Articles in the Conferences and Events category

Obama administration lawyers open School Law Seminar

Two lawyers from the Obama administration answered questions from Council of School Attorneys (COSA) members at the opening general session Thursday of the 2014 School Law Seminar in New Orleans. The meeting is held in conjunction with NSBA’s Annual Conference.

Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education Catherine Lhamon and Anurima Bhargava, chief of the educational opportunities section, Civil Rights Division, at the U.S. Department of Justice, took questions from school district lawyers on a wide range of topics, including reasons for OCR investigations and the recent guidance on students with disabilities and extracurricular activities.

Lhamon spoke briefly about the mission and purpose of OCR. “Education is a civil rights issue,” she said. “That is the work we are doing at the Department of Education. We hope we can work together to deliver that justice.”

COSA lawyers lined up to ask questions of the two women. One lawyer wanted to know what she should do about what she termed “frequent flyers” — employees who file constant complaints and grievances. “It’s burden for us to get the data,” she said. “Every one of those [complaints] have come back as unfounded. Is there anything we can do to bring to your attention that this is an every-month occurrence?”

OCR is required by law to investigate any compliant, said Lhamon, “but we are looking at ways to ease” the frequent flyer problem.

Bhargava noted that her office did not have the same legal obligation to investigate every complaint. “We know there are the frequent flyers,” she said. “We try to be mindful of that. We are looking for ways to coordinate so you are not answering multiple complaints.”

Another question was about the school board obligation to look into matters such as student disciplinary decisions, which boards traditionally leave to district staff.

“We haven’t put out guidance about what boards should do,” Lhamon answered. “We want our school staff, boards, parents, and teachers to be thinking about what to ask. Boards do defer to staff, but you can ask and look underneath. Boards can make the decision when and where to ask those questions.”

Bhargava encouraged board member to look at the OCR data. “The data helps identify where there are issues. Everyone is empowered to use the data and ask questions.”

The School Law Seminar runs through Saturday.

 

Kathleen Vail|April 4th, 2014|Categories: Conferences and Events, Council of School Attorneys, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Law|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA, education groups collaborate at national Labor-Management Conference

Local, state and national education leaders from across the country are  partnering to plan together for effectively  implementing college- and career-ready (CCR) standards  as they meet at  a third major conference on labor-management collaboration, Feb. 27-28, in St. Louis, Mo.

The conference, which is co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education; AASA, The School Superintendents Association; American Federation of Teachers (AFT); the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO); Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS); National Education Association (NEA); the National School Boards Association (NSBA); and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, will focus on the development of effective implementation plans by labor and management teams working at the district and state levels. Teams from 32 districts and four states will identify and prioritize critical next steps at the conference.

This year’s event will examine how school leaders, teachers and other staff can work together to ensure college- and career-ready standards are successfully integrated into classrooms across the country. The conference will work to support effective implementation of CCR standards by providing examples of collaboration and supporting teams as they create plans that reflect shared priorities.

The six national membership organizations will release a new joint tool at the conference that can be used by administrators, teacher’s union leaders and board members across the country to develop a plan for implementation together.

Virginia B. Edwards, President of Editorial Projects in Education (EPE), the publisher of Education Week, will moderate the opening session that features leaders from the partnering organizations including CGCS Executive Director Michael Casserly, AASA Executive Director Daniel Domenech, NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel,  CCSSO Executive Director Chris Minnich, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, and AFT President Randi Weingarten.

“This conference is an excellent opportunity for school leaders and educators to collaborate and engage with their peers and subject-matter experts who will help them find ways to fully implement college and career-ready standards,” said Edwards. “The participants will gain a deeper understanding of the standards, support to help build professional development, and tools to assess their district’s implementation.”

Past Labor-Management Collaboration Conferences have highlighted successful and effective partnerships and their impact on student outcomes.

The co-sponsoring organizations will also release a series of solution-based guides resulting from a smaller labor-management collaboration convening in 2013 addressing some of the most significant and prevalent challenges in standards implementation.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 27th, 2014|Categories: Conferences and Events, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, Policy Formation, Professional Development, School Reform, Teachers|

NSBA honors House members for work on ESEA, federal overreach

U.S. House of Representatives members, Aaron Schock of Illinois, Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, and Ron Kind of Wisconsin, were honored this week with the Congressional Special Recognition Award, given by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) 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.”

The awards were announced at NSBA’s Advocacy Institute in Washington, which focuses on building year-round advocates for public education and local school governance in public, legal, and legislative arenas. More than 750 school board members are attending the three-day conference, which includes visits to their members of Congress on Capitol Hill.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|February 5th, 2014|Categories: Assessment, Conferences and Events, Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Governance, Legislative advocacy, National School Boards Action Center, NSBA Recognition Programs|Tags: , , , |

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: |

At international technology conference, NSBA discusses potential to improve U.S. schools

Ann Flynn, Director of Education Technology for the National School Boards Association, was invited to participate in the recent World Innovation Summit for Education, known as the WISE conference, in Doha, Qatar. This is the second time Flynn has been invited by the Qatar Royal Family to participate in the initiative by the Qatar Foundation. In this video, she describes her experience, the potential of technology to improve the U.S. education system, and the plights of countries with far fewer resources than the U.S.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 9th, 2013|Categories: Conferences and Events, Diversity, Educational Technology, Governance, Leadership, Online learning, STEM Education, Technology Leadership Network, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

NSBA teaches architects about school boards at EdSpaces event

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), will deliver an education session at EdSpaces in San Antonio on December 4. The session “Presenting Proposals to School Boards” is aimed at architects and dealers bidding on school design projects to help them bring the proper attention to their firm’s capabilities and expertise.

The start of a new school building project begins with a proposal to the school board that explains an architect’s vision for the site and how it will meet the needs of the student and educator population. Gentzel will provide advice on what architects and designers can do to set themselves apart from their competition and avoid costly mistakes.

“It’s important for architects and designers to understand not only the role of the school board but also the needs of the local community,” Gentzel said. “A school board may want to incorporate features such as environmentally friendly design or build areas for their community’s use, and architects must be able to decifer their needs and deliver those on what are always tight budgets.”

Gentzel noted that a school construction project is a major endeavor for any school district, and districts want designs that will be adaptable in coming decades.

“We’re delighted that NSBA is contributing education content that will help school leaders make the best decision for educational facilities of the future,” says Jim McGarry, President/CEO of NSSEA. “With over 120 school districts attending EdSpaces, school board members will be meeting with the vendors, dealers, architects and designers to discuss how trends are affecting the solutions available for today’s learning spaces.”

The National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA) produces EdSpaces, which is designed as the destination for school district and college officials to meet with manufacturers, dealers, architects, designers, and facilities planners to explore the impact of facilities on learning, discover new products and plan the Pre-K through higher education learning environments of tomorrow. EdSpaces includes a CEU-accredited education conference, led by many of the world’s top architects and designers, and focused on state-of-the-art, sustainable design and creative design/construction solutions. The EdSpaces exhibit hall showcases the most diverse range of innovative products for students of all ages.

For more information on this year’s event, held Dec. 4-6, 2013 in San Antonio, visit www.Ed-Spaces.com.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 4th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Conferences and Events, School Boards, School Buildings, School Security|Tags: , , |

NSBA’s National Black Caucus hosts Dec. 5 webinar on school-to-prison pipeline

The National Black Caucus of School Board Members (NBC) will present a webinar on the “school to prison pipeline,” a disturbing national trend where children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The webinar will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013.NBCclip_image001

Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished and pushed out, according to the NBC.  The unintended consequences of “zero-tolerance” policies have led to the criminalization of minor infractions of school rules.  Students of color are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline.

This webinar will outline the history of zero tolerance policies and how they led to the creation of the school-to-prison pipeline. It will also examine the impact that the school-to-prison pipeline is having on students, school districts, cities, and states throughout the country. And finally, the work that school districts are doing to address this issue will be highlighted and discussed.

NBC is presenting the event with the Advancement Project, a multi-generational civil rights organization. NBC is one of three caucuses within the National School Boards Association (NSBA) that is devoted to promoting and advancing equitable educational access and opportunities for African-American children.

Participants may attend the event online through this weblink, or by calling (619) 550-0003. The access code and meeting ID is 692-228-865.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 2nd, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Conferences and Events, Discipline, Diversity, Dropout Prevention, Multimedia and Webinars, Policy Formation, Urban Schools|Tags: |

NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference offers new site visits, workshop opportunities

As you make your plans for the National School Boards Association’s 74th Annual Conference, be sure to carve out time for a pre-conference workshop, site visit or special luncheon event as part of your experience.

Preconference workshops will cover topics such as school law, school safety, curriculum and assessment, leadership skills, and other topics critical for school board members. These half-day and full-day workshops are a great opportunity to learn about an issue in depth.

The site visits show firsthand some of the latest education technology innovations, and you can interact with experts to find ways to replicate successful programs in your schools.

Listen to an inspiring speaker and meet colleagues from around the country at the luncheons and other meal events. Each of NSBA’s three caucuses, which examine issues facing African-American, Hispanic and Native American children, host meal events with premier speakers and information about their work.

Keep in mind that most of the site visits sell out—some months in advance–so be sure to book your optional tours and meal events now.

Here is a list of some of the offerings for site visits and meal events at the 2014 conference, to be held April 5 to 7 in New Orleans. Check the registration website for more information on pricing and details of each event.

Friday, April 4

  • Preconference workshops: Check the 2014 Annual Conference website for a comprehensive list.
  • Site visit: Louisiana Lagniappe (lan-yap)–Lagniappe means a little something extra, which is exactly what you’ll experience during your day in St. Charles Parish Public Schools, one of the state’s top districts. Visit a newly renovated, technology rich, community-oriented elementary school and immerse yourself in the Wetland Watcher experience, a nationally recognized service learning program for wetlands conservation managed by middle school students. After a taste of south Louisiana cuisine, conclude your visit at the district’s unique Satellite Center, where cutting-edge technologies create an authentic learning environment for students to work alongside actual clients as they explore future careers.

Saturday, April 5

  • Site visit: National World War II Museum–Much of today’s technology had origins in World War II. Learn how the National World War II Museum staff created education resources available to districts across the country that bring the science and technology of War II to life for students. Plus, hear the latest about the museum’s photo and oral history digitization project and efforts to involve students in the collection of oral histories in their hometowns.
  • Best Practices for School Leaders luncheon–Learn about leadership and district best practices with the winners of the 2014 Magna Awards, the American School Board Journal’s annual awards for school districts’ most innovative programs. Sponsored by Sodexo, the Magna luncheon celebrates the spirit of innovation and excellence in public education. Attend this special event and be inspired to take what you hear and learn back to your districts.

Sunday, April 6

  • National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members Breakfast–Speaker Maria Hinojosa, anchor and managing editor of her own long-running weekly NPR show, Latino USA, and anchor of the Emmy Award-winning talk show Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One, has informed millions of Americans about the fastest growing demographic in our country. Throughout her career, she has helped define the conversation about our times and our society with one of the most authentic voices in broadcast.
  • National Black Caucus of School Board Members Luncheon–Speaker Wil Haygood , an acclaimed Washington Post reporter, journalist, and biographer, has explored the social and historical dynamics of this country as few modern chroniclers have done, in books, magazine articles, and award-winning newspaper coverage. His most recent project, The Butler, which stars eight Oscar-winning actors, is the story of White House butler Eugene Allen, who had served no less than eight presidents, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan.
  • Education Technology Luncheon, School 2.0: Building the Schools We Need–Chris Lehmann, Founding Principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Pennsylvania, will share his insights.
  • Site visit: STEM in Action — Pumping Up the Students! After Katrina, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the world’s largest pumping station. Tour this amazing structure and hear how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is investing in science technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum materials to engage your students and support the emerging field of Geomatics that combines high tech tools with remote sensing.
  • Site visit: Southeastern Louisiana University–Explore the wetlands by boat with the Southeastern’s Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station that provides educators and students with problem-based, real-world science learning opportunities. Experience firsthand how instruction must change to support next-generation science standards.

Monday, April 7

  • Site visit: Building for the Future: Going Green–After the devastation of Katrina, Global Green, in partnership with Brad Pitt, made a commitment to sustainable building as the city recovered. Tour the Holy Cross Project Visitor Center, a home in the lower Ninth Ward, to learn about its green elements and systems. Get ideas for your own district with a school visit that incorporates “green” strategies to support healthier classrooms, protect the environment, reduce carbon emissions, and save the district money.
  • Site visit: NOAA Tour–Tour the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere, and discover the multitude of resources they have developed to support K–12 education. Plus, hear a presentation by school leaders about the technology policies and practices they put in place to successfully weather storms that have struck their districts.

 

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 20th, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Conferences and Events, Data Driven Decision Making, Educational Technology, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, NSBA Recognition Programs, STEM Education|Tags: , |

Ravitch: We can learn a lot from Finland — and from our own public schools

Diane Ravitch praised the Finnish schools in a recent speech in Washington, D.C. But it was another nation’s public education system — and the remarkable progress it has made over the past 40 years — that most impressed the celebrated author and education historian.

What country is this? The United States, of course. During that time, student achievement has increased overall, even as today’s student population has become more racially, economically, and culturally diverse. Graduation rates also are rising. And “dropout rates,” said Ravitch, a keynote speaker at NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference in San Diego, “are the lowest they’ve been in history.”

But if you read some of the anti-public school literature out there, or watched some purportedly “balanced” news reports, you could easily be fooled into thinking something much different, said Ravitch, who spoke at the Economic Policy Institute about her new book on public school reform, Reign of Error.

As an example, Ravitch cited a 2012 report called “U.S. Education Reform and National Security,” by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, now head of Rupert Murdoch’s strongly pro-voucher News Corp. The report claims, contrary to the evidence Ravitch cites in the Long-Term Trend report of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), that U.S. schools are so bad they have “become a grave security risk.”

Ravitch devotes much of her new book to the high performing public schools in Finland, a place where she says teaching is a highly respected — and highly selective — occupation, where teachers and principals belong to a common union, and where public education of the highest quality is seen as a national obligation.

“They don’t have charters,” Ravitch said. “They don’t have vouchers. …. There is no Teach for Finland.”

U. S. schools are doing a lot right, too, Ravitch said. In fact, some of the highest-scoring nations on international tests — Singapore among them – are looking at how U.S. schools embrace creativity and teach problem-solving skills. Ironically, with the recent emphasis on high-stakes testing, she added, “We’re moving in the opposite direction.”

“And now we have kindergarten children taking bubble-in tests,” Ravitch said. “This is insane.”

Ravitch criticized the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program, which she said “has put $5 billion into the pursuit of higher test scores.” She said the money could have been put to better use in efforts to address the growing segregation of many public schools by race and income, particularly in the South and West.

“We’re not trying to solve the real problem, which is child poverty,” Ravitch said. “Poverty is the elephant in the room.”

Elaine Weiss, national coordinator for the Broader Bolder Approach to Education, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, also spoke at the event. Weingarten said budget cuts have harmed school systems across the country, opening them up to criticism and threats of privatization. However, studies consistently show that privatization does not lead to higher student performance while resulting, in many instances, in greater economic and racial segregation.

Lawrence Hardy|October 22nd, 2013|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Board governance, Charter Schools, Comparative Education, Conferences and Events, Curriculum, Diversity, NSBA Annual Conference 2013, Privatization, Race to the Top (RTTT), School Board News, School Vouchers, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|

COSA seminar guides school attorneys on newest legal trends and challenges

School attorneys from across North America learned about new topics and trends in education law at the National School Boards Association’s Council of School Attorneys’ 2013 School Law Practice Seminar, held Oct. 10-12 in Nashville, Tenn.

“The event’s program gave school attorneys an opportunity to dive deep into issues they face every day in their busy practices, and to look at some issues from a fresh perspective,” said COSA Director Sonja Trainor. “Our attendees were particularly engaged in the networking events, where they interacted with colleagues and corporate partners facing the same issues.”

Hot topic sessions tackled student privacy in the cloud computing era, armed guards in schools, and the latest on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The student privacy panel included technology law expert and COSA member Dotti Bollinger, Microsoft’s Steve Mutkoski and COSA board member Phil Hartley, who guided the audience through the evolving legal standards affecting student data privacy in the cloud. Former COSA Chair Tom Wheeler and COSA member Joe Tanguma provided an overview of liability standards for schools faced with violence, and noted the widely differing approaches taken by various states regarding arming school staff.

COSA member Chris Stevenson and NSBA Senior Staff Attorney Leza Conliffe presented attendees with an update on employer-related issues of the ACA, known as Obamacare. They discussed the implications of the employer mandate, a.k.a. the “Pay or Play” penalties, and the upcoming requirements the latest IRS rules place on school districts, as employers, in the areas of collecting and disclosing information about insurance coverage of all of its employees, their spouses and dependents, and the collection of an additional Medicare tax for a district’s high wage earners.

Attendees also addressed every-day issues such as involuntary resignation and constructive discharge, intellectual property creation and fair use, and litigation practice – including a poignant session on working with child witnesses. They heard COSA member D. Scott Bennett, whose son suffers from a severe form of autism, describe the fears and priorities of parents of disabled students.

“Autism presents unique challenges, and the parents’ well-being tends to ebb and flow depending on the child’s symptoms and behavioral condition,” Bennett wrote in a recent research paper. He advised school attorneys and educators to collaborate with parents and show them multiple strategies to foster the best educational experiences for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other disabilities.

Attendees also participated in interactive sessions addressing recent guidance from federal agencies on issues such as participation of students with disabilities in athletics and the appropriate use of pre-employment criminal background checks.

State school board association attorneys attended pre-seminar meetings on Oct. 10. At a lunch event on Oct. 11, attendees found their way to roundtable discussions on many different topics. Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, student data and cloud computing, international student travel, and labor negotiations were particularly popular discussion topics.

NSBA Executive Director Tom Gentzel noted the integral role COSA plays in the advocacy work of NSBA at the opening general session of the conference. NSBA President David Pickler, a practicing attorney, joined his colleagues at the practice seminar. At the seminar reception hosted by Lewis King Krieg & Waldrop and the Tennessee Council of School Board Attorneys, he welcomed attendees to his home state and invited COSA attorneys to join NSBA’s grassroots work to support public education.

NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón Jr. updated school attorneys on NSBA’s Legal Advocacy Agenda. He highlighted NSBA’s amicus work in recent and upcoming Supreme Court cases addressing diversity in student assignment and employer liability for claims of discrimination. He also noted NSBA’s recent amicus work in federal courts of appeal in student-related cases in which the Departments of Justice and Education have filed amicus briefs opposing the school district’s position.

COSA members and NSBA staff also took a moment to remember former NSBA General Counsel Gus Steinhilber, who passed away in August. He was remembered as a kind and generous friend, an avid outdoorsman, and a lifelong supporter of public schools and the attorneys who advocate on their behalf.

For more information on COSA events, go to www.nsba.org/SchoolLaw/COSA.

Joetta Sack-Min|October 18th, 2013|Categories: Affordable Care Act, Conferences and Events, Council of School Attorneys, Diversity, School Law|Tags: , , |
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