Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Thousands of children marched to City Hall this week in sensible black shoes, a stream of boys and girls from township schools across this seaside city that extended for blocks, passing in a blur of pleated skirts, blazers and rep ties. Their polite demand: Give us libraries and librarians."

No, that paragraph was not in a pamphlet from your local librarians and educators, but from an article in the New York Times describing a protest by students in South Africa to demand an overhaul to the education system there (click here to read the entire article). Earlier this month, PBS aired the latest installment of the Wide Angle documentary, Time for School, a 12-year project on global education. The recurring themes from both the series and article are: education for all children is a inalienable human right; developing countries

It seems as if the students from those countries yearn and appreciate the value of an education more than children in the 'First World' - specifically our children. What happened? When did we lose our way? There was a time in the history of this country when education was the only way to a better life. In fact it's fair to say that some folks died trying to receive a good education. In the Jim Crow south, children were packed into one-room schools; earlier than that, it was a crime for slaves to learn how to read and write. Yet fast-forward two/three hundred years, we have adopted such lackadaisical approach to education. Can we ever get back that passion? Does something have to be taken from us before we feel it's worth fighting for?


Thank you for attending the PTA meeting last Monday - we had a wonderful turnout of parents, staff and children!! It was great to meet everyone and to start off the school year with a strong showing of support.

During the meeting, the vacant position for treasurer was filled by Ms. Cindy-Ann Williams. Welcome Cindy-Ann, we look forward to working with you!

We want to remind you of some up-coming activities:

Thursday, October 1 - Meet & Greet/Open School House; 6:30 pm

Thursday, October 15 - PTA Meeting

Sunday, October 18 - Breast Cancer Awareness Walk; Prospect Park

Monday, October 19 - School Picture Day

Sunday, September 20, 2009

back in the day.....

I was lamenting the fact that my son takes so long to write and I realized it was due to the fact that he doesn't know how to write in cursive. Is this something else for us 'Helicopter' parents to worry about. Well to quote Granpa, 'back in my day', taking notes in class was impossible unless you wrote in cursive, what about signing your name? I remember the pride and joy when I was able to master my 'grownup' signature! But if you ask any child below the age of 15, and I suspect some older than that, they don't know how to write in cursive!

Glancing through the papers this weekend, I came across this article in the New York Daily News.

Cursive writing is a fading skill, but do we care enough to save it?


CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston resident Kelli Davis was in for a surprise when her daughter brought home some routine paperwork at the start of school this fall. Davis signed the form and then handed it to her daughter for the eighth-grader's signature.

"I just assumed she knew how to do it, but I have a piece of paper with her signature on it and it looks like a little kid's signature," Davis said.

Her daughter was apologetic, but explained that she hadn't been required to make the graceful loops and joined letters of cursive writing in years. That prompted a call to the school and another surprise.

West Virginia's largest school system teaches cursive, but only in the 3rd grade.

"It doesn't get quite the emphasis it did years ago, primarily because of all the technology skills we now teach," said Jane Roberts, assistant superintendent for elementary education in Kanawha County schools.

Davis' experience gets repeated every time parents, who recall their own hours of laborious cursive practice, learn that what used to be called "penmanship" is being shunted aside at schools across the country in favor of 21st century skills.

The decline of cursive is happening as students are doing more and more work on computers, including writing. In 2011, the writing test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress will require 8th and 11th graders to compose on computers, with 4th graders following in 2019.

"We need to make sure they'll be ready for what's going to happen in 2020 or 2030," said Katie Van Sluys, a professor at DePaul University and the president of the Whole Language Umbrella, a conference of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Handwriting is increasingly something people do only when they need to make a note to themselves rather than communicate with others, she said. Students accustomed to using computers to write at home have a hard time seeing the relevance of hours of practicing cursive handwriting.

For the rest of the article, click here.

Destination Book Fair

PS 161 is hosting a Scholastic Book Fair on September 29, 2009 through October 1, 2009.

From the Scholastic website - FALL 2009 THEME: Destination Book Fair!

Books take you places, near and far. Destination Book Fair invites readers everywhere to Read Around the World!

Scholastic Book Fairs is sending readers on an adventure, giving them a passport to meet interesting people and visit amazing places through books. Bon voyage! Happy reading!

Please support our school while encouraging your child's passion for reading when you attend and support the book fair.

PTA Meeting on September 21, 2009

Please join us for the first PTA meeting of the school year on Monday, September 21, 2009. You will have the opportunity to meet teachers, staff and parent board members from the PTA, PAC and SLT (you will also learn what all those acronyms are!)

Additionally, a position on the PTA recently became available and we are now looking for a treasurer. If you are interested in joining the PTA board as treasurer, please join us on the 21st to nominate yourself and/or vote.