Articles in the Board governance category

NSBA webinar to showcase successful case studies for community-school partnerships

Join school board members Eve Bolton from Cincinnati, Ohio and Jody London from Oakland, Calif. as they discuss the important role of school board members in promoting the community school strategy, and the successful outcomes they are seeing in their districts through support of this strategy.

Participate in this webinar from 3 to 4 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, March 11. Reserve your webinar seat now.

Aaron Dorsey, Manager of Equity and Achievement Programs at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and Mary Kingston Roche, Public Policy Manager at Coalition for Community Schools will be on hand to answer questions and provide specific steps on implementing community school strategy for success in your district.

Staff|March 10th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Multimedia and Webinars, School Boards|Tags: , |

Advocacy Institute shows school boards how to be year-round advocates

More than 750 school board members are learning about national education issues and public engagement at the National School Boards Association’s Advocacy Institute, a three-day conference in Washington that includes visits to their Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill.

The event focuses on building year-round advocates for public education and local school governance in public, legal, and legislative arenas. Advocacy Institute is the successor to NSBA’s popular Federal Relations Network conference and covers a wider array of topics.

Speakers at the Feb. 2-4 event include Bob Woodward, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author; Rev. Bernice King, the orator and daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., and members of Congress. NSBA President David A. Pickler, a school board member from Shelby County, Tenn., welcomed the group and underscored the urgency of becoming year-round advocates.

“We must make sure that all public schools have the funding, resources, and support that is needed to educate all students in this rapidly changing world economy,” he said. “This is nothing less than a national security interest.”

NSBA also is honoring U.S. House of Representatives members Aaron Schock of Illinois, Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, and Ron Kind of Wisconsin with the organization’s Congressional Special Recognition Award for their strong support for public education.

Schock, Meehan, and Kind worked together to introduce and promote the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, HR 1386, which would better establish local school boards’ authority and curb overreach by the U.S. Department of Education on issues that impact local school districts unless specifically authorized in federal legislation. Provisions of the bill were approved as an amendment to the House version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), HR 5, which passed the House last summer.

“We are proud to honor Reps. Schock, Meehan, and Kind with NSBA’s Congressional Special Recognition Award for their tireless efforts to help improve school boards’ abilities to lead our public schools,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel.  “Their leadership on the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act and the ESEA reauthorization amendment are extremely important to public school leaders across the country who deal daily with federal regulations that hinder their abilities to improve student achievement. We appreciate their support for local school boards.”

Other Congressional speakers include Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania, a member of the House Education & the Workforce Committee; and Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions of the House Education & the Workforce Committee.

On Feb. 2, NSBA also unveiled its new advertising campaign promoting public education and discussed polling and public advocacy strategies for school board members.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 3rd, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, FRN Conference 2013, Governance, Legislative advocacy, National School Boards Action Center, NSBA Recognition Programs|

Massachusetts Association of School Committees’ governance project honored with national award

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) honored the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) for a project that has helped Massachusetts school boards improve teaching and learning in their districts. MASC received a 2014 Thomas A. Shannon Award for Excellence at NSBA’s Leadership Conference in Washington on Feb. 2, 2014.

The Massachusetts District Governance Support Project (DGSP) is a joint initiative of MASC, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This project, which began in 2010 and was fully implemented in 2013, is part of a larger professional development initiative that includes a professional development program for principals, a new superintendent induction program, and a labor management partnership.

“The Massachusetts Association of School Committees has led an important effort to provide school boards with tools to improve their educational programs and operations,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Their project will ultimately lead to stronger public schools and greater student achievement in Massachusetts.”

MASC staff and collaborators produced a seven-part training program which focused on different strategies for the boards to understand and execute their roles in a way to improve outcomes for students. The MASC staff engaged in implementing training throughout the state to ensure that school boards understood the state’s new, comprehensive educator evaluation system. As part of the program, a highly detailed school committee evaluation tool was developed and utilized as well.

“Our goal was to use the research on how boards advance teaching and learning and to make our members part of the solution,” said MASC Executive Director Glenn Koocher. “If we want our democracy to include school governance, it’s a mission that must succeed.”

The Thomas A. Shannon Award, named after a former executive director of NSBA, is a national award for leadership in public education given annually by NSBA.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 2nd, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Educational Research, Governance, Professional Development, State School Boards Associations|

NSBA honors Illinois Association of School Boards leader for 50-year career

Patricia Culler of the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) received the 2014 Thomas Shannon Award for Excellence from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) at its Leadership Conference in Washington on Feb. 2, 2014.

Culler is IASB’s Assistant to the Executive Director and the Director of Meetings Management. She began working at IASB in 1964, when the organization had five employees. Today it has more than 70.

“In her remarkable career, Pat has become an extremely valuable asset to our Illinois affiliate,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Her work and the relationships she has cultivated over the past 50 years have helped build the organization, which in turn improves public schools for the children in Illinois.”

The Shannon Award, established in 1997 in honor of former NSBA Executive Director Thomas A. Shannon, is given annually to recognize extraordinary efforts performed on behalf of NSBA, local school board constituencies, and school communities.

“Pat Culler has demonstrated that one person can make a difference, not only to one state school board association, but to a national mission,” said Roger Eddy, IASB Executive Director. “When she started, IASB was a small organization working out of a few offices.  Now, largely due to Pat’s efforts over the years, it is among the national leaders in fulfilling the mission of excellence in local school governance in support of quality public education. She is retiring after 50 years of dedicated service to IASB and this award is a fitting capstone to an amazing career.”

Culler is responsible for managing IASB’s annual conference, which draws more than 10,000 attendees, and other organization events. She also works closely with IASB’s Executive Director and Board of Directors to facilitate information and communications. Most recently she helped organize events surrounding IASB’s 100th anniversary in 2013.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 2nd, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Conferences and Events, NSBA Recognition Programs, State School Boards Associations|Tags: |

NSBA featured in major media on school choice concerns

After Republicans introduced legislation that would allow states to send up to $24 billion in federal funding toward school choice programs, National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel offered a reality check on the performance of charter schools, vouchers, and other measures. Gentzel appeared on Fox News and was quoted in The Washington Post and The New York Times stories on the measure.

“We certainly haven’t seen any consistent evidence anywhere in the country that these kinds of programs are effective or producing better results,” said Gentzel, who appeared on a segment during Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier on the Senate proposal, introduced this week by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has introduced legislation in the House that also would include some students with disabilities and use funds from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Watch the video segment.

In the New York Times article, Gentzel countered proponents of school choice who claim that traditional public schools have not improved fast enough, and that low-income families should have other choices.

“The big issue is really that lack of accountability,” Gentzel told the Times. “Frankly, our view is every child should have access to a great public school where they live.”

In The Washington Post, Gentzel discussed Alexander’s proposal, the “Scholarships for Kids Act,” which would allow states to create $2,100 scholarships from existing federal K-12 programs, including Title I, to “follow” 11 million children whose families meet the federal to any public or private school of their parents’ choice. The total cost would be $24 billion—41 percent of the current federal education allotment.

“School choice is a well-funded and politically powerful movement seeking to privatize much of American education,” he told the Post. “We’re not against public charters, and there are some that are well-motivated. . . . But our goal is that public schools be schools of choice. We need to invest and support public schools, not divert money and attention from them to what amounts, in many cases, to experiments.”

Reginald Felton, NSBA’s Interim Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy, also told Governing magazine that Title I would inevitably face cuts under Lamar’s plan, along with other programs that benefit disadvantaged children. For states that would choose not to opt into the proposed program, that means less money is available for their most vulnerable populations, he said.

“It’s hard for us to believe that a $24 billion reallocation could exist without drastically reducing funding for Title I students,” he told Governing.

The Ohio Schools Boards Association (OSBA) recently showcased how funding to choice programs hurts neighborhood public schools. In its December newsletter, OSBA notes, “Ohio Department of Education data shows traditional public schools will lose more than $870 million in state funding to charter schools in fiscal year (FY) 2014. That’s an increase of 5.4 percent over FY 2013, when approximately $824 million was transferred from traditional public schools to charters. This increase comes amid ongoing reports of charter school mismanagement, conflicts of interest and felony indictments and convictions.”

According to CREDO (Center for Research on Educational Outcomes) research on charters, states that empower multiple authorizing agencies are more likely to report the weakest academic results for charter schools. Local governance – enacted by local school boards – offers transparency and accountability along with a direct focus on student achievement versus profit.

In 2008, 64 percent of Ohio’s charter schools were on academic watch or emergency status, compared to 9 percent of traditional public schools, according to “The Regulation of Charter Schools” in the Jan./Feb. issue of American School Board Journal.

While the state changed its regulations in 2008, ASBJ cites the case of Hope Academy Cathedral, a K-8 charter school in Cleveland, as an example of the loopholes that exist in Ohio’s charter law. The school was ordered to close in 2011 after repeatedly being rated as in “academic emergency.”

Less than two months later, a new K-8 charter — Woodland Academy — opened in the same building, with 15 returning staff members, the same authorizer, and the same for-profit management firm, wrote ASBJ Senior Editor Del Stover. In its first year of operation, the new charter school also was judged to be in academic emergency.

 

 

Phil Gore to lead National Connection, BuyBoard

Phil Gore, a former staff member with the Washington State School Directors’ Association, has been named Director of NSBA’s State Association Partnership Services, where he oversees BuyBoard® National Purchasing Cooperative and National Connection, a service that provides high-quality, national resources for school districts.

In his former role as the Washington association’s Director of Leadership Development Services, Gore researched, designed, oversaw, and delivered board development consultation for Washington’s 1,477 school board members. During that time, he led the development of school board standards and a validated board self-assessment based on the standards.  He also led a statewide initiative to develop multiple approaches and instruments for superintendent evaluation in the state.

Before getting into education policy, Gore had a successful 20-year career in church ministry. While he was a local school board member, he returned to grad school to earn a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington in Seattle. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Washington and is completing his dissertation on the factors and sources of information that school boards consider when evaluating a superintendent.

Gore and his wife, Julie, who have three grown children, live in Alexandria, Va.

 

Lawrence Hardy|January 30th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Board governance, Educational Finance, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , |

NSBA participates in White House meeting to plan State of the Union

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel took part in a meeting with White House officials this week to help glean ideas and themes for President Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 28.

The White House called together leading K-12 groups for their input on the annual speech and gave participants the opportunity to present their priorities.

Gentzel pressed the White House officials to call for increased funding for K-12 education, and also include funding for early education services, and again called for a push to finish the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

He also made the point that more than 90 percent of children in the United States attend public schools, and asked that President Obama show support for school boards and public education.

“With the continuing focus on choice—vouchers, charters, and other options—it would be good for the president to acknowledge the hard working teachers, school staff, and school board members who do their jobs every day,” Gentzel said after the meeting.

NSBA will be discussing issues surrounding school choice during National School Choice Week, which is held Jan. 26 to Feb. 1 and is sponsored by groups promoting vouchers and taxpayer funded expansions of school choice.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 17th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , |

NSBA applauds USDA action on school nutrition regulations

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is pleased with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent decision to make permanent the temporary relief from a provision of the federal school lunch program that limited lean protein and whole grains at school meals.  However, NSBA is still urging USDA to make other regulatory changes to give school districts more flexibility in the operation of the program.

“We applaud USDA for listening to parents and school leaders who said these restrictions were unnecessary and not in the best interests of students’ health,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “The program still needs additional changes to give school districts more flexibility to provide nutritious school meals and ensure that students won’t go hungry because of unreasonable limits on the amount of food schools may serve.”

A permanent provision on whole grains and lean protein was one of four changes requested in the Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act, which was introduced in December by Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and is endorsed by NSBA.

“The USDA’s announcement comes after a tremendous amount of pressure from parents, school administrators, and Congress,” Noem said. “What they are offering is a step in the right direction and adopts some of the provisions offered in my bill to give relief. A more permanent legislative fix and even greater flexibility is needed, however, in order to give parents and school administrators the tools they need when planning our kids’ lunch programs.”

Among the other issues Noem’s bill addresses are flexibility for school districts struggling to comply with new standards for school breakfast; items sold outside the federal school meal program such as those in vending machines, fundraisers and school stores; and federally mandated prices for unsubsidized school meals.

Lawrence Hardy|January 6th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Food Service, Nutrition, Obesity, Wellness|Tags: , , |

NCSBA lawsuit challenges constitutionality of voucher law

The following story was written by the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA):

A lawsuit filed on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 in Wake County Superior Court challenges the constitutionality of legislation passed earlier this year that creates a private school voucher program using public funds. Under the legislation, which takes effect in the 2014-15 school year, a private school can receive up to $4,200 in public funding for each eligible student that it enrolls. The legislation does not require that a student struggle academically or attend a poorly performing public school in order to receive a voucher. It also does not require any assurance that public funds will be spent to provide students with an adequate education and one that is offered on a non-discriminatory basis.

The suit was filed by four individual taxpayers, three of whom have children attending public schools, and the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership association that represents all 115 local boards of education in the state and the Board of Education of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation.

The legislation initially appropriates $10 million in public funds. The complaint alleges that public funding will rise to $50 million in future budget cycles.

“This challenge raises important questions about the use of public funds and our commitment to North Carolina’s students,” said Shearra Miller, president of the NCSBA and a member of the Cleveland County Board of Education. “By diverting funding from the public schools, vouchers have the potential to significantly damage individual school systems, particularly in smaller districts. As a local board member, I am concerned about the impact that will have on our students. In addition, the voucher program does not ensure that private schools that receive public funding will adhere to our constitution’s promise that students will have the opportunity to receive a sound basic education and will not face discrimination. Given all of these issues, the NCSBA Board of Directors felt strongly that the organization should raise these questions in court.”

The complaint asserts that the legislation violates the state constitution by:

• Using public dollars for a non-public purpose—private education opportunities outside of the constitutionally required “general and uniform system of free public schools;”

• Failing to require participating private schools to adhere to any substantive educational standards or practice non-discriminatory admissions;

• Diverting public dollars from the State School Fund, which is to be used “exclusively for establishing and maintaining a uniform system of public schools;” and

• Creating a system of selective secondary educational opportunities that denies students equal opportunities.

 

Staff|December 19th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Educational Finance, Policy Formation, School Boards, School Law, School Vouchers, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , |

NSBA addresses new report on cloud computing in public schools

The rapidly-evolving web-based services that have enabled school districts to streamline record keeping and make timely, data-driven decisions are also creating big challenges for safeguarding student information and preventing unauthorized use by third-party providers, a new report says.

“Cloud computing” services have helped school districts store and manage vast amounts of information, says the study released Friday by the Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham Law School. But “we’re worried about the implications for students over time, how their information can be used or misused,” Joel R. Reidenberg, a Fordham law professor and the report’s lead author, told The New York Times.

The issue also concerns National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of School Attorneys (COSA), which earlier this year set up a Cloud Computing and Student Privacy Working Group that plans to issue two resources in the coming months: the first a comprehensive legal primer for school attorneys, and the second an issue-spotting guide for school board members. Both publications aim to raise operational awareness for policy makers. COSA Director Sonja H. Trainor participated in a forum on the issue at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society in November and was among about 20 education, industry, and data experts asked to discuss the report’s recommendations at Microsoft’s Washington, D.C., offices.

The report, Privacy and Cloud Computing in Public Schools, notes that many school districts employ cloud-based services, but cautions that policies and contracts are not transparent to the public, and appear to lack some important privacy protections. It is based on information provided by 20 school districts.

The report estimated that 95 percent of the reporting school districts “rely on cloud services for a diverse range of functions, including data mining related to student performance, support for classroom activities, student guidance, data hosting, as well as special services such as cafeteria payments and transportation planning.” Yet the report estimated that 20 percent of the reporting districts do not have policies governing the use of online services, and many districts have significant gaps in their contract documentation no student privacy provisions.

Only 25 percent of the responding districts inform parents that they are using cloud services to store information, the report said. “Fewer than 7 percent of the contracts restrict the sale or marketing of student information by vendors,” the report said, “and many agreements allow the vendors to change the terms without notice.”

In an interview with School Board News Today, N. Cameron Russell, the Fordham Law Center’s Executive Director and a member of the research team, said the report is based on contracts and other documents received from the 20 school districts studied, which vary in size and are located throughout the country. He emphasized that the practices concerning safeguarding of information often go beyond the language in the contracts — something the Software and Information Industry Association emphasized in commenting on the study.

Still, the report’s authors expressed concern over the lack of specific language in many vendor contracts regarding such issues as maintaining the privacy of student data and preventing its commercial use.

Rapidly evolving web-based technologies such as cloud computing offer the potential for significant advances in individualized instruction and assessment – and many school districts are on the cutting edge of these innovations, said NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón Jr.

“Schools want to help students succeed, and web-based technology is helping them do this in innovative and creative ways,” Negrón said. “At the same time, it is important to inform and engage parents and communities about these developments and ensure vendor contracts protect student privacy and address restrictions on third-party use of data.”

The report concluded with several recommendations for school districts. Among them are putting “the existence and identity of cloud service providers and the privacy protections for student data’ on district websites and “establishing policies and implementation plans for the adoption of cloud services by teachers and staff,” including in-service training and an easy mechanism for teachers to adopt and propose technologies for instructional use.

 

Lawrence Hardy|December 16th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Computer Uses in Education, Council of School Attorneys, Data Driven Decision Making, Educational Technology, Governance, School Law, School Security|
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