Staff Editorial: Higher standards, better pay key to great teachers

The Basic Skills Test used to be a breeze for potential teachers to take. However, this soon changed in 2010 when changes were made to how the test is scored. Students now need to score an 80 percent in each of the subtests to pass the test.

The number of students who passed the Basic Skills Test decreased by 57 percent since the change in 2010. As we reported Oct. 3., 90 percent of students passed the test before the change and now only 33 percent do.

This is huge change. It will undoubtedly make life more difficult for education majors. Nonetheless, it is a good change.

Before the change, basically any student who thought they could be a teacher could hope to pass with flying colors. Nine out of 10 of them were right.

Hard work should go into passing the Basic Skills Test and becoming a teacher.

A student shouldn’t be able to just roll out of bed and take the test and score a 90 percent on it. Students should have to study and work hard to get that 90 percent to prove they have what it takes to handle the responsibilities ahead of them.

Enrollment has been down because of the job market, but the education department suspects that the harder test is also intimidating potential education majors.

We think potential teachers shouldn’t look at the changes in the test as a barrier. These changes should be looked at as a challenge that can be overcome.

If a student really wants to be a teacher, she shouldn’t let a little thing like changes to the Basic Skills Test get in the way of her dream.

But, more importantly, the country’s education system needs improvement. Granted, there are many, many factors contributing to the backward slide of American education. Many of the problems have little or nothing to do with the quality or dedication of educators. But there is no doubting that better teachers make for a better education.

As Doug Bower, associate dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies told us, “If we want higher quality teachers, we need higher standards.”

These changes came from the State Board of Education. We think legislators should recognize these higher standards and reward them by raising the salaries for incoming teachers.

If we want higher quality teachers, we ought to be willing to pay for them. This is not just to reward their hard work, but to lure more potential teachers into the profession.

We give teachers a crucial societal responsibility. We should ask more of those who we trust with the fertile minds of our children. And they should expect more from us.

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Column: When you’re struggling, ‘much love’ is all you need

By Julian Russell/Columnist

Call it being a senior, or perhaps it’s just life in general, but lately I have felt more stressed than I have in years. As I let the stress overwhelm me, I found myself becoming more difficult to talk to and I found myself participating less, both in and out of the classroom.

Today I was sitting at the doctors office—and no, I wasn’t there because of stress—where, as my mind wandered while I sat in the waiting room, I slowly felt myself overwhelmed with a calm that has been non-existent in my life for a bit of a spell now.

The calm came over me as I began to think of the words that my friend, who has now passed on, used to say to people in my shoes. “Much love.”

Whenever times glimmered a moment of heated words or aching hearts, Shane would say, “Much love brother, much love.”

I don’t think those words necessarily slipped my mind as much as they were just crated into a warehouse of mathematics and communications lessons. As I was sitting in his father’s doctor’s office, those words re-birthed themselves within my mind and cured my stress better than any medicine on earth could have.

I began to think of all the things in my life that made my heart ache and my mind stretch, and I simply thought: much love will cure all.

There will always be things we cannot change and where all else fails in life, love will prosper, love will shine its way through and love will keep us going.

There is no room in our lives for hate and sadness, and if you think that either are about to overwhelm your soul, reach out to yourself and say, “Much love, that is all I need.”

Two words have never had so much wisdom. If you would have had a chance to meet Shane’s parents like I have had the blessing and honor to do over the past few months, you would understand where such wholehearted wisdom and kindness comes from.

No two words exist that cannot be over-taught, over-stressed or over-exaggerated like “much love.” I would give my own heart to hear him say those words again to open ears, but I’ve found that an open heart and an open mind works almost as well.

To Con and Mary, I thank you for being the parents you are to have instilled the greatest of minds and hearts in the son that I did know and to the ones that I haven’t had the honor of conversing with. I know with the utmost of ease that the same exists within, for such greatness doesn’t travel that far from the tree.

When life gets you down and you feel like the bottom isn’t very far away, “much love” will keep you going, “much love” will live on and “much love” will keep the song of happiness alive in your heart.


Julian Russell is a senior communications studies major. He can be reached at 581-7942 or DENopinions@gmail.com.


Children learn about Latin culture at camp

By Dan Somenek/Staff Reporter

Children ages 3 to 13 made maracas, played Latin bingo and danced to the “Macarena” at a Latin American Student Organization event last Saturday morning in the Andrews Hall basement.

LASO planned the event, called “Ninos, Come On, Vamonos!”, to happen during National Hispanic Heritage Month, which this year runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
Karla Centeno, vice president of LASO, said the main goal is to enlighten young children with the Latin American culture.

“We hope that they’re able to experience it for themselves, learn some Spanish and overall have a good time,” she said.

Attendee Robert Dinkins said the children had the most fun and energy when the Macarena came on. Dinkins said his little cousin had fun dancing at the event.

“I remember doing the Macarena when I was little so it was good to see him get into it to,” Dinkins said.

Centeno said this is the first year LASO is sponsoring the event.

“We try to program at least two programs every year for Hispanic Heritage Month, and this one is one for the years,” Centeno said.

A total of 25 children registered for the camp.

LASO plans to continue this event and they hope to continue expanding children’s knowledge on the Latin culture.

“So far, I believe that the children have responded very well,” Centeno said. “Many of them were actually referred to the event by their Spanish teacher, so it shows that they already have the interest.”

This is not the only event LASO has put together for Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We also did a ‘Formation of Latin America’ Sept. 15, and it was a presentation of how the Latin American countries gained their independence, wars fought and key characters,” Centeno said. “In past years we’ve done other events like piñata making.”

Centeno said LASO has provided many activities over this month and hopes to improve and expand in the future years.

Dan Somenek can be reached at 581-7942 or ddsomenek@eiu.edu.

Students make a difference

Shelby Mileham, a junior psychology and health studies major, rebuilds a fence Saturday while winterizing the community garden behind the Charleston VFW. Winterizing involves pulling weeds and putting down tarp and mulch, Mileham said. (Kimberly Foster | The Daily Eastern News)

By Kathryn Richter/Staff Reporter

Eastern hosted the student-run “Make a Difference Day,” across Charleston and surrounding areas to promote community service on Saturday.

Eastern sponsored four different projects, two of them on campus and two in the surrounding area. The projects included a police department appreciation carwash, a community garden makeover, a city of Kansas park party and Casey Elementary School aid project.

Serena Loranca, a senior environmental biology major, helped to winterize the local community garden and was a volunteer organizer.

Loranca was said she was passionate about the project because it promotes green living and a sense of community.

“I think today is important because we need to make connections with the community and we can do that by giving back to one another,” Loranca said.

Loranca had previously helped establish the community garden over the summer. She said she enjoys spending time there.

Brittney Edwards, a freshman graphic design major, came out to the community garden to volunteer with friends.

“It’s a fun experience for me,” Edwards said. “It’s something I don’t normally do.”

Edwards came to the community garden with Lupa Ostiguin, a freshman pre-nursing major.

“We live in the city so we don’t normally do stuff like this,” Ostiguin said.

Samantha Cornwell, a junior English and history major, was also at the community garden.

Cornwell’s main duties of the day involved turning over the garden so it would be ready for planting in the spring and painting the pavilion.

“We’re out here showing the community that we don’t just go to school and party, we’re here to help,” Cornwall said. “It’s part of our community as well.”

In Kansas, volunteers from Eastern spent the day playing games with children and running booths at a local park opening.

Kristina Graves, a sophomore secondary education major, said that volunteering with the children at the park helped reaffirm her decision to become a teacher.

“I just like volunteering and I love kids,” Graves said.

Megan Rose, a freshman middle school education major, said she felt that by volunteering, it would reflect well upon Eastern, but that is not the only reason she wanted to volunteer.

“I just wanted to something other than sit in a dorm,” Rose said.

Rachel Fisher, the director of student community service, said she felt the day was a success.

“It really was a day that made a difference in our community,” Fisher said.

She said she felt the reason “Make a Difference Day” was so successful was due to the highly enthusiastic volunteers and the great locations and weather.

“It just shows the growing dedication of EIU students to the community around them,” Fisher said.

Kathryn Richter can be reached at 581-7942 or kjrichter@eiu.edu.

AIS shows ‘Sounds of World’ through dance

By: Jessica Nunez/Staff Reporter

Students got the chance to travel the world and learn about many different cultures through music Friday.

The Association of International Students (AIS) sponsored their fourth annual “Sounds of the World Dance” in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

The event included individual and group performances by AIS members, an open dance floor for audience members, musical chairs, raffles and food.

The first performance included an interpretive Indian dance held by two international students from India.

One of the dancers, Samyuktha Chowdary, a graduate technology major, said she was proud to take part in this event for her second year at Eastern.

Chowdary said this is one of the many great activities Eastern provides for International students.

“We can feel free here and get exposed to other cultures while still expressing our own,” Chowdary said.

Cheng Nian, a graduate biology major from China, took advantage of this event to introduce Eastern students to Chinese traditional music, culture and arts. He invited his wife, Zhou Siyan, to play the Guzheng, a traditional Chinese instrument.

Siyan has played for 12 years practicing up to eight hours a day, and is always in search of other opportunities to play for students.

“This was a good opportunity to give students a perspective of Chinese culture and music,” Nian said.

Joy Ignalaga, a senior graphic design major from the Philippines and the media coordinator for AIS, led a Hip Hop dance with a group of other female International students.

“These girls were good dancers but they never danced Hip Hop before this performance,” Ignalaga said.

Ignalaga said the performance was all about exposing women to American culture. The women chose to incorporate international music from their own cultures as well songs they heard on the radio into the dance.

“There were ups and downs but we made it through. I know it was challenging for them but it was also a good experience,” Ignalaga said.

One important part of the event was getting the audience together to partake in the dancing. AIS provided multiple songs for all different types of students to get on the dance floor including the “Cupid Shuffle,” which many audience members joined into.

Arelys Flores, a junior biology major, said she came out to the event to get familiar with other cultures and styles of dancing.

“When you are familiar with different cultures you become more tolerant and accepting to different ways of thinking,” Flores said.

Jessica Nunez can be reached at 581-7942 or janunez@eiu.edu.

Jazz, Classical share stage

Pianist David Hoffman performs a solo Friday during an EIU Jazz Ensemble performance in the Dvorak Concert Hall of the Doudna Fine Arts Center. The EIU Jazz Ensemble and Wind Symphony joined together for "Life in the Groove." (Miranda Ploss | The Daily Eastern News)

By Andrew Crivilare/Staff Reporter

Two genres of music shared a stage when the Eastern’s Jazz Ensemble and Woodwind Symphony played Friday at the Concert Hall in the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

The multiple-award-winning Jazz Ensemble took the stage first under the direction of Professor Sam Fagaly.

Fagaly said the ensemble had just performed little more than a week prior to their Friday night concert.

“We didn’t want to repeat too many parts,” Fagaly said.

The Jazz Ensemble was conscious of the fact that they were playing to an audience mixed with members primarily anticipating the Woodwind Symphony as well as their own fans, Fagaly said.

“We tried to have enough variety that the audience will find something they enjoy,” he said. “They seemed to enjoy it.”

Fagaly said the ensemble has been hard at work practicing together since the beginning of the semester but also devote time on their own to practicing skills they bring to the ensemble.

“Most of them are studying jazz,” Fagaly said. “The students work on improv on their own.”

Steve Kaiser, a graduate student studying music and the Ensemble’s guitarist, was met with applause during his improvisation during the Ensemble’s final number, “And Another Thing.”

Kaiser said to prepare for the improvisation the members of the band each turn to their musical heroes for inspiration.

“We try to emulate who we look up to,” Kaiser said. “Tonight, I was thinking about Pat Metheny, he’s a big influence.”

The Ensemble also sought to honor a jazz great when they performed “Boplicity,” made famous by Miles Davis, in a way resembling Davis’s 1949 recording as accurately as possible.

“Once in a while we like to pay tribute to a classic recording,” Fagaly said. “We try to recreate the recording as best we can since its such an important part of our literature.”

The Wind Symphony performed second, conducted by Alan Sullivan.

Sullivan started the Symphony off with an piece called “Graysondance.” Sullivan said the composer David Holsinger wrote it about Holsinger’s son in 1993.

Sullivan said the song’s hectic, upbeat pace betrays that Holsinger’s son was a little hyperactive.

The Symphony closed with a number called “Bayou Breakdown.”

“It’s like Bach meets Percy Granger meets jazz,” Sullivan said. “It’s the most different Bach you’ll ever hear in your life.”

Michelle Sullivan, conductor Alan Sullivan’s daughter, was on hand to watch her father’s first performance at Eastern.

“He was stressing out,” she said.

Sullivan said when the evening was complete and her father took his bow, she knew the concert had been a success.

“I remember him coming off the stage with a big smile on his face,” she said.

Lisa Gaza, a senior music major and French horn player in the Symphony, said Woodwind Symphony said she too thought Friday’s performance went as well as planned.

“We did a lot of rehearsals, getting the kinks out,” Gaza said. “But I think tonight we really kicked it.”

Andrew Crivilare can be reached at 581-7942 or ajcrivilare@eiu.edu.