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Are paraprofessionals the answer to the nation’s shortage of bilingual teachers?

The Hechinger Report – Kaylan Connally and Kim Dancy

“Nearly one in four students speaks a language other than English at home — but only about one in eight teachers. Bilingual paraprofessionals help narrow the linguistic gulf between students and teachers by assisting with direct translation. They could help close this gap even further by becoming lead teachers themselves. One in five paraprofessionals speaks a non-English language at home — double the share for teachers. Perhaps because of the demands of their jobs, among bilingual Americans, paraprofessionals and teachers are more likely to report speaking English well or very well.”(more)

Science Teachers: Look Out for This Month’s First ‘Supermoon’ Lunar Eclipse in Three Decades

Education World – Staff Writer

“What better way to teach your students about the beauty and wonder behind lunar eclipses than to teach about the first “supermoon” lunar eclipse to grace Earth’s skies in three decades? “The supermoon total lunar eclipse, which occurs on Sept. 27, features a full moon that looks significantly larger and brighter than usual. It will be the first supermoon eclipse since 1982, and the last until 2033, NASA officials said,” according to Space.com. While normal eclipses are a somewhat frequent phenomenon, according to NASA supermoon eclipses have only occurred five times since 1900 (1910, 1928, 1946, 1964 and 1982).”(more)

Debunking the myth that good teachers shouldn’t use curriculum aids

E-School News – Janine Remillard and Joshua Taton

“he myth that good teachers have the Midas touch and therefore don’t need curriculum programs has been around for decades. This myth paints teachers as curricular experts who are best positioned to create instructional plans tailored to particular students. It also reflects the prevalence of low-quality and uninspired textbook series that have dominated the market throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Some packages simply did not have much to offer, while others talked down to teachers, as the oft-used phrase “teacher-proof curriculum” suggests. The perception that good teachers reject textbooks and design their own curriculum has been a persistent belief of educators over the years. Researchers have long noted unease about using teacher’s guides among many teachers, regardless of whether the curriculum in question was a traditional textbook from the 1980s1, 2 or a more innovative program reflecting the vision outlined in the widely adopted National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards of the 1990s.”(more)

Los Angeles school district, teachers in tentative labor deal

Reuters – Staff Writer

“The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the city’s teachers union reached a tentative agreement on Friday night, the union said, averting a possible strike. The three-year agreement includes a 10 percent pay rise spread over two years, investment in class size and counseling, as well as improvements to the evaluation system for teachers, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) said on its website. Representatives for the school district could not be immediately reached early on Saturday, but school board member Steve Zimmer told the Los Angeles Times: “This is an important step in restoring trust and partnership between LAUSD and UTLA.” “Our message to our teachers is simple: We believe in you. I look forward to the stability and renewed collaboration this agreement will bring and to all us working together to improve outcomes for all students,” Zimmer said, according to the Times. The agreement must be ratified by union membership and the district’s Board of Education, the union said.”(more)

Schools Nationwide Struggle With Substitute Teacher Shortage

The Huffington Post – Tom Coyne

“Carrie Swing wasn’t alarmed when her fifth-grade daughter, Ivy, spent a day in a first-grade classroom at her San Francisco school, filling out worksheets and helping younger students read because no substitute could be found for her absent teacher. But when it happened the next four days too, Swing became so concerned that she considered quitting her public relations job to homeschool her daughter. “The situation was really awful,” Swing said. “The kids had a sense of, `Nobody’s in charge here,’ and I think that was really hard on them.” Although Ivy’s school represents an extreme example, districts throughout the country have reported struggles finding substitute teachers. School officials say the shortage worsened as the unemployment rate improved, and job seekers who might have settled for a part-time job such as substitute teaching are now insisting on full-time positions with better pay and benefits. Geoffrey Smith founded the Substitute Teaching Institute at Utah State, which in 2008 spun off into an online training program for substitutes. He said he’s unaware of any national statistics about unfilled substitute teaching posts, although an unscientific survey conducted by his organization last year found 48 percent of districts responding reported severe or somewhat severe shortage of substitute teachers.”(more)

The Evolution of Teacher Pensions

Education Next – Chris Adelman

“The bottom line (in red) represents the pension plan offered to Missouri teachers in 1975. It was a fairly standard pension plan. Teachers did not qualify for any pension at all in their early years before “vesting” at five years, earned a relatively small pension for the next 10-15 years, and then accelerated toward a much higher peak at the back-end of their career. Back in 1975, that peak was at age 60 (it had been age 65 in 1967).” (more)