Articles in the Announcements category

The Week in Blogs: Ensuring all students can read

(Don’t have time to read through the hundreds of education-related blogs? NSBA Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy brings you the “must-reads” in his weekly round-up, “The Week in Blogs,” now appearing on School Board News Today. Laugh out loud and learn something new each Friday.)

If you can’t read, you can’t learn. That statement might seem obvious.

Yet in the United States, according Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash), there are some 8 million students in grades four though 12 who are reading below grade level, according to this video on the Alliance for Excellent Education’s blog. At this time in their schooling – that is, beyond third grade – they should have moved from a “learning-to-read” mode to one sometimes called “reading to learn.” And the fact that they have not reach this point, or have only partially reached it, means they will have trouble keeping up with their peers, graduating from high school, and succeeding in life.

Murray, who received NSBA’s Special Recognition Award last month, is introducing the Literacy Education for All Results for the Nation, dubbed the LEARN Act, which would authorize $2.35 billion in federal support for literacy programs spanning birth through age 12.

If that seems like a hefty sum, consider these next two items: As Joanne Jacobs notes in her blog, a new study shows that almost half the adults in Detroit, or 47 percent, are functionally illiterate.

The second related item? According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, the U.S. spent $3.6 billion on remedial courses for students enrolled in two- or four-year colleges during the 2007-08 school year. The Alliance calculated the subsequent costs to these students – who are more likely to drop out of college – to $2 billion in lost earnings over their lifetimes. The title of its report says it all: “Saving Now and Saving Later: How High School Reform Can Reduce the Nation’s Wasted Remedial Education Dollars.

On a lighter note, read Slate‘s rebuttal to economist Donald J. Boudreaux’s bizarre “thought experiment” in The Wall Street Journal regarding the supposed benefits of free enterprise schooling: “Supposed that groceries were supplied in the same way as K-12 education? ” he asks. “What would happen?”

“In poor counties the quality of public supermarkets would be downright abysmal,” Boudreaux writes. “Poor people – entitled in principal to excellent supermarkets – would in fact suffer unusually poor supermarket quality.”

Five seconds to spot what’s wrong with that sentence. Time’s up. But helpfully, Slate has offered a map showing – surprise! – the poor already suffer from poor choices when it comes to shopping for healthy food. Boudreaux’s analogy sort of goes downhill from there. (Thanks to This Week in Education for pointing us to the Slate piece.)

Finally, read Joanne Jacobs again on a report showing that civic knowledge climbed for fourth graders but dropped at the 12th grade level.

Lawrence Hardy|May 6th, 2011|Categories: Week in Blogs, Announcements, School Board News|

Education headlines: Education Nation events hit the road, PBS examines dropouts

This week NBC News’ Education Nation held a Teacher Town Hall in Chicago for educators to brainstorm ideas, talk about what works in the classroom, and highlight the challenges of today’s education system. Watch the video… Educating students in remote areas can be quite costly—as much as $200,000 per student in a school with only a handful of students, according to a new report from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. The report disputes the idea of savings from merging or consolidating small rural districts, but recommends the stateset a minimum number of students per school, according to California Watch. (NSBA’s National Affiliate program and ASBJ studied school consolidation through a firsthand account of the Twin Rivers Unified School District in California. Learn more about the impact of consolidation at http://

And the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and America’s Promise to address high school graduation. Broadcasting will expand beyond early childhood to reach students in middle school and also include programming such as teacher town halls and reports on dropout prevention, according to MSNBC. Read the announcement from CPB.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 5th, 2011|Categories: Announcements, School Board News|

The week in blogs: British royals gain future queen with credentials

(Don’t have time to read through the hundreds of education-related blogs? NSBA Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy brings you the “must-reads” in his weekly round-up, “The Week in Blogs,” now appearing on School Board News Today. Laugh out loud and learn something new each Friday.)

Far from the American School Board Journal to get all tizzied up over the Royal Wedding. We’ve got more important things to do.

However, seeing as I’ve already mentioned it ….. did you see the lady in the church with the big black hat that draped down one whole side of her face? What was that about? And what’s it like for the guy sitting next to her facing a veritable “hat wall” on his left?

We’re journalists here; we have to ask these things. And, we must add, in the interests of full disclosure: “Tizzied,” apparently, is not a word. But of course it should be.

Now back to the matter at hand: Education. Did you know that Princess Kate, if and when she becomes queen, would be the first English female monarch to have a college degree? That revelation comes courtesy of Valerie Strauss’ Answer Sheet. Although Strauss notes that the best educated and brainiest queen “was probably the brilliant Queen Elizabeth I, who was leaning Latin at age 5.”  (And we thought it was Bush/Obama that pushed academics into kindergarten.)

In other, non-wedding-related, news, Joanne Jacobs highlights a troubling report from the Education Trust, which looked at high-performing schools in Maryland and Indiana and found they were still leaving certain subgroups of students behind.

Richard Thompson, of This Week in Education, seconds education consultant Andrew Rotherham’s asserting that “intention” is key to schools that succeed despite student poverty.  Rotherham made the comment in an interview on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

While on the Fresh Air site, hear Diane Ravitch, who spoke at NSBA’s Leadership Conference in February, on the pitfalls of standardized testing.

Lawrence Hardy|April 30th, 2011|Categories: Week in Blogs, Announcements, School Board News|

Education headlines: Jeb Bush influencing school reforms in many states

So far 2011 is becoming one of the most consequential years for school governance changes in states, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been working behind the scenes in many state capitols to promote his brand of education reform, which includes private-school vouchers, online courses, and rigorous standards, according to the New York Times… The Associated Press writes that “one in four children in the United States is being raised by a single parent — a percentage that has been on the rise and is higher than other developed countries, according to a new report”… The U.S. Department of Education announced the new Green Ribbon Schools program that will “recognize schools that are creating healthy and sustainable learning environments and teaching environmental literacy,” according to the agency… And the Miami Herald reports on the Broward County school board’s painstaking process in cutting $150 million from its $19 billion budget. Among the things on the block are benefits for teachers who plan to leave, field trips and extracurricular activities, and graduation cords.

Joetta Sack-Min|April 27th, 2011|Categories: Announcements, School Board News|

Education headlines: Charters seeing shortages of good leaders

Charter schools are seeing shortages of qualified leaders: People who can manage the administrative tasks as well as the extra budgetary and operational responsibilities that come with an autonomous school, the Hechinger Institute reports. The issue is particularly prevalent in areas where the numbers of charters are growing rapidly, such as Washington D.C., according to the story that appeared in the Washington Post.

In Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that “the two main combatants in the clamor over whether to use public dollars for private schooling donated a combined $8.3 million to legislative and gubernatorial candidates, state campaign finance records show.”

A new federal analysis shows more high school students are taking more rigorous courses—but are those courses as rigorous as they sound? The New York Times finds evidence that the titles of courses in some high schools may be inflated… And CBS’ 60 Minutes profiles billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, who spearheaded the Broad Prize for urban school districts and leadership academy for aspiring administrators, among other works in education reform.

Joetta Sack-Min|April 25th, 2011|Categories: Announcements, School Board News|

Education headlines: Chicago schools will see new board, superintendent

In a major governance overhaul, Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has named Rochester, N.Y. superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard to run the city’s schools. The entire Chicago school board also will be replaced and led by a former aide to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan when he headed the city’s schools, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. (Read more about Brizard’s use of educational data systems in the March issue of American School Board Journal).

Many students lack access to an adequate supply of drinking water at schools, which can have health consequences, according to CNN… The Wall Street Journal reports on Detroit leaders’ recent moves to use a new state law to weaken the local teachers’ union and other entities, including the school board… And Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced the state will use an unexpected revenue surplus to increase funding for districts that provide all-day kindergarten and other education initiatives. The Indianapolis Star also writes about his visit with Secretary of Education Duncan at a local charter school.

Joetta Sack-Min|April 19th, 2011|Categories: Announcements, Data Driven Decision Making, School Board News|

Education headlines: Is online learning a cop-out for students and states?

Online classes are growing fast, particularly those for students who need to make up credits. But the New York Times investigates whether these courses are as rigorous as those held in traditional schools, and whether states are overusing them as a way to cut spending…

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has announced four school districts as finalists for this year’s Broad Prize for Urban Education, which gives a $1 million award to a large urban district that has made outstanding gains in student achievement. This year’s four finalists – all of which are previous finalists – are Broward County Public Schools, Fla., Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, N.C., Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Fla., and Ysleta Independent School District, El Paso, Texas…

And ABC News offers another story on the school funding cliff—what happens when the stimulus money runs out this year–which is also the cover story in this month’s American School Board Journal.

Joetta Sack-Min|April 6th, 2011|Categories: Announcements, School Board News|

Education headlines: Fewer students pursue teaching careers

Vice President Joe Biden discussed new guidelines for public school districts, colleges and universities about their responsibilities under civil rights laws to prevent sexual violence, part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to draw attention to sexual violence and ways to prevent it, the New York Times reports…

Teacher layoffs and other education spending cuts are thinning more than the current ranks of California’s classroom instructors, the Los Angeles Times writes. The number of people training to be teachers also is plummeting, and that trend is likely to continue, according to the newspaper…

The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered the Prince George’s County, Md., school district to pay $5.9 million in back wages and penalties to foreign instructors that school officials recruited to teach hard-to-staff classes such as math and science. The school district illegally required that the teachers cover thousands of dollars in expenses related to getting temporary work visas, according to the Washington Post

And following previous stories on state efforts to curb collective bargaining and teacher tenure, the Idaho Statesman reports that the governor has signed a bill that eliminates tenure for new teachers and restricts collective bargaining while introducing merit pay. Tennessee’s legislature has approved a plan put forth by the governor that increases the time for new teachers to gain tenure and creates a tougher new evaluation system, according to the Commercial Appeal.

Joetta Sack-Min|April 5th, 2011|Categories: Teachers, Announcements, School Board News|

Week in blogs: Do Easter Island statues represent Race to the Top?

Ready for today’s “Week in Blog Question?” Here goes: “How are those weird Easter Island statues like the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition?”

“Say what?”

Sorry, time’s up.  But because this is our inaugural, occasional, semi-monthly-on-average Week in Blog Question, the Judges have graciously offered to give you another try.  “Now take the eraser end of your pencil and open the test  booklet…” No, actually, just think real hard.

Question #2: “So. About those statues: How is the fact that their construction is said to have totally devastated Easter Island civilization as we know it (or think we know it – it was, after all, hundreds of years ago) analogous to what RTTT will do to the public schools?”

Yes, it’s a toughie, and, yes, I’m poking fun at Yong Zhao’s blog on these two seemingly disparate topics (“I can’t help but make the connection between Easter Islanders’ race to erect the statues and the Obama’s Race to the Top program…” he writes) because it’s a little, well, out there; but the fact is, the University of Oregon professor writes some of the most original and provocative analyses of K12 education on the web today.

Here, to be as brief as possible, is his point: According to Jared Diamond’s thesis in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, just as the Easter Islanders exhausted their human and natural resources in a misguided competition to build ever-grander icons, so is RTTT exhausting our schools’ resources in a misguided competition for the best test scores.

“Test scores have no doubt become American’s stone statue in education…” Zhao writes. “Just like the Easter Islanders’ obsession with building statues damaged their ecosystem, America’s obsession with test scores have already begun and will continue to damage its education ecosystem.”

Of course, others have completely different views. I’m just waiting for Arne Duncan to conjure the Italian Renaissance.
Other blogs? Well, closer to home (and the 21st century) Alexander Russo writes about the rising reputation of former Gov. Jeb Bush, in some education circles. A story on Bush appeared last week in the Washington Post.

In another post, Russo talks about the latest education controversy in Rhode Island, where, according to a published report, the Providence Journal failed to disclose that education columnist Julia Steiny is a paid consultant for the state’s Department of Education on the district in Central Falls.  Yes, Russo deadpans, “that Central Falls.” Is that why she wrote so glowingly of state Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, who’s strongly supported district administrators in their long running fight with the teacher union? Steiny says there’s no connection.

Finally, read this moving op-ed from the New York Times about a teacher who made a difference in the life of author Marie Myung-Ok Lee.

Lawrence Hardy|April 3rd, 2011|Categories: Week in Blogs, Announcements, Federal Programs, School Board News|

Education headlines: Record-setting teacher layoffs looming, Ohio limits collective bargaining

The Associated Press reports that the Ohio legislature voted Wednesday to severely limit the collective bargaining rights of 350,000 public workers, including teachers. The measure, which is expected to be signed by the governor, would allow unions to negotiate wages but not health care, sick time or pension benefits; bans workers from striking, and replaces automatic pay increases with merit raises or performance pay.

America’s public schools may see the most extensive layoffs of their teaching staffs in decades, the New York Times says, as school districts across the country have given layoff warnings to mass numbers of teachers… The AP also finds that many principals removed from low-performing schools as part of the federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) program are quickly finding new jobs, often in the same districts or schools where they previously worked.

And, according to the Washington Post, former Washington, D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee admits “that some cheating may have occurred” after vehemently denying such claims made by USA Today as part of its ongoing investigation on cheating. That story asserts that teachers changed answers on student tests at some D.C. schools.

Joetta Sack-Min|March 31st, 2011|Categories: Teachers, Announcements, School Board News|
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