January is school board recognition month for many states. Taking a bow should be the school board at Community Consolidated School District 15 in Palatine, Ill., which recently won the prestigious Baldrige National Quality Award. The award recognizes District 15′s pursuit of continuous improvement to become a top-quality organization. The district has implemented a wide array of programs and services leading to higher levels of student achievement. Winning a Baldrige award is a “tremendous honor,” District 15 School Board President Louis A. Sands told School Board News. “It’s an indication that we are moving in the right direction. The things we needed to do to apply for the award were things we needed to do anyway. The goal was not to win the award, but to achieve continuous quality improvement.” Words of support for school boards are being published around the country this month. Here is one example from the Franklin County Times in Alabama.
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 Governance category
Although women make up about 75 percent of the public school workforce, only 13 percent of superintendents are women. Some have suggested that bias on the part of school boards plays a part in that gap. “Some school boards are in the dark ages and are not ready to move forward,” Margaret Grogan, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri-Columbia, told the Raleigh News & Observer. American School Board Journal covered this issue in depth, along with the challenges women superintendents face. In a related note, an extensive 2002 survey by NSBA found that 38.9 percent of school board members are female. Why are there so few women superintendents? Tell us what you think.
The Palm Beach Post reports today that Florida’s number one distributor of tax-credit vouchers will no longer participate in the controversial program. FloridaChild, which granted nearly half of the state’s corporate tax-credit vouchers this school year, is under investigation by the state’s chief financial officer, whose recent audit blasted the group and the state’s three voucher programs. The group cited uncertainty in predicting how many vouchers are available from year to year as a reason for its decision to stop granting them. Under the program, groups like FloridaChild receive money from corporations that get a dollar-for-dollar tax break in return. Enrollment in the scandal-rocked program is down more than 30 percent in the past year, which prompted the state legislature to redirect money from vouchers to the state’s public schools, where enrollment increased this year.
Apparently unfazed by the voucher programs’ failings, FloridaChild announced it will lobby for vouchers for all students. The Post reports that many lawmakers are growing weary of the voucher programs’ problems and continue to call for more oversight and less expansion. “The announcement took Republican lawmakers and legislative staff by surprise, with some complaining privately that it was becoming difficult to defend a program that could undergo such radical changes with no one bothering to inform those who are asked to pay for it,” the paper reports. You can follow all voucher developments in Florida and elsewhere at NSBA’s Voucher Strategy Center.
As state legislatures reconvene and governors make state of the state speeches, state school boards associations are speaking out. New Jersey School Boards Association Executive Director Edwina Lee advocates moving the bulk of financial support for schools away from property taxes, in a story from the Associated Press about the New Jersey state of the state speech by Gov. James E. McGreevey. Check out this link at the NJSBA site for further response from Edwina Lee. The governor also pushed for giving working parents two paid days off to deal with sick children or attend parent-teacher conferences, and promised that New Jersey would become the first state to legally require such a benefit.
If you are an educator who recognizes the impact of technology in improving the learning experiences for all students, then you have a contribution to make to NSBA’s T+L2 Conference, Oct. 27-29, 2004. We will focus on empowering school district leaders with the tools and resources to improve and sustain student achievement and support models of continuous improvement. Click here to submit your proposal.
NSBA.org’s School Governance section includes links to a wealth of information on issues school boards need to know about, including NSBA’s important Key Work of School Boards. Stop on by. And you can also spend half a day learning how the Key Work relates to implementing and monitoring No Child Left Behind in a pre-conference workshop at NSBA’s Annual Conference. Join NSBA in Orlando to explore this topic and get yourself up to speed around issues related to student achievement. Click here for all the details.
The Senate returns in less than a week with a big vote on the omnibus federal spending bill that includes D.C. vouchers and too few dollars for America’s public schools. Public school advocates near and far are urging their senators to oppose the measure. The president of the Hawai’i State Parent, Teacher, Student Association penned a blunt letter in the Honolulu Advertiser (see the last item on that page), citing an NSBA poll on D.C. vouchers in the process. NSBA is urging a NO vote on the omnibus spending bill.
The No Child Left Behind Act requires states to ensure all public school teachers are “highly qualified.” NCLB calls for states to set a “high objective uniform state standard of evaluation,” or HOUSSE, a key component in the definition of a highly qualified teacher. The Education Commission of the States has created a state-by-state database of HOUSSE systems. Check out how your state is doing here.
With its first voucher program, enacted last year, already ruled unconstitutional and on hold, some Colorado lawmakers want to create a second one, modeled after Florida’s McKay voucher program for children with disabilities. Voucher advocacy researcher Jay Greene, in a Colorado op-ed says Florida’s program is a great model, citing his own 2003 report. NSBA reviewed that report and found it missed key points.
Today, here is a little of what is known about Florida’s McKay voucher program: There is zero evidence that it has improved academic achievement; 77 percent of the voucher schools do not even offer special education classes; Voucher students surrender their IDEA rights; And the program offers nothing for 98 percent of the state’s students with disabilities.
Lessons to be learned by other states? You bet, but not a program worth replicating.
Montana’s School Renewal Commission is discussing full-day kindergarten as part of its recommendations on providing a quality education, which it will forward to its state legislature. Lance Melton, executive director of the Montana School Boards Association (MTSBA), tells BoardBuzz that the commission is utilizing an adequacy study commissioned, in part, by MTSBA. He also notes that there are four present or former members of the MTSBA board on the Renewal Commission.