Archive | November, 2013

The 12/01/13 Joy Jar

30 Nov

Today is the first day of December. December is a transition month. The shortest day of the year occurs in December, Christmas is in December, the last day of the calendar year is in December and the ‘Joy Jar’ ends on December 25th . Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the month of December which represents transitions and new beginnings.

How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?
Dr. Seuss

God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.
James M. Barrie

“October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.”
Mark Twain

“From December to March, there are for many of us three gardens –
the garden outdoors,
the garden of pots and bowls in the house,
and the garden of the mind’s eye.”
Katherine S. White

“O cruel cloudless space,
And pale bare ground where the poor infant lies!
Why do we feel restored
As in a sacramental place?
Here Mystery is artifice,
And here a vision of such peace is stored,
Healing flows from it through our eyes.”
May Sarton, Nativity

“I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

‘We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,’
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.”
Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing

“Come, come thou bleak December wind,
And blow the dry leaves from the tree!
Flash, like a Love-thought, thro’me, Death
And take a Life that wearies me.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834, Fragment 3

“That’s no December sky!
Surely ’tis June
Holds now her state on high
Queen of the noon.

Only the tree-tops bare
Crowning the hill,
Clear-cut in perfect air,
Warn us that still

Winter, the aged chief,
Mighty in power,
Exiles the tender leaf,
Exiles the flower.”
Robert Fuller Murray (1863-1894), A December Day

“In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

Ah! would ’twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.”
John Keats, In Drear-Nighted December

Fordham Foundation report: Financing high need students

30 Nov

Lyndsey Layton wrote the interesting Washington Post article, Academic success in special education not linked to spending, study finds:

The amount of money spent by school districts on special education varies greatly around the country, and some districts that spend less than others are getting better academic results from students, according to a study released Wednesday.
The study, sponsored by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, suggests that some districts are overspending on special education, which has become a growing segment of school budgets around the country.
If all districts spent the median amount on special education, it would save $10 billion a year, according to the study, which was written by Nathan Levenson, a consultant and former school superintendent….
“People think intuitively that more spending must mean better outcomes,” Levenson said. “This paper shows that is just not true.”

See, Could Cutting Special Ed. Spending Improve Student Achievement?

Special Education defines special education:

What is Special Education?
There is no single definition of Special Education, some of them are mentioned below. Thus, Special Education is:
• educational programs for students whose mental or physical ability, emotional functioning, etc. require special teaching approaches, equipment, or care within or outside a regular classroom
• programs designed to meet special learning needs of students
• also known as special ed or additional support needs, teaching that is modified or individualized maintenance to students with exceptional needs or disabilities
• specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities
• education, often in separate special schools, for children with specific physical or mental problems or disabilities
• education of physically or mentally disabled children whose needs cannot be met in a mainstream classroom (the Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines special education as an education that is modified or particularized for those having singular needs or disabilities)

Special education covers education for students, which are in want of additional support so as to succeed in studies. It also pertains to education for those students unable to compete in a regular classroom conditions. Since in the United States every child has the right to get an education, irrespective of the intellectual faculties one can receive school education and master basic skills.
For students who are not fitted to a mainstream course some special education services providing separate classrooms. Occasionally, special education services may facilitate children with a particular problem. For instance, children with speech defects may run a speech therapy, and special occupational therapy might be prescribed for students with physical problems. This is common practice in grammar schools on the basis of pull out. Such students will be called out of the classroom to exercise needed procedures, in all other respects they will attend ordinary lessons.

Now and then student with permanent problems like autism could be provided with a special aide in the classroom so that to study on equal terms. Special education doesn’t mean that a child has reduced mental faculties, this is not necessarily so. Fairly often very intelligent students receive services to facilitate their accommodation to the school settings.
Children of preschool age may also receive special education services. Those parents worried about speech, physical delays, or major health problems of their child, may appeal to the Special Education Local Plan Area program as soon as their kid is three if they’re interested in that. According to state and federal law, SELPA must pursue research for those students who prove to be at risk for developmental lag or those with a worsened state of health.

The cost of educating special needs children can be costly to districts.

The New America Foundation posted the article, Individuals With Disabilities Education Act – Cost Impact on Local School Districts:

It is well-established that special education enrollment and aggregate costs have increased markedly in recent years. At the same time, there have not been proportionate increases in federal special education (IDEA Part B) appropriations or state education spending. Regardless of federal and state special education funding, however, local communities under IDEA must provide a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment to children with disabilities, no matter how high or low those costs are in the case of an individual child or how high they are for a group of children with disabilities. As a result, special education spending by local districts has consumed a large portion of increased education funding nationally — 40 percent of the increase by one estimate — since the late 1960s.
Larger Population of Students with Disabilities
The population of students served under IDEA has grown at nearly twice the rate of the general education population. During the twenty-five year period between 1980 and 2005, the IDEA population increased by 37 percent, while the general education population grew by only 20 percent. Moreover, students served under IDEA today account for about 14 percent of the total education population, up from about 10 percent in the 1980s.
The sudden increase in the percentage of the student population served by IDEA can be attributed to multiple factors. A significant portion of the increase in special education enrollment can be attributed to greater identification of students with disabilities from birth to age five and these students’ participation in IDEA preschool and early intervention services. Another reason for the increase is that Congress widened the definition of “disabled” under IDEA in 1997 to include the population of “developmentally delayed” children ages three to nine.
Rising Special Education Spending
Primarily because of the quickly expanding population of children with disabilities, special education spending has increased at a much faster rate than general elementary and secondary education spending. During the 1999-2000 school year, the United States spent $50 billion on special education “support” services and an additional $27.3 billion on regular education for disabled students ($77.3 billion in total).1 Special education support costs accounted for 12.4 percent of the $404.4 billion total spending on elementary and secondary education. With regular education expenses included, students with disabilities accounted for 19.1 percent of total national elementary and secondary education spending in 1999-2000, an increase of 13 percent from the 1977-78 school year….
Declining State Support for Special Education
In general, state contributions to special education spending have not kept pace with escalating special education expenditures. In 1987, state funding accounted for 56 percent of special education spending and local funding accounted for only 36 percent.2 In 1999-2000, the average state share of special education spending had dropped to 45 percent, and the average local contribution had risen to 46 percent, based on data from 39 states.3
Local school districts have had trouble covering such a high percentage of the $50 billion spent on special education services. Heavily impacted districts with a disproportionate number of high-need, high-cost disabled students struggle the most, particularly if the district is small or rural. Of all disabled students, approximately one-half of one percent, or around 330,000 students, require more than $100,000 in special education services per year. Given that federal and state funding formulas do not take the distribution of high-cost disabilities into account, districts with concentrations of these high-need students have much more substantial spending obligations….

The Fordham Foundation wrote the report, financing the Education of High-Need Students.


Financing the Education of High-Need Students
November 24, 2013
School Finance
Additional Topics
Matt Richmond
Daniela Fairchild
School districts face an enormous financial burden when it comes to educating our highest-need students. Financing the Education of High-Need Students focuses on three specific challenges that are often encountered when districts—especially small ones—grapple with the costs of serving their highest-need special-education students.
Districts and states could put these recommendations into practice today, without waiting for reforms or help from Washington:
1. District Cooperatives: Many districts—including charter schools, which often comprise their own mini-districts—do not have the requisite size and capacity to serve high-need students effectively and affordably. Multi-district co-ops allow for both economies-of-scale and better service-delivery for these children.
2. Student Funding Based on Multiple Weights: Special education funding systems based on average student needs may be easily administered, but they can also lead to inefficient and ineffective resource allocations. Weighted student funding is a tiered system of resource allocation that allows for a more rational and efficacious distribution of funds, enabling districts with more high-need pupils (or pupils who require more dollars to pay for their IEP-mandated services) to receive more money while jurisdictions that need less receive less. Basing those weights on services needed by children rather than disability diagnoses significantly improves the accuracy of this system.
3. Exceptional-Need Funds: Districts (especially small ones) sometimes find themselves overwhelmed by the high cost of educating one or two particularly needy children. This type of fund, managed and predominantly financed by the state, acts as an insurance mechanism for districts that can’t cover the full cost of educating high-need pupils along with all others under their purview.

Moi discussed learning disabilities in Survey: Most people don’t know what a learning disability is.
Once a learning disability has been diagnosed there are steps parents can take to advocate for their child. Scholastic has great advice for parents in the article, Falling Behind With a Learning Disability. Schools often test children to determine whether a child has a learning disability. Often parents may want to have an independent evaluation for their child.
PBS’ Reading Rockets has great information for parents who want an independent test for their child in the article, Having Your Child Tested for Learning Disabilities Outside of School.


Early warning signs of a learning disability

How to know if your child has a learning disability

If You Suspect a Child Has a Learning Disability

Learning Disabilities in Children

Learning Disabilities (LD)

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The 11/30/13 Joy Jar

29 Nov

Today is the Saturday of the Thanksgiving holiday. After yesterday or ‘Black Friday,’ today is ‘Small Business Saturday.’ MSN Money reported in the article, SBA Encourages Americans to Support Their Local Communities by Shopping Small On Small Business Saturday November 30:

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is encouraging Americans across the country to shop small this November 30 as part of Small Business Saturday, a day that is dedicated to supporting the small businesses that anchor our local communities and strengthen our economy.
“From the Main Street shops to the high-tech startups, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of a diverse and thriving marketplace,” said Acting SBA Administrator Jeanne A. Hulit. “By shopping small and supporting local business, we all have a role to play in giving millions of families the opportunity to achieve the American dream.”
America’s 28 million small businesses create two out of every three net new private sector jobs and are the backbone of our economy, with half of working Americans either owning or working for a small business. Small Business Saturday is a nation-wide initiative that brings Americans together to support small businesses, with the money you spend going right back into your local economy.
Started in 2010, Small Business Saturday has boosted holiday sales for Main Street businesses around the country. Last year, nearly 70 million people shopped small in their communities for an estimated $5.5 billion in sales to independently-owned small businesses. This year, we can do even more.
Small Business Saturday falls on November 30 and there are a number of ways people can get involved. For more information on how to support Small Business Saturday in your area, or to get great Small Business Saturday marketing tips and resources, check out or visit
Release Number: 13-56
Contact: Caroline Ciccone (202) 205-6948
Internet Address:
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook & Blogs
SOURCE U.S. Small Business Administration

No matter whether one is rich or poor, we all can choose how and where we spend our money. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is small business.

Digital Sherpa has 15 Inspirational Quotes For Small Businesses and Marketers:
1. I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.
Estee Lauder

2. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. –
Steve Jobs

3. Inspiration exists, but it must find you working. –
Pablo Picasso

4. Forget all the reasons it won’t work and believe the one reason that it will.

5. Give them QUALITY. That’s the best kind of advertising.
Milton Hershey

6. Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.
Henry Ford

7. Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, “What’s in it for me?” –
Brian Tracy

8. Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
Arthur Ashe

9. The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
Walt Disney

10. In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.
Bill Cosby

11. Tell a story. Make it true. Make it compelling. And make it relevant.
Rand Fishkin

12. The future of business is SOCIAL
Barry Libert

13. It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George Eliot

14. You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.
Beverly Sills

15. Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.
Napoleon Hill
Small businesses are the backbone of our local communities.

Violence against teachers is becoming a bigger issue

29 Nov

Education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. Increasingly, those in the teaching profession are victims of violence in the classroom.

Carolyn Thompson of AP reported in the article, Teacher Killings Bring Shocking School Violence Numbers To Light:

About 4 percent of public school teachers reported they had been attacked physically during the 2007-08 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education, citing a 2012 school safety report. Seven percent were threatened with injury by a student.
A 2011 survey found that 80 percent of teachers reported being intimidated, harassed, assaulted or otherwise victimized at least once during the previous year.
Of the 3,000 teachers surveyed, 44 percent reported physical offenses including thrown objects, student attacks and weapons shown, according to the American Psychological Association Task Force on Violence Directed Against Teachers, which conducted the national web-based survey.
The task force recommended creating a national registry to track the nature and frequency of incidents, saying this would help develop plans for prevention and intervention. It also suggested that all educators be required to master classroom management before they are licensed to teach…

The National Education Association (NEA) is also following the school violence issue.

Tim Walker wrote in the NEA Today article, Violence Against Teachers – An Overlooked Crisis?

According to a recent article published by the American Psychological Association (APA), 80 percent of teachers surveyed were victimized at school at least once in the current school year or prior year. Teacher victimization is a “national crisis,” says Dr. Dorothy Espelage of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who served as chair of the APA task force on Classroom Violence Directed at Teachers. And yet, the issue is generally ignored or at least underreported by the media and given inadequate attention by scholars – a deficiency that has widespread implications for school safety, the teaching profession and student learning.
The APA article was based on a survey – one of the few national studies – conducted in 2011 that solicited anonymous responses from almost 3,000 K-12 teachers in 48 states (NEA assisted APA by distributing the survey to its members).
NEA Today recently spoke with Dr. Espelage about the tasks force’s findings and recommendations and how addressing teacher victimization must be a component of any comprehensive school safety plan.
What kinds of attacks are teachers facing?
About half of the teachers who reported being victimized experienced harassment. Others reported property offenses, including theft and damage to property. And about one-quarter of these teachers experienced physical attacks. Harassment includes anything from obscene gestures, verbal threats and intimidation and obscene remarks. With physical offenses, teachers widely reported objects being thrown at them and being physically attacked. The most severe and uncommon cases are physical attacks that result in a visit to the doctor.
In your work with the task force, what did you find out that might surprise people?
A big surprise was the general scarcity of research out there about the victimization of teachers in the workplace. When the APA asked me as head the task force to conduct a survey, I assumed a lot of research was out there, but itwasn’t. It’s 2013 and there have been only 14 studies conducted internationally. It’s a very underreported problem.
So if you have an area that isn’t being studied thoroughly, it will never come to the attention of the public. And that won’t translate into better pre-service training, professional development for teachers, more support from administrators and other measures that can be taken to address the issue.
Any comprehensive examination of school violence must include violence directed at teachers. Focusing solely on student victimization to the exclusion of teacher victimization results in an inadequate representation of safety issues, which makes it more difficult to formulate effective solutions.
What people also should know is that we’re not just talking about students attacking or harassing teachers. Students are not always the perpetuators. We heard about incidents of adult-on-adult incidents – including parents and colleagues. What we found is that a physical attack was more likely to come from a parent as opposed to a student.
You also found that a teacher who is victimized by a member of one group, say a student, is more likely to be victimized by another group.
Yes, but it’s hard to determine why that is. It could be a number of factors. A student who harasses or threatens might come from a family who is inclined to victimize the teacher in some way as well. It could be something about the teacher. Maybe he or she is not adequately supported by the administration and puts them at risk for other episodes.
What are the costs to the school or community?
The big issue is teacher attrition. It’s hard to know exactly but we suspect that it is one component of many that explains why teachers are leaving the profession. Other costs include lost wages, lost instructional time, potenial negative publicity for the school, and a negative impact on student learning. Teacher cannot perform their job effectively if they feel threatened.
The task force makes a number of recommendations, including the creation of a national registry that can be used to track these incidents. You also urge that teacher preparation programs be strengthened so that teachers enter the classroom better prepared to confront and defuse potential violence. How much of an impact can this make when so many other outside factors contribute to the problem?
Many pre-service teachers aren’t necessarily equipped with the skills to manage their classrooms. So it starts with pre-service education. This is a priority in special ed, where teachers are really taught how to deescalate conflict. So one of the top recommendations we make in the report is urging teacher preparation programs to provide the next generation of teachers with a better skill-set that can at least help manage conflicts before they escalate.
Clearly teachers aren’t victimized just because they haven’t received adequate pre-service training or professional development.I also take a sociological perspective to studying the issue. What are the demographics of the school? What’s the administration like? What resources are available at the school? What neighborhood is the school situated in? And obviously we have to look at parental involvement.
And what’s the school climate like? We know about the connection between positive school climate and lack of aggressive or violent behavior. The research is very clear on that connection. Really strong leadership by the administration is needed to create a positive learning climate. How well does the administration connect with the teachers, how well do they know the student? The entire ecology of the school and the community has to be taken into account.
As for additional resources and teacher support, the trend in many states isn’t headed in the right direction. Class sizes are betting bigger – that certainly doesn’t help – and teachers are receiving less support, not more. So major shifts have to occur in our priorities for education funding. This is why we need to study this issue more, raise greater awareness, and help move the conversation forward.
Read the APA article, “Understanding and Preventing Violence Directed Against Teachers.”

Click to access amp-68-2-75.pdf

See also:
When Educators Are Assaulted-What NEA Affiliates Are Doing to Protect Members from Violent and Disruptive Students
Bullying of Teachers Pervasive in Many Schools
Related posts:
1. Preventing School Violence: Are We Making the Grade?
2. Educators Say Mental Health Awareness Key to Preventing Gun Violence
3. NEA Poll: Educators Support Stronger Laws to Prevent Gun Violence
4. How Teachers Can Help Cope With a Crisis
5. Four Things You Need to Know About the Pension “Crisis”

Dr Joan Simeo Munson has some good suggestions about how to deal with aggressive behavior in young children
According to Leo J. Bastiaens, MD and Ida K. Bastiaens in their article about youth aggression in the Psychiatric Times, one of the treatment options is medication. For some children medication works and helps them to control their aggressive tendencies. Probably, more children are medicated than need to be, but the decision to use medication is highly individual and should be made in conjunction with health care providers. A second or even a third opinion may be necessary. NYU’s Child Study Center has an excellent Guide to Psychiatric Medicine for Children and Adolescents Mary E. Muscari, PhD, CPNP, APRN-BC,CFNS Professor, Director of Forensic Health/Nursing, University of Scranton, Scranton, Pennsylvania; Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychological Clinical Specialist, Forensic Clinical Specialist, Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania writes at Medscape.Com about pharmacotherapy for adolescents

Before prescribing medication therapy for aggression, the clinician should ensure that the patient has a medical evaluation to rule out contraindications to treatment and to determine whether the patient’s aggressive symptoms might improve with appropriate medical care. Psychiatric evaluation is also necessary to determine whether psychosis, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or other problems are present. Treatment of these conditions may also result in reduced symptoms of aggression. Nonpharmacologic measures should be instituted; however, when pharmacologic treatment is warranted, institute treatment with an antiaggression medication that best fits the patient’s symptom cluster.

Medication should not be a first resort, but is an acceptable option after a thorough evaluation of all treatment options has been made.

Aggressive behavior can be costly for the child and society if the child’s behavior is not modified. At least one study has found preventative intervention is effective:

E. Michael Foster, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Damon Jones, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, in conjunction with the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, examined the cost effectiveness of the NIMH-funded Fast Track program, a 10-year intervention designed to reduce aggression among at-risk children….
Previous results showed that among children moderately at risk for conduct disorder, there were no significant differences in outcomes between the intervention group and the control group. However, among the high-risk group, fewer than half as many cases of conduct disorder were diagnosed in the intervention group as in the control group. These results were extended in the current paper to consider also the cost effectiveness of providing the early intervention. By weighing the costs of the intervention relative to the costs of crime and delinquency found among the study participants, the researchers concluded that this early prevention program was cost-effective in reducing conduct disorder and delinquency, but only for those who were very high-risk as young children.

As with many problems, the key is early diagnosis and intervention with appropriate treatment. Purposeful harm to another person is never acceptable.

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The 11/29/13 Joy Jar

28 Nov

Today is the day after Thanksgiving or in the shopping world, ‘Black Friday.’ Ryan Goodrich of Tom’s Guide wrote in What Is Black Friday?

The origins of Black Friday
Historically, starting the holiday shopping season on the day after Thanksgiving is largely due to the Santa Claus parades of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Department stores like Macy’s sponsored such events, which they used as advertising vehicles. It then became a common practice to never advertise for holiday shopping prior to the conclusion of such parades.
While parades are no longer as commonly used as the herald to holiday shopping, they’ve succeeded in establishing the day after Thanksgiving as the first day for holiday shopping.
MORE: Amazon to Offer Black Friday Deals Every 10 Minutes
The use of the term “Black Friday” to describe this shopping holiday dates back to 1961 in Philadelphia. It was used to describe the crowded pedestrian and vehicle traffic that resulted the day after Thanksgiving. By 1975, the term gained traction and use outside of the city.
These days, retailers have a different explanation for the term. For many companies, Black Friday marks the point in the calendar year when companies go “in the black,” or finally begin to turn a profit for the year.
Outside of shopping, the use of Black Friday has a lengthy history. Traditionally, the term signaled that something had gone horribly wrong with the economy. “Black Friday” was first used to describe Sept. 24, 1869, when several financiers tried to corner the gold market and instead crashed the market and caused a depression. In 1873, another panic in the financial markets also began on a Friday.
The Great Depression began after the stock market collapsed on Oct. 29, 1929, but that was Black Tuesday. Another bad day for the stock market, Oct. 19, 1987, was called Black Monday.
The negative connotation of the phrase prompted several officials to try and rename the day to “Big Friday” as a description of the types of deals available. However, such attempts were unsuccessful and the name has stuck.
When Black Friday starts
For years, it was common for retailers to open their doors as early as 5 or 6 a.m. to kick off a lengthy day of extreme sales. Between 2005 and 2010, the opening time shifted earlier each year, until stores such as Target and Best Buy were opening their doors at midnight on Thanksgivingnight.
Several retail stores, such as Toys R Us and Walmart, have now taken things a step further to begin their Black Friday deals as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening….,review-1952.html

If the stores are open, that means that many employees will have the hours they can spend with their loved ones limited.

Karin Klein wrote in the L.A. Times article, Retailers abusing workers: Black Friday’s just the tip of the iceberg:
Retail stores commonly hire as many part-time employees as possible so they won’t have to give benefits as basic as a sick day off. They require employees to keep their time free for the days they’re scheduled to work the next week — but the store thinks nothing of calling them on slow sales days to tell them not to bother coming in. Or worse, after the sales clerks have dressed for work and spent the time and money to commute to the job, the store sends them home mid-shift because too few customers are showing up. Those aren’t hours of paid vacation, you can be sure. People who already earn low, low wages are suddenly stripped of work hours with no opportunity to arrange in advance for other ways to make money.
No one would remain employed very long if he or she called in to the boss minutes before the work day was to start, saying, “Someone else will pay me 50 cents more an hour today, so I’m not showing up.”
It’s basic courtesy, right? Maybe at the social level, people feel more comfortable canceling plans on one another at the last moment. But when it comes to business, time is money — and at these wages, money for basic sustenance. On both sides, schedules should be honored.
People have always worked holidays — gas station attendants, nurses, police, journalists — when they were needed. And with families so scattered and overwhelmed, I’m seeing more friends whose Thanksgiving gatherings are held the weekend before or two weeks after. What matters isn’t the formally declared holiday but the feasting time together in service of gratitude.
I’m no fan of the Thanksgiving shopping trend, but the outrage over holiday work hours seems like one of those easy hits, full of the symbolism that gets people posting on Facebook, talking boycott or calling for new work laws. Yes, the creep into this family and national tradition is a sad sign of greed, but it’s a smaller one than the really damaging effects of greed on low-wage retail workers all year long. Let’s not allow the easy outrage to distract us from the bigger picture.,0,2718184.story#ixzz2luxhtkON

Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is reflecting on our buying choices affect the lives of others.

Black Friday: Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.

Sorry shoppers on Black Friday will block and tackle better than your football team on Thanksgiving.

Let’s spend Thanksgiving spilling food on our clothes, and Black Friday buying new ones.

Happy Thanksgiving to someone I’d have no problem stomping to death on Black Friday.

Make sure the clothes you buy on Black Friday take into account how fat you got on Thanksgiving.

Report: STEM attrition in college often occurs because students not prepared for the challenge

28 Nov

Moi wrote in The role economic class plays in college success: Moi wrote in Race, class, and education in America:
Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.
A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class

Jason DeParle reported in the New York Times article, For Poor Strivers, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall:

“Everyone wants to think of education as an equalizer — the place where upward mobility gets started,” said Greg J. Duncan, an economist at the University of California, Irvine. “But on virtually every measure we have, the gaps between high- and low-income kids are widening. It’s very disheartening.”
The growing role of class in academic success has taken experts by surprise since it follows decades of equal opportunity efforts and counters racial trends, where differences have narrowed. It adds to fears over recent evidence suggesting that low-income Americans have lower chances of upward mobility than counterparts in Canada and Western Europe.
Thirty years ago, there was a 31 percentage point difference between the share of prosperous and poor Americans who earned bachelor’s degrees, according to Martha J. Bailey and Susan M. Dynarski of the University of Michigan. Now the gap is 45 points.
While both groups improved their odds of finishing college, the affluent improved much more, widening their sizable lead.
Likely reasons include soaring incomes at the top and changes in family structure, which have left fewer low-income students with the support of two-parent homes. Neighborhoods have grown more segregated by class, leaving lower-income students increasingly concentrated in lower-quality schools. And even after accounting for financial aid, the costs of attending a public university have risen 60 percent in the past two decades. Many low-income students, feeling the need to help out at home, are deterred by the thought of years of lost wages and piles of debt….
Income has always shaped academic success, but its importance is growing. Professor Reardon, the Stanford sociologist, examined a dozen reading and math tests dating back 25 years and found that the gap in scores of high- and low-income students has grown by 40 percent, even as the difference between blacks and whites has narrowed.
While race once predicted scores more than class, the opposite now holds. By eighth grade, white students surpass blacks by an average of three grade levels, while upper-income students are four grades ahead of low-income counterparts.

Social class and background may not only affect an individual student’s choice of major, but their completion of college in that major.

Nick De Santis reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Report Examines College Students’ Attrition From STEM Majors:

Twenty-eight percent of bachelor’s-degree students who began their postsecondary education in the 2003-4 academic year chose a major in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics at some point within six years, but 48 percent of students who entered those fields during that period had left them by the spring of 2009, according to a report released on Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Education Department’s statistical arm.
The report, which addresses attrition from the so-called STEM fields, also includes information on students pursuing associate degrees. It says that 20 percent of such students had chosen a STEM major within that six-year period and notes that 69 percent of them had left the STEM fields by the spring of 2009.
Of the students who left STEM fields, the report says, roughly half switched their major to a non-STEM field, and the rest left college without earning a degree or certificate. The report notes that fields such as the humanities and education experienced higher levels of attrition than did the STEM disciplines.
The report identifies several factors associated with a higher probability of switching out of STEM majors, such as taking lighter STEM course loads or less-challenging math classes in the first year, and earning lower grades in STEM courses than in others….


Title: STEM Attrition: College Students’ Paths Into and Out of STEM Fields
Description: This Statistical Analysis Report presents the most recent national statistics on beginning bachelor’s and associate’s degree students’ entrance into, and attrition from, STEM fields. Using recent transcript data, it provides a first look at STEM coursetaking and examines how participation and performance in undergraduate STEM coursework, along with other factors, are associated with STEM attrition. The study is based on data from the 2004/09 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:04/09) and the associated 2009 Postsecondary Education Transcript Study (PETS:09).

ERRATA: A typographical error has been found on page vi of the report’s Executive Summary. The affected line should read:

“Bachelor’s degree STEM entrants who were male or who came from low-income backgrounds had a higher probability of leaving STEM by dropping out of college than their peers who were female or came from high-income backgrounds, net of other factors.”

A revised version of the report will be posted when available under the publication number 2014001rev.
Online Availability: • Download, view and print the report as a pdf file. (1527KB)
Need Help Viewing PDF files?

Cover Date: November 2013
Web Release: November 26, 2013
Publication #: NCES 2014001REV
Center/Program: NCES

Authors: Xianglei Chen
Type of Product: Statistical Analysis Report

Survey/Program Areas: Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS)

Keywords: Beginning students in postsecondary education
Postsecondary education
• field of study
• outcomes
• persistence and attainment
STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Mathematics)

Questions: For questions about the content of this Statistical Analysis Report, please contact:
Aurora M. D’Amico.

Megan Rogers wrote in the Inside Higher Ed article, STEM-ming the Tide:

About 28 percent of bachelor’s degree candidates and 20 percent of associate degree candidates had declared a STEM major. Of those who had entered a STEM program, 48 percent of bachelor’s degree candidates had left the STEM field by spring 2009. The attrition rate was greater for associate degree candidates — 69 percent of STEM entrants had left the STEM field during the course of the study. An October 2012 report tracking students who had entered postsecondary education in the 2003-2004 academic year found the same attrition rate for STEM entrants.
The attrition rate was highest for bachelor’s degree candidates who declared a major in computer/information sciences and for associate degree candidates who declared a major in mathematics.
About half of those who left had switched into a non-STEM degree program and the other half had left college without earning any degree or certificate. The study found that 22 percent of bachelor’s degree candidates and 16 percent of associate’s degree students chose to pursue business majors.
Low-performing students (those with an overall grade point average below 2.5) were more likely to exit the STEM field by dropping out of college than were high-performing students (those with an overall GPA of 3.5 or higher). The high-performing students were more likely to switch to a non-STEM major than their low-performing peers.
The study found some differences in how men and women exited the STEM fields. More men than women left STEM disciplines by dropping out of college and more women than men left STEM by switching majors. According to the study, 32 percent of women who left STEM fields switched to a different major, compared with 26 percent of men. And 24 percent of men left the STEM field by dropping out of college, compared with 14 percent of women.
Taking lighter credits loads in STEM courses in the first year, taking less challenging math courses in the first year and performing poorly in STEM classes relative to non-STEM classes were associated with an increased probability of switching majors for STEM entrants, according to the study….

K-12 education must not only prepare students by teaching basic skills, but they must prepare students for training after high school, either college or vocational. There should not only be a solid education foundation established in K-12, but there must be more accurate evaluation of whether individual students are “college ready.”


Helping community college students to graduate

The digital divide affects the college application process

College readiness: What are ‘soft skills’

Colleges rethinking who may need remedial education

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Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


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The 11/28/13 Joy Jar

27 Nov

Today is Thanksgiving. Christian describes the history of Thanksgiving:

In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution. That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church, of which President Washington was a member, announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, “unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities.” Yet, despite these early national proclamations, official Thanksgiving observances usually occurred only at the State level.
Much of the credit for the adoption of a later ANNUAL national Thanksgiving Day may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. For thirty years, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, contacting President after President until President Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving. Over the next seventy-five years, Presidents followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. Then, in 1941, Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday.
Lincoln’s original 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation came—spiritually speaking—at a pivotal point in his life. During the first week of July of that year, the Battle of Gettysburg occurred, resulting in the loss of some 60,000 American lives. Four months later in November, Lincoln delivered his famous “Gettsysburg Address.” It was while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves there at Gettysburg that he committed his life to Christ. As he explained to a friend:
When I left Springfield [to assume the Presidency], I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.
As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving each year, we hope they will retain the original gratefulness to God displayed by the Pilgrims and many other founding fathers, and remember that it is to those early and courageous Pilgrims that they owe not only the traditional Thanksgiving holiday but also the concepts of self-government, the “hard-work” ethic, self-reliant communities, and devout religious faith…

Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is Thanksgiving;

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”
Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.”
Erma Bombeck

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”
W.T. Purkiser

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual…O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.”
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

“Thanksgiving-giving thanks in everything-prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ.”
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

“The Christian who walks with the Lord and keeps constant communion with Him will see many reason for rejoicing and thanksgiving all day long.”
Warren W. Wiersbe

“I always think it’s funny when Indians celebrate Thanksgiving. I mean, sure, the Indians and Pilgrims were best friends during the first Thanksgiving, but a few years later, the Pilgrims were shooting Indians.
So I’m never quite sure why we eat Turkey like everybody else. (101)”
Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do.
Victor Hugo

The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.
William Blake

Studies: Music training sharpens the pathways of the mind

27 Nov

Mozart was a child prodigy. Most of us don’t come close to possessing his gifts. The Journal Times reported about the “Mozart effect.”

Mozart Effect
Scientific research has found some basis for the notion that music instruction stimulates general intelligence. About 10 years ago that was called the Mozart effect, the result of some research that reported that listening to a Mozart sonata increased the ability of some college students on a test of mental ability. Popular wisdom twisted that into the notion that listening to music makes you smarter, which is more magic than science. What scientists say at the moment is that music instruction will make you smarter about music, and that for music to help children they need to begin instruction really, really early.

Music consists of rhythms and mathematic like patterns which change a child’s brain and way of thinking. Research which was published in the Journal of Neuropsychology suggests that children who study music will as adults will benefit from music study. The research shows “….that the region of the brain involved in verbal memory is larger in adult musicians than in those who are not musicians.” Mental Ability Affected by Music Study’s%20Health&emc=eta1 Further, Rauscher’s study concludes “the research suggests that music may act as a catalyst for cognitive abilities in other disciplines, and the relationship between music and spatial-temporal reasoning is particularly compelling.” Music Affects a Child’s Cognitive Ability

The question is not whether children should be exposed to and study music. Children should be exposed to a wide range of the arts. The issue is what content is appropriate. A Book Rags Student Essays lays out the issues with hip hop music and its sometimes negative effects on the culture. Negative Effects of Hip Hop The late C. Delores Tucker and Tipper Gore were ridiculed when they pointed out the negative effects of glorifying violence and demeaning women by calling them “bitches and hos.” Lest people think that hip hop music and hip hop culture only affect children of color, think again. NPR had a segment entitled “why white kids love hip hop.” Why White Kids Love Hip Hop The negative life style choices and clothing glorified by many “gangsta” artists are affecting mainstream culture.

There is no one right type of music, good music comes in all genres. There is music that feeds the soul and music that destroys the soul, psyche, and culture. There is a positive hip hop movement. Essensce, a magazine targeted at Black woman and the Berklee College of Music joined forces to produce Positive Hip Hop

Berklee College of Music, in an effort to influence the direction of rap, is joining Essence magazine’s Take Back the Music campaign, meant in part to encourage young artists who offer alternatives to the violent and sex-laden lyrics found in some popular hip-hop music.

Pandora and Youtube has information which helps to promote positive hip hop. Amazon has a positive hip hop guide. Just as parents want to provide a nutritious menu of food, they need to make sure that young minds are properly nourished as well.

Sarah D. Sparks reported in the Education Week article, Music Training Sharpens Brain Pathways, Studies Say:

New research suggests that the complexity involved in practicing and performing music may help students’ cognitive development. Studies released last month at the Society for Neuroscience meeting here find that music training may increase the neural connections in regions of the brain associated with creativity, decisionmaking, and complex memory, and they may improve a student’s ability to process conflicting information from many senses at once. Research also found that starting music education early can be even more helpful….
Learning to Multitask
For example, a team of researchers led by Julie Roy, a postgraduate researcher at the auditory-neuroscience-research library at the University of Montreal in Canada, tested 15 musicians with 10 to 25 years of experience, as well as 15 nonmusicians of the same age, in sensory-processing tasks. The participants were asked to report touch sensations while also hearing sounds, ignoring what they heard, and reporting only what they felt on a finger. Prior research has shown that to be difficult to do; normally, those who feel one touch but hear two sounds will think they have felt two touches.
Longtime musicians, however, who must simultaneously read music, feel their instrument, and respond to the sounds it produces, were more than twice as accurate at distinguishing touch and hearing.
In another study, Yunxin Wang, a researcher at the State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning at Beijing Normal University in China, examined the structures of the brains of 48 young adults ages 19 to 21 who had studied music at least one year between the ages of 3 and 15. After controlling for gender and the amount of time they had trained overall, Ms. Yunxin found those who had begun musical training before age 7 had significantly more-developed brain areas associated with language and executive function.
Ana Pinho, a neuroscientist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, argued that musical education can be helpful at any age. “Even after stroke and disease, starting musical training can still help you get more from your brain,” she said. “All of these findings show [musical training] can create a lot of plasticity that can produce effectiveness across the brain, in cognition and behavior.”
Ms. Pinho used functional magnetic resonance imaging to record the blood flow in the frontal lobes of 39 pianists while they improvised music on a specially designed keyboard. Musicians with longer experience in improvising music had better and more targeted activity in the regions of the brain associated with creativity and the ability to transfer working memory to long-term memory.
‘Toolbox for Creativity’
While specific parts of the brain can be responsible for a motor task such as strumming a G-string, researchers are finding that a musician interpreting Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air on a G String,”—much less creating such a masterpiece—uses more of a brainwide process…
Mr. Damasio leads an ongoing longitudinal study by USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute on the development of musical skills—and neurological development—of students in the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. For the past year, the Effects of Early Childhood Musical Training on Brain and Cognitive Development project has worked with the youth orchestra, which provides free musical instruments and training to low-income students in the city. Researchers are tracking students for five years, beginning at ages 6 or 7, who have been matched in age, socioeconomic status, and prior cognitive ability….

Here is the press release from the 2013 Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego:

Embargoed until Nov. 11, 5:15 p.m. PST Contacts: Kat Snodgrass, (202) 962-4090
Press Room, Nov. 9-13: (619) 525-6260 Anne Nicholas, (202) 962-4060

Training before age seven has bigger impact on brain anatomy; improvisation can rewire brain
SAN DIEGO — New findings show that extensive musical training affects the structure and function of different brain regions, how those regions communicate during the creation of music, and how the brain interprets and integrates sensory information. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
These insights suggest potential new roles for musical training including fostering plasticity in the brain, an alternative tool in education, and treating a range of learning disabilities.
Today’s new findings show that:
• Long-term high level musical training has a broader impact than previously thought. Researchers found that musicians have an enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight (Julie Roy, abstract 550.13, see attached summary).
• The age at which musical training begins affects brain anatomy as an adult; beginning training before the age of seven has the greatest impact (Yunxin Wang, abstract 765.07 see attached summary).
• Brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped by systematic training, leading to less reliance on working memory and more extensive connectivity within the brain (Ana Pinho, MS, abstract 122.13, see attached summary).
Some of the brain changes that occur with musical training reflect the automation of task (much as one would recite a multiplication table) and the acquisition of highly specific sensorimotor and cognitive skills required for various aspects of musical expertise.
“Playing a musical instrument is a multisensory and motor experience that creates emotions and motions — from finger tapping to dancing — and engages pleasure and reward systems in the brain. It has the potential to change brain function and structure when done over a long period of time,” said press conference moderator Gottfried
Schlaug, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, an expert on music, neuroimaging and brain plasticity. “As today’s findings show, intense musical training generates new processes within the brain, at different stages of life, and with a range of impacts on creativity, cognition, and learning.”
This research was supported by national funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, as well as private and philanthropic organizations. Find more information about music, learning, and brain development at

The steps in the learning process are summarized in a booklet authored by Stella Vosniadou. How

Children Learn Among her findings are the following key concepts that are necessary in the learning process:

1. Active involvement – students must pay attention and participate in learning
2. Social participation – children internalize the culture and habits of the communities where they live
3. Meaningful activities – activities should relevant and have some real world application that it understood by the child
4. Relating new information to prior information – the Westport program has designed its curriculum in accord with this finding
5. Being strategic
6. Engaging in self-regulation and being reflective – children should learn how to set goals and plan
7. Restructuring prior knowledge – children have to learn how to solve internal inconsistencies
8. Aiming at understanding rather than memorization – the Westport program is attempting to promote understanding and a firm foundation for proceeding to the next set of principles.

Learning and mastery of a subject is important. But, so is nourishing the “whole child.” The arts are just as important to learning as are the sciences. STEM should become STEAM.


Importance of Arts Education

Why Arts Education is Important

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Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


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The 11/27/13 Joy Jar

27 Nov

This is the day before Thanksgiving which is a holiday to reflect upon life’s Blessings. defines giving thanks:

the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.
an expression of thanks, especially to God.
a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.
a day set apart for giving thanks to God.

Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the reflection before Thanksgiving.
Great Inspirational has a great selection of Thankful Quotes, Thank You Quotes , and Gratitude Quote:

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
Albert Schweitzer

Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting.

Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much. For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbors build their philosophy of life.
A. J. Cronin

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Melody Beattie

Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.
Brian Tracy

Every time we remember to say “thank you”, we experience nothing less than heaven on earth.
Sarah Ban Breathnach

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.
Meister Eckhardt

If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.
Rabbi Harold Kushner

In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.
Naomi Williams

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.

No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.
Alfred North Whitehead

None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.
Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

People who live the most fulfilling lives are the ones who are always rejoicing at what they have.
Richard Carlson

There is a calmness to a life lived in Gratitude, a quiet joy.
Ralph H. Blum

Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.
John Wooden

You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.
Sarah Ban Breathnach

You won’t be happy with more until you’re happy with what you’ve got.
Viki King

Practice an attitude of gratitude.

The 11/26/13 Joy Jar

26 Nov

Moi knows who she IS. She is a conservative Christian who follows a Jewish carpenter named Jesus. Jonathan Mizrahi wrote on his blog, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving:

A once in eternity overlap:
Next year features an anomaly for American Jews – The first day of Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving, on 11/28/2013 (meaning the first night of Hanukkah is actually the night before Thanksgiving). I was curious how often this happens. It turns out that it has never happened before…and it will never happen again.
(Correction: it happened once before, in 1888: see addendum below.)

Thanksgiving is set as the fourth Thursday in November, meaning the latest it can be is 11/28. 11/28 is also the earliest Hanukkah can be. The Jewish calendar repeats on a 19 year cycle, and Thanksgiving repeats on a 7 year cycle. You would therefore expect them to coincide roughly every 19×7 = 133 years. Looking back, this is approximately correct – the last time it would have happened is 1861. However, Thanksgiving was only formally established by President Lincoln in 1863. So, it has never happened before. Why won’t it ever happen again?

The reason is because the Jewish calendar is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, at a rate of 4 days per 1000 years (not bad for a many centuries old calendar!) This means that while presently Hanukkah can be as early as 11/28, over the years the calendar will drift forward, such that the earliest Hanukkah can be is 11/29. The last time Hanukkah falls on 11/28 is 2146 (which happens to be a Monday). Therefore, 2013 is the only time Hanukkah will ever overlap with Thanksgiving. You can see the start date of Hanukkah as a function of time in the attached plots. In the long timescale plot, the drift forward is clear.

Of course, if the Jewish calendar is never modified in any way, then it will slowly move forward through the Gregorian calendar, until it loops all the way back to where it is now. So, Hanukkah will again fall on Thursday, 11/28…in the year 79811.

Many Christians acknowledge the Jewish roots of their faith. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has a great explanation of Hanukkah:

The Importance of Hanukkah
I once had a Christian pastor friend who said he thinks that Hanukkah is really a critical holiday for Christians, too. Why, I asked — I knew about the reference in John chapter 10, but nothing more. He said that if the Jewish Maccabees had not risen up against their oppressors, then secularism and paganism would have controlled the Jewish people. And if it would have controlled the Jewish people, Jesus would not have been able to be born as a Jew, to live a Jewish life, to see the Temple, and have the Bible. Judaism would have been wiped out.
He’s right that Hanukkah is a very important holiday. There is an attempt in every generation to rid the world of the Jewish people. And if not, there are those who want to accommodate and negotiate and be flexible. Then there are those who say they can do that sometimes, but there are times when you must draw a line in the sand. When they try to take away my faith I cannot accommodate, I cannot adjust, and I cannot compromise. The Maccabees drew that line in the sand, and they triumphed. If not for their triumph, Judaism would have been gotten rid of by those authorities, and Jesus the Jew would not have been around 165 years later…

Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is a recognition of the Jewish roots of moi’s faith.

Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on evening’s forehead o’er the earth,
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth.
Emma Lazarus, “The Feast of Lights”

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame
Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart
Hannah Senesh

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

The miracle, of course, was not that the oil for the sacred light –
in a little cruse – lasted as long as they say;
but that the courage of the Maccabees lasted to this day:
let that nourish my flickering spirit.
Charles Reznikoff, “Meditations on the Fall and Winter Holidays”

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.

We have focused on the miracle-thing and I think we often overlook the message of Hanukkah. To me, the core of the holiday is the cleaning of the temple…. The accomplishment was in restoring the temple to the purpose for which it was built. Now think of the temple as a symbol. Perhaps it represents my life. The world has tried to use me for its own (perhaps good, but none-the-less extrinsic) purposes. But now I can rededicate myself to my own original purpose.
Ralph Levy, “Hanukkah – Another View”

Let the straight flower bespeak its purpose in straightness – to seek the light.
Let the crooked flower bespeak its purpose in crookedness – to seek the light.
Let the crookedness and straightness bespeak the light.
Allen Ginsberg, “Psalm III”

I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.
Jewish Proverb

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
Chinese Proverb

Even our misfortunes are a part of our belongings.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,

The darkness of the whole world cannot swallow the glowing of a candle.
Robert Altinger