Voices Vol 41 No 2

Judie Haynes

President's Message

By Judie Haynes

This is my last message as president of NJTESOL/NJBE. It has been my great pleasure to serve as your president over the past two years. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all, especially those professionals who have served on the Executive Board with me. I am so proud to have served on the Board of NJTESOL/NJBE for 20 years with two more to go as Past President.

Our Fall Conference is fast approaching.  We have held our scholarship and awards competitions and the winners will be announced in the Conference Program.  We will honor the recipients of our scholarships and awards at a reception on Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 7:00 PM.  Please join us to celebrate our students and their accomplishments.  There is no charge.   We will be holding elections for a new Vice-President, and new Chairs for Bilingual Elementary SIG, Bilingual High School SIG, Adult Ed SIG and Teacher Education SIG.  You will meet our new Executive Board members at the reception.

I would also like to thank the Executive Board members who have worked so hard to put this conference together. A special thanks goes to Cassy Lawrence who finishes her second year as Conference Chair and Sandee McHugh-McBride who arranged all of the vendors.  Thanks to Tina Kern and Janet Kaback for their work on coordinating the scholarship applications and to Gail Verdi for arranging the Poster sessions.   Without the hard work of the entire Executive Board, a yearly conference would not be possible.   I look forward to seeing all of you on May 30th & 31st.

Last Fall, I signed a petition to support the No History is Illegal campaign that is protesting a recent law that bans school districts from teaching ethnic studies in Arizona. Most noticeably affected is the Mexican American Studies course that was closed down in Tucson. I received a wonderful letter from a leader of the movement thanking supporters for their help. One of the leaders of the campaign, Curis Acosta, wrote that the support of teachers and students from around the country has boosted their spirits and given them the courage to continue to fight this law. If you want to know more about the ethnic studies law in Arizona, go to their website at Save Ethnic Studies.

Another interesting piece of news comes from the Education Law Center where Stan Karp testified for the Senate Education Committee about the Senate Education bill #1455 also known at the TEACHNJ ACT. Karp expresses concern about adopting teacher evaluation procedures that are not based on proven practice. He contends that a premature adoption of new teacher evaluation processes “may negatively affect our high performing districts while not necessarily impacting the low performing districts.” We see examples of this in other states where teacher evaluation systems were adopted without enough research. Putting a new evaluation system in place is expensive.  TEACHNJ, if passed, will require that school districts use most of their professional development money to support the new evaluation.

New York City has already had negative experiences with the hasty adoption of new, untested teacher evaluation process.  Joe Pompeo, the son of NJTESOL-NJBE member Carolyn Pompeo, is the media reporter for capitalnewyork.com, an online publication covering New York City. In a recent article, he told the story of Bronx ESL teacher, Pascale Mauclair who until recently has an excellent teaching record. In March when the New York Post printed the ratings of teachers in New York City, Mauclair was singled out as the worst teacher in the city. Mauclair is the teacher of a small group of recently arrived immigrants and many of her students had only been in her class a few months at the time they were tested. The repercussions of publicizing the results of student tests are made clear by this article. Pompeo’s article mentions the harassment that Mauclair has undergone as a result of the Post article.  Also, mentioned is the support she is getting from New Jersey ESL and bilingual teachers.  I wonder why the decision was made to publicize the results of student tests. What business publicizes the evaluations of its employees? Even if the scores were indicative of teacher ability, what good does it do to publish these results? (Editor’s note: Read Joe Pompeo’s article in this issue.)

I hope to see all of you on May 30th and 31st at our Spring Conference.