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NS BOE Discusses Foreign Language Programs

District still deciding which language to eliminate

 

The North Shore School District Board of Education meeting took place Thursday, Nov. 29. The meeting started with going over the minutes from the meeting before and making announcements of current student activities. As Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick announced the upcoming holiday concerts, he encouraged meeting participants to attend so all can witness the “wonderful accomplishments of our students.”  The student representative for North Shore High School also enthusiastically had news of the highly engaging extracurricular activities. The Robotics Club recently attended the Robotics Divisional and the Key Club will be ringing the bells for the Salvation Army at the Stop and Shop in Glen Cove on weekends in December. Kenny Daley, the North Shore High School football all-star, is currently being nominated for the Timex Heart of a Giant Award. You can still vote for Kenny today at: http://www2.usafootball.com/ app/webroot/timex/.

The next order of business was the World Languages Phase-In Proposal, the reason the majority were attending the meeting.  Before the debate commenced, however, Dr. Melnick put an empty chair in front of all the members sitting in the front of the room. 

Melnick started by saying, “When we get into discussion about policy and programs, we tend to get too emotional and get passionate about our beliefs, what we desire and what we like, and we can make those decisions based on emotionality, passion and desire …but we need to base our decision for that student sitting in that seat.”

After placing the imaginary student representative in the center of the board, the meeting began with Dr. Melnick’s tri-state review of Language Other Then English program. 

“First of all, we must change the name to World Language. We are a global society,” he said. Dr. Melnick noted that he did intensive research based on the languages the district has today versus the languages that will help students in the competitive job market beyond high school.  While the district offers four languages to students, of the top 10 languages used in the world only two, French and Spanish, are offered in the district. Dr. Melnick went on to say that geopolitical studies show that Americans are at a disadvantage for not knowing another global language, and that international students have a better chance of getting jobs because of their education in second and third foreign languages, outside of their native language. Studies also went as far to show that students who held a proficiency in Mandarin, Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, and Azerbaijan had better chances of receiving scholarships. Today, Mandarin is the most commonly spoken language in the world, according to studies.

Out of the critical access languages reports show today, Italian did not make the cut for many researchers. In fact, the only list Italian language was found on, it was still listed as 27 most important. When the language was implemented in the district more than 10 years ago, it was a response to the over-whelming number of Italian-American residents in the area, not based off life-after high school. Latin research backs up that even though the language is not spoken as a national language around the world, that the education of Latin is still integral for developing necessary skills to improve the English language, critical thinking, higher SAT scores, higher math results and more. Latin is the parent language of almost all languages in the world.

The importance of knowing a second language is not disputed.  The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) reports that only 18.5 percent of American students obtain a second language in their lifetime, which is substantially low compared to the rest of the world.  Knowing a foreign language gives students around the world the opportunity to obtain more competitive jobs and communicate to a larger percentage of the global population. There is no way to reach proficiency by starting a second language in sixth grade; it must be done at the age where minds absorb the most in kindergarten.  Dr. Melnick’s recommendations are to implement a three-tier phase-in program. Tier one would be between the grades K-6, tier two would include grades 7-12, and tier 3 would be electives offered in the middle school and high school.  The program is more specifically known as FLES: Foreign Language in Elementary School.  

The FLES program as suggested by the superintendent would allow students to begin to learn Mandarin from kindergarten to second grade, have the option to continue Mandarin or switch to Spanish in third-grade through fifth grade. In sixth grade, students will have the option to continue Spanish or Mandarin or the chance to study either Latin or French. From 2012-2020, the phase-in would slowly eliminate Italian as a graduate requirement, and offer it as an elective. This implementation would not cause any students who are taking Italian now to not make their graduate requirement or teachers to lose jobs. Students taking Italian now will still have the opportunity to finish their selected language until their senior year. Italian teachers will not lose their jobs because there will be Italian-language and culture electives offered. This new program would increase the language department by 30 percent within eight years. 

During public discussion, concerned French, Italian, and Special Education teachers spoke up. A French teacher expressed how Latin is a dead language, can be taught in other subjects such as English and Science, and is not spoken around the world. The special education teacher expressed concern about losing Latin in the curriculum because it is so closely related to English, and is said to improve the ability of students with Asperger’s to understand and achieve a successful understanding, over other languages. Lastly, two Italian teachers spoke passionately, agreeing with the French teacher that Latin is a dying language and Italian should stay a major language in the curriculum, not only an elective.  

One of these teachers explained how Dr. Melnick’s research was extremely useful, however, does not include other facts about the Italian language. She said that Italy is the eighth largest exporter in the world, and is a head player in industries such as the fashion and food industry. She claimed that though it is not the most commonly spoken language, the country still deals with major industries around the world, making the language still a valuable asset to students.

Ultimately, there was not a definitive conclusion at the meeting. The board members said that much review will be needed before any definite plans are made, and the decision of what language should be eliminated is still undecided, though Dr. Melnick’s recommendation suggests the removal of Italian be necessary. The budget does not allow the district to have five languages and no matter what decision the board and administration come to, board members acknowledged there will likely be some parents, teachers and students disappointed by the final choice. The board does agree that regardless of whatever languages are chosen, this program will make the North Shore district up to speed with current times by starting students at a young age, and further their success in the future. 

News

 It has been five years since a particularly heavy rainfall closed all the beaches in Glen Cove including Crescent Beach. As per Nassau County Department of Health standards, beaches are ordered closed after heavy rainfall because of storm water runoff that adversely affects bacteria levels at local beaches. Typically, bacteria levels subside within a day or so, allowing for the beaches to be reopened. This was not the way it went with one popular beach after the June 2009 rain storm.

 

“Unfortunately, this was not the case with Crescent Beach,” said Glen Cove Parks & Recreation Director, Darcy Belyea, at last Wednesday night’s public forum at Glen Cove City Hall. “Elevated levels of microbiological contamination continued to be found in the bathing water months after the heavy rain and recent samples show they are still elevated today.”

 

Belyea was one of a number of panelists at the public forum, which included Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello, City Attorney Charles McQuair, Director of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee Eric Swenson and representatives from the Nassau County Department of Health. 

Movie lovers once again have a chance to see first-run films in the theater without having to travel far. Glen Cove Cinemas re-opened last week, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and free films offered to celebrate the occasion. 

 

“Thanks to all of the support we have here and all of you, Glen Cove is once again open for business,” said Mayor Reginald Spinello at the ceremony, held outside the theater on Thursday, April 10. “We were scheduled to open last week, and there were a few things that weren’t ready...I got a call from the theater operator, Jay Levinson, and he told me that unfortunately, that day Spiderman had the flu,” he joked. “But, Spiderman is well and Glen Cove is well, and we are coming back strong. This is just the beginning. This is going to be so good for Glen Cove and the surrounding communities.”


Sports

 

Glen Cove High School players, from left, Tajah Garner, Dejon Taylor, Manny Sican, and Ralik Jackson, after the Long Island Colts u18’s team vs. St. Anthony’s at Robert Finley Middle School last week. Touchdown ‘tries’ by Garner, Taylor and Sican.


The third- and fourth-grade Knights took to the road last weekend as they faced off against Jericho early Sunday morning, April 6.  Jericho’s teamwork and hustle brought down the Knights by a final score of 5 – 0.  The early game may have been a factor as the boys started to play better and more like a team as the game went on.  Once again, goalie Tyler Shea played outstanding in goal and was relieved by Christian Maiorano, who did just as well in the second half.  Andrew Guster played solid defense in the loss.


Calendar

Eggstravaganza - April 16

Live Music - April 16

Community Easter Egg Hunt - April 19


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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