Monday, December 16, 2013

How Much Do We Pay Public School Teachers?

2013 State Champions
Hoboken Red Wings
Photo: Hoboken Reporter 
Jon Boeckenstedt recently created a very interesting post. This is NCES Data from the 2013 Digest of Education Statistics (CLICK HERE), showing teacher salaries over time by state. The view defaults to Constant (inflation adjusted) dollars and 2013, but you can choose any year and nominal (not adjusted for inflation) dollars if you'd like.  The map color codes for the year selected so you can see the range, and the bar chart shows the state-by-state breakout; the weighted US average on is shown on the bar chart in blue.

Some interesting numbers: 
Highest: $75,279 (New York)
Lowest: $39,580 (South Dakota)
Average: $56,383 (50 States)
Texas: $48,110 
New Jersey: $68,797

These numbers do not take into account cost of living differences in these various states, neither do these numbers take into account years of service. Finally, these numbers do not take into account full benefits packages for teachers such as health care, pensions, etc... Nonetheless, it is a gross measure of state by state differences around the country and is a fairly useful tool when its limitations are recognized. 

See the NCES table for notes about interpreting the data.

Click Figure to Enlarge- Interactive Map CLICK HERE

Washington Post Article on this topic: CLICK HERE 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hola is a reason to move to Hoboken and to stay in Hoboken - Letter to the Editor by Valarie H. McPherson

A class using Scratch- a STEM Programming language created
at MIT for development of computational problem solving
skills for young children. Hola Dual Language School,

Continuing with the theme of dual language posts for the past week or so, here is a recent letter to the editor to the Hoboken Reporter concerning advocacy for a dual language charter school in Hoboken, NJ. Hola is an innovative school that is committed to dual language as well as STEM education. The letter summarizes a number of general issues concerning dual language programs as well as some unique issues within the City of Hoboken. Another interesting letter also appeared in the Hoboken Reporter by 2 parents of the traditional public school district. The content of that letter centered much more on funding issues than on the relative merits of a dual language charter school. Nonetheless, interested followers of this blog might find the letter of interest. -Dr. Petrosino 

Dear Editor: The following is an open letter to from Valarie H. McPherson

As a resident of Hoboken and parent of 2 children in Hola, I am publicly requesting that you show your support of Hola by submitting a letter to the Department of Education supporting both the renewal of the charter and the expansion to 8th grade. Your appearance on Univision is not enough to demonstrate your support of the school. Instead of publicity, please use your role as mayor to make a request to the DOE - this is the most effective tool in your arsenal to assist the school, the community and the children. Hola is a reason to move to Hoboken and to stay in Hoboken. In the global world in which we live, it is vital that our children are competitive. Most citizens of other countries are fluent in more than one language. Nowadays, our kids must be able to compete globally. 

I am an immigration attorney. I assist companies with the transfer and hiring of international employees. I truly understand the competitive global environment today – and it will only continue to become more global. I also see that foreign national employees are choosing not to pursue the green card – and are giving up the green card – because there are more opportunities in other countries. We cannot let the “sun set” on the USA. In order to continue to remain competitive in the global environment; our schools need to really teach languages as well as STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses. Otherwise, our children and the country will not be able to maintain the prominence in the world that we now enjoy. The Hoboken School Board, instead of dampening innovation and creative educational opportunities, should be looking to Hola as a model and inspiration for their own programming. Thank you for your support. – Gracias para su apoyo. 

Valarie H. McPherson

Read more: Hudson Reporter - Hola is a reason to move to Hoboken and to stay in Hoboken 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Power of the Dual Language/Bilingual Brain By Jeffrey Kluger (TIME magazine)

Parents in Hoboken, NJ attend a Board of Education Meeting to
discuss Dual Language Education

(photo: Hoboken Reporter 11/17/13)
In July of 2013, Time magazine did a feature story on dual language education. The article is included here and provides an excellent overview of dual language education in the United States. The bilingual brain is not necessarily a smarter brain, but it is proving to be a more flexible, more resourceful one. In a polyglot world, that's a lesson that a largely monoglot country like the U.S. ignores at its peril. "Monolingualism," says Gregg Roberts, a language-immersion specialist with the Utah state office of education, "is the illiteracy of the 21st century." When it comes to language, there's no such thing as starting too early--and it turns out the brain can be bilingual even before birth. The human auditory system is functional from the third trimester on, and the loudest thing an in utero baby hears is its mother's voice, speaking whatever language or languages she knows. Those sounds, with their characteristic rhythms and phonemes, are poured straight into the baby's brain and become comfortingly familiar.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dual language 'boosts brain power' - Learning a second language can boost brain power, scientists believe.

Differences were seen in the brainstem (colored orange
in this picture) Photo Credit: BBC.UK online

Speaking two languages profoundly affects the brain and changes how the nervous system responds to sound, lab tests revealed.

Experts say the work in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides "biological" evidence of this (see full title and abstract of paper at the end of this post). 
For the study, the team monitored the brain responses of 48 healthy student volunteers - which included 23 who were bilingual - to different sounds.
They used scalp electrodes to trace the pattern of brainwaves.
Under quiet, laboratory conditions, both groups - the bilingual and the English-only-speaking students - responded similarly.
But against a backdrop of noisy chatter, the bilingual group were far superior at processing sounds.
They were better able to tune in to the important information - the speaker's voice - and block out other distracting noises - the background chatter.
'Powerful' benefits
And these differences were visible in the brain. The bilingualists' brainstem responses were heightened.
Prof Nina Kraus, who led the research, said: "The bilingual's enhanced experience with sound results in an auditory system that is highly efficient, flexible and focused in its automatic sound processing, especially in challenging or novel listening conditions."
Co-author Viorica Marian said: "People do crossword puzzles and other activities to keep their minds sharp. But the advantages we've discovered in dual language speakers come automatically simply from knowing and using two languages.
"It seems that the benefits of bilingualism are particularly powerful and broad, and include attention, inhibition and encoding of sound."
Musicians appear to gain a similar benefit when rehearsing, say the researchers.
Past research has also suggested that being bilingual might help ward off dementia in older subjects. 


Bilingualism profoundly affects the brain, yielding functional and structural changes in cortical regions dedicated to language processing and executive function [Crinion J, et al. (2006) Science 312:1537–1540; Kim KHS, et al. (1997) Nature 388:171–174]. Comparatively, musical training, another type of sensory enrichment, translates to expertise in cognitive processing and refined biological processing of sound in both cortical and subcortical structures. Therefore, we asked whether bilingualism can also promote experience-dependent plasticity in subcortical auditory processing. We found that adolescent bilinguals, listening to the speech syllable [da], encoded the stimulus more robustly than age-matched monolinguals. Specifically, bilinguals showed enhanced encoding of the fundamental frequency, a feature known to underlie pitch perception and grouping of auditory objects. This enhancement was associated with executive function advantages. Thus, through experience-related tuning of attention, the bilingual auditory system becomes highly efficient in automatically processing sound. This study provides biological evidence for system-wide neural plasticity in auditory experts that facilitates a tight coupling of sensory and cognitive functions.

5 Myths About Bilingual/Dual Language Education for Children

Dual Language Classroom- Hoboken, NJ (2013)
For all the advantages they have bilingual kids—or their parents perhaps—must contend with a lot of myths about their ability to speak two or more languages. One-language-only speakers create myths and tell untruths about bilingual kids and spread them wide, as if they were forest fires, to members of the group. In general, there are five myths, false notions, they have honed in order to undermine the benefits of raising bilingual kids. The following summary is based on research and was summarized very well by Delfin Carbonell Basset. 

  1. A bilingual kid’s brain will get confused with so many different words in different languages. The learning of two tongues from the onset will delay a child’s communication skills. Nonesense. We know that language input starts from the very day the person is born, and the brain, given its plasticity, will adapt to whatever it is exposed to. The more stimuli the better for the mind, and children can tell the difference from one language to another very soon. No confusion ever.
  2. A bilingual kid’s cognitive development will be affected. Many studies show the contrary effect, and it stands to reason because two-language children have the advantage over one-language children, who have only one communication tool and thus less stimulus for neuronal development. This misconception has deprived millions in the United States of the blessings of two-language education.
  1. A child must start being bilingual from day one or else she won’t make it. Of course this is the best under perfect conditions but perfect conditions and situations are few and far between, as we all know. It is never too late to expose a child to another language. The possibilities of the brain acquiring speech are still unknown but they are boundless. It is never too late for any one, at any age, to learn another language. In fact, the older you are, the more cognitive benefits, to the point that many health care professionals urge elderly people to study another language in order to keep mentally fit and alert.
  2. Some children refuse to learn two languages and they stick to one. And some children refuse to eat vegetables and fish and prefer chocolate. This possible situation does occur and this is where the parents’ and teachers’ strong wills come into play. They must stick to their plan come wind or high water, and use the two languages no matter what.
  3. The United States is a one-language country. Many languages are spoken in this country and many people do not speak English. There are millions of people who are bilingual, completely or to some degree. The United States has now the possibility of becoming bilingual in English and Spanish and those who speak both owe it to their children to expose them to those languages, or at least try to.

    Additional information for young children can be viewed by clicking HERE

Friday, December 6, 2013

PBL Institute Announced--- June 16-20, 2014

The following note was sent to me by my friend and colleague Steve Zipkes who is the principal of Manor New Tech in Manor, TX. His school is a national leader in project based learning, even being visited earlier in 2013 by President Obama. I would suggest those interested in project based learning consider attending his proposed workshop for summer 2013. -Dr. Petrosino 

Greetings My Friends, 

I am bringing you exciting news! After years of requests, Think Forward Project Based Learning has now expanded and will be conducting the first "Think Forward PBL Summit @ Manor New Tech" this summer. We will be offering 3 strands for practitioners and leaders alike. This Summit is not your ordinary sit and get. Put on your scuba gear because we are going deeper.  All participants will be deep diving into PBL, creating, authoring and presenting a project at the end of the 4 days.

If you have ever felt the need to really learn the processes of PBL from practitioners who have lived 100% PBL over the last 7 years (averaging 50-100+ projects each), want to take your knowledge of PBL deeper, or are a leader wanting to figure out how to create structures for PBL success, this is for you.

The attached flyer has hyperlinks for more information and registration. We look forward to seeing you this summer.



Steven Zipkes, M.Ed. 
Manor New Technology High
 Distinguished Educator

  PBI Summit Manor,TX