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MIFGASHIM  January 2009

MIFGASHIM January 2009

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 36

From:

Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 12 Jan 2009 13:35:58 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (189 lines)

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 36


Contents:

1.	Lookstein Podcast

2.	Responses:  Impact of Ben Gamla Schools on Jewish Day Schools (Anonymous, 
Cuenca, Grant)

3.	Marshall Memo: Should the least experienced high school teachers teach 9th grade?


~~~~~~~~~


1.	Lookstein Podcast

Classroom Teaching this week:

Report cards can either be a nuisance or a motivating force and educational tool. Here 
are some reflections on how to make it the latter. To hear the episode or subscribe, go to 
http://www.lookstein.org/podcasts/


~~~~~~~~~


2.	Responses:  Impact of Ben Gamla Schools on Jewish Day Schools (Anonymous, 
Cuenca, Grant)


I am an educator at a private Jewish day school and rely upon the existence of the 
institution for my sustenance.  However, my friends and I talk about the need for a Ben 
Gamla-style school in our community because we can't really afford (justify spending) 
tuition today (let alone in 10 years, when our kids get to High School).  And education 
vouchers are not bound to be approved by the incoming Obama administration.

We did the math and assessed the cost of the Jewish Studies aspect of the Day School 
system as roughly 20% of total tuition: &#8232;Assume tuition of $15K, a third of money ($5K) 
for operating costs and the remaining $10K on paying educators (Students usually carry a 
2:1 ratio of general studies, so teachers are paid accordingly).&#8232;Total cost of Jewish 
education = $3K (which I can afford/justify).

Of course this assessment is 100% theoretical. We don't really know how tuition is spent.  
The only idea we've come up with is an old one - the revival of a Hebrew school system 
that can supplement the free education available to us.  

This requires tremendous sacrifice on our part. We grew up in the day school system and 
are very committed Jews but feel we cannot keep the tradition going with our children. At 
the very least, we'd like to keep them in a school where the majority of the population is 
Jewish and they can learn a language that is very important to their culture and religion.

Thoughts?

Anonymous Jewish Studies Instructor


~~~~~~~~~


I think a major key to every organization's success is to have a clear mission and 
understanding of what they stand for (their values and mission). Right now, Ben Gamla 
Schools might be clear themselves what their mission is (and that is questionable), but it 
is clear the community is not sure. Are they a kind of day school hybrid or a public 
school? 

Obviously, they are not a day school. But, the public is not clear and Ben Gamla has not 
gone to great lengths to clarify. 

In my opinion, Ben Gamla is not a bad thing for Jewish Day schools. Time will tell, but 
they serve a certain need and can offer an alternative curriculum to the community. I do 
not consider them a threat to our school and our registration growth reflects that point. 

However, if Ben Gamla gets their act together and becomes a very good school, then I 
think we have something to talk about for the future. Right now they continue to find their 
way. Time will tell. 

Thank you, 
Dr. Richard Cuenca
Head of School
Beth Torah Schools
Benny Rok Campus
Hochberg Preparatory School/
Suzy Fischer Early Childhood Academy
Celebrating 60 years of Beth Torah 
[log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


A suggestion was made by Rabbi Daniel Alter in the last issue of Mifgashim to have a 
charter school in the afternoon and a yeshivah or day school in the morning.

A major problem is one of finding qualified teachers in the morning who can afford to 
work for half a day.  In order to attract people into Chinuch, salaries had to be raised.  
Since they have been, I have seen more excellent young teachers enter the field.

Should we promote half-day morning Jewish studies, I believe we would lose many 
excellent teachers.  People need to make a comfortable living.

Rabbi Dr. Stuart Grant
Judaic Studies Principal
North Shore Hebrew Academy High School
Great Neck, New York
[log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


3.	Marshall Memo: Should the least experienced high school teachers teach 9th grade?

In this Harvard Education Letter article, Letitia Stein reports on the problem of the least 
experienced teachers winding up teaching ninth grade, where student needs are greatest 
because of uneven preparation, disrupted social networks, and difficulties adjusting to 
large high schools. 

Referring to the popular TV medical show, House, NASSP official Mel Riddile says, “The 
premise is that the best doctor treats the most critically ill patients. We do exactly the 
opposite of that in most high schools.” Ninth-grade teachers are often the least 
credentialed, the least experienced, and lowest on the totem pole – and this happens not 
because of formal policies or the collective bargaining agreement but because of cultural 
factors inside schools. 
	
It’s difficult for principals to push back against this pattern. If principals start assigning 
top-notch teachers to ninth-grade classes, they’ll get phone calls from school board 
members who’ve heard from parents of high-achieving upper-grade students. On the 
other hand, when underperforming ninth graders don’t get the best teachers, their parents 
“aren’t going to run to the school board to make a fuss,” says retired high-school teacher 
Billie Donegan. Calling herself a “reformed elitist”, Donegan describes how she became 
passionate about ninth grade when her principal “cajoled, conned, drugged, coaxed” her 
into teaching at that level. 

Persuasion works better than administrative fiat, says Gene Bottoms of the Southern 
Regional Education Board. “Smart principals are able to get some of those best teachers 
to come to the ninth grade and actually be leaders of teams of teachers,” he says. The 
DeKalb County, Georgia schools issued a call for teachers to make a difference at ninth 
grade and offered summer sessions to develop a curriculum in reading and math 
recovery and career technology. One school offered special parking privileges to ninth-
grade teachers, another promised to have ninth-grade classrooms cleaned daily, and 
another had ninth-grade teachers lead presentations on their program for the rest of the 
faculty. 

Chicago principal Rob Karpinski used to focus mainly on getting his seniors into college, 
and then realized that he had a pipeline problem: his freshmen were floundering. He said 
to his faculty: “If you start with a weak foundation, then you’re constantly patching the 
foundation for the next three years… If you build a strong freshman class, then you have 
that strength for the next three years.” Karpinski’s strategy was to assign teachers to 
more than one grade level whenever possible, reasoning that it’s helpful for ninth-grade 
teachers to know what’s required to be successful in junior year.

At POLYTECH High School in Delaware, veteran English teacher Sharon Crossen enjoys 
turning her ninth-graders on to her subject. “I want to be the teacher who introduces and 
shares my love of Shakespeare and literature with freshmen,” she says. “The ninth 
graders are like sponges. They just soak up and absorb everything, and you really get to 
see the fruits of your labor.” Crossen is often able to keep them in her drama program 
for three years. Praise from tenth-grade teachers on her students’ skill and knowledge 
means a lot, she says. 

“Wanted: Better Ninth-Grade Teachers” by Letitia Stein in Harvard Education Letter, 
January/February 2009 (Vol. 25, #1, p 4-6); this article can be purchased at 
http://www.edletter.org. 

__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________

The Mifgashim List is a project of
The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora,
The School of Education, Bar Ilan University

The Center encourages you to become a paid member and
benefit for the wide variety of programming offered by the Center.
For information see http://www.lookstein.org/joinus/.

To reply, comment or post a message, please write us at: [log in to unmask]
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You can search the archives at http://listserv.biu.ac.il/archives/mifgashim.html.

Check out online educational materials and information on other
Lookstein Center programs on our website at http://www.lookstein.org/.

The e-community is supported by generous grants from Evelyn and Shmuel Katz, Bal Harbour, Fl.

Further information may be obtained by writing to: [log in to unmask]

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