Korean parents get a taste of SATs, writing during seventh annual seminar

EDUCATION NOTEBOOK

October 22, 2006|By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV

About 70 Korean parents combed through sample essay questions from the SAT in Centennial High School's media room on a recent evening. Down the hall an additional 60 parents learned about writing techniques for elementary pupils.

With the addition of a writing section to the SATs and more and core subjects requiring written explanations, the focus of the seventh annual Korean Education Seminar was writing. The event attracted more than 300 people.

"Because the dominant language at home might not be English, there is a large gap in writing," said Young-chan Han, a specialist with the system's International Student and Family Outreach Office. "A lot of parents are not able to help them with the writing."

Howard County's student population is 13 percent Asian, with Koreans making up the largest number. The presence of an established Korean population, a top-rated school system and a suburban atmosphere have contributed to an increase in the Korean community.

Howard County's reputation in Korea has grown through Web sites that promote the county, articles in Korean newspapers and word-of-mouth endorsements.

"In Korea they don't emphasis writing in other areas ... than their subject area," Han added. "The United States is language rich. Everything is writing. It's really critical that children from a young age learn to write well."

Seung Park, an Ellicott City mother of elementary and high school students, said good SAT scores equate to college success.

"I need to prepare them earlier," Park said through an interpreter. "Writing is not easy."

Park made stops to the elementary seminar and learned about the importance of identifying the main idea in a piece of writing. In the high school seminar, she learned that her son Julius Park, a freshman at Centennial High School, should keep a journal about what he reads.

"I want to know how to give advice to my son," said Park, who wore a green and red hanbok, a traditional Korean dress.

Marston has a plan B

Even though he did not advance past the primary election last month, Donald Byrd Marston Jr., still has plenty of fight in him and is hoping to serve on the Board of Education through several scenarios.

The first one would be to get elected to the board as a write-in candidate.

Marston has sent e-mails urging voters to support him in the November election through the write-in process.

"I am a write-in candidate, the spelling of my name must be written in exactly on your absentee ballot or typed in exactly on your Election Day ballot under the write-in option. We want your votes to count!" Marston's e-mail states.

The alternative involves a two-part process that includes current member Mary Kay Sigaty winning a County Council seat, which would result in her stepping down from the school board. The county executive then would have to choose Marston to fill her spot.

The second scenario is complicated by several unknowns -- including Sigaty's success, and the election of a new County Executive.

Marston, 39, a golf course clubhouse manager at Caves Valley Golf Club, believes in addressing aging schools and an equalization of all facilities. Marston also believes that the redistricting process should prevent splitting up families and keep students in their home districts.

Financial literacy

Bob Glascock, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, was surprised by the number of inquiries he received this week concerning the system's perceived plan to make financial literacy a graduation requirement in Howard County.

Earlier this week WBAL radio and the Associated Press reported that Howard County could be the next Maryland school system to make financial literacy a graduation requirement for high school students.

But Glascock said there currently are no plans to make this a reality. The school system has, however, formed a work group to research a financial literacy class, Glascock said.

"They are looking at how to move forward to determine whether we should have a course," Glascock said.

Board approval would be needed to make financial literacy a graduation requirement, Glascock said.

Carroll County board members earlier this month voted to approve a half-credit course that students will have to take beginning next school year.

Other Maryland school systems -- including Harford, St. Mary's, Talbot and Baltimore counties -- have a similar requirement.

The interest in financial literacy among high school students has grown in recent years.

Baltimore Ravens kicker Matt Stover came to Atholton High School last November and gave a presentation to 40 students about the importance of budgeting and financial responsibility. Stover's appearance was part of a national campaign sponsored by the National Football League and Visa USA. That campaign brought athletes to schools in an attempt to promote financial literacy.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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