Articles in the Policy Formation category

“Myths and lies” threaten public schools, renowned researcher David Berliner says

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David C. Berliner  participated in a no-holds-barred interview with the Arizona School Boards Association.

David C. Berliner, Regents Professor Emeritus of education at Arizona State University (ASU) and co-author of the recently released book “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools,” recently spoke with the Arizona School Boards Association‘s (ASBA) Arizona Education News Service. Berliner discusses the policies, practices and popular beliefs that he believes are the greatest threats to Arizona’s public schools and shares his thoughts on how schools can better serve children. His co-author was Gene V. Glass, also a Regents Professor Emeritus of education at ASU.

The following question-and-answer session is republished with permission from ASBA.

Q: What three policies, practices and popular beliefs mentioned in the book affect Arizona’s public schools most?

A: The first and most important myth is that American students do not do well in international competition, which shows how poor our schools are. This is complete nonsense.

If you start to break up the scores of kids on the tests into five groups – one of which are kids that go to schools where less than 10 percent of the families are in poverty, and another group of schools where less than 25 percent of kids are in poverty –in the last big international test scores, the PISA, those kids actually scored among the best in the world.

In reading, they scored almost better than anyone else. Even in mathematics, which is not our strongest area in the U.S., they scored terrific.

It’s the other end of the spectrum – kids who go to schools where there are over 50 percent in poverty or at schools where there are over 75 percent of kids in poverty – they’re doing terrible.

The blanket statement that our schools don’t do well is factually incorrect.

The proper statement is that some of our schools are not doing well, and almost all of them are schools where poverty is endemic.

The second one that I would touch on is the absolutely stupid policy passed by our Legislature (Move on When Reading) to hold kids back if they are not reading well in third grade.

There is no better set of research in education than in that area. We know quite factually, as certainly as we know evolution and as well as we know global warming, that leaving a child back is a wrong decision for almost all of them. It’s a mistake.

The child who is left back has a much higher chance of dropping out of school. They don’t like school. When those students are interviewed, they call up the equivalent of wetting their pants in school, or losing a parent, or going blind. It’s a horrible occurrence for the family.

What’s more, the state has committed itself to putting in another approximately $8,000 because to leave that child back, means one more year of elementary school.

If they used that $8,000 for tutoring of the kid, you wouldn’t have to leave the kid back. The kid wouldn’t drop out of high school. The kid wouldn’t be a negative force in classrooms and wouldn’t be overage for their grade. You’d be much better off.

The third one I’d suggest is one promulgated by Arizona’s own Goldwater Institute, in which the president of the Goldwater Institute says early childhood education is no good.

She is factually wrong.

There are studies out showing that for all kids high-quality early childhood education makes a difference in their lives and for poor kids in particular it has really profound effects.

Those are three areas where Arizona, in particular, has got it all wrong.

Q: Which specific funding issues identified in the book need to be addressed most urgently and how?

A: There are a number of parts to this. Number one, teacher salaries in Arizona have gone way down. Other states, while they had to rescind some salaries during the recession, have restored them. During the recession, Massachusetts’ teachers’ salaries went up.

You cannot attract the best and the brightest to the field even if they want to be teachers, if you don’t pay them enough for the starting salary.

Maybe even worse for the long-term in Arizona is that state funding for the three state universities has gone straight down for the last 20 years while the demand for higher education and the demand for educated workers is up.

You can’t have a future in a knowledge economy without people possessing knowledge.

Also, we have not restored the funding that the state gives to school districts either. So we’ve had to cancel art and music classes, we’ve had to cancel a lot of special services for kids who need them, and after school programs, etc.

Not only have you hurt who you can attract to the field, but you’ve actually hurt the systems themselves.

Funding matters a lot. Other states are way, way ahead of us.

Q: You have identified a group of college-and-career ready “myths and lies.” What is the most prevalent issue related to this that you identify in the book?

A: We don’t think most people know what career- and college-ready means.

What we need is certainly a literate workforce, a numerate workforce, a scientifically literate workforce, but we’ve always needed that. I don’t think that’s anything new.

What we really need to save our state and our nation is a population that takes its role in citizenship seriously. We are more likely to lose our pre-eminence as a nation because of apathetic voters than anything else.

Q: How can schools better serve children?

A: Schools could be better if they were, in our more modern times, more encompassing of the child.

That means more after-school programs, because lots of families are not home for kids after school. It could be homework areas for kids with tutors, it could be sports, it could be music, it could be art.

There’s a fascinating study that says when people reach the age of 55 or so, which is usually around the peak earning parts of their lives, people who have studied the humanities out-earn people who have gone into business.

But what we see all over America is the cutting of the humanities – less government, less history, less art, less music.

What we’re doing is cutting off our humanities, when we need to keep them. We need the journalism club. We need the music classes. We need the art classes. That would make some schools better, but it also makes kids want to go to school.

I bet very few kids want to go to school to study mathematics. I bet lots of kids want to go to school to be part of the music program, the art program, and the sports program.

What you want are the hooks to keep kids in school, and those are the ones that we’re getting rid of. Every parent knows this, and every legislator doesn’t care.

Q: “Myths and lies” is a pretty inflammatory title. Why did you choose this as a way to discuss the serious issues facing America’s and Arizona’s public schools?

A: A good deal of what’s promulgated is self interest.

School uniforms companies tell everyone learning improves if you wear uniforms. Not true. Your laundry bill may improve, though.

Other companies sell iPads, and say it will help kids do better in school. Well, there’s no evidence of that.

Another part of it is simple failure to understand the research base. Like the passage of Move on When Reading.

(The interview was edited for length and clarity.)

Joetta Sack-Min|April 23rd, 2014|Categories: Assessment, Curriculum, Data Driven Decision Making, Educational Research, Governance, Policy Formation, Preschool Education, Privatization, Public Advocacy, School Reform, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA makes recommendations on Race to the Top Preschool Development Grants

Lucy Gettman, Director of Federal Programs at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) spoke at a public meeting on the Race to the Top Preschool Development (RTT-Preschool) Grants, which was held at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in Washington, D.C. on March 20.

The public meeting gave an opportunity for several education community voices to go on record with recommendations and priorities for the Department of Education and the Department of Health & Human Services as well as reply to questions from constituents about the upcoming grant competition.

Although ED has rolled out a new website to handle constituent feedback, NSBA wanted to ensure the public would be heard during this process. Gettman urged Department leadership to institute new processes for handling public feedback.

“Given the high interest in and importance of early learning, NSBA first and foremost recommends that implementation of the RTT-Preschool program include a formal Public Comment and rulemaking process through the Federal Register,” said Gettman. “This will ensure reliability for stakeholders submitting Comments, as well as transparency and responsiveness to public input.”

As part of the meeting, Gettman also stated NSBA’s six top-level recommendations to the Department to ensure local governance is getting the support needed to implement. NSBA urges the agencies to:

· Require significant local educational agency involvement in the development and implementation of state RTT-preschool applications;

· Support capacity building for local eligible entities, not just states;

· Refrain from conditioning receipt of funds on development, adoption or implementation of new nationally-recognized standards;

· Preserve local authority with regard to workforce issues;

· Require at least 80 percent of competitive grant funds be disseminated to local eligible entities as sub-grants;

· Publicly release the required report to Congress.

To listen to Gettman’s full statement, please navigate to the 10:00 minute mark on the recorded public meeting.

Learn more about NSBA’s position on early education.

 

 

Staff|March 21st, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Policy Formation, Preschool Education|Tags: , , |

NSBA encouraging school districts to weigh in EPA fluorescent lighting proposed regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering requiring school districts to remove a group of harmful chemicals—Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)—from facilities. PCBs are commonly found in old fluorescent lighting fixtures in public buildings built before 1980, including schools. This proposed regulation could pose significant financial and operational challenges to schools, which would be responsible to identify, inspect and upgrade light fixtures that were installed prior to 1980 to ensure PCBs are eliminated.

The National School Boards Association; AASA, the School Superintendents Association; and the Association of School Business Officials International are collaborating to make sure that the full impact of this proposed regulation is recorded as part of the discussion; we kindly request your assistance. Please take this short survey about district facilities and PCBs by March 17, 2014. Results of the survey will be forwarded to EPA for their consideration.

Alexis Rice|March 7th, 2014|Categories: Policy Formation, Rural Schools, School Buildings, Urban Schools|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 featured in major media on school choice concerns

After Republicans introduced legislation that would allow states to send up to $24 billion in federal funding toward school choice programs, National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel offered a reality check on the performance of charter schools, vouchers, and other measures. Gentzel appeared on Fox News and was quoted in The Washington Post and The New York Times stories on the measure.

“We certainly haven’t seen any consistent evidence anywhere in the country that these kinds of programs are effective or producing better results,” said Gentzel, who appeared on a segment during Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier on the Senate proposal, introduced this week by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has introduced legislation in the House that also would include some students with disabilities and use funds from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Watch the video segment.

In the New York Times article, Gentzel countered proponents of school choice who claim that traditional public schools have not improved fast enough, and that low-income families should have other choices.

“The big issue is really that lack of accountability,” Gentzel told the Times. “Frankly, our view is every child should have access to a great public school where they live.”

In The Washington Post, Gentzel discussed Alexander’s proposal, the “Scholarships for Kids Act,” which would allow states to create $2,100 scholarships from existing federal K-12 programs, including Title I, to “follow” 11 million children whose families meet the federal to any public or private school of their parents’ choice. The total cost would be $24 billion—41 percent of the current federal education allotment.

“School choice is a well-funded and politically powerful movement seeking to privatize much of American education,” he told the Post. “We’re not against public charters, and there are some that are well-motivated. . . . But our goal is that public schools be schools of choice. We need to invest and support public schools, not divert money and attention from them to what amounts, in many cases, to experiments.”

Reginald Felton, NSBA’s Interim Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy, also told Governing magazine that Title I would inevitably face cuts under Lamar’s plan, along with other programs that benefit disadvantaged children. For states that would choose not to opt into the proposed program, that means less money is available for their most vulnerable populations, he said.

“It’s hard for us to believe that a $24 billion reallocation could exist without drastically reducing funding for Title I students,” he told Governing.

The Ohio Schools Boards Association (OSBA) recently showcased how funding to choice programs hurts neighborhood public schools. In its December newsletter, OSBA notes, “Ohio Department of Education data shows traditional public schools will lose more than $870 million in state funding to charter schools in fiscal year (FY) 2014. That’s an increase of 5.4 percent over FY 2013, when approximately $824 million was transferred from traditional public schools to charters. This increase comes amid ongoing reports of charter school mismanagement, conflicts of interest and felony indictments and convictions.”

According to CREDO (Center for Research on Educational Outcomes) research on charters, states that empower multiple authorizing agencies are more likely to report the weakest academic results for charter schools. Local governance – enacted by local school boards – offers transparency and accountability along with a direct focus on student achievement versus profit.

In 2008, 64 percent of Ohio’s charter schools were on academic watch or emergency status, compared to 9 percent of traditional public schools, according to “The Regulation of Charter Schools” in the Jan./Feb. issue of American School Board Journal.

While the state changed its regulations in 2008, ASBJ cites the case of Hope Academy Cathedral, a K-8 charter school in Cleveland, as an example of the loopholes that exist in Ohio’s charter law. The school was ordered to close in 2011 after repeatedly being rated as in “academic emergency.”

Less than two months later, a new K-8 charter — Woodland Academy — opened in the same building, with 15 returning staff members, the same authorizer, and the same for-profit management firm, wrote ASBJ Senior Editor Del Stover. In its first year of operation, the new charter school also was judged to be in academic emergency.

 

 

NCSBA lawsuit challenges constitutionality of voucher law

The following story was written by the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA):

A lawsuit filed on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 in Wake County Superior Court challenges the constitutionality of legislation passed earlier this year that creates a private school voucher program using public funds. Under the legislation, which takes effect in the 2014-15 school year, a private school can receive up to $4,200 in public funding for each eligible student that it enrolls. The legislation does not require that a student struggle academically or attend a poorly performing public school in order to receive a voucher. It also does not require any assurance that public funds will be spent to provide students with an adequate education and one that is offered on a non-discriminatory basis.

The suit was filed by four individual taxpayers, three of whom have children attending public schools, and the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership association that represents all 115 local boards of education in the state and the Board of Education of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation.

The legislation initially appropriates $10 million in public funds. The complaint alleges that public funding will rise to $50 million in future budget cycles.

“This challenge raises important questions about the use of public funds and our commitment to North Carolina’s students,” said Shearra Miller, president of the NCSBA and a member of the Cleveland County Board of Education. “By diverting funding from the public schools, vouchers have the potential to significantly damage individual school systems, particularly in smaller districts. As a local board member, I am concerned about the impact that will have on our students. In addition, the voucher program does not ensure that private schools that receive public funding will adhere to our constitution’s promise that students will have the opportunity to receive a sound basic education and will not face discrimination. Given all of these issues, the NCSBA Board of Directors felt strongly that the organization should raise these questions in court.”

The complaint asserts that the legislation violates the state constitution by:

• Using public dollars for a non-public purpose—private education opportunities outside of the constitutionally required “general and uniform system of free public schools;”

• Failing to require participating private schools to adhere to any substantive educational standards or practice non-discriminatory admissions;

• Diverting public dollars from the State School Fund, which is to be used “exclusively for establishing and maintaining a uniform system of public schools;” and

• Creating a system of selective secondary educational opportunities that denies students equal opportunities.

 

Staff|December 19th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Educational Finance, Policy Formation, School Boards, School Law, School Vouchers, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , |

Sandy Hook tragedy teaches lessons on school security

Thomas J. Gentzel, the Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), reflected on the first anniversary of the Dec. 14, 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. with this statement:

“The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary one year ago shook the nation. Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those in Newtown who were affected on that horrific day.

“One year later, the nation continues to memorialize the 26 adults and children who were killed at the school, support their survivors, grieve, and move forward. For school board members, the urgency of making schools around the country safer and more responsive to future threats is an ongoing imperative and legacy of the Newtown shootings.

“As part of their duties, school boards must ensure that school buildings keep children and school personnel safe without becoming fortresses. In cases of natural disasters and man-made situations, school buildings – equipped with high-occupancy gymnasiums and cafeterias – are often the first shelter, serving as community safe havens and command posts. School boards recognize that even the best emergency preparedness policy is perishable, and they are monitoring and improving their districts’ policies on a routine basis.

“School districts can ensure that parents and the community have a clear and actionable understanding of emergency response plans. One example is parental notification – to clear the path for first responders and their emergency vehicles, parents are often directed to a designated area away from the school where they can safely receive real-time updates.

“Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, there has been much debate on whether armed security guards should be used to protect the nation’s schools, or whether teachers or other school staff should be armed. In cases when a community deems school security is essential, NSBA believes that only sheriff’s deputies and police officers should be hired as school resource officers. Trained to deploy their weapons in the safest way possible and to take action that minimizes collateral damage, sheriff’s deputies and police officers have ‘qualified immunity’ that affords school districts the legal protection they need in case of any unintended consequences that could arise in carrying out their duties.

“As we approach this first anniversary, NSBA joins world and national leaders, state and local governments, community leaders, and people across the country in remembering those affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. Times like these give us great pause because they remind us not only of the fragility of life but also of the bravery and resilience shown by Newtown’s teachers and school administrators, the students and parents, and the first responders on Dec. 14, 2012. Our nation’s 90,000 school board members will honor them as we continue our efforts to educate and protect our school children and school personnel who work in America’s public schools each day.”

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 11th, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Crisis Management, Environmental Issues, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Policy Formation, School Buildings, School Climate, School Security|Tags: , , , , , |

U.S. Department of Education official discusses federal education priorities with NSBA

A top federal official outlined the U.S. Department of Education’s priorities and upcoming initiatives at the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) 2013-14 Board of Directors meeting on Dec. 6, 2013.

Deborah S. Delisle, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), oversees more than 100 prek-12 programs, including early learning, accountability, mental health, literacy, civic education, and school safety; as well as programs for disadvantaged students, including Title I, and programs for homeless and migrant students.

Delisle emphasized the need for local control and flexibility as she spoke to the group of school board leaders and NSBA staff. She discussed topics including flexibility to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—and noted that there currently there are 37 separate accountability systems. She also touched on college affordability and funding; the increasing number of homeless kids in college; and school climate and safety, including the agency’s Project Serve.

Delisle also discussed the disparate suspension rates among students living in poverty and students with disabilities, a topic of interest to NSBA. She referred to evidence in civil rights data collected by the agency–as an example she spoke of a school that suspended an African-American kindergartener for five days for pulling a fire alarm; a similar incident in another school resulted in a one-day suspension for a student who was white.

And Delisle pointed to the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., as an example of the need for enhanced mental health support.

The Department of Education also is examining ongoing “opportunity and expectation gaps,” and the ongoing need to deal responsibly with equity issues, she noted in her remarks.

NSBA is represented by Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel in bi-monthly meetings with top Department of Education officials and leading education organizations, which include AASA, the School Superintendents Association, National Association of Elementary School Principals, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of State Boards of Education, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The meetings serve as a platform for the groups’ executive leadership to convene to discuss various issues, share new policy and update the entire group on happenings within each organization.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 6th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Leadership, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation|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: |

White House announces new career education program

The White House announced a new $100 million competitive grant program this week that will help educators redesign high schools to better prepare students for high-tech and STEM careers.

The U.S. Department of Labor is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Education to give 25 to 40 Youth CareerConnect grants, part of President Obama’s State of the Union and budget proposals to provide industry-relevant education and skills high school students will need for successful careers. The funding comes from the H1-B visa program.

NSBA is reviewing the details of the programs to assess the operational impact on states and local school districts. Additional comments will be provided as the information becomes available.

According to the White House, the Youth CareerConnect schools will strengthen America’s talent pipeline through: Integrated academic and career-focused learning; work-based learning and exposure to the world of work; robust employer engagement through mentoring and engagement; individualized career and academic counseling; and integration of postsecondary education and training into the high school curriculum.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 21st, 2013|Categories: Educational Research, Educational Technology, Federal Programs, Policy Formation, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: |
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