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12 New Science Labs Among Recommendations for D109 Improvements

The board heard this week from the Superintendent’s Task Force for Middle Level Education.

District 109’s middle schools could be getting some major upgrades and curriculum changes, particularly in its science instruction, if the board accepts a number of recommendations made by the Superintendent’s Task Force for Middle Level Education.

The task force, which included input from more than 140 community members, was an outgrowth of the conversations Superintendent Michael Lubelfeld had with community members last summer.

Lubelfeld gave a presentation to the board Monday night that included a recommendation for 12 new “next generation” science labs and four new creative learning labs where science, technology, engineering and math, as well as communication media arts can be taught, according to the district website’s recap of the meeting.

You can view the full presentation here.

Other recommendations included “innovation Fridays” where staff are able to have more flexible, fun instruction; moving band, orchestra and possibly chorus into the school day; and offering French and Spanish in 6th grade with a requirement that at least 15 students enroll in a language for it to be offered.

If approved by the board, some recommendations would start in the next school year with others beginning the following year.

Lubelfed stressed that no new bond issues or referendum will be needed to make any improvements because money has been set aside over the last decade in the capital projects fund.

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Tom February 12, 2014 at 09:36 AM
I know this whole thing is thankless. But, why would we hire faculty because 15 kids want to take french. French used to be the international language. Now it the cute language of the cultured. Think prepping our kids for business, science, etc. International business… Chinese, Russian, Arabic are there money languages. Investments/Stock exchanges… Russian, Chinese, Japanese and German. Mathematics… Russian, Chinese, German. Pharmaceutical/Science/Research… Chinese, Japanese and Russian are the money languages. My wife is fluent in french. When we went to France 15 yrs ago almost everyone spoke english. But, we both enjoyed trying to use it. It's a really fun Starland language. It's lost its relevance. But, if you want to pay to have your child learn it… you have every right too and you should. We went to Restaurant Michael with our group on & she surprised the staff when she conversed and ordered perfectly for us. You'll all have fun together and a second language never hurts at all. I used to speak American Sign Language. It didn't help me professionally but, it was a personal choice. Let's luck at what makes the most fiscal sense for the district too. Lake Forest has Chinese. And, they have a lot of French Villa mansions.
Tom February 12, 2014 at 11:38 AM
Sorry for the missed autocorrects. I am actually literate in English. Last little rambling... had a couple friends who were very high up in 2 multinationals in Paris - from the other side of tracks. They came 6 mos early to do French immersion school set up for them. They stopped after 3 mos. both co's - all business transacted in English. They're patisserie-English, doorman-English, butcher-english, cab service, weekend food fair (mostly) and oh church at the American Cathedral :) I do appreciate all the time people have given.
Jon Hall February 12, 2014 at 12:08 PM
Tom, thanks for your narrow Midwest suburban provincial world view. Do you have any understanding of how little it costs to hire language teachers in the scheme of ignoring the upkeep of your facilities. Please move away from the end of the runway because it appears everything is currently going way over your head.
Pedro B February 12, 2014 at 04:16 PM
I couldn't agree with you more, Jon ;) Tom> The world would be an extremely boring place if we only exposed our kids to learning the 'money' languages. The primary takeaway should be that improving/expanding the programs that teach foreign languages is a worthwhile goal. It's entirely possible that if we stagger adding languages such as Mandarin a few more years the potential exists for a really strong program vs. ramming one through now that is not so good.
Tom February 12, 2014 at 04:44 PM
Huh? I want languages. Is there something WRONG with learning Arabic? Japanese? Russian? Mandarin? I learned a language of marginal "money" value and I loved learning about the history & culture. I just sought it out for personal reasons, sought out and acceptable program & petitioned to use it for my 2yrs of language. And can you get off the whiney comments. "Provincial"... French provincial? :)
P Reese February 13, 2014 at 01:34 AM
Tom, I think it is GREAT that you were able to study a language that you were interested in. Shouldn’t 109 students be able to do the same? I agree, we should have MORE languages for 109 students to study, not fewer. The World Language Task Force, of which I was part, was very keen to add more language options. Hence, the recommendation to study adding Mandarin. (Why study, you might ask? It is a much more difficult language than either Spanish or French and its implementation in surrounding peer districts has shown major promise and pitfalls.) However, I greatly beg to differ with your perception that French is passé, and by extension its study. France is still is a major lingua franca in the world. When you say “French,” most everyone thinks France, Switzerland, Canada – not Haiti, Ivory Coast, Chad, or Vietnam. Yes, Tom, French is spoken not just by the alleged “cultural elite,” but also in many developing counties—where growth is rising. French is also one of the most widely learned second languages, with a proven teaching/learning infrastructure. AND perhaps most importantly, it ranked third in the overall survey results in the Administration’s own survey of parents, students, staff and 109 administrators, behind Spanish (1) and coding (2) ahead of Mandarin (4). If we are able to fund 12 new science and 4 media labs at a projected cost of $4 million plus, why the quibbling over a part-time French teacher’s salary?
P Reese February 13, 2014 at 01:35 AM
p.s. If you ran into so many people who spoke English on your travels, I would point out that it is because the rest of the world does a far better job of teaching second (and third and fourth) languages to their children than we do here in the U.S.
Walter White February 13, 2014 at 06:42 AM
While I think studying languages is great, it has to be based on demand. Hiring a French teacher to teach less than 15 kids is irresponsible and wasteful. I would imagine the demand for other languages would be even less. If you had 2 kids interested in Mandarin would you hire a Mandarin teacher? It just doesn't make sense in a public school system that is funded by taxpayer dollars. If you are that adamant about your kid learning a certain language I'm sure there are plenty of private schools that could accommodate you.
Walter White February 13, 2014 at 06:45 AM
And to answer you last question, the reason to fund technology education is jobs. If French speaking jobs were growing at the pace of technology jobs then by all means we should fund French class.
Jon Hall February 13, 2014 at 09:48 AM
I was checking out at a local merchant the other day, and she was complaining that 75% of the high school help she hired were unable or extremely challenged by the skills of making change. What kind of life are these kids facing when they are not being taught basic money and consumer management fundamentals?
Walter White February 13, 2014 at 11:34 AM
Well there you have it. Great anecdotal data from a sample size of one.
Walter White February 13, 2014 at 12:44 PM
So no comment to actually support your comprehensive data analysis of high school student's math skills. Got it.
Walter White February 13, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Really creative insult though. Very nice.
Walter White February 13, 2014 at 01:38 PM
Um...ok Try putting together a cogent thought next time.
Walter White February 13, 2014 at 01:39 PM
Btw still no support of your claim. Easier to insult.
Jon Hall February 13, 2014 at 02:35 PM
Chill dude. Your criminal hero self-image might be impeding your ability to recognize who and what you really are, or the nature of a pot calling a kettle black. If you want to be consistently insulting at least try to inject some cleverness or creativity.
Pedro B February 13, 2014 at 02:38 PM
Walter> Did you actually read the report? The admin recommendation was to not teach it unless it had at least 15 kids. And nowhere does it say Mandarin would necessarily be offered for smaller numbers of students. Do you even speak a foreign language fluently? I also seriously doubt you have proper perspective on the cost/benefit of our kids NOT being at least familiar with a second language (even French) in today's global job market. My guess is you have also not recently researched current internship opportunities for college aged individuals either. It's not uncommon for an internship to be offered abroad with a language xxx preferred in the description. It's so painfully obvious that you are working with a very myopic world view when you grouse about having to pay a relatively tiny part of your property tax money for a part time French opportunity for our middle school children.
Tom February 13, 2014 at 03:00 PM
s'il vous plaît. Garçons. être gentil. Googled it :)
Pedro B February 13, 2014 at 03:11 PM
8-)
Walter White February 13, 2014 at 03:41 PM
I was responding to P Reese not necessarily the report. I agree with the 15 kid minimum.
Jon Hall February 13, 2014 at 04:46 PM
Don't have to google it, Tom. And BTW, if you or your children should happen to want to do some business with Russia, French has been the language to use there since, oh about the time of Peter the Great.
Pedro B February 14, 2014 at 12:09 PM
Jon> Exactly. FWIW, several hundred French based companies have offices & manufacturing facilities in Russia, so one doesn't need to do much math to quickly determine which one might be of more potential use for conducting business *across* Europe.

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