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Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, the nationally acclaimed summer arts day camp that for almost 50 years has introduced the arts to more than 60,000 children, announces "The New Usdan" with many new courses for 2015. The Center begins its 48tth season with new program options that will add breadth to Usdan's renowned offerings, while new calendar options will accommodate more families' summer plans.

New Dance programs include hip hop (for grades 4-12, intermediate level), Beginning Combination Dance (grades 4-12, incorporating jazz, lyrical, theater and modern dance styles), and Lyrical Dance (grades 4-12, combining ballet and jazz). The Art Department will offer classes in Sewing and Fashion Design, beginner and advanced, where students can both design and create their clothes, Architecture Design (grades 7-12, building design principles, drawing and model-making), and Lego Design (grades 2-12), a program that uses Legos to create works of art and building design. In Recreation, new courses include Yoga, Archery and Quidditch (the non-Wizard version), all for grades 2-12. In addition, for students age 15 and up there will be a course in Lifeguarding, one leading to American Red Cross certification (proof of advanced swimming ability is required, plus a supplemental fee).
A second session of Usdan's special and successful 3-week season will launch in 2015. The new session will begin as Usdan's season opens on June 29, while the second 3-week session will begin on July 27. These options are in addition to Usdan's traditional 7-week and 4-week sessions.
 The first Open House for the Center's 48th season, which begins Monday June 29, 2015, will be held on Sunday November 9 from 11 AM to 2 PM at the Center's magnificent 200-acre woodland campus, 185 Colonial Springs Road, Wheatley Heights, NY 11798.
 In addition to the Center's frequent Open House dates, Usdan offers individual weekend guided tours available by appointment. Weekday self-guided walks are also available. For directions to the Center, visit www.usdan.com. For an appointment, call 631-643-7900, (Visitors must be 21 years of age or accompanied by a parent). Families who cannot attend an Open House may make individual appointments for visits on weekends or weekdays throughout the Fall and Winter.
Usdan Center offers more than 40 programs in music, dance, theater, visual arts, creative writing, nature and ecology and chess, annually hosting more than 1,600 students from towns throughout the Tri-State New York area. No audition is needed for most courses, and transportation is provided in air- conditioned buses that depart from most New York-area neighborhoods. One- third of Usdan's students receive scholarship assistance based on family need. Video from many of Usdan's programs and special events, may now be viewed on the Center's website, as well as on YouTube. Also, families can check out Usdan's Facebook site, where additional information and late-breaking news is featured.
 Future Open Houses during 2014-15 will be on Sundays December 14, January 25, March 15, April 19, and May 17; and on Wednesday February 18, all from 11 AM to 2 PM.
 Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts includes among its alumni actors Natalie Portman and Olivia Thirlby and singers Jane Monheit and Mariah Carey. The Center is open to all young people from age 6 to 18. Although the mission of the Center is for every child to establish a relationship with the arts, the unique stimulation of the Center has caused many to go on to arts careers. Alumni include members of Broadway shows and major music, theater, and dance ensembles such as the Boston Pops and the New York City Ballet. In addition to its regular programs, Usdan offers special opportunities for advanced high school- age performing and visual artists. These include Music Staff Internships and a Musical Rep Theatre Ensemble. Usdan Center is an agency of the UJA-Federation of New York. Usdan Center also recently co-presented the sold-out "Jimmy Webb and Jane Monheit" concert at Port Washington's Landmark on Main Street. ###

Endicott College, a leader in furthering programs for single parents in higher education, announced it has received a unique grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), a unit of the U.S. Department of Education. Valued at $495,000 over three years and beginning October 1, 2014, this grant will fund activities at the newly established Center for Residential Student Parent Programs, located at Endicott College. The Center will serve as a national hub for single-parent programs, including partnerships with colleges and universities across the country, and for the related evaluation, research and policy advocacy efforts surrounding them.

FIPSE grants are awarded to organizations focused on improving postsecondary educational opportunities through innovative educational reform ideas. The Center for Residential Student Parent Programs will use FIPSE funds to build and sustain a robust national network of programs and institutions targeting supports for low-income, single-parent students. The Center has already begun building an expert advisory board and collaborating with institutions serving single-parent students from across the country.

"This grant represents many years of hard work, patience, and networking on a national scale," said Endicott College president Dr. Richard Wylie. "To see it come through is not only a feeling of satisfaction, but also excitement. Endicott, as well as myself personally, has a broad commitment to expanding the dialogue on supporting single, low-income student parents, and I am so proud to be a part of work that will further this important initiative across the nation. Through the hard work of so many dedicated people, these types of programs continue to help single parents get the education they need to succeed, and it's a huge step to have those programs supported by the U.S. Department of Education."

The Center for Residential Student Parent Programs is not the first initiative at Endicott College established to benefit parents seeking post-secondary education. Endicott founded its groundbreaking residential single parent program Keys to Degrees: Educating Two-Generations Together in 1993.

By Irving Spitz

 A major problem for classical music is the diminishing interest in the genre reflected by sparse attendances at concerts. In an attempt to counteract this phenomenon, many musical organizations, including those in Israel, include introductory pre-concert lectures to familiarize the audience with the works to be played. 

The acclaimed Israeli Carmel quartet takes this a step further. In their appearances all over Israel, they have an explanatory lecture not as a preconcert format, but as an integral part of the performance. This innovative programming is often scheduled on successive evenings so that the lecture can be given in both Hebrew and English.

The Carmel quartet was originally established in 1999. Its members include Rachel Ringelstein (first violin), Liah Raikhlin (second violin), Yoel Greenberg (viola) and Tami Waterman (cello). Individually, each of these four outstanding musicians has been the recipient of many prestigious honors and prizes. 

Today, the Carmel Quartet is generally acknowledged to be one of the foremost Israeli chamber groups. Since their founding, they have garlanded several international awards and have performed to rave reviews in Israel, as well as throughout Europe and the USA either alone or together with other world-renowned musicians.

Franz Schubert died in 1828 before his 32nd birthday. Throughout his short life, he was under the influence of Beethoven who passed away in 1827. Many musicologists believe that Beethoven's death unleashed in Schubert a burst of creative activity, almost unprecedented in the history of music. 

During the last year of Schubert's short life, compositions flowed endlessly from his pen. They include the incomparable song cycle, Winterreise, another large collection of songs, a mass, several other choral works, completion of his great symphony in C, the last three piano sonatas, a group of piano impromptus, his fantasia for two pianos and the great incomparable string quintet in C major, D 956. The latter is scored for two violins, viola, and two cellos and was completed just two months before the composer's death. It only received its first public performance 22 years later. This is really astounding since this supreme masterpiece is acknowledged by many as representing the peak of the chamber music repertoire.

Schubert's quintet was featured as the backbone of the most recent concert of the Carmel Quartet in the auditorium at the Jerusalem Music Center. The entertaining yet sophisticated lecture given by musicologist, Yoel Greenberg who is also the quartet's violist, explained how the second movement's plaintive mood makes it popular as background for film, poetry and literature. He cited several cogent examples with film clips and literature readings by members of the quartet. As Greenberg pointed out, the incomparable pianist, Arthur Rubinstein himself described this adagio movement as the "entrance to heaven" and requested that it be played at his funeral. 

The first half of the concert ended with a short "quartet for a missing cellist," specially commissioned from the Israeli composer, Gideon Lewensohn as homage to the Schubert Quintet. As the final strains of this innovative work ended, it was replaced by the steady beating of a metronome, perhaps indicative of music's timeless quality. 

Cellist Hillel Zori joined the Carmel Quartet for the performance of the quintet. The musicians began with beautifully nuanced, lush, swelling fortissimo chords that usher in the work. In the second movement adagio, the string players mustered the required tranquility of the sublime first theme. Especially effective was the trio of second violin, viola, first cello accompanied by the pizzicato from first violin and second cello. The audience were held in thrall waiting for each succeeding note. This was followed by the intensely turbulent middle section finally reverting back to the quiet contemplative mood with which the movement began. 

In the hands of the Carmel quartet, the dramatic symphonic-like third movement scherzo was a real contrast with the previous adagio. It was hard to believe that the volume of sound emanated from only five string instruments. The quartet brought out all of the mood contrasts of this sophisticated movement. Finally, they successfully captured the ebullient Viennese and Hungarian dance motives of the final allegretto, which brought the most memorable concert to a conclusion.

The article was originally published in part in Esra Magazine, Issue 176, September 2014

When Dina Habib Powell, President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation and Head of Goldman Sachs Bank USA's Urban Investment Group said, "When you educate a woman, you create a nation," those words rang as the theme of the Empower Breakfast sponsored by The Young Women's Leadership School (YWLN) held at Cipriani on Wednesday, October 15.

Tony award winning actress Idina Menzel, Pultizer Prize winning author Anna Quindlen and Andrew Farkas, CEO and Chairman of Island Capital Group were honored along with Habib Powell for their outstanding service to their communities and for the cause of educating young women.

New York dignitaries had praises to sing about the Empower Breakfast and YWLN's president, founder, and board member, Ann Rubenstein Tisch.

"This is one of the most extraordinary events," said fashion designer Tory Burch, "Ann is a true leader and everyone on that stage was so inspiring."

Tisch also commented on how joyous the event when she said, "I am so profoundly proud of our students and our alumni. You can see how much each group has accomplished both inside our schools and outside. These schools wouldn't survive and certainly wouldn't replicate if the students hadn't done the work to make them excellent schools. I'm blown away and so proud," said Tisch.

Sy Fliegel, President of the Center for Educational Innovation- Public Educational Association praised the event, "I'm exceptionally impressed. I love when they present where the graduates are today because in the final analysis that's what it's all about. Honestly it brings me to tears." President Ellen Futter, former president of Barnard College, current president of the American Museum of Natural History, shared Fliegel's sentiments. "I think this is a great event. I'm a long-term supporter of girls and women and especially their education. This is a great example of how transformative educational opportunity can be for young girls," said Futter, "The single best predictor of the health of a family is the level of the mother's education. This really matters."

The success of YWLN can be easily measured by its impressive statistics: more than 95% of students graduate, nearly 100% are accepted to college and $21 million in financial aid awards. "Our school offers a lot of opportunities and it opens up our minds to different things," says YWLN of Brooklyn student Evelies DeFrietas, 14, who have a penchant for science.

The students at the Empower Breakfast were chosen to attend based on teacher recommendations. In the case of DeFrietas, she was chosen out of over 400 applicants. Other students including Esrat Erina, 14, also shared inspiring words about the school. "This school gives you great opportunities to go to a good college and get a good job," she says, "there's a lot of love and sisterhood at this school."

Janelle Jones, 14, is a student at YWLS in Brooklyn and has already decided that Howard University will be her alma mater. "My school gives a very high level of work but they help you take the steps to do it and understand it. I feel like a lot of people are supporting us and it's an encouragement to go to college," said Jones. Based on the words of Hunter College President, Jennifer Raab, it seems that these girls have a great chance of being admitted to the college of their choice. "We have number of phenomenal girls [from YWLN] in our freshman class. We want to have as many of these girls as we can recruit," said Raab.

Each honoree had something profound to say as the accepted their award. Idina Menzel, perhaps best known for playing Elsa in the animated feature "Frozen", is the founder of A Broader Way Foundation, a performing arts program dedicated to offering girls from urban communities an outlet for self-expression and creativity. She held tightly to Jada McBeth, a 7th grade student at YWLN of East Harlem, as she described with happiness the dedication the girls show particularly to writing music at Camp Broader Way. "They're committed to taking risks," said Menzel, "and they help me to find my voice."

Andrew Farkas, Anna Quindlen, and Dina Habib Powell addressed the importance of education in their speeches. "Education is the foundation of self sufficiency. Self sufficiency is the cornerstone of self esteem and self esteem is the cornerstone of happiness," said Farkas. Quindlen said, "When you educate one girl, you improve the world by leaps and bounds. To have this many girls in the room educated so well you really think the world can get better."

YWLN began in East Harlem in 1996 as the first single-sex public school the United States had seen in over 30 years. Under Tisch's extraordinary leadership, YWLN has grown to five high-performing schools serving more than 2,200 girls in New York City.

YWLN currently operates in East Harlem, Queens, Astoria, the Bronx and Brooklyn. National affiliates include schools in Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis, Rochester and various locations across Texas including Austin, Dallas, Lubbock, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie and Houston. #

By James Clark

Deep in the Heart of Texas lies the small town of Meridian. It is home to a little over 1,000 residents. Known for its southern hospitality, one Mexican restaurant and the agricultural business, at large Meridian is a small rural town.  Take a right turn going north on Main Street and you will land on a county road recently named Yellow Jacket Drive conveniently in honor of the school's mascot, and a result of the creative collaboration of a student body's democratic vote.  This is where your unbiased journalist and author of this read graduated 2 years ago.

I decided to pursue journalism my 8th grade year when Senora Carpenter told a Spanish 1 class full of nervous and uneager students, myself included, the importance of understanding culture and the world around you even when it is not in your backyard. I instantly wanted to learn everything about the world and the people who live in it.

Senora Carpenter eventually asked me to join the speech team. The result was my passion for current issues, which created my curiosity to try public debate. The accomplishments from these academic events are what allowed me to attend a private university on a hefty scholarship. With the help of several teachers from Meridian High School I was able to leave town, pursue my education and fight hard for what I believe in. I was a lucky one.

I didn't just have teachers. I had mentors, awakeners, leaders and motivators that allowed me to discover what I was capable of and the barriers I was meant to break. I had my own educational philanthropists.

Even with the guidance of teachers like mine goals of higher education seem impossible to students from small rural areas. Lack of college academic recruiters make students feel unwelcomed to many universities. Lack of funding diminishes and destroys chances for extra academic opportunity and prosperity.  Societal expectations and disbelief in personal endeavors make students feel that they should remain stagnant.

I know those facts to be true, because they are the stories that become an endless novel of people in towns similar to where I grew up. It is not that the rural area populous do not want to achieve higher education, it's the fact that regionalism prevents it from happening. Altogether, it seems like there is no one standing up for rural area students and schools.

Similar to how my former teachers believed in me, small rural schools and students across this nation need the same level of encouragement and confidence. Leading to the undeniable belief that students, no matter the location deserve the best education in pursuit of their biggest dreams.#


Cornell Provost W. Kent Fuchs has been named the 12th president of the University of Florida, the UF board of trustees announced October 15. The appointment is subject to approval by the Florida Board of Governors. He is expected to begin his new position January 1.

Fuchs, who was appointed Cornell's chief academic officer in 2009, came to Cornell in 2002 as the Joseph Silbert Dean of the College of Engineering.

In a statement, Cornell President David Skorton said Fuchs leaves behind a legacy that "will be felt by all Cornellians, and by colleagues at other top research universities, for decades to come."

Known for his knowledge of Cornell, clarity of purpose and vision for the future, Fuchs became provost at the onset of the economic recession and helped the university find creative ways to hire and retain diverse, outstanding faculty, develop its new budget model and strategic plan, and establish the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, which, Skorton said, may be "Kent's greatest legacy as provost."

"Kent will bring to his new position a deep understanding of the issues, constituencies and avenues for collaborative action that are central to the life of a university," he said. "We will greatly miss his leadership, intellect and thoughtful, principled actions."

"Personally," Skorton continued, "I am excited for Kent and look forward to our continuing partnership as we each continue to contribute to the advancement of education and research at a national level."

"I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve Cornell for the past 12 years," said Fuchs. "Cornell is a wonderful university with a marvelous history and glorious future."

In developing the strategic plan, "Reimagining Cornell," Fuchs led the effort to erase the university's $150 million deficit and, in his words, to make Cornell a leaner, stronger university by 2014. The plan included downsizing and restructuring the university, and developing a new budget model.

"This comprehensive change in Cornell's budget model is one of the most important initiatives impacting the university's future that I have been involved in during my tenure," Fuchs said when announcing the model in 2012. Cornell balanced its budget that July.

Both as dean and later as provost, Fuchs spearheaded efforts to increase diversity within the Cornell community. He recruited faculty of color and women faculty and increased student diversity at the College of Engineering, and supported the establishment of institutional diversity goals and accountability with the Toward New Destinations initiative.

Fuchs led these efforts to recruit diverse, outstanding faculty and students and renew its focus on high-priority academic areas at a time when Cornell's peers were less engaged in doing so, helping Cornell to increase its competitiveness and influence in the U.S. and internationally.

Looking at the growing impact of technology on higher education, in 2012 Fuchs appointed a massive open online course (MOOC) committee and approved its recommendation that the university encourage this technological advance in the delivery of education. Fuchs said Cornell is "committed to remaining in the forefront of educational innovation." The first four courses launched in early 2014.

Fuchs earned his B.S.E. from Duke University and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. In between, he earned his Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, an experience that he credits with reinforcing his lifetime focus on service to people.

Skorton plans to announce an interim provost by October 31.#

- Reprinted with permission of the Cornell Chronicle.

In previous columns, I wrote about the Vergara litigation in California, which held that California's teachers' tenure laws violated the constitutional right of California students to an education.

This summer, two lawsuits were instituted against the New York State Board of Regents, and others, contending that the New York Education Law provisions regarding tenure, disciplinary procedures and seniority, in combination, prevent affected New York State public school students from obtaining the sound basic education that is guaranteed to them under Article XI of the New York State Constitution.

The first litigation (Mymoena Davids, et al., v State of New York, et al.), coordinated by the NYC Parents Union, was commenced in early July, and the second litigation (John Keoni Wright, et al. v State of New York, et al.), sponsored by the Partnership for Educational Justice, was commenced the end of July.  Both organizations are New York City based and are focused on public school reform, although the Partnership's activities are not limited solely to reforms in New York. In each instance, the plaintiffs are New York public school children. The Complaints in both litigations are similar, although with a slightly different emphasis, and argue that several related New York State Education Laws make it difficult to terminate ineffective public school teachers resulting in a lack of quality education in affected public schools which, in turn, violates the New York State Constitutional provision requiring the affording of a sound basic education to all students.

On August 7, New York State Attorney General Schneiderman filed a motion for consolidation of the two litigations, which motion was granted on September.  On August 29, New York State United Teachers filed a motion to intervene, which was granted on September 30.

The principal laws involved in this constitutional challenge are Education Law § 3012 (tenure), Education Law §3020(a) (disciplinary procedures and penalties) and Education Law §3012 (seniority).

Tenure protection in the United States arose out of the labor struggles in the 19th century and initially was instituted at colleges to protect academic freedom and to limit the ability of the college from terminating a teacher for disagreeing with the college's authorities or spending time on topics unpopular with the college's benefactors.  These rules were made applicable to New York State public school teachers by the addition of provisions in the New York State Education Law more than fifty years later.

The purpose of tenure was not to guarantee permanence of employment, but to mandate an appropriate level of due process into termination proceedings for a tenured teacher. The tenure laws were enacted to protect public school teachers from what then was a lack of due process and rampart discrimination at a time when adequate protections just did not exist. Today, however, freedom of information laws, open meeting laws and anti-discrimination laws exist on both the federal and state level and have eliminated most "star chamber" termination proceedings. As a result, the tenure laws do not serve the same purposes for which they initially were enacted. Although the tenure laws probably have had the desired effect of inducing qualified individuals to enter into the teaching profession in lieu of other better-paying jobs not offering tenured positions, one still needs to determine whether such laws, as currently being utilized, continue to be appropriate on balance.

Tenure in New York, in accordance with Education Law §3012, is normally required to be granted no later than the third anniversary of a public school teacher's employment.  However, in order to make this deadline, actions need to be taken by the school system after only two years of performance review, which many commentators contend is too short a period to adequately assess whether a teacher has earned a lifelong benefit of tenure. As the Wright Complaint states, "most studies indicate that teacher effectiveness is typically established by the fourth year of teaching.  After that, effective teachers tend to remain relatively effective and ineffective teachers remain relatively ineffective." 

New York State has implemented an Annual Professional Performance Review (the "APPR") to assist in evaluating the effectiveness of teachers.  Although each school district negotiates the specific terms of their respective APPR plans, these plans still are required to comply with the Education Law. Unfortunately, these locally determined evaluation methods have, in practice, invited variable definitions that do not always assure selection of the most effective teachers in determining whether to award tenure.

Once tenure is awarded, a teacher cannot be removed except (i) for just cause (i.e., insubordination, immoral character or unbecoming conduct, inefficiency, incompetency, physical or mental disability, neglect of duty or failure to maintain required certification) and (ii) in compliance with the process set forth in Education Law §3020(a). However, the prescribed process, as customarily effected, makes it prohibitively expensive, time-consuming and very difficult to dismiss an ineffective tenured teacher. Meticulously maintained and detailed documentation that is required has become a laborious and complicated process that must be completed within a defined time schedule. As a result, and because of the likelihood of an appeal after the process and the cost engendered by the process, many public school administrators appear to be loath to even commence the process. Moreover, disciplinary proceedings take time, and as mentioned in the Wright Complaint take well over a year from the time that charges are brought until a final decision. During this period, the affected teacher (while not teaching) must remain on the payroll, increasing the school district's burden.

Lastly, and as both the Wright and the Davids Complaints point out, tenured teachers still can be laid off if a school district is decreasing its teaching staff.  However, in accordance with Education Law §2588, seniority must be used as the criteria, removing any arbitrary element from the process. Unfortunately, such criterion does not result in retaining the most-effective teachers. If anything, it may even allow an ineffective teacher to refrain from attempting to improve since the effort will not result in greater job security.

Interestingly, neither the Wright nor the Davids Complaint, while arguing that the system is flawed and does not encourage effective teachers, believe that all of the disputed Education Laws should be abolished, but that such laws should be revised in a way to better achieve the desired purpose. However, in the absence of taking any actions, they contend that such laws have an unconstitutional effect resulting in the unequal and insufficient education of New York State public school children.   #

While New York City is Making Major Investments in Afterschool, New York State is No Longer in the Top Ten States Nationwide

 Today's release of America After 3PM reveals that New York State has stalled in meeting the demand for afterschool programs over the last five years. 1.1million of New York's children and families are still without afterschool opportunities--the same number as in 2009. The New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) is calling for substantially increased investments in afterschool programs so that these opportunities are available to students across New York.

 When the survey was last conducted by the Afterschool Alliance in 2009, New York ranked third in the nation as an afterschool leader, based on a combined quality, participation, and parental satisfaction score. In 2014, however, New York is not even in the Top Ten.

 New York State's drop in the America After 3PM rankings coincides with significant cuts to state funding in the recession, with funding 35% lower now than it was in 2009. Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a major new investment of at least $160 million annually in last year's Executive Budget to address New Yorkers' need for more afterschool programs statewide; unfortunately, however, no new statewide funds were added in the final state budget for 2014-15.

 Moreover, America After 3PM highlights a growing gap in the availability of afterschool programs between New York City and the rest of the state. This year's survey found that 21% of New York students are enrolled in afterschool programs, a number unchanged from 2009. If New York City's higher than average participation rates are removed, only 15% of students participate in afterschool. This gap is increased by New York City's investment of $338 million in afterschool and summer programs this year, including the launch of 271 new middle school afterschool programs this fall. These programs started after the America After 3PM data was collected and are not reflected in the report.

 "Outside of New York City, New York has actually fallen behind nationally on afterschool.  This is a tremendous disservice to children and families across the state," said Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, Executive Director of NYSAN. "Five years ago, New York was seen as a national model for effective afterschool programs, and must again take leadership in this critical area. We applaud New York City's major investment in afterschool programs and hope to see similar program growth across the state over the next five years."

 The Campaign for Children, a coalition of more than 150 early childhood education and after-school advocacy and provider organizations in New York City, said, "New York City is clearly leading the way when it comes to investing in high-quality after-school programs -- even more so now that tens of thousands of new slots have been added for middle school students since the data for this report was collected. We also know that there is much more work to be done to meet the demand across New York State, as well as within New York City, where 67% of children not in an after-school program reported that they would enroll if one were available to them. We look forward to continuing to work with City and State officials to ensure that all children have access to safe, affordable, and educational after-school programs."

 Research suggests that regular participation in high-quality afterschool programs over several years can help close the achievement gap between low and high-income students. It has also been found to increase school engagement and school attendance, reduce risks of substance abuse and involvement in juvenile crime, and increase access to adult mentors. 85% of New York parents support public funding for afterschool.

Afterschool programs are also a tremendous relief to New York's working parents, who are otherwise faced with the nation's highest average costs for afterschool care--leading to an estimated 584,000 children being unsupervised every day across the state.

 America After 3 PM can be accessed at http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/AA3PM/.

- This article is reprinted with permission of the New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN).

Recently, the Confucius Institute celebrated its 10th anniversary. The Confucius Institute was created by HanBan, in collaboration with the Chinese government, to promote Chinese culture and language on a global scale. In the past ten years, there are over 450 Confucius Institutes and around 700 Confucius Classrooms around the world. In New York City, the five Confucius Institutes collaborated to host a full day of celebrating the milestone. The opening ceremony was held at the SUNY Global Center and hosted by the Confucius Institute for Business at SUNY (SUNY CIB).

In her opening speech, Dr. Maryalice Mazzara, the American Director of SUNY CIB, talked about the mission of Confucius Institute, which is to "promote understanding through Chinese language study, cultural programs and events, and the establishment of positive relationships" between China and the United States. She noted how this was especially important in New York City, stating that the Confucius Institutes have allowed students to grow closer to members of the community.

Sally Crimmins Villela, the Assistant SUNY Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs talked about the impact of the Confucius Institutes on a global scale, saying the Confucius Institutes "truly embody the spirit of public diplomacy."

She added, "We know that nations are less likely to wage war on one another when they have significant cultural, personal, and economic ties. We know these ties are formed through higher education."

Cheng Lei, the Deputy Consulate General of China in New York City, echoed Villela's sentiments. He read a letter from the Consulate General, which said, "It is my sincere hope that those Chinese-American scholars can make full use of this platform for the sake of exchanging ideas and learning from each other so that the future emanations of those fine Chinese and American culture can bring benefits to mankind."  Lei also stated that, "The Chinese Consulate General in New York City is ready to exert all its efforts to support Confucius Institute's for the sake of improving mutual understanding and friendship between two great nations and two great peoples."

Shenzhan Liao, Director of Education at the China Institute, read a letter from Carmen Fariña, the Chancellor of Education, which discussed the impact of the Confucius Institutes in New York City. Fariña wrote that the five Confucius Institutes "have provided wonderful platforms that made the teaching and learning of Chinese language and culture more accessible for the city's students, educators, and all the city's residents."

Following the speeches made by representatives of the five Confucius Institutes in the City discussing their specific programs and impacts on the community, Dr. Mazzara then talked about the events celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Confucius Institute taking place throughout the day. The festivities mark ten successful years of promoting Chinese culture around the world through the Confucius Institute, with many more to come.#

Going overseas? Book your shots when you book your flight

Planning to travel outside the U.S. this holiday season? Check with your primary care provider or travel clinic when you book your flight. You may need to see a provider at least 4-6 weeks before leaving the country to allow enough time to complete vaccinations, says Caroline Sullivan, DNP, an adult nurse practitioner at the Primary and Immediate Care practice at Columbia Doctors. In addition to getting any needed vaccinations, advance planning can give you time to consider other health precautions to consider for your destination, Sullivan says. Sullivan, whose practice provides travel consultations, offers the following tips for trips abroad.

 1. Find vaccine recommendations for your travel destination. If your trip takes you to South America, you might vaccines to protect against Yellow Fever or Typhoid Fever. Travel to Africa may require vaccines to protect against meningitis or rabies. If you go to Asia, you might need vaccination for Japanese encephalitis, a virus spread by mosquitos in the region. "People are often unaware that these issues exist, and that there are vaccines for them," Sullivan says.

2.  Don't forget routine vaccinations. All adults and kids should get a flu vaccine every year. Adults should get the Tdap vaccine, which protects against whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria, at least once if they didn't receive it growing up. Travelers 60 years and older should also get vaccines to protect against shingles and pneumococcal diseases, which cause infections in the lungs, blood, brain, and ears.  "Keeping vaccinations up to date should be a routine part of primary care," Sullivan says. "It's never bad thing to double check before a trip."

3.  Vaccines aren't the only protection you need. Depending on where you go and how you get there, you may want to have prescriptions for malaria, altitude sickness, or motion sickness. You should also take precautions with what you eat and drink, consuming fully cooked food and drinking beverages from sealed bottles. You may also need to take steps to protect yourself against mosquitos or other insects, or take precautions to prevent blood clots during flights or diarrhea on the ground. "Travel medicine isn't just about vaccinations," Sullivan says. "Other measures are equally important such as food and water precautions and protections against insects."

4. Know the costs of travel medicine. Insurance may not cover all the shots needed for trips outside the U.S., and travel consultations also have fees that aren't covered as routine primary care. "If you are traveling on a budget, you should be aware of these out-of-pocket fees," Sullivan says.#

Education Update, Inc. All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2013.