilingual," he said. "There is broad agreement in our state about that. It's not a red or a blue issue here."

Many of Utah's programs so far are two-way Spanish-English immersion, drawing on the state's growing Latino immigrant community, said Myriam Met, an expert on immersion programs who is working closely with Utah officials on the initiative.

But the most in-demand programs in Utah are Mandarin. Ms. Met said there were fewer than 10 Chinese immersion programs in the nation in 2000. The current estimate stands at 75 Chinese programs, and by next fall, roughly a quarter of those will be in Utah, she said.

San Francisco's Approach
Some of the nation’s oldest Chinese programs are offered in the 56,000-student
San Francisco public schools.
Most students start in one of the city's five elementary schools, where they split instructional time between English and Cantonese or English and Mandarin. Eventually, many end up at Abraham Lincoln High School, where a mix of native Chinese-speakers and students who have been in the immersion program since the early grades take advanced Chinese-language courses, in addition to at least two content-area courses each year in Cantonese.

Amber Sevilla, a 14-year-old freshman in the Chinese-immersion program at Lincoln, is already fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin. She has been in Chinese immersion since kindergarten and learned some Chinese at home from her grandmother. Through middle school, nearly all of her instruction was conducted in Chinese, including math. Currently, she is taking health education and college and career education in Chinese.

"I'm excited that I can count on being bilingual and biliterate as I go to college, and I know it's going to be an advantage for me even though I don't know yet what I want to do for my career," said Ms. Sevilla. "It’s hard work, but it’s worth it."

Like nearly all her classmates in the immersion program, Ms. Sevilla is on track to earn California's new state seal of biliteracy.

Rosa Molina, the executive director of
Two-Way CABE, an advocacy group for dual-language programs that is an arm of the California Association for Bilingual Education, said students like Ms. Sevilla benefit in muliple ways.

"They preserve their primary language or their heritage language, they develop a broader worldview that they take into college and the work world, and they gain huge advantages in their cognitive development that translates into flexibility in their thinking and the ability to successfully tackle really rigorous coursework," Ms. Molina said.

Advocates for English-learners emphasize the importance of expanding programs that are truly two-way and fully accessible to ELLs. Laurie Olsen, a national expert on English-learners who designed the instructional model in use at the Gardner Academy in San Jose, cautions against allowing programs to become dominated by middle- and upper-income students whose parents want them to learn a second language. If that happens, she said, one of the most promising approaches to closing the achievement gap between English-learners and fluent English-speakers will be squandered.

"We know that English-learners who develop proficiency in their home language do better in English and in accessing academic content," she said. "Yet we still live in a world where the belief is wide that English should be enough."

PICTURE: Spring comes to First Street, Hoboken, NJ

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

F is for Failure: Why America's Education Isn't Worth the Money

The following is a draft of a new graphic by a colleague of mine, Peter Kim, on the Worth of Education in the United States. If you have comments, please send them to me at: or directly to Peter Kim at

Why America's Education Isn't Worth the Money

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Challenge to Make Science Crystal Clear-What is a flame?

What is the Flame Challenge?

It’s a contest. It’s an opportunity. It’s a chance to have fun, share your love of science, and be judged by a panel of 11-year-olds.

We’re asking scientists to answer the question – “What is a flame?” – in a way that an 11-year-old would find intelligible and maybe even fun.

Why did Alan Alda start this contest?

As a curious 11-year-old, Alan Alda asked his teacher, “What is a flame?” She replied: “It’s oxidation.” Alda went on to win fame as an actor and writer, became an advocate for clear communication of science, and helped found the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. He never stopped being curious, and he never forgot how disappointing that non-answer answer was.

So when he was invited to contribute a guest editorial to the journalScience, he wrote about why we need scientists to communicate clearly and vividly with the public. And he issued the Flame Challenge:

I’d like to try a playful experiment. Would you be willing to have a go at writing your own explanation of what a flame is—one that an 11-year-old would find intelligible, maybe even fun? The Center for Communicating Science is looking for new ways to light up people’s minds with science, and you might point the way. We’ll try out the entries on real 11-year-olds and see which work best. . . .

So here I am—I’m 11 years old and looking up at you with the wide eyes of curiosity. What is a flame? What’s going on in there? What will you tell me?

To read the full article from Science, click here.

How can schools get involved?

We are looking for schools to provide panels of 11-year-olds to judge the entries. To learn how to get involved, click here.

We also are collecting questions from 11-year-olds to use in the next round of the Flame Challenge. To send questions, email us at Please include the name, email and phone number of a parent, guardian or teacher.

What is the Center for Communicating Science?

The Center for Communicating Science, which is running this contest, is a multidisciplinary center based in the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University in New York. The Center is dedicated to helping current and future scientists learn to communicate clearly and vividly with the public. We give workshops and presentations for scientists at universities, laboratories and meetings around the country. At Stony Brook, the Center has developed a series of innovative Communicating Science courses being taken for credit by master’s and PhD students from more than a dozen science disciplines.

Alan Alda is a founding member of the Center and a Visiting Professor in the School of Journalism. He is pioneering the idea of “Improvisation for Scientists,” using improvisational theater exercises to help scientists be more direct and responsive in talking about their work. In addition, the Center gives courses and workshops in Distilling Your Message (speaking clearly and compellingly about complex science without “dumbing it down”); Writing about Science for the Public; Using Digital Media; Preparing to Speak (dealing with stage fright) and other topics. For more on the Center, please go

Read more about the Flame Challenge in an article published in the NY Times-- CLICK HERE.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

HHS Celebrates 50 Years

Hoboken High School will celebrate its’ 50th Anniversary this year. The planning for the event this spring spawned the excitement and enthusiasm of a small group of teachers, many of which are graduates of the high school. As the planning of the milestone began one thing was agreed upon by all, the celebration could not be confined to one day. The tradition of a community united through their school and the pride in its’ traditions needed expression through many venues over the better part of 2012.

One does not have to look far to find alumni of the school, as a majority of the employees of the district attended Hoboken High as well as most of the parents of our current student body. As word continues to spread of the landmark date, alumni from every decade continue to come forward wanting to share in the celebration.

If you or someone you know would like to take part in the festivities please contact Fran Cohen Class of 1972, at