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From The Editor

A New Year with More Challenges

By Roselyn Rauch

H ere we go again. A new academic year with ever more challenges. It is unfortunate that teachers across the board continue to  have so little public support and have to fight and claw their way (wow, that doesn’t sound too good) to prove their worth. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the public-at-large, including those who occupy elected seats, could really see the hard work that is put before us every day?  When will those same individuals wake-up to the realization that teachers weave the fabric for the success of our society, that we are not overpaid – their thought- babysitters? I would love for them to read our issues of Voices and hear the passion and dedication that those in our chosen profession feel. I would love for them to walk in the shoes of a teacher.

This issue of Voices continues to illustrate that passion and our commitment to our English language learners.

President Judie Haynes writes about our continued need to advocate for our students by collaborating with other like-minded organizations as well as each of us being well-versed on what research shows regarding the benefits of second-language acquisition in ESL programs and foreign language learning in World Language programs. Read also about WIDA revisions.

Vice President and Spring Conference Chair Cassy Lawrence is revving our professional engines by Looking Ahead to the 2012 Spring Conference. Be mindful of deadlines for the Call for Proposals and Poster Sessions, very soon after you receive this edition of Voices!

Our Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are first-rate examples of the hands-on passion and commitment of which we speak and write:

The GED Testing Center in Perth Amboy that Lynn Valenty writes about in the Adult Ed. SIG has been in operation for over 40 years; the center provides the population the opportunity for another chance at economic success. “Some students are overwhelmed with emotion…” Read the article and feel the passion of students and teachers alike.

Tina Kern, in What I Learned in Summer School, documents her frustrating experiences with teachers who still feel that a student is ready to exit programs based on a single criterion; thus, the need to educate colleagues about second language acquisition.

There is nothing more frustrating, even scary, than to have your students’ tests graded inaccurately: read Monica Schnee’s piece in the Early Childhood SIG on how to combat this potentially devastating problem.

Gladys Vega Scott is our new Higher Ed SIG representative; she writes about PARCC, a new consortium of 24 states that may, with our input, create a fairer assessment system through the Common Core State Standards.

Our Teacher Ed. Representative, Gail Verdi, had the opportunity to attend meetings related to the above mentioned PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) , and the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC), and in Washington, DC,  the USDOE’s Public Meeting on Creating Valid, Reliable, and Fair Assessments for Students  with Disabilities and English Learners. She also discusses “apartheid schools”, an eye-opening discussion.

Another new Executive Board Member, Claudia Plata, is our Special Education Representative. She writes about teacher sensitivity to children’s needs and modifying instruction to address student learning  styles.

The Unique Challenge of High School ELLs is Caia Schlesinger’s topic. She replies to some oft-asked questions from members. And Janet Kaback, in the Secondary Bilingual SIG, is looking for others to share their frustrations and communally seek solutions.

On a lighter note, Noreen Drucker reports on the upcoming 2012 Celebration of Teaching and Learning sponsored by Channel 13 and WLIW21 at the Hilton in New York City; she has attended all previous “celebrations” and tells about that “feel-good feeling” that she walks away with each year.

On the technology front, Maggie Manson tells you how to take your class on a virtual field trip while Marilyn Pongracz informs on 7 websites for classroom use, including 4Teachers.org.

Last, but by no means least, and which should probably have been first, Karen Nemeth, our Parent/Community Action SIG Representative offers many websites in Back to School Means Welcoming Students AND Their Parents! There are many places on the Web to find support for what we do. 

Be sure to read the changes on the national level in Important News from TESOL (National). As always, I encourage you to read every article in every SIG since there is so much overlapping information that can support every level in all of the important work that we do so passionately.

Have a good year!
Roselyn

Roselyn Rauch, Ed.D., is the Editor of Voices and a retired ESL/ESL Resource teacher from the Paterson Public School System. She is a consultant with ESL Unlimited and may be reached at rrauch@njtesol.org .