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Articles from October, 2012

Learning about teamwork from NASCAR

C. Ed Massey, President of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), member of  Kentucky’s Boone County Schools Board of Education, and avid NASCAR fan, discusses in Transforming Learning in Education Week what school board members can learn about teamwork from NASCAR.

Massey notes:

As a school board member, I often talk about the concept of teamwork — working with the superintendent and upper-level administrators to guide the school district, working with parents and community members to ensure their voices and opinions are heard, working with teachers and school staff to ensure we are allocating resources correctly. Teamwork is a delicate balance because it requires everyone to fully understand and embrace their roles, lead without overstepping boundaries, and focus on a common mission. School leaders must work together to ensure our students get the best education possible.

So how can we learn from NASCAR, a sport that’s become known for the drivers with the most flamboyant personalities? What you may not know is that the success or failure of many NASCAR teams occurs on pit road. NASCAR races are won and lost by thousandths of seconds — and the execution of the pit crew’s duties can determine the fate of the race.

Pit road is where the real teamwork is exhibited. Every pit member has a very specific task and they do their job efficiently, effectively and very quickly. In a typical pit stop, a crew of seven members changes four tires, fills the car with 22 gallons of gas, cleans the windshield, adjusts the shocks and sway bar — ideally in 12 to 15 seconds.

The crews can accomplish this work so quickly because each team member has a specific role that they perform to near perfection. One member carries the tires while another changes them; one crew member fills the car with fuel while simultaneously turning a wrench; another crew member tears off the layover windshield so the driver can have a clear view. All of this work is overseen by a crew chief who has meticulously prepared his team. If team members are successful they will share in their driver’s fruits of victory; if a team is not successful they will be subject to evaluation, adjustments and countless hours of practice so the next stop will be successful. Because winning is the name of the game, mediocrity is not tolerated.

Suppose school leaders adopted this pit crew mentality. We would likely be more effective and show the continuous improvement for which we all strive. Instead, we often find ourselves multi-tasking and stepping on toes. We are often relegated to doing the same thing again and again with no change in the outcome.

Read Massey’s complete commentary in Education Week.


Alexis Rice|October 30th, 2012|Categories: School Boards, Board governance|Tags: , , , |

North Carolina school board leader to serve as chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) has selected Minnie Forte-Brown of Durham, N.C. to serve as Chair of CUBE’s Steering Committee, completing the term of Sandra Jensen of Omaha, Neb. who has retired. Forte-Brown previously served as Vice Chair of CUBE’s Steering Committee.

The selection of Forte-Brown for Chair was made by CUBE’s Steering Committee. Forte-Brown’s term as Chair will last through April 2013 when CUBE elections will take place. As Chair of CUBE, Forte-Brown will serve on the Board of Directors of NSBA.

CUBE is an organization guided by Steering Committee members who represent a diverse group of urban school board members dedicated to the needs of children in urban centers. CUBE represents more than 100 urban school districts in 35 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The districts that comprise CUBE educate nearly 7.5 million students in over 12,000 schools, with a collective budget of approximately $99 billion. CUBE helps urban school boards find solutions to challenges at the local level and helps them to strengthen their policymaking effectiveness.

“It is an honor to serve as Chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education, as I am strongly passionate about equity and excellence and believe effective, focused, and committed governance can aid in making those tenets of justice a reality for all students,” said Forte-Brown.

Forte-Brown is currently the Vice Chair of Durham Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education and has served on the board since 2004 and was the Chair from 2006-2012. Under her leadership, the DPS Board of Education participated in Reform Governance in Action training, a two-year program of the Center for Reform of School Systems. Forte-Brown is committed to engaging students, parents and the community. Forte-Brown was appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue to the North Carolina Council of the Status of Women and the Gang Advisory Task Force. She is the co-founder of the East Durham Children’s Initiative and serves on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina School Boards Association and National School Boards Action Center.

“Minnie Forte-Brown is a strong leader who will help CUBE advance its work supporting urban school boards as they find solutions to critical policy issues in urban education that enhances student and academic achievement,” said CUBE’s Director Deborah Keys.

Alexis Rice|October 26th, 2012|Categories: Announcements, Urban Schools, CUBE|Tags: , |

NJSBA director named Chief Operating Officer of NSBA

Marie S. Bilik

Marie S. Bilik will join the National School Boards Association (NSBA) as its Chief Operating Officer in December, incoming Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel has announced. Bilik is retiring as the executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA).

“We are thrilled that Marie Bilik will be joining NSBA’s leadership team,” said NSBA President C. Ed. Massey, a member of the Boone County, Ky., Board of Education. “Marie is a former school board member, mayor, and town council member, and her skills and diverse experiences will be a terrific asset to NSBA’s Board of Directors and the State Associations they represent.”

“Marie has compiled an outstanding list of accomplishments leading the New Jersey School Boards Association,” Gentzel added. “I am confident that her experience and keen insights into association management will be a strong addition to our team.”

As NJSBA’s executive director, Bilik manages the organization’s 70-member staff and an annual operating budget of about $10 million. NJSBA serves more than 4,800 school board members in 587 local districts, as well as 65 charter schools.

Bilik has guided NJSBA through the state’s economic crisis, the creation of a new state school-funding formula, the implementation of a 2-percent tax levy cap, the move of school board elections to November, and proposed reforms in teacher evaluation and tenure. She has focused on improving academic achievement in all of New Jersey’s public schools.

Under Bilik’s direction, NJSBA established the Educational Leadership Foundation of New Jersey (ELFNJ), an independent non-profit organization that advances public education governance through training, research and attaining grants to further professional development. Bilik was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie earlier this year to serve on the Evaluation Pilot Advisory Committee, a group of 21 education stakeholders that is advising the state as it develops a new teacher evaluation process. She also serves on the board of directors for the American School Foundation Alliance.

“I am honored to be chosen for this national position,” Bilik said. “It is an exciting and challenging time for public education. Local boards of education play a critical role in the advancement of student achievement, and the National School Boards Association is committed to enabling them to fulfill that responsibility effectively.”

Bilik has worked for NJSBA since 1993. Before being selected as executive director in 2007, she served as NJSBA’s director of field services. She also has worked as the association’s membership advocacy coordinator, as a field service representative, and as a county program coordinator.

She served as a school board member in New Jersey’s Green Township School District from 1981 to 1988, on Green Township’s municipal council from 1988 to 1993, and as Green Township’s first female mayor in 1993. Bilik will begin her work at NSBA in early December.

Joetta Sack-Min|October 24th, 2012|Categories: Announcements|Tags: , |

Learning by Design shows award-winning facilities in new issue

Learning By Design’s  Fall 2012 edition is focusing on projects committed to advancing educational design excellence and creating innovative, collaborative learning environments. The magazine, which is published twice each year by the National School Boards Association, American School Board Journal, and Stratton Publishing,  shows the nation’s best education design and construction projects, from pre-k-12 to college and university facilities.

The three 2012 Grand Award winners included: Trilogy Architecture • Urban Design • Research (Redding, Calif.) for Redding School of the Arts; NAC|Architecture (Seattle) for Riverview Elementary School; and Nagle Hartray Architecture (Chicago) for Latin School of Chicago.

A jury of architects reviewed and selected the projects that appear in the Fall 2012 edition and named this year’s honorees. The judges noted that although the three Grand Award-winning projects are vastly different in terms of function and context, all of the projects adopted an innovative design approach that prioritizes collaborative learning. The three Grand Award-winning educational facilities provide a variety of formal and informal learning spaces that foster growth and development.

For details and to access the magazine’s digital edition, visit


Joetta Sack-Min|October 19th, 2012|Categories: Announcements, NSBA Publications, School Buildings, 21st Century Skills, NSBA Recognition Programs|Tags: |

Nominations open for $10,000 Kennedy Center/NSBA arts education award

For 25 years the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) have honored school boards that support high-quality arts education programs in their schools.

The $10,000 annual prize recognizes districts that have included all four major artistic disciplines– visual arts, music, theater and dance– in their programs. Last year’s award went to the School Board of Palm Beach County.

Each state may nominate one school district for the award, and applications are available at the Kennedy Center’s website. Each state’s nomination to the national-level may come from the State School Boards Association, the State Alliance for Arts Education, or the State Association and the State Alliance jointly. (In states where an Alliance is not active, please contact your state school boards association for a letter of support that you must upload and submit with the online form.) Final selection is made by a national panel of arts educators and arts administrators including representatives of the Kennedy Center and NSBA.

The deadline for submissions this year is Dec. 3, and the winning school district may receive its award in front of thousands of peers at the NSBA Annual Conference, held April 13 to 15, 2013 in San Diego.

Learn more about the winning school districts in this previous School Board News Today article.


Joetta Sack-Min|October 19th, 2012|Categories: Announcements, Arts Education, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|Tags: , , |

NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference to feature Geena Davis, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Diane Ravitch

Registration and housing for the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) 73rd Annual Conference, to be held April 13 to 15 in San Diego, is now open. Join more than 5,000 school board members and administrators for an event with hundreds of sessions, workshops, and exhibits that will help your school district programs and help you hone your leadership and management skills.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

Special discounted rates are available for early registrants who sign up by Jan. 10, 2013. NSBA National Affiliate and Technology Leadership Network Districts save even more.

View the conference brochure for more details. Be sure to check the Annual Conference website for updates and more information.



New Charter School Resource Center helps school boards assess information on charters

With the rapid growth of charter schools and their increasing implications for traditional public schools, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has launched the Charter School Resource Center, an online resource containing practical information and research to help state school boards associations and local school board members respond to charter legislation and policy in their states.

This comprehensive online tool focuses on the following key areas:

• Understanding of various state policies for charter schools and how they impact local school districts differently.

• Information on how to work with state legislatures when considering whether charter schools should be created and/or expanded.

• Guidance on assessing charter school applications and authorizing decisions with suggested questions and issues school boards should consider.

• Research addressing various elements of charter schools including student achievement.

“With a variation of state policy governing the oversight, operation and funding of charter schools, local school districts’ experience with charters varies substantially based on how state policy affects traditional public schools, “ said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy. “School board members can use the information on this website to respond to legislation in their states and to assess whether charters are a good fit in their communities.”

NSBA supports charter schools as a tool to renovate and boost student achievement, provided they are authorized by the local school boards in the communities where they are located. School boards currently authorize more than half of the nation’s 5,600 charter schools. The local school board is already the steward of public funds and accountability and should have the authority to decertify or not renew the charter of any school that fails to meet criteria set forth in the charter or as otherwise specified by the local school boards. NSBA also believes charter schools should have to abide by the same environmental, labor, due process, and fiscal laws as community public schools.

The Charter School Resource Center includes the following contents:

• Charter School Guide for School Board Members: Two new documents developed by NSBA give practical advice to school boards: “A School Board’s Guide To Understanding Charter Schools and Their Variations Across States” shows various types of charter schools and how they can impact traditional public schools; “A Charter School Toolkit for School Board Members” guides school boards in reviewing charter applications, including suggested questions school boards should ask and consider.

• NSBA Advocacy: NSBA’s position on charter schools, advocacy messages and happenings on Capitol Hill.

• Research: Information on research and articles about charter schools, including studies from NSBA’s Center for Public Education on a wide range of issues such as their impact on student achievement.

• In the News: Postings of charter school happenings across the country.

• State policy: Resources for charter school policy across the states.

The website will be updated as new information emerges. You can access it at Please contact Katherine Shek, NSBA’s legislative analyst  with questions or suggestions.

Joetta Sack-Min|October 15th, 2012|Categories: Governance, School Boards, Charter Schools, Announcements, Federal Programs, Educational Research, Educational Finance, School Reform, Board governance, Student Achievement, Policy Formation, Leadership, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy|Tags: , , , |

Magna Awards featured on Education Talk Radio

If you’re planning to nominate one of your school district’s programs for American School Board Journal’s (ASBJ) Magna Awards, be sure to listen to Pittsburgh Public Schools Board Member Mark Brentley talk about his district’s experiences as a Magna Awards grand prize winner. He joined by ASBJ Publisher Glenn Cook and Sodexo’s National Wellness Director Roxanne Moore on Education Talk Radio.

Pittsburgh Public Schools, was a 2012 Magna Awards grand prize winner in the more than 20,000 enrollment category for their “Take a Father to School Day” outreach program aimed at increasing the participation of fathers and other male role models in their schools.

Listen to Education Talk Radio on Blog Talk Radio

The Magna Awards is a national recognition program co-sponsored by ASBJ,  National School Boards Association, and Sodexo School Services that honors school board best practices and innovative programs that advance student learning. Magna nominations are judged according to three enrollment categories (under 5,000 enrollment; 5,000-20,000 enrollment; and over 20,000 enrollment). One Grand Prize Winner in each category receives a $4,000 contribution from Sodexo School Services. There are five additional winners and five honorable mention winners within each enrollment category.

Learn more about the Magna Awards and nominate your program on ASBJ’s website. The deadline is Oct. 31, 2012 for nominations for the 2013 Magna Awards.

Alexis Rice|October 12th, 2012|Categories: Urban Schools, Board governance, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , , , |

Linking schools and businesses: An ASBJ webinar

School and business partnerships can be tricky. Hear how one school district has navigated the challenges of these partnerships in an upcoming webinar presented by the editors of American School Board Journal. It will be held Thursday, Oct. 18, from 1 to 2 p.m. EDT. Register here.

Virginia’s Newport News Public Schools has developed a Career Pathways initiative to create “college, career, and citizen-ready” students. These school-business partnerships have garnered widespread community support and convinced a growing number of business and community groups to invest human and financial resources to help create a better-educated and better-trained workforce.

The free webinar will feature Newport News Public Schools Superintendent Ashby Kilgore, along with other key players of the initiative, explaining how school leaders can use partnerships to transform the educational experiences for students while providing a payoff for the business community. And be sure to read the recent ASBJ article on creating school-business partnerships.

Kathleen Vail|October 12th, 2012|Categories: School Boards, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

Report: High-level high school courses and school counseling boost college graduations

Taking high-level math in high school as well as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses can have a dramatic impact on whether a student finishes college, according to a report released today from the National School Boards Association’s  Center for Public Education.

The “persistence rate” for students from above average socioeconomic backgrounds (SES) is 10 percent higher in four-year institutions if they had taken Pre-calculus or Calculus or math above Algebra II in high school. For low SES students, the effect is even greater: Those students who took higher level math are 22 percent more likely to persist in college. And the impact for both groups is even greater at two-year colleges.

In addition to AP, IB, and math classes, academic advising in college has a significant impact on a student’s propensity to stay in college, the report said.

“But we also believe that academic advising can be a great benefit when it starts earlier,” the report said. “Middle and high schools need enough counselors to monitor student progress so they can make sure all students are taking rigorous courses and have the support they need to be successful in them. Counselors also fill an important role in helping students plan for their futures after high school, including help choosing a post-secondary institution that best matches their goals, and navigating the college application and financial aid processes.”

Researchers project that by 2018, America will have produced 3 million fewer college graduates than the labor market demands. But that could be changed by better college outcomes, says Jim Hull, a senior policy analyst at the Center.

“If 90 percent of current freshmen continue and earn a credential, we would have an additional 3.8 million graduates by 2020, enough to meet the labor market’s needs,” Hull said. “This study points to clear-cut ways to help more students continue their work toward a degree, and that process begins in high school.”

Hull coauthored the report with lead researcher Kasey Klepfer, an Archer Graduate Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin.

The study identifies three main factors that affect postsecondary students’ chances of staying on track to graduation, particularly for students who enter high school behind most of their peers and who come from families with low socioeconomic status:

  • Academic advising:  For both four-year and two-year students, talking to an academic advisor in college either “sometimes” or “often” significantly improved their chances to persist. Students in two-year institutions increased their chances of staying on track by as much as 53 percent just by meeting frequently with their academic advisor.
  • High-level mathematics: Consistent with previous studies, the Center’s researchers found the highest level of math in high school can be one of the largest predictors of college success. The analysis found that more affluent students who began high school with above average achievement had a 10 percent better chance of staying at a four-year institution if they had taken Pre-calculus or Calculus instead of completing math up to Algebra II, while students from low-income families and lesser academic achievements were 22 percent more likely to persist if they had taken high-level math classes. The impact is greatest for students in two-year institutions:  The persistence rates of students who took Pre-Calculus or Calculus in high school increased by 18 percent for the higher wealth, higher performing group and 27 percent for the lower wealth, lower performing students than had they only completed up to Algebra II.
  • Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses:  Taking an AP/IB course had a dramatic effect on students’ chance of persisting even when students fail the end-of-course test. Low achieving and high poverty students who took an AP/IB course were 18 percent more likely to persist in four-year colleges and 30 percent more likely to persist in two-year institutions. The more courses a student took, the higher their persistence rates.
  • Other high school factors also impacted students’ persistence rates in college, including students’ grade point average and the amount of time spent on homework in high school.

The good news is that this study shows actions that school leaders can take to improve their graduates’ chances for success in college,” said Patte Barth, the Center’s director. “Rigorous high school curriculum is important for all students’ future success. And the value of academic advising in college tells us that high schools can get a jump on it by helping their students with their after high school plans.”

Barth added, “Opening these opportunities can have the most impact for students who have traditionally been the least likely to succeed in college — those from low-income families and those who began high school as low achievers.”

The report can be downloaded at the Center’s website:

Also check out the upcoming November issue of the  American School Board Journal where this issued will be featured.

Lawrence Hardy|October 11th, 2012|Categories: Teachers, High Schools, Center for Public Education, Mathematics Education, Student Achievement, Dropout Prevention, 21st Century Skills, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , , |
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