Articles in the Leadership category

Call for proposals for NSBA’s 2015 Annual Conference

2015 NSBA Annual Conference

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is requesting proposals for breakout sessions to be conducted during our 75th Annual Conference in Nashville, Tenn., March 21-23. The conference will draw thousands of attendees, exhibitors, and guests representing nearly 1,400 school districts, and will feature distinguished speakers and hundreds of workshops, presentations, and other events that will help school board members develop leadership skills, boost student learning, and improve school districts’ operations.

If your school district or organization has an idea for a high-quality breakout session that focuses on a topic of critical interest to school board members for presentation at this conference, please complete a proposal online by the deadline of Monday, June 16 at 5 p.m. EDT. Only proposals submitted through the online process  will be considered. Breakout sessions will be 30, 45, or 75 minutes in length and will be scheduled throughout the conference.

Proposals are being solicited for the following focus areas:

• Innovations in District Management
• Legal and Legislative Advocacy
• Professional and Personal Development
• School Board/Superintendent Partnerships
• Student Achievement and Accountability
• Technology + Learning Solutions

School board leadership DOES matter

An editorial by Robert Rader, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education:

The Fordham Institute, whose president, Chester Finn, has called the school board “an aberration, an anachronism, an educational sinkhole” that should be put “out of its misery,” recently published a report, “Does School Board Leadership Matter?

It definitely contradicts the spirit of Finn’s previous comments.

The document lists information that we have known ever since the original Iowa Lighthouse Initiative was released: School boards, particularly their attitudes on student learning, are an important element of student success. Other information points us to what we must do to ensure that boards are relevant, effective, and beneficial.

The report comes at a critical time for executive directors from state school boards associations who have been involved in attempting to discern what the board of tomorrow will be like. It gives us an idea of what boards need to do to accomplish their primary goal: increasing student achievement and growth.

I believe it also implicitly supports the idea of boards of education, with all of their warts, is the most effective way in which to govern almost all school districts.

Report authors Arnold F. Shober and Michael T. Hartney started with information from “a national [2009] survey of 900 school board members situated across 417 unique school districts.” They combined this information with demographic and student achievement data for the same districts.

Here’s what they found. The bolded sentences below indicate findings from the study. Other comments are mine.

1. Board members, by and large, possess accurate information about their districts and adopt work practices that are generally similar across districts. But there is little consensus about which goals should be central.

The fact that board members have good information about their districts is a hugely significant fact. Without such data, whether provided by the administration or by other board members or from the community is central to making good decisions.

Unfortunately, while the report states that in school finance, teacher pay, collective bargaining, and class size board members have “reasonable knowledge of district conditions,” they “appear less knowledgeable about the rigor (or lack thereof) of academic standards in their respective state.”

2. Districts that are more successful academically have board members who assign high priority to improving student learning. School boards that comprise a higher proportion of members who have an academic focus are, all else being equal, more likely to govern districts that “beat the odds”—that is, districts whose students perform better academically than one would expect, given their demographic and financial characteristics.

Thirty years ago, the focus of boards across the country was on issues such as collective bargaining, the termination of underperforming teachers, and fiscal matters. Today, more focus is on student achievement, measured in standardized test scores and in other ways. However, we still have not identified what those “other ways” are. The public basically only sees and reacts to the test results.

Districts that are “punching above their weights” (my phrase), are those that have embraced raising student achievement as the central goal of the board. While all boards are affected by such factors as politics, funding, and other issues, those that focus on academics do the best, which is what the original Lighthouse study taught us a decade ago.

On the other hand, the study is based on the 2009 survey. I would hope that today, with all of the discussion of Common Core and five more years of discussion of increasing student achievement, there would be an even stronger recognition of the importance of increasing achievement.

3. Political moderates tend to be more informed than liberals and conservatives when it comes to money matters; educators and former educators are less informed.

This is a particularly interesting finding. While the report found “strong evidence that both knowledge and focus are shaped by board members’ occupational background and political ideology,” which is no surprise, it also found that political liberals “are more likely than moderates or conservatives to place less focus on improving student learning, believing instead that schools serve many goals.”

On the other hand, conservatives “do not subscribe to either an academic or plural focus, suggesting that their priorities may lie in financial stewardship (or other matters) rather than in student learning or other outcomes.”

4. At-large, on-cycle elections are associated with districts that beat the odds.

This would appear to be good news for Connecticut, where almost all school board elections occur in conjunction with general elections. The report did not examine the effect of board members running on political lines, which comes with its own benefits and disadvantages.

This study indicates a need to keep our eye on the prize: higher academic achievement for all of our students. It reminds us that board members must become as knowledgeable as possible on understanding relevant data, as well as best practices and current education trends.

In most cases, board members do not join boards as experts in education and, as the study shows, those who do, do not necessarily focus on student achievement. But, the board members who are determined to learn more and, I would add, get involved in regional and statewide opportunities for learning, provide their districts with the value that will make their boards and their students even more successful than they are now.

And in this competitive world, every little bit helps.

Staff|April 29th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Key Work of School Boards, Leadership, State School Boards Associations, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

NSBA elects board leaders: Anne M. Byrne of New York to serve as president

School board leader Anne M. Byrne of New York’s Nanuet Union Free School District was named the 2014-15 President of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) at the association’s Annual Conference in New Orleans.

John D. Tuttle of Oklahoma’s Kellyville Public Schools was elected President-elect and Miranda Beard of Mississippi’s Laurel School District was elected Secretary-Treasurer by NSBA’s 150-member Delegate Assembly. Additionally, David A. Pickler of Tennessee’s Shelby County Schools, who served as the 2013-2014 President, will now serve as Immediate Past President.

Byrne has been a member of the Nanuet Union Free School Board for 32 years and has served as Vice President and President. She has served as President and Vice President of the Rockland County School Boards Association. She is also an executive board member and a past President of the Mid-Hudson School Study Council. She is a founding member of the Hudson-Long Island Coalition for responsible state funding, a nine-county coalition, and served as its chair.

In addition, Byrne has served as President during 2004-2005 followed by a term as Immediate Past President of the New York State School Boards Association. Byrne joined the National School Boards Association’s Board of Directors in 2006.

In the one-year term as NSBA President, Byrne plans to help NSBA become a “reservoir of research” for how engaged school boards positively affect student achievement. Byrne spoke at Annual Conference about how she wants NSBA to become an even greater advocate for public education.

“Research very clearly says that if a school board expects each child in their district to be successful and they devote the time, it happens. But school boards have to have that vision first,” said Byrne. “Once we make the decision to focus on leading children to excellence and turning around low-performing schools, we have an opportunity to change the conversation about public schools with the media and the public.”

NSBA’s Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel praised Byrne’s dedication to public education and school board governance.

“As a committed advocate for student achievement and school improvement, Anne Byrne is a champion for delivering quality education for all children starting at the local level,” said Gentzel. “Anne is the type of leader who will stand up for public education and engage in productive dialogue with school boards about how we can help all children to succeed.”

NSBA’s Delegate Assembly also elected the following school board members as regional directors to NSBA’s Board:

• ElizaBeth D. Branham of South Carolina’s Lexington School District Two was elected as a Southern Region Director;

• Anne Ritter of Idaho’s Meridian Joint School District #2 was elected as a Western Region Director;

• Viola Garcia of Texas’s Aldine Independent School District Board Member was elected as a Southern Region Director; and

• Charles Wilson, of Ohio’s Worthington School District was elected as a Central Region Director.

Serving as NSBA ex-officio directors on the NSBA Board for 2014-2015 will be: Van Henri White of New York’s Rochester City School District as the Chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education; Ellis A. Alexander of Louisiana’s St. Charles Parish Public Schools as Chair of the National Black Caucus of School Boards; Guillermo Z. Lopez of Michigan’s Lansing Public School District as Chair of the National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members; Gregory J. Guercio of New York’s Law Offices of Guercio & Guercio, LLP as the Chair of the Council of School Attorneys; Karen Echeverria of the Idaho School Boards Association as the Chair of the Organization of State Association Executive Directors’ Liaison Committee; and NSBA’s Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|April 10th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Board governance, Governance, Leadership, NSBA Annual Conference 2014|Tags: , , , , , , , |

CUBE elects new leadership at NSBA Annual Conference

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) has elected new leaders and members to its Steering Committee.

Van Henri White of New York’s Rochester City School District was elected Chair and Harium Martin-Morris of Washington’s Seattle Public Schools was elected Vice Chair. Minnie Forte-Brown of Durham Public Schools in North Carolina, who served as 2013-14 Chair, is now Immediate Past Chair.

“I am humbled to have this opportunity to advocate and organize on behalf of the urban families, students, and staff of this nation,” said White. “While we have made some significant strides forward, we still have a ways to go to ensure that every child has access to a quality public education. The Council of Urban Boards of Education is committed to that end and we will not rest until that goal is realized for every child.”

White is the President of the Board of Education in Rochester City School District and has served on the school board since 2007. He is also an author, civil rights attorney, and founder of the Center for the Study of Civil and Human Rights Laws.  White is an outspoken advocate for improving school safety, boosting graduation rates, decreasing truancy, and addressing the sources of lead poisoning and the impact it can have on children’s brain development. He is the author of Frustration in America, which examines the impact of racism and responsibility of African-American men and boys and Marching Forward by Looking Back: Fifty Years Since the March on Washington.

Martin-Morris, a former classroom teacher, was elected to the Seattle School Board in 2007 and is a member of the school board’s Audit and Finance Committee. He also is the Chair of the Washington State School Directors Association’s Urban Suburban Task Force. Martin-Morris has served on the CUBE Steering Committee of since 2009.

“While the road ahead is long and hard with many turns, I am excited to take on the role as Vice Chair,” said Martin-Morris.  “We truly are in a battle in this country to provide excellence and equity for all students.”

The following school board members also were elected this year to serve on CUBE’s 16-member Steering Committee:

  • Bruce Alexander (incumbent) of Ohio’s Akron Public Schools;
  • Willetta Milam (incumbent) of Ohio’s Cleveland Municipal School District;
  • Nandi Seko of the U.S. Virgin Island’s Board of Education;
  • JulieMarie Shepherd of Colorado’s Aurora Public Schools;
  • Patsy Taylor of Texas’s Fort Bend Independent School District.

“The leaders of the Council of Urban Boards of Education have strong experience in advancing urban education, and we are proud of their deep commitment to aiding the work of urban school boards so that all students can succeed,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of NSBA.

CUBE supports urban school boards and fosters effective leadership for excellence and equity in public education, with a specific focus on underrepresented students. CUBE provides educational opportunities that engage urban school districts and district leaders, working through their state school boards associations, while addressing challenges in urban centers. CUBE represents nearly 100 urban school districts in 35 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The districts that comprise CUBE educate nearly 7.5 million students in over 12,000 schools, with a collective budget of approximately $99 billion.

“Every American citizen should have the opportunity to be a part of the American dream,” said Ruth Veales, the head of this year’s CUBE Nominating Committee and a school board member from Oklahoma City Public Schools. “To achieve this dream, it is imperative that we empower every school with the proper tools to give their students the quality education that they so deserve. The Council of Urban Boards of Education’s new Steering Committee consists of dedicated urban school board leaders throughout our great nation who will aid in our work of ensuring that all students get a quality education, so that they too can be included in the American dream.”

For more information on CUBE, please visit www.nsba.org/cube.

Joetta Sack-Min|April 10th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, CUBE, Leadership, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , , |

Video: NSBA’s President-Elect previews the final day at the 2014 Annual Conference

On the preview video for the last day of the National School Boards Association’s 2014 Annual Conference, NSBA President-Elect Anne M. Byrne introduces the “new and unconventional” morning General Session, which features three speakers: Bestselling author Nikhil Goyal will present the student’s perspective on transforming schools; education and technology consultant Angela Maiers will share how literacy changes lives; and former English teacher and author Erin Gruwell, will talk about how her teaching experience inspired the movie Freedom Writers.

At the final General Session, author, life coach, and leadership catalyst, Simon T. Bailey will present techniques formulated to bring out brilliance in yourself and your organization while getting actionable takeaways that produce sustainable results.

Byrne will assume leadership as President at the end of the conference, and she welcomed attendees to join her on the “journey toward leading children to excellence.”

Additionally, there will be a General Session from 11am with basketball legend, entrepreneur, and public school advocate, Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Watch the video:

Alexis Rice|April 6th, 2014|Categories: Leadership, Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards|Tags: , |

NSBA highlights international student travel concerns

Mark Blom Senior Staff Attorney for National School Boards Association (NSBA) presented a preview of a comprehensive policy guide for school boards on International Student Travel (IST), during a session on “What School Boards Need to Know About Student Travel” held Sunday, April 6 at the NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference in New Orleans.

It is estimated that over 100,000 U.S. students travel abroad each year in groups touring and learning about the various countries and cultures of the world. The session and corresponding guide are aimed at raising awareness of important legal concerns and ensure school board leaders can ask the right questions and spot potential problems before students reach the departure gate.

Although IST offers enriching experiences for participants, a lack of clarity about responsibility can create legitimate liability for the school district, no matter the district’s perceived involvement in the trip. If a parent of a student harmed on a trip has a legitimate expectation that the school sponsored the trip—through its employees—the school district faces the costs of litigation, possible settlement, and judgment, in addition to adverse publicity.

The report lists the three types of IST and provides guidance on the recommended district-led policies for each.

A. School sponsored and school district managed: The tour is school sponsored, and the school district manages the tour. The school district arranges all aspects of the trip—itinerary, travel arrangements, lodging, tours, restaurants, local guides, ground transportation, etc.

B. School sponsored and tour company managed: The tour is school sponsored, and the school district contracts with a tour company to manage the trip.

C. Non-school sponsored: A tour takes place involving students of the district, perhaps even with a teacher serving as the host, but the trip is not sponsored by the district. These are purely private trips.

In addition, the report promotes better understanding of outside tour companies, insurance policies, and academic credit programs.

Alexis Rice|April 6th, 2014|Categories: Leadership, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , , |

Author and speaker outlines the traits of a good leader

Leadership researcher and author John Spence’s Focus on Education session at NSBA’s Annual Conference Saturday offered several ways to figure out if you’re a good leader.

Spence based his information on his own research and others in the business world to define the qualities of good leaders.

* Character. People want leaders who are honest and forward-looking, he said. Be good at your job skills as well as being good at leadership skills. “If if you aren’t committed and engaged, no one else is either,” he said.

* Courage. People want leaders who have the courage to think big, to be bold, to speak the truth, to make great things happen, and to be vulnerable.

* Communications. People expect their leaders to be great communicators. More importantly, he said, leaders ask great questions and listens.” Authenticity is important — be the real you.

* Trust. Consistently communicate that you’re competent and you care, he said. “How long does it take to build up trust like this? A long time. How long does it take to lose it? Minutes.”

* Collaboration. “This is a big idea,” he said. “We have two things to compete with — the quality and talent of the people on the team and the relationships that they have with their customers.”

* Competency. Good leaders have a commitment to lifelong learning.

* Compassion. People feel safe – physically, psychologically, and emotionally. “If they don’t feelsafe, they don’t bring their full selves to their jobs,” he said.

* Contribution: Many people do what’s easy and convenient, he said, but leaders do what’s right and what is best.”

Spence asked audience members to write a list of what kind of leader they wanted to be, and to take those lists home and share them with their board colleagues and others.

“Our entire country is watching you,” he said. “You are one of the legs that holds up the entire country. We are focused on your leadership ability and your success. We are watching you and depending on you to be the best leaders you can be.”

 

Kathleen Vail|April 5th, 2014|Categories: Leadership, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards|Tags: , |

NSBA and coalition members preview pushout crisis policy guide

According to research, every student who leaves high school without a diploma costs society hundreds of thousands of dollars over the student’s lifetime in lost income. Despite impressive gains in U.S. graduation rates recently, far too many young people, mainly students of color from educationally and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and communities, are leaving school without a high school diploma or severely underprepared for college level work.

During one Saturday’s sessions at the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) 2014 Annual Conference, entitled “Using Data and Community Partnerships to End the School Pushout Crisis,” speakers touched on the pushout crisis—when students leave school before graduation because of a system and community that is not committed to their success. In the session, experts previewed a policy guide for school board members on not only how to identify the warning signs for students at risk of dropping out but also how to engage various community partners in developing opportunities and support strategies.

The session is a joint endeavor of NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education, National Black Caucus, National Hispanic Caucus, and National Caucus of American Indian/Alaska Native.

Presented by Patte Barth, Director of NSBA’s Center for Public Education; Judith Browne-Dianis, Co-Director of the Advancement Project; and Sandra Kwasa, Director of Board Development for the Illinois Association of School Boards, the session was aimed at explaining the evidence on the pushout crisis and illustrating the role of individualized learning plans, often called Personal Opportunity Plans (POPs), and community school designs as a way to deliver more personalized and tailored resources directly to students.

The guide, to be released later this month, will provide school board members with a blueprint for better-coordinated support and opportunity systems for children and families, in partnership with key stakeholders, so all children can benefit from a POP. School board members can help lead a policy vision for public schools, in partnership with community partners, school administrators, and teachers unions, placing student learning and growth at the center of communities, from cradle to career.

Alexis Rice|April 5th, 2014|Categories: Leadership, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |

NSBA’s Technology Innovation Showcase introduces promising solutions

Challenge yourself to think differently as you meet this year’s Technology Innovation Showcase companies. This morning there was an overview from the six honorees in a fast-paced session hosted by the Technology Leadership Network during NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference. Facilitated by NSBA’s Director of Education Technology Ann Flynn and Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steven Webb, these emerging companies shared their technology-supported solutions that address education challenges they identified. Companies for this 2nd annual Showcase were selected by a panel of NSBA’s previous “20 to Watch” educators from dozens of submissions as some of the promising solutions on the K-12 horizon. One year later the success of companies named to the 2013 Showcase, like GuideK12 and Globaloria, suggests NSBA’s review teams really have an eye for good solutions!

This year’s honorees offer new approaches to differentiated reading (Books That Grow), communications during emergency situations (Share911), robotic kits (BirdBrain Technologies), teacher evaluations (Standard For Success), mobile hotspots (Kajeet, Inc.), and personalized yearbooks (TreeRing). These solutions can save districts money, offer more efficient ways to accomplish tasks, and create more meaningful engagement and memories for students. Don’t miss this opportunity to take some of most innovative ideas back to your district. To learn more about the companies, they are located in the Technology Showcase Pavilion, booths 1855 – 1865 in the Exhibit Hall.

Alexis Rice|April 5th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, Leadership, NSBA Annual Conference 2014|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys elects new leadership

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of School Attorneys (COSA), the national network of attorneys representing K-12 public school districts whose mission is to support school attorneys and provide leadership in legal advocacy for public schools, elected new leaders and directors during its annual meeting in New Orleans. The 22-member Board of Directors oversees COSA’s continuing legal education programming and working groups for its 3,000+ members across the United States and Canada.

Gregory J. Guercio became Chair; he is founding partner of the Farmingdale, N.Y., law firm of Guercio & Guercio, LLP and received his law degree from St. John’s University, School of Law.

Justin D. Petrarca became Chair-elect; he is a partner with the Chicago, Ill. firm of Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, and received his J.D. from the John Marshall Law School.

Andrew M. Sanchez became Vice-Chair; he is a partner in the Albuquerque, N.M. office of Cuddy & McCarthy, and received his law degree from George Washington University Law School.

Pilar Sokol became Secretary.  She is the Deputy General Counsel of the New York State School Boards Association in Latham, N.Y.  Sokol is a graduate of Albany Law School.

“This is an exciting time for COSA and NSBA.  COSA’s new leadership represents the top education law attorneys across the country, ensuring that NSBA will continue to be the nation’s foremost legal advocate for public schools,” said Francisco M. Negrón, Jr., NSBA’s General Counsel.

COSA also elected four new directors to two-year terms: Joy Baskin is the Director of Legal Services of the Texas Association of School Boards; Kathleen S. Mehfoud is a partner at Reed Smith L.L.P. in Richmond, Virginia; W. Joseph Scholler is a member with Frost Brown Todd LLC in West Chester, Ohio; and Patricia J. Whitten is a partner at Franczek Radelet P.C. in Chicago, Ill.

In addition, COSA elected four directors to a second two-year term:  Séamus Boyce is a partner with Church, Church, Hittle & Antrim in Noblesville, Ind.; Danielle Haindfield is a partner in the Des Moines, Iowa firm of Ahlers & Cooney, P.C.; Phillip L. Hartley is managing partner of the Gainesville, Ga. law firm of Harben, Hartley & Hawkins, LLP, and General Counsel for the Georgia School Boards Association; and Anne H. Littlefield is a partner with the Hartford, Conn. firm of Shipman & Goodwin, LLP.

“The council’s new leaders are accomplished school law practitioners and dedicated advocates on behalf of public schools,” said Elizabeth Eynon-Kokrda, past COSA Chair and head of this year’s nominating committee. “Together, they bring deep and rich legal experience and tremendous energy to the organization.”

Formed in 1967, the NSBA Council of School Attorneys provides information and practical assistance to attorneys who represent public school districts. It offers legal education, specialized publications, and a forum for exchange of information, and it supports the legal advocacy efforts of the National School Boards Association. 

Alexis Rice|April 5th, 2014|Categories: Leadership, School Boards, School Law|Tags: , , |
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