Articles in the Policy Formation category

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: , , , |

Fiscal cliff deal still leaves K-12 funding in limbo

Education funding received a two-month reprieve from across-the-board budget cuts under the fiscal cliff measure passed by Congress this week. The National School Boards Association is continuing its campaign during this critical time to protect K-12 programs from the proposed cuts that could significantly harm public education.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign a measure that would relieve many of the individual tax increases that were scheduled to go into effect on January 2 in plans to avoid the nation’s debt ceiling. The deal reached by House and Senate leaders and the White House in the final hours of 2012 delayed the issue of the across-the-board budget cuts, also known as sequestration, for federal agencies until early March.

“The pressure is now increasing on members of Congress to start identifying areas that can be cut,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy. “NSBA will be on Capitol Hill continuously lobbying legislators to protect education funding, as public schools cannot withstand any further cuts without significantly impacting their academic programs and student achievement.”

Working with NSBA and its state school boards associations, more than 600 school districts now have passed “stop sequestration” resolutions urging lawmakers to protect K-12 education funding as an investment in the nation’s economy.

Learn more about sequestration and the Budget Control Act of 2011, and actions that school board members can take to advocate for their school districts, at NSBA’s Stop Sequestration web page.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 3rd, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation|Tags: , |

School board leaders urge Washington officials to resolve the fiscal cliff

Sequestration is scheduled to take effect in three weeks, and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging President Barack Obama and members of Congress to do everything in their power to protect K-12 education programs from the automatic budget cuts.

NSBA held a press call on Dec. 12 with school board members in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio to detail the impact of the so-called fiscal cliff on their schools. Those across-the-board cuts to federal spending, including education funds, are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 2, 2013 unless Congress and the White House can negotiate a new budget plan.

“This is a political failure that could lead to an educational catastrophe,” said NSBA President-elect David A. Pickler, a member of the Shelby County (Tenn.) Board of Education. “It would have the most profound impact on our most fragile and at-risk students,” given that the two largest federal K-12 programs—Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—benefit disadvantaged students and students with disabilities, he added.

Using budget figures from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, NSBA’s legislative advocacy department estimates public education would see cuts of about $4 billion in the next academic year; locally, that adds up to about $82,000 from every $1 million in federal funds that a school district receives. NSBA’s Director of Federal Legislation Deborah Rigsby noted that the cuts would continue for the next 10 budget cycles, and schools may also see ensuing cuts from state and local budgets.

School board members said that those cuts would lead to larger class sizes, cuts to research-based academic supplemental programs, after-school activities and summer school, and many extracurricular programs. And more teacher and staff layoffs will further hinder economic growth.

“We have tolerated cut after cut after cut,” said John Pennycuff, a school board member in Winton Woods City Schools in Cincinnati. Ohio schools have not seen state funding increase since 2009, and his teachers and superintendent have not received raises in several years, he said. At the same time, the poverty rate in his school district has increased 70 percent and the number of English Language learners has quadrupled.

Pennycuff urged his representative, Speaker of the House John Boehner, “Please do not do this to my students.”

If sequestration occurs, “All the advancements we’ve made in various reforms across the state will go into regression, almost overnight,” said NSBA President C. Ed Massey, a member of the Boone County (Ky.) Board of Education. “If we lose this ground, it will take decades to overcome.”

More than 430 school boards across the country have passed resolutions asking Congress and the White House to spare education funding from federal cuts.

To learn more about NSBA’s efforts and see sample resolutions, editorials, and other materials, go to the Stop Sequestration webpage at www.nsba.org/stopsequestration.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 12th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Governance, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, School Boards|Tags: , , , |

NSBA President writes about Louisiana voucher ruling

C. Ed Massey, president of the National School Boards Association, has written “Lessons Gleaned from the Louisiana School Voucher Ruling” for the Transforming Learning blog. The blog is a project of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of 16 national level education organizations, and hosted by Education Week.

Massey wrote, “While this particular battle is far from over — Gov. Bobby Jindal and State Superintendent John White have vowed to appeal — this decision is a major victory for all school boards and public education advocates across the United States. (NSBA) supported our state affiliate, the Louisiana School Boards Association, because we saw the case as a direct threat to public education. The pro-school choice advocates were flooded with outside money and have put forth a sophisticated public relations operation.”

Massey is also a member of the Boone County (Ky.) Schools Board of Education. Read more at Transforming Learning.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 11th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Governance, Policy Formation, Privatization, Religion, School Law, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA takes first round of “Stop Sequestration” resolutions to Capitol Hill

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel presented Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) with more than 360 resolutions that have been passed by local school boards across the country urging Congress to stop sequestration. During the December 4 meeting, Gentzel thanked Murray for her efforts and stated the concerns of local school boards regarding the impact of the impending federal budget cuts, also known as the “fiscal cliff.”

Thomas Gentzel and Sen. Patty Murray

Murray, a former school board member and a strong supporter of public education, is a key player in the debates on dealing with the proposed federal budget cuts, having co-chaired the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction. In the upcoming the 113th Congress, she will chair the Senate Budget Committee.

In addition to the private meeting with Murray, NSBA staff also met with and presented the first round of resolutions to key House and Senate offices, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The resolutions were also presented to the White House on November 30.

NSBA received comments from both members of Congress and the Obama administration expressing a great appreciation for the resolutions and the details of the impact the budget cuts would have on local schools. White House and Congressional staff also noted an editorial published in the Capitol Hill newspaper Politico from NSBA President C. Ed Massey, which details how the across-the-board cuts would affect school districts.

NSBA’s Stop Sequestration webpage has more information on the proposed cuts, sample resolutions for school boards, and tools that school boards can use in local advocacy efforts to contact members of Congress and raise the level of awareness about sequestration in local communities. As the negotiations continue NSBA will continue to lobby members of Congress to “amend the Budget Control Act to mitigate the drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities, and to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness.”

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 5th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA to Court: School officials must be given flexibility in handling student harassment

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to rule that school districts should not be held financially liable for harassment related to a student’s disability if school officials took appropriate steps to stop it.

NSBA, along with the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA), the Alabama School Boards Association, and the Georgia School Superintendents Association, has filed an amicus brief in Long v. Murray County School District asking the court to uphold the standard set forth in the U.S. Supreme Court case Davis v. Monroe when determining whether school officials are liable under federal civil rights laws for peer harassment. The Davis precedent allows victims to collect monetary compensation when school officials are deliberately indifferent to known harassment based on a protected category that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive harassment that it denies the victim access to the educational program.

“It is important that the court recognize that local school officials, who work closely with students and parents on a regular basis, are knowledgeable about community resources, and understand their students’ educational and emotional needs, know best how to prevent and respond to harassment in their own schools,” said NSBA’s General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón Jr.

The parents’ legal arguments rely on informal guidance given by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) through a October 2010 “Dear Colleague” letter that stated school district officials could be held responsible for claims of unreported harassment. In a December 2010 response to that letter, NSBA warned that the guidance overstepped the Supreme Court standard set by Davis and that it vastly expanded the definition of discrimination and harassment, circumventing precedent established by the courts. In a March 2011 letter to NSBA, OCR officials dismissed concerns that the guidance would lead to numerous and costly lawsuits against school districts; however, this case has proven otherwise.

“The federal government wants a one-size fits-all approach, but such a rule would require school districts to implement strategy after strategy even when the misconduct was isolated or minimal,” said Negrón. “The federal government’s approach creates an illusion of safety that would subject thousands of school districts to costly and unnecessary lawsuits diverting vital resources away from the classroom.”

Among other claims, the case will determine whether the Murray County school district in Georgia should be held liable under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act for money damages as a result of the suicide of a student with Asperger’s Syndrome. After the student reported incidents of peer bullying during his freshman and sophomore years, school officials responded effectively to all known occurrences at school. The student committed suicide at home during his junior year.

A date for oral argument date in the case has not been set yet. Phil Hartley and Martha Pearson, members of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys, and partners in Harben, Hartley & Hawkins, LLP, are representing the Murray County school district. Hartley also serves as General Counsel for the Georgia School Boards Association.

Joetta Sack-Min|November 30th, 2012|Categories: Bullying, Council of School Attorneys, Crisis Management, Discipline, Policy Formation, School Law, School Security|Tags: , , |

NSBA supports Louisiana school boards in voucher case

A lawsuit filed by school boards will determine the fate of Louisiana’s school voucher plan, which may already be jeopardized after a federal court ruling this week.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is supporting a lawsuit filed in state court by the Louisiana School Boards Association (LSBA), the state’s main teachers’ organizations, and 43 school districts that challenges the constitutionality of a plan to provide vouchers to Louisiana students in low-performing schools. The first hearing on this lawsuit is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, La. LSBA’s Legal Counsel Robert Hammonds will be arguing the case on behalf of LSBA’s members.

The law allows students to attend any private or parochial school that is approved by the Louisiana Department of Education, and many of these teach specific and in some cases extremist religious philosophies. Further, the program does little to hold these schools accountable for student learning or financial management of taxpayer funds—for instance, schools that accept less than 40 students with vouchers are not subject to rigorous accountability requirements for student achievement. State legislators and educators have questioned the state’s process to choose the private and parochial schools that are eligible for public funds, while state officials have launched an advertising campaign to promote the plan, which was pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

In a separate but related court ruling on Monday, a federal judge halted the voucher program in Tangipahoa Parish schools, saying that portions of Jindal’s education plan conflicts with a desegregation agreement because the school choice provisions would lead to more segregation in schools. That ruling in New Orleans-based U.S. District court could affect other school districts that are under desegregation orders. State superintendent John White has said the administration will appeal that ruling. It was unclear what the ruling would mean for the students who are already attending schools with vouchers this year.

In a letter to the editor of the The Advocate in Baton Rouge, LSBA Executive Director Scott Richard notes that the voucher program will siphon resources away from public schools with little or no accountability to local school district governance.

The program “is diminishing public school systems’ ability to provide necessary services for all students by diverting public funds to private and parochial entities under the guise of ‘choice,’” he wrote. “What’s wrong with giving parents a choice of where their children go to school under the current voucher program? The private or parochial schools that accept vouchers will not be held to high standards for students’ learning nor the taxpayer dollars they spend — if at all.”

Public schools—governed by local school boards—are best equipped to meet the needs of all students, Richard continued. But those schools need a resources to implement programs that will improve student achievement, including early education, strong interventions for students who are falling behind, and highly qualified teachers and staff.

“LSBA is not defending the status quo in our public schools,” Richard wrote. “We need our elected officials to commit to ensuring that Louisiana has the best public school system available to all of its families and the infrastructure to support it — for the sake of our children and our state.”

NSBA President C. Ed Massey will attend the state trial and bring a letter of support from NSBA to Baton Rouge at the start of the trial on Wednesday.

“It is clear this law was not created with the best interest of all children in mind; instead it promotes a narrow political agenda and will harm community public schools that serve the best interest of all children,” Massey said. “It also deprives the public schools of valuable resources that are necessary to carry out the mandate to provide a free and appropriate public education.”

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 27th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Diversity, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, Privatization, Public Advocacy, Religion, School Board News, School Boards, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , |

School boards can help NSBA lobby to avoid fiscal cliff

Political pundits are already warning President Barack Obama and members of Congress not to spend too much time basking in their Nov. 6 victories. Beginning next week, Congress and the White House will start the tough negotiations to deal with the process of sequestration, which is the cancellation of budgetary resources.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 will impose across-the-board cuts of approximately 8.2 percent to education and other domestic programs in FY2013 unless Congress intervenes by Jan. 2, 2013. Most school districts would not see any impact until the 2013-14 school year, but those consequences will be severe. Districts that receive Impact Aid funds would see immediate cuts.

More than 100 school boards already have passed resolutions urging members of Congress to stop sequestration, which is also being called the fiscal cliff. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is asking school boards to pass a resolution, write letters to local newspapers and take actions to publicize schools’ plights. NSBA also wants your stories about how these cuts could impact your students and schools. Learn more on the NSBA’s “Stop Sequestration” webpage for  a list of actions for local school board members and more information about the threats.

NSBA’s Advocacy department also has compiled these facts about sequestration:

  • For every $1 million of federal aid districts receive, they would lose $82,000; and, while districts can vary widely, on average, for every 5,000 students enrolled, districts would lose about $300,000.
  • The impact of an 8.2 percent cut to programs such as Title I grants for disadvantaged students would mean a cut of more than $1 billion, affecting nearly two million students.
  • Special education grants would be reduced by more than $900 million, impacting nearly 500,000 children with disabilities.
  • English Language Acquisition grants would be cut by approximately $60 million, affecting an estimated 377,000 students.
  • These budget cuts to education programs would take place during 2013-14 school year, with the exception of Impact Aid, with which cuts would become effective during this school year.
  • Sequestration’s budget cuts to these and other education programs would mean increased class sizes and less access to programs for children with special needs, as well as summer school, college counselors, early childhood education and after-school programming.
  • Certain school bond programs would also be affected by a 7.6 percent reduction in federal subsidy payments.
  • In addition to school systems losing federal education funds, there are two indirect impacts. First, federal cuts for programs to state and local governments in other areas may result in those units cutting their aid to schools as they scramble to make up the difference. Second, in communities with a large federal presence, such as military bases or government contracts, the across-the-board budget cuts could be devastating to their economies in terms of lost sales and property tax revenues that are often used, in part, to finance education.

If you have any questions or if you would like to send in a resolution, please contact Kathleen Branch, NSBA’s Director of National Advocacy Services at kbranch@nsba.org or (703)838-6735.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 7th, 2012|Categories: 2012 Presidential race, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Policy Formation, Public Advocacy|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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