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Articles in the School Board News category

School Board News Today site moving to nsba.org

We have moved School Board News Today to www.nsba.org. This will now be fully searchable through nsba.org’s powerful Apache Solr search engine. This move is part of a phased rollout of the redesigned nsba.org website, launched this past April.

We have stopped posting to this site and are discontinuing the daily e-mail updates. You can continue to get the daily postings through our new RSS feed.

The archives of School Board News Today prior to Sept. 2014 will stay live and aviliable on http://schoolboardnews.nsba.org.

Bookmark the new site at https://www.nsba.org/newsroom. 

Alexis Rice|September 3rd, 2014|Categories: School Board News|Tags: , |

NSBA names Michael C. Zola as head of federal advocacy and public policy

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) announced today that veteran education policymaker Michael C. Zola will join the organization as its Associate Executive Director, Federal Advocacy and Public Policy.

Zola will oversee NSBA’s legislative advocacy division, including the National School Boards Action Center, NSBA’s 501(c)(4) organization, and the Center for Public Education, NSBA’s research arm.

“We are very pleased that Michael Zola will lead the National School Boards Association’s federal advocacy initiatives,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “Michael’s extensive experience in federal policy and government management will further strengthen NSBA’s relations with Congress and the White House on behalf of state school boards associations and the more than 90,000 school board members across the country.”

Zola comes to NSBA from Capitol Hill, where he was the Deputy Staff Director/Senior Counsel for the Education and the Workforce Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Zola previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs and has served as Chief Investigative Counsel for the Education and the Workforce Committee. He also has held several positions in the U.S. Government Accountability Office, including: Assistant Director and Certified Fraud Examiner, Senior Attorney, Legislative Advisor, Senior Foreign Affairs Analyst, and Investigator.

“It is such an honor to lead federal advocacy efforts at the National School Boards Association at such a vital time for America’s public schools,” said Zola.

Zola is a graduate of Catholic University’s Columbia School of Law, the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Joetta Sack-Min|July 10th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Announcements, Federal Programs, Leadership, School Board News, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy, National School Boards Action Center|Tags: , |

Ravitch: We can learn a lot from Finland — and from our own public schools

Diane Ravitch praised the Finnish schools in a recent speech in Washington, D.C. But it was another nation’s public education system — and the remarkable progress it has made over the past 40 years — that most impressed the celebrated author and education historian.

What country is this? The United States, of course. During that time, student achievement has increased overall, even as today’s student population has become more racially, economically, and culturally diverse. Graduation rates also are rising. And “dropout rates,” said Ravitch, a keynote speaker at NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference in San Diego, “are the lowest they’ve been in history.”

But if you read some of the anti-public school literature out there, or watched some purportedly “balanced” news reports, you could easily be fooled into thinking something much different, said Ravitch, who spoke at the Economic Policy Institute about her new book on public school reform, Reign of Error.

As an example, Ravitch cited a 2012 report called “U.S. Education Reform and National Security,” by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, now head of Rupert Murdoch’s strongly pro-voucher News Corp. The report claims, contrary to the evidence Ravitch cites in the Long-Term Trend report of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), that U.S. schools are so bad they have “become a grave security risk.”

Ravitch devotes much of her new book to the high performing public schools in Finland, a place where she says teaching is a highly respected — and highly selective — occupation, where teachers and principals belong to a common union, and where public education of the highest quality is seen as a national obligation.

“They don’t have charters,” Ravitch said. “They don’t have vouchers. …. There is no Teach for Finland.”

U. S. schools are doing a lot right, too, Ravitch said. In fact, some of the highest-scoring nations on international tests — Singapore among them – are looking at how U.S. schools embrace creativity and teach problem-solving skills. Ironically, with the recent emphasis on high-stakes testing, she added, “We’re moving in the opposite direction.”

“And now we have kindergarten children taking bubble-in tests,” Ravitch said. “This is insane.”

Ravitch criticized the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program, which she said “has put $5 billion into the pursuit of higher test scores.” She said the money could have been put to better use in efforts to address the growing segregation of many public schools by race and income, particularly in the South and West.

“We’re not trying to solve the real problem, which is child poverty,” Ravitch said. “Poverty is the elephant in the room.”

Elaine Weiss, national coordinator for the Broader Bolder Approach to Education, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, also spoke at the event. Weingarten said budget cuts have harmed school systems across the country, opening them up to criticism and threats of privatization. However, studies consistently show that privatization does not lead to higher student performance while resulting, in many instances, in greater economic and racial segregation.

Lawrence Hardy|October 22nd, 2013|Categories: Curriculum, Charter Schools, Conferences and Events, Diversity, Privatization, School Vouchers, Comparative Education, Board governance, Student Achievement, 21st Century Skills, Student Engagement, School Board News, Race to the Top (RTTT), NSBA Annual Conference 2013|

NSBA leaders bring local school boards message to NBC’s Education Nation

National School Boards Association (NSBA) leaders participated in NBC’s Education Nation Summit this week, bringing NSBA’s message that local governance matters to a wide audience that included governors, foundations, business leaders, researchers and practitioners.

This year’s summit incorporated a student-centered “What it Takes” theme, with panel discussions on how to ensure all students are prepared for success in K-12, higher education, and careers. NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel and President David A. Pickler were among the more than 300 attendees invited to the event.

“Innovation was a persistent theme at Education Nation,” said Gentzel. “Some of the best presenters were young people who, in demonstrating their creativity, also served as great testimonials for the public education system that provided the training and opportunities for them to explore and develop exciting new ideas.”

Gentzel added that another significant theme that public schools are accomplishing great things but the expectations and needs are growing. However, he added, there needs to be more emphasis on the local leadership to make these achievements possible.

During an Oct. 8 panel featuring governors, Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky answered a question posed by Pickler, noting the role of local school boards in school improvement. Beshear also stated that charter schools should be authorized by local school boards, which can determine if those schools are needed.

Pickler also lauded the event’s emphasis on early learning and pre-K. In particular, he praised Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s response to a question from NBC’s Matt Lauer on what would be the single most important game changer to address America’s educational challenges. Duncan stated that the ultimate change should be on delivering a world class early childhood education, Pickler noted.

The three day Education Nation event took place October 6-8 at the New York City public library.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|October 9th, 2013|Categories: Governance, School Boards, Conferences and Events, School Reform, Board governance, School Board News|Tags: , , , , |

Missouri businessman, MSBA announce $1 million incentive for Baldrige school district award

A Missouri couple will donate $1 million to the first public school district in their state that can win a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which recognizes organizations for achieving performance excellence. The award will be announced at the Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) conference this weekend.

Larry Potterfield said he and his wife, Brenda Potterfield, are making the donation because they want to help improve public education in Missouri. “This is for the children,” he said. “We want to impact the educational system, to make the school districts more accountable, to better prepare and educate the next generation so that our nation can continue to compete in the global marketplace.”

The gift challenge will reinforce current efforts for measurable educational improvements among Missouri’s 520 school districts as they strive to achieve “role model status,” as defined by the Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance Excellence. Each year, the President of the United States honors American organizations in business, health care, education, non-profit, and government that win a Baldrige Award, the nation’s only award for performance excellence.

Anne L. Bryant, who sits on the board of the Baldrige Foundation and is a former executive director of the National School Boards Association, said that Larry and Brenda Potterfield’s million dollar challenge has called upon the entire state of Missouri to “show the way” by encouraging every school district across the state to consider taking up the Baldrige quality and excellence program.

“Like all Baldrige Award winners, a school district that goes through the process is demonstrating to its students, faculty, staff, parents and entire community that it wants to be the best,” Bryant said. “I watched my neighboring district, The Montgomery County Public Schools (MD) go through the process and reach the national award with such pride and excitement. It reinforced to the community and the entire state that this public school district could be an example for all.”

Moreover, Bryant said that the Baldrige community is “thrilled by the Potterfield’s generosity but, even more importantly, by their foresight to focus on education…which indeed is the cornerstone of a state’s economy and future.

The $1 million gift will be stewarded by the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award until it is awarded.

“The million dollar unrestricted gift will be an obvious benefit to the school district that demonstrates outstanding performance,” said Potterfield, who is CEO of Midway USA, a company that sells hunting and gun supplies. “The school district will receive tremendous recognition for winning the Baldrige Award. Most importantly, the winner will have to demonstrate an improvement in educational outcomes because the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence are results-driven.”

The Potterfields’ official announcement will be made at the 2013 MSBA Annual Conference on Oct. 5, 2013. The conference is held in cooperation with the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA).

“We’re delighted Larry and Brenda Potterfield chose the MSBA Annual Conference to announce their gift,” said Dr. Carter Ward, the MSBA executive director. “MSBA strongly supports school districts interested in utilizing the Baldrige Criteria to create a culture of continuous improvement ultimately aimed at providing the finest possible education for the students in our public schools.”

Dr. P. George Benson, chair of the Board of Directors of the Baldrige Foundation, called it “gratifying” for the Potterfields to link their donation to the Baldrige National Award for Performance Excellence.

“It demonstrates the faith and confidence that Larry and Brenda Potterfield have in the Baldrige Program,” Dr. Benson said. “For 25 years, we helped organizations in the public and private sectors reach their peak level of effectiveness, and honored the very best with a Baldrige Award. With their generous donation, the Potterfields are challenging Missouri school districts to provide a better education to their students.”

School districts must reach the highest level in the Missouri Quality Award, the state Baldrige-based program, to apply to the National Baldrige Performance Excellence Award Program. School districts will need to demonstrate performance results that are national benchmarks and better than their peer groups at comparably-sized school districts across the country. In so doing, they will be improving their budget and operations, as well as the education they provide in the classrooms.

“Schools and districts interested in pursuing a Baldrige award can access resources through the recently launched Missouri Network for Educational Improvement (MNEI),” says Daniel L. Clay, dean of the University of the Missouri College of Education. “The network will help schools and districts strategically coordinate continuous improvement efforts.”  The MNEI is led by the Hook Center at the University of Missouri College of Education, in partnership with MSBA, MASA and districts around the state.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|October 4th, 2013|Categories: School Boards, Announcements, School District Reorganization, Educational Research, School Climate, School Reform, Board governance, School Board News, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , , , |

Kentucky district uses “Brain Bus” to stop summer learning loss

The following article was originally published by the Kentucky School Boards Association and was written by Madelynn Coldiron.

When kids run for the school bus, it’s usually because they’re late. When Henderson County Schools’ summer Brain Bus pulls into Woodsview Apartments, they run for a different reason.

“It’s a good idea – it gives them something to do. When they see that bus pull up, they run,” said resident Terrence Belle, whose fourth-grade son, Talyn, took advantage of the bus this year and last year as well.

The surplus school bus, its exterior festooned with colorful graphics, has been gutted and retrofitted with individual computer stations, where children can learn while having fun with games and other electronic activities.

National research shows children lose ground academically during the summer and “kids in poverty will lose more,” said Marganna Stanley, the district’s assistant superintendent for administration.

The Wi-Fi-enabled, air-conditioned mobile tech lab began making its rounds in 2011. It was the brainchild of a team from a community leadership program whose members included several then-school district employees who were concerned about the dip in student scores between spring and fall.

Knowing that some children would not have transportation, “we thought, why not take it to them,” said Ellen Redding, former district employee who now works for Northwest Kentucky Forward.

The leadership program raised funds and got donations of laptops and other supplies and services for the bus, which was donated by the district. The program now is fully under the school system’s aegis.

During June and July, the Brain Bus targets mostly low-income areas where large numbers of children reside. It spends two hours at each of the eight stops over a four-day week. However, the schedule is flexible. Bus driver John Haynes, who also is a substitute teacher, said a crowd isn’t always guaranteed. In some spots, he said, few turn out and in other locations, kids are “lined up waiting for a computer.”

This year one site didn’t draw any participants so the district switched to another location.

That wasn’t the case at Woodsview, where sisters Madalynn and Shelby Terrell were among those climbing aboard.

“It’s great – it’s entertaining and you get to spend time with your friends,” third-grader Shelby Terrell said. Fifth-grader Alexis Sutton, meanwhile, not only played games herself, but helped younger students with theirs.

“We’ve had anywhere from kids who are just going into preschool to a few high schoolers,” said newly certified teacher Rachel O’Nan, who is stationed on the bus. “Every time we come, we get a couple of new ones.”

The district will track the performance of students who used the Brain Bus this summer to try to gauge the academic effect. The community leadership program did that last year, Redding said, and found “We had over 60 percent had an increase in their test scores – both math and reading. Those were just the kids we could track. We just looked at an increase in scores – we didn’t even look at the ones that stayed the same, and in reality those scores that stayed the same is still a win because they didn’t fall back.”

Children are on the bus a relatively short time, so the kind of progress they might make in a regular summer school offering is not possible, Stanley said.

“It’s voluntary so a student might have two hours a week (on the Brain Bus), maximum,” she said. “If they stay where they are or increase, we would be very pleased.”

There are also less empirical benefits, she said: “You can’t really measure this, but increasing their love of learning.”

O’Nan said the experience also helps those without computers or Internet access at home feel more comfortable with technology in a setting where they aren’t afraid to ask questions.

The Brain Bus was put to use for adults when the district wanted to show parents who work at one of the area’s large employers how Infinite Campus can be used to access their children’s records and grades. The plant didn’t have a computer lab-type setup available, “so we thought, ‘We have a lab on wheels’” Stanley said, and brought the bus to the factory.

This summer, in addition to its regular rounds, the bus visited a Boy Scout day camp at the group’s request.

“I think we’ll find lots of ways to use it,” Stanley said.

Well-established research shows that students generally score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer break compared with the same tests they took at the beginning of summer.

In math computation, most students lose about two months of grade- level equivalency over the summer months.

Low-income students lose more than two months of grade-level equivalency in reading achievement over the summer. Middle-class students, however, gain slightly.

Unequal access to summer learning opportunities can be the culprit in more than half the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth.

Source: The National Summer Learning Association, citing numerous studies

Joetta Sack-Min|August 27th, 2013|Categories: Educational Technology, Educational Research, Budgeting, Assessment, School Board News|Tags: |

Education Talk Radio previews NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference

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

Listen to the broadcast:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio

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

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

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

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

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

NSBA Honors Ohio School Board Association Leader with National Award

Richard Lewis, executive director of the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), received the 2013 Thomas A. Shannon Award for Excellence from the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Lewis was honored at NSBA’s Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.

The award, established in 1997 in honor of former NSBA Executive Director Thomas A. Shannon, is given annually to recognize extraordinary efforts performed on behalf of NSBA, local school board constituencies, and school communities.

Lewis’ leadership at OSBA has helped thousands of Ohio school board members reach their goals and improve the services they provide their students and schools.

“Rick Lewis is the quintessential executive director,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Rick combines extraordinary ability, a broad base of knowledge and experience, and last but not least, a wonderful sense of humor. He has a disarming way of making a point and helping others to think in new ways. He is an effective leader because when he speaks, he actually has something important to say, and when he moves on an issue, he knows where he is going. His selection as recipient of the Shannon Award is very well deserved.”

Lewis joined OSBA in 1984 as a Labor Relations Specialist. He has also served as OSBA’s Deputy Executive Director, Director of Communication and Information Services, Director of Labor Relations and Management Services, Business and Marketing Manager, and Policy Specialist. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business Administration from Ohio University.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 26th, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Leadership, School Board News, State School Boards Associations, Leadership Conference 2013|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: Religion, School Boards, Educational Legislation, Diversity, Privatization, Educational Finance, School Vouchers, Board governance, Policy Formation, Budgeting, School Board News, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy, 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.

 

 

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