Articles from March, 2007

U.S. House approves budget resolution with education increase

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 216-210 Thursday to adopt its fiscal year 2008 budget resolution (H.Con.Res.99) that includes $7.9 billion more for education than the Administration’s request. Roll call vote is here.

The House passed the measure the Budget Committee had approved last week. The proposed increase of $7.9 billion includes $5.9 billion in 2008 funding and $2 billion in advance funding from FY2009. According to House Budget Committee staff, approximately one-third of the proposed increase would be targeted towards special education.

H.Con.Res.99 will be reconciled with the Senate-passed budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 21) in order to establish final budget allocations for education programs and other areas of spending.

The Senate’s Budget Resolution (S.Con.Res.21) proposed a $62.3 billion allocation for the U.S. Department of Education, while the House Budget figure is $64.1 billion.

Next steps for education advocates will be to urge approval for the higher overall allocation for education programs and then encourage House and Senate Appropriations Committees to provide the increases that are needed for Title I and IDEA and to restore funding for other key programs that have been impacted by cuts in recent years. Stay up to speed on the budget and appropriations process at NSBA’s Advocacy Web site.

Erin Walsh|March 30th, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Voucher action heats up in the states

Lots of activity in state legislatures this week on private school vouchers. Here’s the rundown:

South Carolina: The House again rejected a school voucher/tuition tax credit plan. Several votes on voucher amendments, including a 70-49 vote to table the major amendment. Though the session is not yet over, it is the third consecutive year voucher advocates have fallen short. Lawmakers passed a statewide open enrollment plan. Coverage from The State here and a blog report for one of their editors, Brad Warthen, here, including the story of a National Guardsman House member on leave from training who made the trip back to Columbia to vote no on vouchers.

Earlier this week The State’s Cindi Ross Scoppe pulled no punches in this column. Editorial urging a no vote here.

As always, the South Carolina School Boards Association was all over the issue with ample reasons to oppose the voucher plan.

Texas: Another perennial showdown state had a notable vote this week. During deliberations on the state’s budget, the House voted 129-8 to prohibit state school dollars from being spent on school vouchers. Yes, 129-8. Houston Chronicle coverage here and a report on a committee hearing on a voucher plan here.

Utah: A recent attorney general opinion on the petition drive and the state’s new voucher law has stirred things up, but the Salt Lake Tribune editorial page still says: Let the people vote. More information from Utahns for Public Schools.

Georgia: The House Education Committee heard more testimony yesterday on a proposed special education voucher plan modeled after Florida’s McKay voucher program. Committee vote expected in April. The Georgia School Boards Association has the latest.

Erin Walsh|March 30th, 2007|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Privatization|

Got cravings? Gotcha covered

Can’t get enough BoardBuzz? No problem. Hop on over to our Annual Conference blog now up and running and ready for readers. It will cover all the happenings at NSBA’s Annual Conference in San Francisco, including some pre-con hype for upcoming events, and the opportunity for readers to leave comments.

So … if you’ve got a BoardBuzz jones that just won’t quit, get yourself over to the Annual Conference blog and check out what’s happening.

Erin Walsh|March 30th, 2007|Categories: Governance, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Nobody’s perfect

BoardBuzz has resisted and held off as long as we could but unfortunately, Anna Nicole has finally found her way into this blog. The former model, whose death and surrounding circumstances are wreaking havoc on the news biz, caused some trouble for the Houston Chronicle recently, resulting in this cheeky piece about errors. Apparently, “Chronicle staffers were red-faced Wednesday when a photo cutline for a story about Anna Nicole Smith in the Star section said, in part, ‘the model could barely right a sentence.’ Oops, that would be ‘write a sentence.’ Chronicle readers didn’t miss it.”

This gaffe caused the Chronicle to take a good natured look back at some other of its favorite faux pas, which are really amusing. Our picks:

  • An overly aggressive and under-managed spell-check function changed the name of Afghanistan’s then-interim president Hamid Karzai to Hamid Crazy in a 2004 editorial.
  • Recipes are always a danger: One little typo can ruin everything. One Chronicle food tester remembers cooking a reader’s “favorite” recipe for buttermilk pie. It came out great, but when she typed it up, a 1/4 cup flour became 1 1/4 cup. “I did not count the calls. That was one of my worst weeks here,” she says.
  • One geographically savvy reporter wrote a story that mentioned “the geese flying north for the winter.”
  • A cutline informed that Houston luminary Oveta Culp Hobby, at one time director of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, was reviewing World War II troops. Actually, she was socializing with actors in a musical about the Army.

Read the whole article and see what other fun flubs the paper had. Have you seen some silly typos in your time? In BoardBuzz? Leave a comment and tell us all about it, but you better check your spelling before posting!

Erin Walsh|March 29th, 2007|Categories: Governance, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

176 members of Congress have signed the Pledge to America’s Schoolchildren

The Pledge to America’s Schoolchildren is at full steam now! Nearly a third of all members of Congress have signed on in support of public education. BoardBuzz has told you about the Pledge in the past, here, here, and here. As of today, 176 members have signed the Pledge, committing to:

Improve the No Child Left Behind Act to give my school district(s) better measures for student and school performance, and the support needed to close the achievement gap.

Help my school district(s) meet the needs of students with disabilities by supporting the funding goals of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA).

Support school readiness programs for children entering kindergarten in my school district(s).

Help my school district(s) to attract, train and retain highly qualified and effective teachers.

Help my school district(s) to provide all students with 21st Century skills and knowledge, including math, science and technology.

Has your member signed the Pledge? Click here to see a list of all signers.

Erin Walsh|March 28th, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

What does student drug testing mean for schools?

More and more schools moving towards random drug tests (see previous BoardBuzz coverage here, here, and here) creates an interesting dilemma for school districts. The latest story, out of New Jersey, examines steroid testing. And one district has started using a test that can detect alcohol use up to three days prior (see story here).

For those wondering how to muddle through the quagmire and keep students safe, while still protecting their privacy, you can tune in to NSBA’s online discussion on the legal implications of student drug testing. The discussion will take place during NSBA’s Annual Conference, Sunday April 15, at 3:00 PT. NSBA Staff Attorney Lisa Soronen will provide expert information and answer questions. Stay tuned for more information about how you can sumbit a question for the discussion.

Erin Walsh|March 28th, 2007|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Law, Wellness|

Teachers and principals tell all

Brian Perkins CUBE Survey Release Event March 27.JPG
Above, principal investigator Brian Perkins
discusses a new climate survey released today at
the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education released a new survey today in which teachers and building administrators shared their candid thoughts about how they’re feeling about their school climate. While not always painting a rosy picture, the teachers and administrators are optimistic overall. The survey, “Where We Teach,” surveyed 12 urban districts in 10 states (Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, and Texas), representing 127 schools, 4700 teachers and 267 administrators.

Some of the major findings included:

  • A significant number of teachers have low student expectations. Nearly a quarter of teachers surveyed agreed that most students at their school would not be successful at a community college or university. Only 7 percent of administrators, on the other hand, agreed with this statement. Likewise, nearly 29 percent of teachers agreed that students at their school are not motivated to learn, while nearly 16 percent of administrators agreed.
  • Teachers and building administrators judge students differently. In another measure of student expectations, 77 percent of teachers agreed that students at their school are capable of high achievement on standardized exams, while nearly 95 percent of administrators agreed with the same statement.
  • Student race still influences expectations and success. Over half of teachers disagree that students will be successful in their school based on race. However, three-quarters of teachers disagree that racial barriers to educational and economic opportunity no longer exist in the U.S.
  • There is a disconnect between teacher and administrator perceptions around the issue of professional judgment. Eighty-six percent of administrators feel that teachers at their school exercise good professional judgment while only 76 percent of teachers believe that administrators at their school trust their judgment.
  • A gap exists between teacher and administrator perceptions of parent involvement. While 81 percent of administrators agree that parents support their school and activities, only 57 percent of teachers agree with that perception.
  • Safety perceptions about school also differ between teachers and administrators. While nearly 94 percent of administrators agree that their school is a safe place in which to work, only 82 percent of teachers agree with that statement.

Today’s report was released at a press event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. USA Today covered the report in today’s edition. Authored by Dr. Brian K. Perkins, CUBE’s steering committee chair and a school board president in New Haven, Conn., the report is a follow up to last year’s landmark report “Where We Learn,” a student-focused survey. NSBA partnered with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and National Association of Elementary School Principals to collaborate on the recommendations included in the report.

To view the complete report, click here. To view Perkins’ powerpoint presentation from the media event, click here. To download communciations guidelines to help school board members, superintendents, and school district communications directors talk with school staff, students, communities, and media about the survey report, click here.

Erin Walsh|March 27th, 2007|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Teachers|

Who let the blogs out?

Are you planning to attend NSBA’s Annual Conference? Are you an admirer of BoardBuzz? Have you got something to say? Why not drop by Blog Central and submit a blog entry?

You, yes YOU, can join NSBA staff and others as a guest blogger and share your pearls of wisdom with conference attendees and the world by participating in the conference blog! And for participating you will receive the accolades of thousands, as well as a lovely black ribbon that says “Blogger” that you can attach to your VERY OWN name badge! But wait, there’s more! If you ACT NOW you will also get to see your name in lights (okay, maybe not lights, but in tiny little print next to your blog entry).

Sound exciting? Simply contact Christina Gordon at cgordon@nsba.org to sign up as a guest blogger at NSBA’s Annual Conference!

Not sure if you’re ready to become a full-on blogger, but still have something to say? Then give us a piece of your mind and swing by Blog Central at the Annual Conference where you can read the blog and leave a comment. And you too will become a V.I.B. (Very Important Blogger)!

Erin Walsh|March 26th, 2007|Categories: Governance, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

TLN site visits

NSBA‘s Ann Flynn, director of technology programs is the star of a new podcast recording on the Cable in the Classroom blog. The podcast focuses on the interactive site visits occuring each year in school districts around the country.

The site visits have been taking place for nearly 20 years, and Cable in the Classroom has sponsored the events for several years. The visits give educators a chance to visit school districts that excel in the field of education technology. To listen to the complete podcast, click here. For more information about NSBA’s Education Technology Programs, click here.

Erin Walsh|March 26th, 2007|Categories: Educational Technology, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Utah voucher petition rolls on

Only about two weeks to go for opponents of Utah’s sweeping, new private school voucher program to collect 92,000 signatures and send the issue to the state’s voters in a referendum. Utahns for Public Schools, which includes the Utah School Boards Association, is leading the charge, which has picked up bi-partisan support from two former Utah governors. Check the coalition’s website for frequent updates.

Several school boards have passed resolutions in support of the petition to repeal the law. Details here and here.

Outside of Utah, changes in the residents of the Ohio and Florida governor’s mansions are making for interesting new dynamics in their states’ voucher debate.

Erin Walsh|March 23rd, 2007|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Privatization|
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