Articles from October, 2006

Is time on your side?

‘Round about the time the British are having tea and the Spaniards are enjoying siesta, the Center for Public Education will be offering up something a little more substantive. It’s a lively online discussion of the impact of scheduling, such as year-round schools and block scheduling, on student learning. If your district is among the many grappling with this issue, make plans to participate tomorrow, Nov. 1, from 2 to 3 p.m. EST.

BoardBuzz shared details earlier this month about the discussion, “Making Time: What the Research Says About Reorganizing School Schedules.” Submit a question prior to the chat by going here. Bone up on the current research on scheduling by going here. Or drop into the live discussion tomorrow here.

Erin Walsh|October 31st, 2006|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards|

Something a little more fun to do on tax day

You’ve heard of “Walk Like an Egyptian,” “Walk the Line,” and even “Walkin’ on Sunshine,” but now BoardBuzz wants you to participate in a whole other kind of walk. The Walk of Excellence is an opportunity for school districts to showcase their district programs as part of a tabletop display at the NSBA Annual Conference in San Francisco next spring.

Those school districts wishing to participate in the Walk of Excellence will share their tabletop displays at the annual conference on Sunday, April 15, from 12:30-3:30 p.m. In addition to the displays, the exhibit will include best practices, fun entertainment, and snacks (and we love snacks!). But hurry! School districts must submit proposals to NSBA by 5 p.m. ET, December 1.

And keep checking the Annual Conference Web site for all the latest developments, including keynote speakers and registration information.

Erin Walsh|October 30th, 2006|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards|

To blog or not to blog

There comes a time when one faces a dilemma that strikes at the very core of one’s existence. Alas, as with that famous prince of Denmark, the time has come for BoardBuzz to face its existential angst. USA Today reports young people are spending more and more time blogging (*gasp*) and chatting on social networking sites, and (here’s the clincher) “school administrators aren’t enthusiastic.” You see BoardBuzz’s quandary? The very electronic heart of BoardBuzz shudders to think blogging itself should be the topic of a blog. Rather like reality imitating virtual reality. BoardBuzz’s head hurts just to think about it. But, in the end we can’t deny our nature, so blogging away we go:

USA Today reports school districts are “reaching into students’ home computers, severely punishing and even expelling students for what they write on those sites.” This has opened a new electronic front on the battle between student expression and schools’ mission to teach youngsters without disruptions. The article sets out a few examples of student postings (mostly derogatory statements against teachers) to support its statement. But, what the article fails to address are the very real concerns that electronic communications add to student expression in a society that increasingly values virtual reality as much, if not more than, reality itself, or, to use virtual lingo, “real time.” For example, to teenagers and children raised on the internet and with a high degree of technology sophistication, the pressures of cyber-bullying are as real as the attacks of the proverbial school yard bully taking one’s lunch money. And, in a time where school violence and student safety are ever-pressing issues, schools would be remiss if they did not act on published statements of intended violence. BoardBuzz wonders if the same parents who told USA Today, that the school districts are “trying to do our job” instead of spending more time teaching, might feel differently if their child were victimized by a cyber bully and a school with knowledge of impending violence had done nothing to prevent it. As Paul Houston, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators says, schools are struggling to find a balance between student freedoms and safety.

So, in the end, it seems BoardBuzz has resolved its existential angst. We love blogs, and we’re all for freedom of expression. But, when it comes to students, the schools first mission is making sure the classroom environment is safe so learning can take place. And, if that means coming down on a cyber-bully or a rogue student intent on disrupting the right of other students to a safe and sound learning environment, so be it. And, there, as they say, is the rub.

Erin Walsh|October 27th, 2006|Categories: Governance, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Check out the T+L Conference Blog

With the 20th Anniversary T+L Conference just days away, get a sneak peak at what’s hot at the conference by checking out the T+L Conference Blog.

Not yet registered? Don’t miss out on your chance to hobnob with district administrators and board members, principals and staff directors, and curriculum and staff development specialists and others. You can still register for this exciting conference taking place in Dallas November 8-10. Visit the conference Web site for all the details.

Erin Walsh|October 27th, 2006|Categories: Educational Technology, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Getting sent to the Principal’s Office

Normally a trip to the principal’s office would send a bit of fear through even the strongest of hearts. That is until this week when our friends at the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) launched their own blog, Principal’s Office. BoardBuzz doesn’t mind at all visiting this Principal’s Office, designed to connect principals with their colleagues and other K-12 educators.

Today’s entries highlight the winners of the 2006 National Distinguished Principal’s Award, aka the Academy Award of the principal world, as well as a welcome to the brand new blog.

Erin Walsh|October 26th, 2006|Categories: Educational Technology, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Let the punishment fit the crime

BoardBuzz isn’t sure what the punishment should be for a Montana principal accused of giving a student a “wedgie.” School board officials suspended the principal for two days without pay and four days with pay before he returned to work this week. The principal is also required to talk with students and staff members about the incident to restore respect and authority.

No word yet on whether or not the wedgie was atomic.

Erin Walsh|October 26th, 2006|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards|

NSBA, Kennedy Center to recognize arts in education

The Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network (KCAAEN) and NSBA will recognize a local school board for outstanding support of the arts in education. This national award has been presented annually since 1988 to a school board that has demonstrated support for and commitment to high-quality arts education in its school district, community, state or special jurisdiction. The award will be presented at NSBA’s 2007 Annual Conference in San Francisco.

Nominees must show how the board has contributed to the development of arts education within the school district and how the members of the school board have advocated for the inclusion of the arts in national, state, and local education reform efforts involving arts education standards and assessments. The winning school district will receive a plaque and a $10,000 cash prize to help the district continue its work in striving towards excellence in arts education programs.

Only one nomination per state will be considered by the KCAAEN/NSBA award review panel. This nomination may come from the state school board association, the State Alliance or the state school board association and the State Alliance jointly. Contact your State Alliance organization for nomination deadlines in your state. For more information about how your school district can compete for this prestigious award and for complete entry requirements, please visit the award Web site.

Erin Walsh|October 25th, 2006|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards|

Same-sex education heats up … or not?

Today the Education Department announced the release of final Title IX single-sex regulations that give local communities more flexibility in offering additional choices to parents in the education of their children. The ED press release states, “Recognizing that some students learn better in a single sex class or school, the regulations give educators more flexibility, under Title IX, to offer single-sex classes, extracurricular activities and schools at the elementary and secondary education levels.”

Additionally,

Title IX regulations have always permitted school districts to provide public single-sex elementary and secondary schools under certain circumstances. The new regulations expand upon this exception and make it easier to offer single-sex classes, activities or schools while ensuring that students of both sexes are treated in a manner that will satisfy the nondiscrimination requirements of Title IX. The new regulations do not require single-sex education, but make it easier for educators to offer, and parents and students to choose, single-sex educational opportunities while upholding nondiscrimination requirements. Enrollment in a single-sex class must be completely voluntary and a substantially equal coeducational class in the same subject must be provided.

Weighing in on the opposite side of the issue in an Associated Press report, “The National Organization for Women says it creates the risk of breeding second-class citizens. The American Association of University Women has said it would ‘throw out the most basic legal standards prohibiting sex discrimination in education.’”

On the other hand, Thomas Newkirk, a professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, and author of Misreading Masculinity: Boys, Literacy, and Popular Culture, said in a recent Education Week online chat that he has “spoken to a number of educators who find that single sex schools have liberating effects for both boys and girls. They find boys are less likely to perform for girls and that girls are less self-conscious and more willing to talk in class.” He goes on to say, “The research that I have seen is not conclusive, but I still think there is promise here.”

Want to learn more? American School Board Journal tackles gender and learning challenges in this month’s issue here. And read previous BoardBuzz posts here and here.

So what do you think? Is this much ado about nothing? Or does same-sex education deserve a more prominent place in today’s schools? Leave BoardBuzz a comment.

Erin Walsh|October 24th, 2006|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement|

Never underestimate the power of suggestion

A new study out this week indicates that women who are told they cannot do well in math fall victim to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Forbes is reporting on a study conducted by Canadian researchers that says “women who were told that men were better equipped, genetically, to solve math problems performed worse on math tests than women not exposed to this notion.”

The study notes that this phenomenon is called “stereotype threat” in which “individuals from stereotyped groups often ‘choke’ in situations where those stereotypes are put to the test.”

The findings also point to the new power of genetic theory to reinforce negative stereotypes, experts say. For example, women who are told they have a “gene” for poor math performance may then feel there’s no point in trying to prove otherwise.

In that sense, genetics may be as powerful a tool for discrimination today as religious dogma was in the past, experts say.

The “stereotype threat” is not new to researchers, and “usually, all that is needed for it to kick in is a subtle reminder that the person belongs to a stereotyped group — for example, asking them to check a box for race or gender at the top of an exam.” This new research goes a step further and examines whether certain ideas about gender make the stereotype threat even stronger.

Erin Walsh|October 20th, 2006|Categories: Curriculum, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

CPE hosts online discussion to explore time and learning

Anyone thinking about adding hours or days to the school year, or squeezing out more from existing schedules, should join the Center for Public Education‘s online discussion “Making Time: What the Research Says About Reorganizing School Schedules,” Wednesday, Nov. 1, from 2 — 3 p.m. EST.

Despite the advent of the 24/7 information age, school schedules remain modeled on an agricultural paradigm that’s well-suited for harvesting crops but has been outmoded for many decades.

But what should replace it? Block scheduling, year-round schools and other models for organizing school time have been proposed and tried. Which work best, under what circumstances to support student learning? What are the costs and the benefits?

Guest expert Eileen O’Brien, a veteran education researcher and writer, will answer your questions about time, instruction, and student learning. Post your questions here now or join us online at the same address for the live discussion at the scheduled time.

Interested in learning more? Read the Center’s latest research packet on the topic here.

Erin Walsh|October 19th, 2006|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards|
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