About ten thousand educators from across the country will converge on Washington D.C. this week for the National Education Association’s annual Representative Assembly. WGCU’s John Davis reports the President of Florida’s statewide teacher’s union will be among those in attendance, comparing notes with teachers in other states about what’s working and what’s not working in education.
The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus and Mote Marine Laboratory are joining forces to turn unused space at Mote into classrooms and labs for degree-seeking students.
In the fall of 2013, students at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus will be able to take science classes at Mote Marine Laboratory. The first classes will be interdisciplinary sciences focused primarily on biology. The school plans to add courses in marine biology as the program grows.
Starting next year Florida middle school students must pass a civics test to be promoted to high school.
Greg Martin, who teaches the pre-International Baccalaureate program at Ft. Myers High School, said his student receive a solid civics education. They are enrolled in American Government in ninth grade.
“It may be perceived that we’re not teaching it. Maybe some people on the street can’t answer rudimentary questions, so maybe we do need to do a better job, but it is part of the curriculum and we are teaching it,” he said.
Martin devotes an entire class period to the First Amendment. Student Diane Rivera-Ramos said it’s very interesting.
“When I watch the news I know what they’re talking about and I have an insight into the political world and when I grow up older I’ll be like able to know who to vote for and what they’re talking about like what they’re trying to do for the country,” Ramos-Rivera said.
But there is concern that Americans don’t know enoughabout their government.
Gov. Rick Scott’s attitude toward liberal art degrees is still drawing fire from academics.
Last month the Governor said Florida’s state universities should back away from liberal arts degrees and put more resources into engineering, math and science. In doing so, he specifically targeted anthropology.
Scott’s daughter received an undergraduate degree in anthropology before becoming a special education teacher and later enrolling in an MBA program. Merrill Eisenberg, President of the Society for Applied Anthropology said that’s evidence that the discipline prepares young people for a broad range of careers.
“It’s a wonderful liberal arts perspective to have on the world no matter what field you go in – so some people with anthro(sic) degrees will go on to get graduate degrees in anthropology others will go on to fields in the other disciplines but they will be well prepared by having the perspective across time and across cultures of human behavior,” she said.
Eisenberg, who teaches in the College of Public Health at the University of Arizona, mailed a letter to Scott detailing the benefits of studying anthropology. She said she has not received a response.
The Charlotte County School district is starting a pilot program in ten classrooms by replacing textbooks with iPads.
The effort is in response to a new state law requiring public schools to convert textbook materials into digital form by the 2015-2016 school year. The Charlotte County School District’s Director of Learning through Technology and Media Chris Bress says integrating tablet technology can make the curriculum more engaging.
“I think most people can remember when they were in college or when they were in high school and when they had to study, they had to read the book in an analog fashion where you started on page on and you went all the way through and you had to search for things in the index and such,” said Bress.
“But now, when curriculum becomes digital, students will be able to jump and search and interact with it in a much more advanced way. And therefore we hope the curriculum will be come much richer,” he added.
As many as 300 iPads have been purchased for the digital conversion pilot program, but it’s unclear whether the digital conversion will save money in the long run.
Although there could be a savings from not having to print and ship textbooks, Bress predicts publishers will still charge schools the bulk of what they’re paying now for learning materials as intellectual capital.
Bestselling author Andrew Gross comes to Southwest Florida week after next . His latest thriller is “Eyes Wide Open”. He’s also collaborated with James Patterson on a number of his fast paced thrillers.
Gross is the featured guest at the Lee County Public Library Systems – Read Between the Wines Fundraiser on Wednesday November 16th.
Andrew Gross spent twenty years working in his family’s clothing business before he decided to take some time off and exercise his urge to write fiction.
The Literacy Council of Bonita Springs is merging with Literacy Volunteers of Lee County to create the Literacy Council Gulf Coast.
The non-profits serve more than 3,100 children and adult students in programs including basic reading and writing, computer literacy along with GED and U.S. citizenship test preparation courses. The Moms and Tots family literacy program has parents learning English side- by- side with their children.
“We work very hard at the literacy council to try to reach those children while they’re still preschoolers and their mothers who may have come from countries where they had very little education or where literacy was not a very important part of it,” said executive director of the newly-formed council, Susan Acuna.
“Reading to their children, for example, might not have been an important part of their parenting,” said Acuna. “We send books home with the families where they can develop a library so that the children and their siblings will be encouraged to read and to learn to love reading.”
Resources and classes are all provided to students free of charge. The organization is funded through grants and donations.
Before the organizations joined forces the Literacy Council of Bonita Springs was already one of the largest literacy organizations in the country.
A recent national assessment of adult literacy finds about 13 percent of adults in Lee County read below a basic literacy level. The number is 17 percent in Collier County and 20 percent statewide.
Acuna said the merger will help expand the number of students served.