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In A New Book Teacher’s Advocate Defends Teachers

Total-Teaching-book-graphic

Total Teaching: Your Passion Makes It Happen By Dr. Tom Staszewski

Total-Teaching-book-graphicFrom the first-year teacher to the most experienced veteran, this book will provide an inspiring message that yes, indeed…teaching is the most noble profession. It serves as an acknowledgement of the importance of teachers and recognizes that ‘teaching is the profession that has created all other professions.’ This book provides real-life tools, tips and strategies to have a successful school year and to persevere beyond the challenges associated with the profession.  This inspiring book is filled with insightful and meaningful stories and examples, it provides a motivational pep talk to help teachers stay focused, to succeed in the classroom, to maintain the passion that brought them into the profession and develop a plan to be the best that they can be!

As featured in http://www.teacherscount.org TeachersCount is working to create a permanent culture of teacher appreciation in the United States.

Copies are available through the publisher Rowman and Littlefield and also at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com or from Rowman & Littlefield Education Phone: (301) 459-3366, http://www.rowmaneducation.com Customer Service, Toll free: (800) 462-6420, custserv@rowman.com

Dr. Tom Staszewski Teaching standards have risen and so have teacher stress levels. The pressure imposed on teachers by administrators, parents, and students, often creates feelings of teacher self-doubt. Luckily, Total Teaching by Tom Staszewski offers those in this much beleaguered profession both guidance and inspiration.

Offering constructive advice and teaching tools, Total Teaching provides readers with a source of hope. Staszewski provides tips and proven strategies for success that are applicable both inside and outside the classroom. If you are looking for a gift for a special teacher, or looking to purchase a bit of personal inspiration, TOTAL TEACHING will help shine some light at the end of your tunnel.

Tom Staszewski has been an educator since 1974. His career has spanned a variety of levels, from teaching elementary and middle school grades to instructing and holding various administrative positions at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Frequently asked questions about Total Teaching…Your Passion Makes it Happen,

written by Dr. Tom Staszewski, tomstasz@neo.rr.com

What prompted you to write the book?

In this era of policy change and educational reform at the K-12 level, suddenly “everybody” has become an expert on our school systems. In my opinion, there is a great amount of unjustified criticism that is unfairly being leveled against our schools and our teachers. Most of the criticism is unfounded, baseless, undeserved and distorted. Many critics of our school systems have never set foot in a classroom to see what’s going on —other than their own experience as a former student—and their criticism is  erroneous and counterproductive. If they (critics) would take the time to better understand just how hard the teaching profession really is, they would change their criticism to face the reality of today’s schools and society at large. I believe that most critics would find it difficult to even make it through even one day in the life of a typical teacher. The essence behind the book is that today’s teachers are under a lot of pressure and scrutiny and there is a need for more support, recognition and appreciation for the good that they are providing for society. So the point of my book is to inform the uninformed about how difficult it is to teach in many of today’s schools. And to provide recognition to educators and to thank teachers for the positive difference they are making  in society. I’ve always said that our schools are a reflection of society and society at large has changed and undergone a dramatic shift from previous generations. The book also focuses on the success stories and “what’s right” with our schools rather than “what’s wrong” with our schools. Unlike previous generations…in many homes today, whether it be a single parent household or with both parents home…many parents send their kids to school unfed, unprepared and with little or no basic skills and often with no social skills, etc.

In my previous work as a motivational speaker and professional development trainer, I have personally worked with thousands and thousands of teachers statewide and nationwide and I have found them to be hard-working, dedicated, industrious and committed to the success of their students. It’s about time that someone has taken a stand to recognize and acknowledge the value to society that  teachers are providing and to thank them for their dedication.

What is the theme of the book?

In addition to thanking and recognizing the good that teachers provide to society, the book is also a handbook that can be used by the teacher as a means of providing coping skills and methods to succeed in the classroom with the trials and tribulations of teaching. It provides a means of offering tips, strategies and techniques to make it through the day and to have a successful school year. In many respects it is a personal growth and development type handbook.

From the first-year teacher to the most experienced veteran, this book provides an inspiring message that yes, indeed…teaching is the most noble profession. It serves as an acknowledgement of the importance of teachers and recognizes that “teaching is the profession that has created all other professions.” This book provides real-life tools, tips and strategies to have a successful school year and to persevere beyond all of the challenges associated with the profession. Filled with insightful and meaningful stories and examples, it will provide a pep talk to help teachers stay focused. Readers are able to maintain the passion that brought them into the profession and to develop a plan to be the best that they can be.

What is the author’s background and experience?

Born, raised and residing in Erie, PA, Dr. Tom Staszewski (pronounced Sta SHEF ski) is a proud product of the City of Erie Public School District and graduated from Erie Academy High School in 1970. He is married to Linda Laird Staszewski. His BS in Education is from Penn State University, an MA from Indiana University of PA and a doctorate in administrative and policy studies from the University of Pittsburgh.

As a career educator, my background has spanned a variety of educational levels, from teaching elementary and middle school grades to teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels. In addition, I’ve held various administrative positions at the higher ed. level.

AFT-NH Hosts “Working Women Speak Out” (Videos)

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and AFT President Randi Weingarten

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This election is extremely important to working women and their families.  Ensuring that we elect representatives who support women in the workplace was what the Working Women Speak Out event was focused on.

Issues facing working women are the same issues effected every Granite Stater this election.  AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler said, “Women’s issues are shaping up to be the second biggest issue of this election.” Working women are facing enormous challenges in our struggling economy. “Women still only make $.77 cents on the dollar compared to man, and that is a shame,” said Shuler.  In her speech, Shuler focused on reelecting Governor Hassan, Senator Shaheen, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster who all support raising the minimum wage and equal pay for equal work.  Shuler also talked about the need to pass “paid sick leave” for all workers, especially since most low wage jobs, like waiting tables, provide no paid time off when your sick.

View Liz Shuler video on YouTube

AFT-President Randi Weingarten also spoke at the event and focused how poverty and education effect working families. “Nearly half of all public school students are living below the poverty line, and one-in-four (25%) of all children nationally are living in poverty,” said Weingarten.  She also talked about how we need to ensure that we are properly funding our public school system. “The only reason we passed a nation budget was because the Republicans were embarrassed after they shut down the government,” said Weingarten. “How dare they say they support children when they cut public school budgets to give tax breaks to the 1%.”

(Randi also spoke in detail about the effects of spending caps like the one in Nashua in separate post here.)

View Randi’s speech on YouTube

Kelly Torosian, an IBEW 2320 member and an Executive Council member of the NH AFL-CIO, took a few minutes to update the crowd on the ongoing FairPoint strike. Torosian asked for people to show their support for workers standing on the picket line by donating gas cards and grocery store gift cards.  After hearing about the current struggle of striking workers, Weingarten stated, “AFT will donate $5,000 dollars to the FairPoint workers strike fund.”

The crowd of 70 people gave a standing ovation to Governor Hassan as she entered the room, showing their support for her strong leadership in the corner office.  “Building a strong innovative economy starts with a strong public schools system,” said Hassan.  Governor Hassan also spoke about the need to “restore and improve the state minimum wage.”

Hassan also brought attention to the importance of keeping Democrats in control of the NH House and not letting Bill O’Brien regain control.  As Speaker, O’Brien cut funding to public schools, the University of New Hampshire system, and repealed the New Hampshire Minimum Wage law.

Governor Hassan also talked about the importance of having access to quality healthcare and provide low income workers with healthcare through the Medicaid Expansion. “As of this week 20,000 Granite Staters now have healthcare thanks to the Medicaid Expansion,” said Hassan.

View Governor Hassan’s speech on YouTube.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster also talked about the Bill O’Brien House and her opponent Marilinda Garcia, who was one of the select few to be a part of  O’Brien’s leadership team.  Kuster talked about her work in Congress to help working families by pushing for expanded access to healthcare, raising the minimum wage and passing a national Paycheck Fairness law.  Kuster noted that while she supports legislation that would help working women, her opponent, wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, opposes raising the minimum wage, and paycheck fairness is unneeded legislation.

Garcia also wants to abolish the Department of Education that would virtually eliminate the federal student loan program, even though Garcia currently owes tens of thousands of dollars in Sallie Mae student loans.

View Rep. Annie Kuster’s speech on YouTube.

Laura Hainey, President of AFT-NH organized the event and spent a couple of minutes talking about working to ensure that Speaker Bill O’Brien does not regain power in Concord.  As President of AFT-NH, Hainey knows first hand the devastation that another O’Brien legislature would do to the public schools system in New Hampshire.

View Laura Hainey’s speech on YouTube.

Senator Shaheen was unable to attend the event due to a scheduling conflict — she was in Northern New Hampshire campaigning with Sen. Elizabeth Warren — her daughter Stacy gave a short speech on her behalf.  Stacy Shaheen talked about how hard her mother is working for the people of New Hampshire. “My mom is a workhorse,” said Shaheen.  “She has been working for the people of New Hampshire for a long time.”

Working families in New Hampshire need more representatives like this strong, women leaders.

Talk to your friends, neighbors and family members about how important this election is and then encourage them to vote on Nov. 4th.

Eliminating The Department Of Education Would Hurt Middle Class Families In NH

Kuster AD - Garcia Eliminate  Education

(View ad on YouTube)

Raising a family in New Hampshire is very difficult.  Our pay has become stagnant and yet our costs continue to rise.  Thankfully we have some good government programs set up to help middle class families.  One of these programs is the Federal Student Loan program.  Through the Department of Education, millions of young Americans receive loans and grants that allow them to pay the high cost of higher education.

For millions of Americans, higher education would be completely out of reach if it were not for the student loan program.

Today Congresswoman Annie Kuster released a new ad highlighting how Tea Party candidate Marilinda Garcia wants to eliminate the Department of Education.  This would essentially eliminated the student loan program, making a college education completely out of reach for millions of Americans.

The irony is that Marilinda Garcia owes between $15,000-$50,000 dollars to Sallie Mae for her student loans.

I guess what is good for Marilinda, is not good for the rest of us.

 

AFT’s Statement On New Testing Bill In US House

AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis) -2
AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis) -2

AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis)

WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten statement on the introduction of rep Israels accountability bill:

“The current fixation on high-stakes testing is denying children the engaging, meaningful education they deserve. Testing not only is soaking up too much time and narrowing the curriculum, but is less and less a measure of what kids need to know and be able to do. Standardized tests these days are driving teaching and learning, rather than giving teachers and parents useful data and feedback to help children.

“That is why this bill allowing states to reduce testing is an important step. It also points to the need to build a new accountability system that uses testing as a way to inform instruction, emphasizes meaningful learning, and includes the resources and capacity schools, students and teachers need to continuously improve.

“I would like to thank Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) for his leadership in recognizing the problems of excessive testing, and look forward to working with him to strengthen the bill in the next legislative session.”

The Truth About Why Educators Are Leaving

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“…The primary reason they leave is because they’re dissatisfied.”  Richard Ingersoll, an education professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Educators in the report cite inadequate administrative support, feelings of isolation in the workplace among other things. This is a toxic situation and not an environment where anyone can teach or learn.

(Read) Up To Half Of Teachers Quit Within 5 Years (http://huff.to/1z46MoR)

Teacher

My Observations On Why Educators Leave By Kyle Leach
Originally posted on Farmington NH Dems 

I’m really proud to tell you my mom was a teacher. It is one of the most honorable professions in my eyes. She taught elementary school, sixth grade. She was really good at it and except for my brother and I, I don’t think anything made her happier. I think educating was a way for her to give back to community. I think she felt it exposed our common bonds, showed people how to come together, and helped people change their circumstances. She wasn’t just imparting facts and figures to be memorized. She was helping young minds become the next set of workers, shaping future leaders and thinkers, and helping young creatives find themselves.

She left very early each school day. She often got home late and when she was home, she normally was doing some kind of grading or prep work for part of the evening. She was dedicated. Her classroom was colorful, interesting, and constantly changing. Her walls were covered with bulletin boards, which she kept decorated the whole school year.  She had an aquarium and plants close to the windows and she had areas for individual seating and tables for community work at the back. Her room was full of art created by her students. She loved her classroom and she loved her students, a new set every year.

Being an educator was a calling for her. Her students respected her. Parents respected her, and at least to some degree administration honored the part she played in our education system and gave teachers what they needed to make students as successful as they could. Society on the whole gave educators a wide birth; and, except for the low pay standards, eduction was a field held in high regard.

Many problems still needed to be worked out and to this day still do. Gender and race issues were problems, as they are today. Many learning challenges were yet to be identified and children with special needs were still being neglected. People with mental and physical challenges fought to be integrated into everyday school life as they still do to today. Bullying was still the standard, but it wasn’t even thought a systemic problem back then.

Around the time I was ten, things noticeably changed. Over the next few decades a cascade effect would make the situation much worse. Some things were subtle, others not so much. Everyone seemed to have less money and less time to spend with each other. More people seemed to be working and much more often. Many people had multiple jobs and it was harder to find jobs within a field you had worked in, unless it was in the retail or service industry. Kids were alone in the afternoon and evening or had sitters much more often. People seemed to be withdrawing from each other and turning toward other forms of entertainment.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the nation’s safety net was being slowly dismantled, education was being under funded year after year, wages were static, savings were evaporating, and benefits, health, retirement, or otherwise were becoming exceptions not the norm. Costs for everything cars, homes, and food rose, in fact they continue to do so. People were turned on to to credit which made their problems worse. People were haggard, stressed and that didn’t get better. Educators had to deal with all this on the personal side, but professionally these things had even higher costs.

With more people working more often and kids and teens left to fend for themselves, I saw respect between adults and kids deteriorate. I also got to see the respect administrators had for educators diminish and saw litigation between the three parties skyrocket. The burden of dealing with these compounding errors fell to teachers in the classroom if for no other reason than they are with our students for at least seven hours of a day. Without universal support from administration to deal with issues in the classroom I saw teachers and children become isolated. I saw teens reject the flaws and hypocrisy of the adults around them. I saw children turn to teachers because they were the the only adults they could trust.

I have known many educators throughout my life. Many of my family members were teachers. Most of my friends are educators. When I went to college I settled on art as the place where my heart was. I went to a college known for fostering educators. I myself was thinking of being an art teacher. In the end I decided the education field was not for me. Knowing all I know now I can’t say that I regret that decision at all. When my husband Stan and I met fourteen years ago I made a much better living working for soulless corporations, without a completed college degree, than Stan did teaching high school all day and educating adults at college at night. Just so you know Stan has two bachelor’s degrees and two masters degrees. His passions and degrees are in the sciences, math, and eduction. Areas our children need greater and greater help with and arenas the increasingly corporate world has no idea how to convey or inspire, short of monetizing them.

When you couple social changes with low wages considering the amount of education and  sometimes limited benefits, increasingly poor administrative and legislative support teachers receive, especially when they are first starting out, what are young educators supposed to take from this situation? What incentive do teachers have to stay? If you want teachers to stay you have to create an environment that is constructive for learning and creation. You can’t overly burden them with administrative problems or parental responsibilities; neither are their roles. You have to find the right candidates to be good teachers and give those new educators support to be successful teachers when they begin. You have to treat them as the professionals they are and hold their positions in high regard. They help our children learn. They help or children create. They help our children dream and help them fine tune those dreams into reality.

Most people I know in the field of education have two things that really make them stand out. They are passionate about helping people learn and discover who they are, what they are good at, and they are inspired by how much potential each person holds, no matter what limitations they currently hold on to. If you can’t figure out that those are two things our society needs, you are part of the problem. Corporate structures are efficient, great at turning our dull cogs, and perfect at reduction, but they can’t make a thinker. If you want a great education system, if you want great people for our society you have to invest in the people that do the work to create those situations. Teachers. The difference between a bright future and a dull one depends on the degree to which we support our educators.  They will develop the minds and nurture the souls that will create that future.

AFT Calls For Education Sec. Duncan To Resign, After He Gets His Due Process

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AFT Members Commit to Fighting Back Against Vergara, Harris Decisions
Special Order of Business Passes at AFT Convention

LOS ANGELES—Today, delegates of the American Federation of Teachers’ biennial convention in Los Angeles unanimously passed a special order of business—recommended by the executive council—to fight back against attacks on unions and teachers like Vergara v. California and Harris v. Quinn, and to fight forward to reclaim the promise of America.

The special order characterizes these lawsuits as “contributing to an escalating and engineered imbalance in our democracy.”

Amended from the floor, the order—originally drafted by the executive council—was revised to include strong language on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who publicly supported the Vergara decision. It derided his promotion of “misguided and ineffective policies on deprofessionalization, privatization and test obsession.”

The order called upon the president of the United States to “implement a secretary improvement plan which will be based upon standing up for public education, supporting teachers and all school workers, inspiring parents and the public to join us in creating the public schools we want and deserve, and leading with us in reclaiming the promise of public education.”

It asked the president to take the following actions:

  • Enact the funding and equity recommendations of the Each and Every Child report issued by the congressionally chartered, bipartisan Equity Commission;
  • Work with us to change the NCLB/RTTT “test and punish” accountability system to a “support and improve” model; and
  • Promote rather than question the teachers and school support staff of America.

It goes on to say that if “Secretary Duncan does not improve, and given that he has been treated fairly and his due process rights have been upheld, the secretary of education must resign.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten made a statement following the passage of the special order:

“This special order is basically saying, “Enough is enough.” Teachers are evaluated and their future livelihoods are linked to that. And when they fall short, they should have a chance to improve. And that’s what this special order represents. Make no mistake about it: There’s a lot of hurt that has been expressed from the floor—the feeling that the secretary of education doesn’t walk in the shoes of public educators or provide the support and resources necessary to ensure all children have a high-quality public education.”

AFT Members Pass Resolution Advocating for New Teacher Accountability System

Image by AFT Union

Resolution Calls for Move from Test-and-Punish System to Support-and-Improve Model

Image by AFT Union

Image by AFT Union

LOS ANGELES—To restore joy to teaching and learning and create strong community public schools that are safe, collaborative and welcoming places, AFT members today passed a resolution taking a bold stand against the obsession with testing and calling for an end to the failed test-and-punish accountability system to one focused on support and improvement. AFT President Randi Weingarten called it the most important resolution passed at the AFT convention.

The resolution, “Real Accountability for Equity and Excellence in Public Education,” which passed virtually unanimously, states that “the very purpose of public education and the joy of both teaching and learning are now at risk because policymakers perversely attempt to capture—and evaluate—everything about teaching and learning with testing.”

“Our obsession with testing, in the guise of accountability, is hijacking public schooling,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Testing should be about giving students a sense of where they stand and teachers and parents the information they need to tailor instruction and support kids. Instead, it’s being used to reduce children to test scores and teachers to algorithms.”

The resolution specifically calls out:

  • The over-reliance on flawed value-added measures (VAM) used to punish and sanction teachers;
  • The use of test results to fire teachers, close schools and hand schools over to privatizers;
  • The failure of test-based accountability to improve student performance or ensure equitable distribution of resources;
  • How the current system fails to recognize that two-thirds of the achievement gap is attributable to nonschool factors and is the opposite approach taken by education systems that outcompete us globally;
  • The increased segregation through public school disinvestment and charter school and privatization expansion;
  • How inappropriate education policies, austerity budgets, deprofessionalization and privatization have made education about competition instead of about the needs of all children; and
  • The need to respect teachers’ professionalism and engage teachers in improvin equity and excellence in our schools.

“Accountability shouldn’t come down to test-and-punish, and classroom teachers shouldn’t be the only ones held accountable,” Weingarten said. “That’s why we are making the call for a thoughtful accountability system that makes students, not data, the priority, focuses on meaningful student learning and ensures adequate resources. It’s time to stop the failed policy of making every child in every grade take standardized tests every year and evaluating teachers on standardized test scores of students they haven’t even taught.”

Instead of the current failed policies, the resolution calls for:

  • Engaging all stakeholders in planning and implementing accountability systems that are transparent and readily understandable by teachers, families and the broader public;
  • Ensuring that students are taught a well-rounded curriculum, including the arts, the sciences, social studies, civics, world languages, health and physical education, and social, emotional and character development;
  • Assessments that are aligned to higher-order thinking and performance skills;
  • Relying on sampling instead of testing every student at every grade level every year, but retaining disaggregated reporting by race, ethnicity, poverty level, English language status and disability;
  • Identifying schools needing improvement through measures beyond test scores;
  • Holding policymakers and administrators accountable for allocating the necessary resources to support schools;
  • Holding all stakeholders, not just teachers, responsible for meeting students’ needs and achieving both equity and excellence for all students;
  • Ending austerity budgets; and
  • Investments in wraparound services to address the social, emotional and health needs of students.

“Taken together, the education resolutions passed at the AFT’s convention offer a blueprint to help fulfill public education’s essential purpose as an anchor of democracy, a propeller of the economy and the vehicle through which we help all children achieve their dreams,” said Weingarten. “They help build the foundation for a public education system focused on great teaching, a rich and vibrant curriculum focused on learning over testing, safe and welcoming neighborhood public schools, valuing and respecting the voice of educators, and ensuring children have the resources and services they need to enable their success in the classroom and in life.”

ANHPE: New Hampshire’s Common Core debate reaches a new low

ANHPE Small Icon

The Common Core debate has entered a whole new stage. Exhibit A is an oped today in the Union Leader.  It’s by Betsy McCaughey, the fact-challenged author of the Obamacare “death panel” meme.  Here’s a sample:

“Move over Obamacare. Mid-term elections will also be referendums on ObamaCore.

“Contrary to what the public is told, Common Core is not about standards. It’s about content: what pupils are taught. In the Social Studies Framework approved on April 29 by New York state’s education authorities (but not parents), American history is presented as four centuries of racism, economic oppression, and gender discrimination. Teachers are encouraged to help students identify their differences instead of their common American identity. Gone are heroes, ideals, and American exceptionalism.”

If I understand Ms. McCaughey, the message is,”We failed to kill Obamacare so we’ll see if we can do a death panel thing on Obamacore.”  (Just for the record, there is no “Social Studies Framework” in the Common Core State Standards.)

Exhibit B is the windshield flyer left during the wonderful Common Core forum presented last night by Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R-Hollis) and Rep. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline).  Five amazing teachers, along with State Board of Education chair Tom Raffio, NHDOE’s Heather Gage, Nashua Community College president Lucille Jordan and business advocate Fred Kocher spoke about how well the Common Core is working in Hollis/Brookline and around the State.  I’ll post more about the forum itself, held at Hollis/Brookline High, when the video is available but here is the flyer:

Anti Common Core Windshield Flyer fin

Political opponents of the Common Core have lost five big votes in the Legislature. The debate now seems to have entered an entirely new stage.

UPDATE 6/17/14: My wife thought the tone I’d taken this morning was a “bit sharp,” as she put it.  And, really, I agree.  I apologize for the intemperate outbreak.  That’s just the opposite of how I think this debate should be carried on.  So I’ve edited this post to point out what I think are inaccurate assertions about the Common Core, but do it without quite as much attitude.

Granite State Rumblings: Why You Should Take Time Every Day To Read To Your Children

Mother reading to children (Neeta Lind Flikr)
Mother reading to children (Neeta Lind Flikr)

Mother reading to children (Image Neeta Lind on Flikr)

Have you seen those bumper stickers that say, Read Aloud to a Child Every Day? Does reading aloud to a child really matter?

YES! And here is why:

Reading aloud helps children acquire early language skills.

  • Reading aloud is widely recognized as the single most important activity leading to literacy acquisition.  Among other things, reading aloud builds word-sound awareness in children, a potent predictor of reading success.
  • “Children who fall seriously behind in the growth of critical early reading skills have fewer opportunities to practice reading. Evidence suggests that these lost practice opportunities make it extremely difficult for children who remain poor readers during the first three years of elementary school to ever acquire average levels of reading fluency.” Torgeson, J. Avoiding the Devastating Downward Spiral, American Educator. (2004)
  • Reading aloud to young children is not only one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills; it also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory. Bardige, B. Talk to Me, Baby! (2009), Paul H Brookes Pub Co.
  • Reading aloud stimulates language development even before a child can talk. Bardige, B. Talk to Me, Baby! (2009), Paul H Brookes Pub Co.
  • Research shows that the more words parents use when speaking to an 8-month-old infant, the greater the size of their child’s vocabulary at age 3. The landmark Hart-Risley study on language development documented that children from low-income families hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers before the age of 4. Hart, B. Risley, T. Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children (1995), Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Reading aloud helps children develop positive associations with books and reading.

  • The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life.
  • Reading aloud is a proven technique to help children cope during times of stress or tragedy.
  • Reading aloud is a good way to help a child acclimate to new experiences. As your child approaches a major developmental milestone or a potentially stressful experience, sharing a relevant story is a great way to help ease the transition. For instance, if your little one is nervous about starting preschool, reading a story dealing with this topic shows her that her anxiety is normal.

Reading aloud helps children build a stronger foundation for school success.

  • “What happens during the first months and years of life matters, a lot, not because this period of development provides an indelible blueprint for adult well-being, but because it sets either a sturdy or fragile stage for what follows.” J.S. Shonkoff & D. Phillips, Eds., From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development (2000), Washington D.C.; National Research Council & The Institute of Medicine, National Academy Press.
  • Once children start school, difficulty with reading contributes to school failure, which can increase the risk of absenteeism, leaving school, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy – all of which can perpetuate the cycles of poverty and dependency.
  • Reading aloud in the early years exposes children to story and print knowledge as well as rare words and ideas not often found in day-to-day conversations or screen time.
  • Reading aloud gives children the opportunity to practice listening – a crucial skill for kindergarten and beyond.
  • Reading aloud to a child gives them the basics of how to read a book. Children aren’t born with an innate knowledge that text is read from left to right, or that the words on a page are separate from the images. Essential pre-reading skills like these are among the major benefits of early reading.
  • Reading aloud helps them develop more logical thinking skills. Another illustration of the importance of reading to children is their ability to grasp abstract concepts, apply logic in various scenarios, recognize cause and effect, and utilize good judgment. As your toddler or preschooler begins to relate the scenarios in books to what’s happening in his own world, he’ll become more excited about the stories you share.

Reading aloud is, according to the landmark 1985 report “Becoming a Nation of Readers,” “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading.”

Despite this advice, however, some educators and many parents don’t read aloud to children from a young age and thus fail to nurture avid and skilled readers. Indeed, this is especially true for children in low-income families. According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, only 48 percent of families below the poverty level read to their preschoolers each day, compared with 64 percent of families whose incomes were at or above the poverty level. Children from low-income families are also less likely to have exposure to print materials.

So this summer have some fun, free time with your child. Visit the library and get some books. Then in addition to the usual reading places—a couch, an overstuffed armchair, a child’s bed—consider less traditional ones:

  • Outside under a shady tree, in a sandbox or a hammock, or at a nearby park.
  • Toss a sheet over a clothesline or table to create a reading hideaway.
  • Keep a book in the glove compartment of your car for long road trips or traffic delays.
  • Spread a blanket on the floor for an indoor reading picnic.
  • Use your imagination. Almost every room in your house offers exciting reading possibilities.

Happy reading!

OUR FAVORITES

Image Vivid Image Flickr

Image Vivid Image Flickr

A few weeks ago I asked you to tell me what is on your list of great children’s books. Here’s what I heard from some of you (in no particular order):

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Fritz Siebel
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault; illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Curious George by H.A. Rey
Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue by Maurice Sendak
Olivia by Ian Falconer
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
Corduroy by Don Freeman
Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Here are a few of  6 year old Spidey’s favorites:

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner (any of the stories in the series)
There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived by Matt Tavares
Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta
Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton and Eric Puybaret
Chicka Chicka abc by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

Want to find some books written by or illustrated by Granite Staters? Check out the list here.

6-16-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: The Session Comes To A Close, A Look Back At What We Have Done

AFT NH Legislative Update

AFT NH Legislative Update

We succeeded in defeating, once again, the so called “’right to work—for less” bill. Over the past two years hundreds of NH citizens voiced opposition to this bill with only a handful of people speaking in support. This attack on working people like you is led by out of state interests such as the National Right to Work Committee and ALEC.

We succeeded in defeating a bill that would have permitted audio and video recording of a public official while in the course of performing his or her official duties. All employees, both public and private, should have a reasonable understanding that when they are performing their jobs that they are not intimidated or harassed and should have a safe working environment.

We succeeded in passing a bill relative to the filing with a registry of deeds of a fraudulent document purporting to create a lien or claim against real property. As public employees just wanting to do our jobs we should not have to worry that someone unhappy with us could go the county’s Register of Deeds and file a million dollar false claim against your property.

We succeeded in defeating retirement legislation that would hurt public employees even more that the bad legislation passed by the Republicans in the 2010-2011 sessions. AFT-NH believes that:

  • Security in retirement is something every worker deserves after a long, successful career in public service. These workers, after dedicating their working life to educating children, enforcing the law, fighting fires and helping our communities run every day, have earned a benefit that must allow them to retire with dignity.
  • The benefit should ensure a predictable cost for the employers and employees, and it should create, and sustain, a high-quality workforce that is attractive to younger workers to invest a lifetime in public service, in turn adding value to the state’s economy.
  • In exchange for a lifetime of service, workers need to rely on defined and predictable retirement security that is protected against inflationary pressures. Their benefit should ensure sound investment options and strategies that will result in post-retirement stability, even against the economic concerns of today.
  • Public sector workers need to be able to look forward to long productive service. Retirement security should be defined through investments and contributions made over a long-term investment horizon.
  • Instead of encouraging the idea that working for the public sector is less valuable than working for the private sector, New Hampshire’s retirement system benefit for public workers should set a standard, and be something larger employers in New Hampshire should emulate.
  • Public service should be viewed as a respectful vocation; a commitment by workers of service and dedication to their home state. It is service that adds value to the quality of life for NH citizens and visitors. Public service is an investment in New Hampshire and retirement security creates a financial cornerstone of the NH economy.

We were not totally successful with the following but will be advocating for comparable bills to pass in the upcoming session.

AFT-NH supported bills that would have increased transparency within charter schools. We need laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voices in school policies and programs, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds by charter schools in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools.

AFT-NH supported a bill that would make sure we have the necessary resources, staff development and support in moving forward with Common Core and Smarter Balance. If these Standards are to succeed, we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing the Standards:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice,
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class.
  • We need to provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards.
  • We must ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards.
  • We must communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students.
  • We need to develop best practices and strategies along with providing coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply.
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments.
  • We must make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers.
  • We must be work to align Assessments to Standards indicating mastery of concepts.
  • We must insist that professional development and training in the Standards be offered.
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

To read AFT-NH full statement click here.

AFT-NH supported the passage of SB 322: relative to the renomination of teachers. It is time we move back to supporting our teachers in New Hampshire. Three years is long enough to deny teachers their due process when non-renewed. When decisions with such high stakes are being made, all staff should be given reasons why, and should be given time to improve through an improvement plan.

AFT-NH supported bills that would have increased School Building Aid from the state for local districts. Keep in mind that 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment. We also supported a bill that would lift the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully fund it.

We were not successful in passing our real pension reform bill, SB 364: relative to group II service retirement allowances and relative to establishing a supplemental savings plan in the retirement system. If nothing is done, New Hampshire will be in a situation where 30 years down the road, we are going to have public employees – at the end of a career – eligible to apply for food stamps, and other social services. This puts a strain on working families by forcing our public employees into social services. This is financially irresponsible for New Hampshire and undignified for our public employees.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit AFT-NH.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

To read the full listing of EDUCATION BILLS click here

To read the full listing of LABOR BILLS click here

To read the full listing of RETIREMENT BILLS click here

To read the full listing of MISCELLANY BILLS click here

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