School Board News Today, an online publication of NSBA, provides timely and relevant stories and analysis from NSBA and other news outlets to school board members, administrators, and all others interested in K-12 education.
Articles in the NSBA Opinions and Analysis category
In the wake of “Waiting for Superman” and the hype surrounding it, there’s a district that has been working very hard to make some changes for the better, and they haven’t called any caped crusaders yet. Last weekend, NSBA’s Council for Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) recognized Baltimore City Public Schools in its annual Award for Urban Boards of Education. While much of the press surrounds urban districts woes, Baltimore and the three other finalists districts (Florida’s Broward County Public Schools, Texas’ Houston Independent School District, and Virginia’s Portsmouth Public Schools) have reasons to be proud in their communities. Increased test scores, improved civic involvement, and narrowing the achievement gap, are just a few of the things to celebrate. Baltimore has showed improved test scores, increased high school graduation rates, improved school safety, and has had an increase in the number of students attending their schools for the first time in decades.
Baltimore has also recently struck a tentative deal with their teachers’ union that many thought would never happen.
But don’t take our word for it. Take a look at more of the details in School Board News Today, The Washington Post, and The Baltimore Sun. There’s no doubt that while many are waiting for a Superman, Baltimore decided to get up and do something for themselves.
Who knew the debate on education reform could be so funny? What did you think of Lewis Black’s commentary from last night’s The Daily Show?
Here’s the video:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Back in Black – Education Crisis|
BoardBuzz was pleased to hear that at least one school board has decided to lift the restriction on members attending their state conference. The School Board for Thornton Fractional Township High Schools voted to give their members the option to attend the Illinois Association of School Boards Annual Conference in November.
In a recent article in Times of Northwest Indiana, Board Member Donald Swibes said that “the benefits that board members derive from meeting with educational colleagues make it worth the cost,” adding “We all need to hear what is going on.”
It seems that when budgets are tight, professional development is one of the first items to be cut, which BoardBuzz thinks is unfortunate and short-sighted. Getting ideas and strategies from your colleagues both within your own state and from across the country can often reap huge benefits for your district — benefits that in many cases will offset the cost of attendance.
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has put together a list of tips for getting real value out of the conference experience, as well as a sample editorial article that you can customize to educate your community on this subject. And, we hope you will make plans to attend the NSBA Annual Conference in San Francisco, April 9-11, 2011.
Think all urban school board members hate charter schools because they sap off their best students and take money away from traditional public schools? Think again.
A sometimes-spirited discussion at NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education annual conference yesterday showed that board members have quite an array of experiences and opinions with charters in their cities. (School Board News is reporting on the major events and panels at the CUBE conference in Baltimore Sept. 30-Oct. 2, read more at http://schoolboardnews.nsba.org)
Some board members from Maryland noted that they were proud of some of their charters for offering quality, focused programs, such as health and fitness or a Montessori curricula. Perhaps their positive experience has a lot to do with the fact that local school boards are the primary charter authorizers under the state’s law.
Others reported less positive experiences, noting that they had no control to shut down charters that were clearly underperforming (only 17 percent of charters have significantly increased student achievement compared to traditional public schools, according to this report.)
Board Buzz liked the advice given by Ursula Wright, chief operating officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, who said school boards have every right to insist on that accountability, even where the school board is not responsible for the school’s charter.
Go to the authorizer body with the appropriate information, she said. “If a school is not serving its students, not living up to its charter . . . it needs to be shut down.”
Water is often called “the fountain of life.” It is essential we need to drink water to survive and it is the healthiest drink; it is calorie-free; it hydrates and removes toxins. In the age of obesity, drinking water instead of sugary beverages is an excellent way to keep calories lower in a diet. And, water is easy to access and cheap, right? Well, not exactly in the last few decades, water has increasingly become a commodity industries have been making huge profits by selling distinctive bottled waters, including with flavors or vitamins. Due primarily to the beverage industries’ stronghold, nowadays finding free water to drink that is not in a bottle is not always that simple.
According to an NPR Health Blog, a survey of California schools has revealed that 40 percent of those that responded did not offer free water in their cafeterias. That has prompted state Senator Mark Leno to introduce a bill that would require schools to provide water for students where they eat lunch. The bill has made it to the governor’s desk and, if approved, should take effect in January.
NPR did an interview with the senator who stated that he believes the reason behind schools not offering free water is that 1) there is a lack of recognition that hydration is important for both students’ health and performance and 2) there seems to be some confusion over whether offering free water conflicts with the National School Lunch Program regulations or even beverage contracts.
The proposed bill does not provide any additional funding to schools; however, Leno states that providing free water to students can be done at minimal cost and that he has been told that such a program in the Los Angeles Unified School District costs approximately $1.20 per student, per year.
With this bill, the senator not only hopes children will be better able to control their weight, but also improve their academic performance. The senator adds that “dehydration is associated with impaired cognitive function and that it also can adversely affect alertness, attention and perception, memory and reasoning. So, if we want our children to succeed in school, we not only need to provide well-trained, motivated teachers and proper supplies, but we also have to make sure they are in good health and able to perform.”
Schools are already doing a lot to help students be healthy, but BoardBuzz agrees with Leno, ”water can help.” Making free water readily available sounds like an effective means to getting kids healthy and ready to learn!
BoardBuzz has long been a fan of Daniel Pink, the innovative thinker and author of several books on the changing world of work. His writing and lectures are full of new insights delivered with humor and an engaging style – and they’ve had a real impact on our views on performance and motivation in today’s society.
In a recent speech given to the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) in London, Pink makes the point that higher incentives often lead to poorer performance. While traditional monetary rewards are motivating factors when people are faced with simple, straightforward tasks, these rewards actually depress performance once a task requires more complicated, creative thinking. Pink identifies three key factors that lead to better performance: Autonomy, or self-direction; Mastery the urge to get better at something; and Purposethe feeling that a person is making a contribution.
BoardBuzz loves this video of his talk, with lively animation added by RSA Animate:
Daniel Pink will be the General Session speaker at the 2011 NSBA Annual Conference in San Francisco on Sunday, April 10. He’ll discuss how the latest research on motivation and performance can be used to better prepare our students to meet the challenges of the new workplace.
From a pair of segments on Oprah to a multi-day media blitz on NBC to a televised address from the president himself, the state of education in the U.S. has, arguably, never enjoyed as much publicity as it has over the last week and a half.
And the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and math have been a prominent part of the coverage.
President Barack Obama, for instance, launched a national initiative on Monday to recruit 10,000 teachers in the STEM fields.
“Strengthening STEM education is vital to preparing our students to compete in the 21st century economy and we need to recruit and train math and science teachers to support our nation’s students,” Obama said in a prepared statement.
Teachers, no doubt, like Dos Pueblos High School physics and engineering teacher Amir Abo-Shaeer, who learned last Monday that he was one of the 23 recipients— and the only public school teacher— named as the 2010 MacArthur Fellow, a prestige that also carries with it $500,000 in unfettered funds.
Perhaps with a national recruitment project and local champions like Abo-Shaeer, more states can be like New Jersey, whose college students earn more Bachelor degrees in science and engineering than any other field.
Want to learn how to engage students and the community in STEM subjects? Prepare teachers for these dynamic and challenging fields? Or create career paths to enhance STEM in your district and beyond? Then you should attend this year’s T+L conference, held in Phoenix from October 19-22. Register here.
National School Boards Association’s Executive Director Anne L. Bryant was a panelist today on Education Nation’s closing session, “Talking to our Policy Makers,” moderated by NBC’s Brian Williams.
The session aired live on MSNBC.com, but the full video of this session is not yet posted. BoardBuzz will let you know when it’s up.
Check out this video by the New Jersey School Boards Association of Bryant sharing her thoughts and insights following the closing session of Education Nation:
Update 9/28/10: This session is only on MSNBC.com.
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is proud to be participating NBC’s Education Nation. NSBA’s Executive Director Anne L. Bryant and NSBA’s President Earl C. Rickman III are currently attending this event.
Bryant will be a panelist on Tuesday’s “Talking to our Policy Makers” closing session moderated by NBC’s Brian Williams. The session, scheduled for 11:30 am EDT (time subject to change), airs live on MSNBC and MSNBC.com.
The session will include teachers, students, parents, and engaged community members sharing their big ideas in testimony to local and national leaders (including NSBA) to assist in their crafting of education legislation and policy.
BoardBuzz hopes you tune in!