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Articles from November, 2006

Simply the best!

In a recent column, The Washington Post’s Jay Mathews announced that he’s looking to get dragged into the 21st century. Mathews, along with Walt Gardner, a former Los Angeles high school teacher are working together to name the best of the education blogs.

I hope readers will e-mail me at and Gardner at the links to their favorite education blogs — no more than five per reader, please, and I would love you to rank them in your order of preference. Gardner and I will look them over and reveal our favorites in a future column. He and I have different views on some key issues and different tastes in writing styles, so entries should not be at any disadvantage no matter what their slant or tone.

In other words, help drag two old guys into the 21st century, where I hear there is much to learn.

And of course you could choose to submit BoardBuzz as one of your picks for best education blog. We’d sure love the plug.

Erin Walsh|November 30th, 2006|Categories: Educational Technology, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Students share stories of living with HIV and AIDS

In anticipation of World AIDS Day, NSBA has released Living with HIV/AIDS: Students Tell Their Stories of Stigma, Courage, and Resilience. The book focuses on the challenges that students affected by HIV and AIDS have dealt with in growing up and at school, as well as the opportunities school officials have to contribute to their well-being and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

In addition to World AIDS Day, this book is a timely reminder that 25 years after the first reports of AIDS in the United States, schools are still defining their role in dealing with students living with HIV and AIDS. Anne Bryant, executive director of NSBA, notes in the book’s preface, “Ten years ago it seemed that children born with HIV infection wouldn’t survive past their early years, many of these children are now in high school or college as a result of effective medical treatments.” Bryant goes on to say, “It is time to explore how well children affected by HIV and AIDS are doing in schools and how well schools are doing in fulfilling their responsibility to ensure all students have the opportunity to learn.”

In addition to firsthand accounts of children and their parents who are living with HIV and AIDS, the book also includes recommendations for school officials and personnel as they reflect on the policies and procedures in place in their districts. Living with HIV/AIDS serves as a resource, not merely for school districts officials, but also for parents, teachers, and students.

Download your PDF copy of the book from the NSBA School Health Programs Web site.

Erin Walsh|November 29th, 2006|Categories: Wellness, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Teacher satisfaction proves Mick Jagger wrong

You’ve heard it for 40 years: “I can’t get no satisfaction.” But now, where teachers are concerned, satisfaction is just what they’ve got. According to the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher 2006: Expectations and Experiences, public school teachers are more satisfied than they have been in 20 years.

A summary of the survey from the Center for Public Education notes that a “greater number of educators and adults have a high opinion of the teaching profession.” But despite this promising news, “the percent of teachers planning on leaving the profession has remained steady” over the past 20 years.

The survey notes some reasons teachers cite for leaving the profession: “They do not feel they have input into policies affecting them, they are not given the resources to adequately prepare their students, and their expectations did not match what they actually encountered in the classroom.” The good news is that “mentoring programs can be quite effective in preventing teachers from leaving the profession.”

The survey also points out that “stronger hiring and training policies for principals can help them work more effectively with their faculty and create an environment where veteran teachers will be more likely to stick around. The savings gained by retaining teachers can be reinvested in resources teachers need to adequately serve their students. In doing so, students will benefit greatly by having good teachers who have the resources necessary to meet their academic needs.”

To learn more about this and other relevant research, visit the Center for Public Education regularly and sign up for their regular e-mail updates, which highlight what’s new in the world of public education.

Erin Walsh|November 28th, 2006|Categories: Teachers, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Show and tell

File this under Really Useful. NSBA‘s Center for Public Education now has three presentations ready for you to adapt and use (so long as you include a credit to the Center and show its web address: All presentations are available in both Powerpoint and PDF formats for downloading. Check ’em out:

High-stakes testing and instruction: What the research says. What can school districts do to ensure testing is used in support of good teaching practices and high standards?

What’s so good about public education? More than you sometimes hear. Getting underneath the data helps us see where we are succeeding and where exactly we need to focus more support to get help to those students who need it.

Is the sky falling or not? What do we really know about high school grad rates, international comparisons, and the state of education?

More great stuff at the Center for Public Education includes a resounding success story from Michigan‘s Romulus Community Schools where everything is fair game as reading tutors teach students the connections between sounds and letters. Find out how they increased student achievement by using an imaginative system for teaching reading to struggling students, combined with the creative use of school facilities.

And for heartier appetites, check out this report that summarizes seven studies commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education to evaluate the effects on student outcomes of changes made in 1997 to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Erin Walsh|November 27th, 2006|Categories: School Boards, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Turkey and stuffing and pie, oh my!

BoardBuzz will be enjoying a gorge-fest for Thanksgiving and will be taking Friday off to recover. We hope to see you back here on Monday, perhaps a few pounds heavier and ready to read. Happy Thanksgiving!

Erin Walsh|November 23rd, 2006|Categories: Governance, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Get smart about finding and retaining teachers

The Beginning Teacher Center of Teachers21 and Simmons College are sponsoring Growing the Future: Meeting the National Challenge to Recruit, Develop, and Retain New Teachers from March 25-27 at the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel in Boston.

This conference offers three full day pre-conference sessions on the Teachers21 model of new teacher induction, how professional learning communities develop and sustain new and veteran teachers, and how to turn potential confrontations into effective learning opportunities; a kick-off reception featuring Jonathan Kozol; and session strands focusing on recruitment, administrative leadership, higher education connections, mentor development, teacher development, and successful induction models.

The stellar speaker lineup includes Daniel Goleman of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence at Rutgers University; Theresa Perry, professor of Africana Studies and Education at Simmons College; Anne L. Bryant, executive director of NSBA; Tom Carroll, president of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future; Jon Saphier, president, Research for Better Teaching and founder/chairman emeritus of Teachers21; John D’Auria, co-author of How to Bring Vision to School Improvement; and Lori McEwen, a Teachers21 consultant and doctoral candidate.

Want to know more? Visit the conference Web site or contact

Erin Walsh|November 22nd, 2006|Categories: Teachers, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

UPDATE: Spellings places second

Just in case you missed Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings‘ appearance on Celebrity Jeopardy! last night, she placed second. As we told you yesterday, her competition on the show were Hill Harper of “CSI: NY” and actor/writer Michael McKean, television’s Lenny of “Laverne and Shirley.” McKean won the show, leading BoardBuzz to wonder how Spellings felt to lose out to Lenny.

BoardBuzz’s advice to Spellings after failing to make the benchmark due to buzzer anxiety? Perhaps she can return next year and attempt to make JAYP (that’s Jeopardy! Adequate Yearly Progress, natch). If not, there could be sanctions looming, such as moving to another game show or staying after work for extra tutoring.

The good news is that despite second place, a $25,000 donation will go to ProLiteracy Worldwide–an international literacy organization.

Erin Walsh|November 22nd, 2006|Categories: Governance, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

I’ll take potent potables for $600, Alex

In the must see TV category, Margaret Spellings will be one of three “celebrity” contestants on Jeopardy! tonight. BoardBuzz can’t wait to see how Spellings fares next to her competition: Hill Harper of “CSI: NY” and actor/writer Michael McKean, television’s Lenny of “Laverne and Shirley.”

You can play Celebrity Jeopardy! yourself and see how you stack up against Madam Secretary. Just remember, your answer must be in the form of a question.

BoardBuzz has one for starters: NCLB. (Which federal education mandate has caused more confusion, required more testing, and judged public schools unfairly?)

Erin Walsh|November 21st, 2006|Categories: Governance, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Election postmortum and a look ahead to the 110th Congress

Now that all those campaign ads and annoying automated phone calls (during dinner naturally) are blips in the rear view mirror, we’re getting a little clearer picture on how the election results could impact K-12 education. Complete committee rosters are not fully finalized but key leaders have shed some light on their ed priorities and the Washington scuttlebutt about what can get done is in full swing.

Among the issues that look to be on tap for the 110th Congress, are:

Reauthorization of NCLB with improvements to ensure that schools have the resources available to accurately measure student progress and fulfill federal requirements. In addition, issues regarding highly qualified teachers will most likely be addressed in the reauthorization;

Restoration of funding for key programs (Title I, special education, education technology, teacher quality grants, safe and drug free schools,etc.);

Reauthorization of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which governs the E-Rate program for schools and libraries. The program provides more than $2.2 billion per year in subsidies to schools and libraries for Internet access and other telecommunications services that enable schools to equip students with 21st Century skills and knowledge needed for global competitiveness;

Passage of Head Start reauthorization—which should include goals for school readiness.

Each of these issues dovetail with the key points in NSBA’s “Pledge to America’s Schoolchildren” campaign. Has your member of Congress taken the Pledge yet? What about your senators? All you need to know to get those signatures can be found here.

While NCLB reauthorization has been mentioned as a potential area for bi-partisan agreement, it appears that funding levels for the law’s key programs will play a major role in how quickly the reauthorization moves forward.

Outside of K-12 issues, college affordability is expected to garner a good bit of attention, especially early in the upcoming Congress.

More post-election education discussion here in School Board News.

A look at the leaders
In the Senate, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will be Chaired by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and in the House the Education and the Workforce Committee will be chaired by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), with the Education Reform Subcommittee reportedly sought after by Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI) and the 21st Century Competitiveness Subcommitte possibly chaired by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ). Look for Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) to be the ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) the ranking member of the House Ed and Workforce Committee.

The bigger picture
The pre-election buzz we noted regarding the revival of moderate politics continues. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Thomas Fitzgerald focuses on it in this piece. Craig Charney comes to the same conclusion in this one. E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post urges the Dems to “Remember Who Sent You” in this item about the middle class—this one is about economic pressures and policies, but the parallels to education needs and anxieties are obvious. David Broder, also of the Post, focuses on the center of electorate as well, here.

Erin Walsh|November 21st, 2006|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

2006 Twenty to Watch: An interview with Jennifer Ziolko

ziolko.jpg Jennifer Ziolko is Assistive Technology Specialist for West Linn/Wilsonville (OR) School District.
Jennifer has worked to implement and support the use of technology throughout the district’s special education classrooms, and is on the forefront of bringing technology to students with disabilities. She is relentless in her quest to match educational needs with technological opportunities.

Listen to the interview.

Erin Walsh|November 21st, 2006|Categories: Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Recognition Programs, T+L|
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