Articles from November, 2009

Last chance to register: December 1 webcast on childhood obesity

Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow, December 1, at 2:00pm EST (1:00pm CST, 12:00pm MST, 11:00am PST) for an NSBA-hosted webcast to hear national experts and local policymakers discuss policy strategies to address childhood obesity.  This event is free of charge, but registration is required. Please register by clicking here.  Please direct questions to Emily Kujawa, NSBA School Health Programs (, 703-838-6743).

Daniela Espinosa|November 30th, 2009|Categories: Wellness, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Education headlines

sbn_LOGOAfter the long holiday weekend, the Washington Post takes a look at two major studies on charter schools that offer contradictory conclusions on the more than 5,000 schools now operating across the country. And as the movement expands, there are growing pains—one example is in New York City, where traditional public schools are being told to share their space. Read these stories and more in School Board News Today.

Joetta Sack-Min|November 30th, 2009|Categories: Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|

The parent trap

0208asbjcvrI had to chuckle at a newspaper article detailing how local colleges are handling an ever growing wave of so-called helicopter parents, which has become an ubiquitous descriptor of moms and dads, who just can’t seem to let go, hovering over their offspring long after they’ve reached adulthood.

Though, it’s not funny, I laughed for several reasons.

After spending a holiday weekend with family, I can tell you baby boomers are among the worst offenders of overly anxious and protective parenting.  Granted, this statement has no scientific data to support it, and I’m sure there are many middle-aged parents who are neither consumed nor interested in the daily activities or their adult son or daughter.

But I run across enough newspaper articles and hear more than a few stories to, at least, hint that the overly attached parent is a real and growing phenomenon. It’s one of the reasons, I wrote “Parent Trap” for ASBJ last February.

While educators understand the importance of parental involvement in schools, different parents require different approaches. The challenge with “helicopter parents,” isnt’ so much getting them involved but showing them, diplomatically, where their involvement is best needed— and not.

Naomi Dillon|November 30th, 2009|Categories: Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|Tags: , |

Engineer Your Life

BoardBuzz stumbled across Engineer Your Life this morning. This website acts as a guide to engineering careers for high school girls. In 2004, WGBH Educational Foundation and the National Academy of Engineering formed a coalition to encourage girls to enroll in engineering programs. The fact that women are underrepresented in fields of science and engineering has been attributed to a lack of encouragement and a lack of role models. The Engineer Your Life campaign seeks to change all that by:

  • Introducing high school girls to young women engineers who embody these messages.
  • Showcasing engineering careers and illustrate that an education in engineering is both desirable and within their reach.
  • Helping school counselors and teachers better understand engineering and give them the resources and training they need to advise students.
  • Mobilizing America’s more than one million engineers with compelling resources, training, and messages to use in their ongoing outreach efforts.

With the President’s recent STEM initiative, this website is exactly what we need to show female students why engineering is a cool, creative, and rewarding career.

Erin Walsh|November 30th, 2009|Categories: Curriculum, STEM Education, Student Achievement, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

New on

1209_ASBJ_ndBill Clinton created Goals 2000. George W. Bush launched No Child Left Behind. Now, nearly one year into his first term as president, Barack Obama is embarking on perhaps the biggest expansion ever of the federal role in public schools.

Led by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the administration is asking states and school districts to experiment, to challenge long-held assumptions about teaching and learning, and to innovate — and it is putting up nearly $5 billion in “Race to the Top” (RTT) funds and other incentives to prod them to do it.

Will they be successful? This month, ASBJ puts that question, and several others, to seven authorities in the field of public education. Read what they have to say in this month’s cover story, now available online.

Naomi Dillon|November 30th, 2009|Categories: NSBA Publications, American School Board Journal|Tags: , |

The greatest lessons often learned in the worst times

Photo courtesy Stockvault

Photo courtesy Stockvault

The economic news yesterday was certainly not uplifting: the national unemployment rate, now hovering at just above 10 percent, isn’t getting much better any time soon.

Dig a little deeper, and the data gets more depressing for high school and college students: the unemployment rates for 16- to 24-year-olds continues to be higher than any other age range. Nearly 20 percent are looking for work.

Splice that figure, and there’s very bad news for young black males. Their unemployment rate is 30.5 percent, on par with unemployment during the Great Depression. Unemployment for young blacks was significantly higher than their white peers overall, even when the family’s income level was high, according to an analysis by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.

Not only that, many employers are cutting out apprenticeship and internship programs that helped young people get the skills and some experience before looking for jobs, the Washington Post reported.  Another problem, the Post reports, is that when young people get desperate or have too much time on their hands, they may turn to drug dealing or other illegal acts.

Naomi Dillon|November 25th, 2009|Categories: Governance, Curriculum, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

Engineering our nation’s youth

BoardBuzz recently wrote about whether engineering should have a place in the school curriculum. And, of course, we think it should. But as the National Academy of Engineering says, engineering is often the missing letter in STEM education. So BoardBuzz was pleasantly surprised to learn that Derby Public Schools in Kansas will begin a pilot program next year to bring aerospace engineering lessons to an elementary school.

The district already participates in Project Lead the Way, a national program that provides a rigorous, relevant STEM education, at three of its schools. As the Wichita Eagle reports:

By offering the engineering classes, Derby school leaders said they hope to spark students’ interest in math and science by providing hands-on and computer-based activities.

“Half didn’t even know what engineering was,” said Christopher Shetlar, who teaches a high school engineering course. “As things get going, they like it a little more.”

BoardBuzz hopes this is just the beginning. With Race to the Top funds available to states, now is the perfect time to lead the way in innovation and STEM education.

Erin Walsh|November 24th, 2009|Categories: Curriculum, STEM Education, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

308 days and counting

1209homepageartAsk seven experts about the economy, and you’ll get seven different answers. Same for health care, the war in Afghanistan, and other pressing national concerns that don’t lend themselves to simple “either/or” answers.

The same is true for education policy, as we illustrate this month in Year One, ASBJ‘s assessment of just where the Obama administration is headed with regard to public education and whether that direction is the right one.

To put it mildly, experts differ.

“I think there is more possibility of change today than anytime since A Nation at Risk,” says a cautiously optimistic Jack Jennings, president and CEO of the Center on Education Policy.

Diane Ravitch, by contrast, is resoundingly pessimistic. The university professor, education researcher, and Brookings Institution Senior Fellow says, “We are on the wrong track and headed in the wrong direction.”


Lawrence Hardy|November 24th, 2009|Categories: Governance, Curriculum, Student Achievement, Policy Formation, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

Education headlines

sbn_LOGOArizona teachers’ contracts are about to see some big changes when a new law goes into effect today. The law, passed by state lawmakers earlier this year, limits negotiations between districts and unions by removing seniority, salary and contract guarantees. In other news, President Obama has announced a new science fair that will celebrate young inventors the same way as athletes, advocates for gifted students find major disparities in districts’ offerings, and the Associated Press finds lawmakers from high-minority districts are the least likely to nominate students for the nation’s prestigious military academies. Read these stories in School Board News Today.

Joetta Sack-Min|November 24th, 2009|Categories: Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|

Education headlines

sbn_LOGOAmerican School Board Journal has written extensively about the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects, and now the Obama administration is getting ready to unveil an initiative of its own: a campaign to bring companies and nonprofits together to help encourage secondary students to pursue one of these fields. In other news, West Virginia school boards are preparing to sue the state after an audit found their pension funds woefully underfunded and the governor and legislature cannot find a solution. Read these stories and more in School Board News Today.

Joetta Sack-Min|November 23rd, 2009|Categories: Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|
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