Articles in the Educational Research category

Geena Davis urges educators: Take note of women’s roles in children’s media

Is it coincidence that only 17 percent of women hold positions of leadership and authority in key sectors of American society—and that percentage also holds true among female characters depicted in today’s family oriented movies and television shows?

And what does it mean when female characters in animated children’s films often are as scantily clad as women in R-rated movies?

Those were the kind of questions raised when Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis spoke about gender stereotypes in the media—and the impact on children—at Saturday’s First General Session.

“The invisibility, hyper-sexualization, and dis-empowerment of women and girls in the media cry out for change,” Davis told conference attendees.

Known best for her performances in such films as “The Accidental Tourist,” “Thelma and Louise,” and “A League of Their Own,” Davis offered school leaders her credentials to speak as an authority on these negative stereotypes.

“I’ve spent most of my adult life advocating for equal rights for women and girls, among other ways by appearing in movies that women might find empowering,” she said, jokingly adding, “I was in a movie, “Earth Girls Are Easy,” but that was early on. That one title aside, you can feel free to take me seriously.”

It’s likely that attendees did just that. As Davis explained, her interest in the issue was sparked nearly a decade ago while watching G-rated movies and children’s television with her then-two-year-old daughter.

“I had this ‘Spidey’ sense about the women’s roles,” she said, “I immediately noticed, with the exception of Dora the Explorer, that there seemed to be far fewer female characters than male characters in these entertainment programs that were made for kids.”

It was an issue that Davis started raising with friends and colleagues in Hollywood, all of who assured her that such stereotypes were fading. “They were very sincere in their interest in gender equity. They truly believed they were working on it … so this made me think I need the numbers.

That led to the launch of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which has gathered a large body of research on now females are portrayed in movies and television—and has worked to put those findings in front of writers, directors, producers, and others in the entertainment industry

What’s her institute has found is that the role of women and girls hasn’t changed significantly in Hollywood since the 1940s, Davis said. One study found that, in G-rated movies released between 2006 and 2009, “not one female character was depicted as a leader in business, the law profession, medical science, or politics.

More worrisome is how this portrayal of women and girls impacts on children, she said. “The message is sinking in. The more hours a girl watches [these shows], the fewer options she feels she has in life. The more TV a boy watches, the more sexist he becomes.

The good news is that change is possible, Davis offered. When her institute shares this data with movie studies and network executives, “their jaws are on the ground. They have absolutely no idea that the worlds they were creating were so bereft of a female presence.”

School board members can do their part, she suggested. They can examine their textbooks to review how women are depicted—that women are shown just as engaged in science as boys are and that women are taking up their rightful space in history book.

“I want the day to come very soon when I can share this story with my daughter—that once upon a time girls were considered a little less important than boys, and she will look at me with this incredulous look and say, “Mom, are you making this up?’ ”

Del Stover|April 14th, 2013|Categories: Conferences and Events, Diversity, Educational Research, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|Tags: , , |

NSBA board members find lessons in Finland’s schools

Three members of the National School Boards Association’s board of directors saw the well-regarded education system in Finland on a recent academic trip. And while the two countries have major differences, there are some important lessons school boards can take away from the Scandanavian schools, said NSBA President C. Ed Massey.

Massey joined a group of researchers and educators from Northern Kentucky University for a guided tour of Finnish schools, where they saw classrooms from early education to postsecondary and career training. He invited fellow NSBA board members David A. Pickler, NSBA’s President-Elect and a school board member from the Shelby County School Board in Memphis, and Kevin E. Ciak, a school board member from the Saylorsville School District in New Jersey, to join the tour.

Massey noted that the country emphasizes the importance of education by giving all children access to high-quality schools from age one through college—and the government pays for it all.

“The biggest thing that struck me was that they only hire the best teachers,” said Massey, a member of the Boone County, Ky., school district’s board of education. “A teacher cannot be hired unless they have a master’s degree, and then they are treated as consummate professionals, on the same rank as a doctor or lawyer.”

Members of NSBA's Board of Directors pose with Bruce J. Oreck, U.S. Ambassador to Finland, on their recent trip. From left, NSBA President-Elect David A. Pickler, Oreck, NBSA President C. Ed Massey, and Kevin E. Ciak.

Students in Finland also learn three languages through immersion by the time they leave elementary school. One thing that schools do not have is sports teams—popular pastimes such as hockey take place in clubs after school. And the schools provide a free lunch for all students, regardless of their families’ income level.

Each school is run by a “counsel” made up of administrators, teachers, and parents, Massey said. A school district is governed by a municipal education board, where members are appointed by the country’s Ministry of Education.

There are some important differences between Finland and the United States that make any comparisons unfair, Massey noted. For one, the country only has about 5.5 million people and 540,000 students—much smaller than even Kentucky, which has more than 670,000 students. The population is largely homogeneous with very little immigration, Massey said, noting that there are 59 different languages spoken within Boone County’s student population.

And—perhaps the most significant difference–Finland pays for all its educational services by taxing its residents at much higher rates than U.S. governments, he added.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|April 4th, 2013|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Board governance, Educational Research, Governance, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Preschool Education, School District Reorganization, School Reform, Student Achievement, Teachers|Tags: , , , , , |

Education Talk Radio previews NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference

Kanisha Williams-Jones, Director of Leadership & Governance Services at the National School Boards Association (NSBA), was a guest today on Education Talk Radio providing a preview of NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference. Thousands of school board members, administrators, and other educators will be coming to San Diego to take part in the April 13-15 event.

Listen to the broadcast:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio

The conference will feature more than 200 sessions on timely education topics, including federal legislation and funding, managing schools with tight budgets, the legal implications of recent court cases, new research and best practices in school governance, and the Common Core State Standards. A series of sessions will focus on school safety and security.

Expanded education technology programming will include site visits to the University of San Diego and Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning Center to explore its research laboratory on mobile learning; Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to examine the technology in science education and STEM; Encinitas Union School District to view its One-to-One Digital Learning Program; and the San Diego Zoo to learn about the cutting-edge learning tools used to teach at-risk students. U.S. Navy SEALs will show leadership and team building skills during another workshop.

The meeting also includes one of the largest K-12 educational expositions, with some 300 companies showcasing their innovative products and services for school districts.

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.

It’s not too late to register, visit the Annual Conference website for  more information.

Panel discusses research and relevancy of school boards

NSBA  brought its executive director and two researchers to debate the relevancy of school board governance on Monday at its Federal Relations Network (FRN) conference. For audience members, though, there was no question that school boards are not just relevant, but a much-needed democratic institution.

One big challenge is the public’s lack of understanding the role that school boards play, said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s new executive director. He emphasized that school board members hold official roles, not volunteer positions.

“We need to tell our stories about what the issues are,” he said.

Thomas Alsbury, professor of educational administration and supervision at Seattle Pacific University, has studied governance in other countries, most recently Taiwan. He said centralized control often leads to a less equitable education, fewer entrepreneurial programs, and overzealous focus on standardized test scores—a fact not lost on more than 600 members in the audience. Alsbury said some countries are looking to the U.S. for guidance in revamping their school governance structures.

“The local school board has it right—they understand what communities need,” said Alsbury, author of The Future of School Board Governance: Relevance and Revelation.

Cynthia G. Brown, vice president for education policy at the Washington-based think tank Center for American Progress, was more critical. “Are [school boards] still relevant? Maybe,” she said. “It’s up to you to decide whether you want to remain relevant.”

Brown, who has advocated for more equitable state school funding formulas, believes school boards must do more to ensure equitable funding, services, and opportunities for all students. To remain relevant, she advised attendees to focus on student achievement and closing achievement gaps by implementing a strong curriculum and strengthening the role of teachers.

“The reality is the quality of a student’s education is dictated by their zip code, where they live, and that’s not your fault,” she said. But Brown riled the crowd when she insinuated that school boards do not distribute funding equitably within their districts and that state officials should control budgets and finance.

Gentzel and Alsbury noted that giving up fiscal responsibilities would erode local control, as state officials would use the purse strings to control other programs.

Alsbury noted that other countries funnel most of their funding to top-performing students, who are also most likely to be represented on international assessments. “The least equitable are the countries that are getting the top scores” on TIMSS and other international assessments, Alsbury said.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 28th, 2013|Categories: Assessment, Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Research|Tags: , , , |

Facts on vouchers to counter National School Choice Week

As the National School Choice Week begins, the Voucher Strategy Center at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) recommends several resources to counter arguments for vouchers and the privatization of K-12 education.

Patte Barth, director of NSBA’s Center for Public Education (CPE), recently wrote an editorial for the Huffington Post outlining many of the problems with vouchers and other forms of choice that do not hold private and parochial schools accountable for their students’ learning. In  “School Choice Does Not Mean All Choices are Equal,” Barth  discusses recent research that shows many school options have not lived up to their promises, and instead merely drain resources and funds from each community’s public schools.

Barth also wrote a blog for CPE’s EDifier this week discussing recent allegations that a cybercharter school in Pennsylvania inflated enrollment numbers to gain taxpayer funds.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) is promoting a Twitter hashtag, #Vouchersfail, to share stories where school vouchers have proven problematic.

The AU has also set up a website, www.au.org/voucherFAIL, with research debunking propaganda being put forth by voucher proponents.

“No matter their motivation, these organizations share the same goal: shifting as many tax resources as possible from the public school system, which serves 90 percent of America’s schoolchildren, to private academies that play by their own rules and aren’t accountable to the taxpayer. Proponents of ‘School Choice Week’ would rather not talk about the many problems inherent in voucher programs,” the website states.

The Voucher Strategy Center also has resources and articles on the evolving field of school choice.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 26th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Center for Public Education, Charter Schools, Conferences and Events, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, Governance, Online learning, Policy Formation, Privatization, Public Advocacy, Religion, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , , |

High school graduation rates rise, but NSBA researcher questions rigor

Public schools got good news this week when the National Center for Education Statistics reported that the nation’s four-year high school graduation rate has surged to 78 percent, the highest it has been since 1974. The federal report also showed increases in the numbers of students for every racial category, particularly Hispanic students.

Allison Gulamhussein, intern at the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education, has analyzed the report and notes that, “while we as a nation should certainly take pride in the fact that the year 2010 ushered in a greater percentage of graduates, such celebration shouldn’t eclipse the reality that increasing the number of diplomas without knowing the level of rigor those diplomas represent could be a fool’s errand.”

Read more of the analysis in CPE’s Edifier blog.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 24th, 2013|Categories: Center for Public Education, Dropout Prevention, Educational Research, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Student Achievement|Tags: , , |

School choice doesn’t lead to equal choices, CPE director writes for Huffington Post

Patte Barth, director of the Center for Public Education at the National School Boards Association, writes about the perils of the school choice movement in a new blog for the Huffington Post. Barth, a leading researcher, takes on claims that more choices lead to a better education for children.

She writes: “Unfortunately, the opportunities choice advocates propose do not bring a guarantee that the choice will be a good one for kids, and it can even be worse. School districts have been experimenting with choices for over 20 years, first in the form of charter schools and vouchers that individuals can take to private schools, and more recently, virtual schools. Clearly, some myth-busting schools of choice have demonstrated that low-income children can absolutely achieve to the highest levels — just as some noteworthy traditional public schools have. But research to date has not produced any evidence that ‘choice and competition’ in itself produces consistently better results.”

With the exception of schools such as KIPP Academies and the Harlem Children’s Zone, many alternative schools have not produced better academic results than the students’ previous schools, Barth notes.

Read the full article in the Huffington Post.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 9th, 2013|Categories: Center for Public Education, Center for Public Education Update, Charter Schools, Educational Finance, Educational Research, Governance, Policy Formation, Privatization, Religion, School Boards, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , |

NSBA report shows how the U.S. can get back on top in college degrees

Although the U.S. ranks near the top of the world in college degrees, it’s quickly losing ground because young adults in other countries are earning credentials at a higher rate, according to a new analysis.

But the U.S. can secure its standing and bolster the nation’s workforce by increasing the number of graduates with two-year degrees–and the jobs and the need for middle-skilled workers are there, reports the National School Board Association’s Center for Public Education.

“When it comes to attainment of four-year degrees, the U.S. surpasses many of the countries believed to be highly educated and ranks second only to Norway,” said Jim Hull, CPE’s senior policy analyst and author of the report. “We now need to focus on improving the 30 percent graduation rate at our two-year institutions, particularly given the calls for a better educated workforce.”

Hull gives a further analysis of the report, “Getting Back to the Top: An International Comparison of College Attainment,” in a commentary for CPE’s Edifier blog.

The U.S. ranks fifth in the world overall in the college attainment of all adults, but ranked 18th in the number of two-year degrees, Hull’s analysis of 41 countries found. Hull noted in a press conference that while international rankings may not seem to be important, the issue of college attainment is critically important to the health of the nation’s economy.

The U.S. has more older adults with college degrees than other countries. Meanwhile younger adults in a number of other countries are earning college degrees at much greater rates than young Americans, ages 25 to 34, Hull noted. The number of Americans with four-year degrees has remained stable over time, at about one-third of the population, while other countries now see significantly more young adults graduate with four-year degrees.

School board members and administrators can help prepare their students for post-secondary education by providing all students access to rigorous curriculum and the support they need to succeed in high-level, high school courses. They should also invest in well-trained counselors to help students with their after-graduation plans, including finding a post-secondary institution that best matches their goals, and collect data on the post-secondary progress of graduates as an indicator of the quality of the high school preparation they received, CPE reports.

Read the complete report at CPE’s website.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 6th, 2012|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Center for Public Education, Center for Public Education Update, Dropout Prevention, Educational Research, High Schools|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 www.nsba.org/charterschools. Please contact Katherine Shek, NSBA’s legislative analyst  with questions or suggestions.

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