Articles in the School Boards category

NSBA develops guide for school boards on boasting student success through community partnerships

Cover of "Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success"

Cover of “Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success”

A new guide released today details how school board members can build partnerships to secure a high-quality education, from early learning to graduation, for students in their districts. “Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success,” demonstrates how school boards can work with other community partners to provide seamless services and engage community members to improve their schools.

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

“As advocates for equity and excellence in public education, school boards play a key role to build a student-centered environment that addresses the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students in their school district,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association (NSBA). “School board members are local leaders who understand the needs of their students, teachers, and school staff, and this guide shows how to tap into community resources to further enhance and strengthen their community’s schools.”

NSBA led the effort to develop this guide with a group of school board members from NSBA’s National Black Caucus of School Board Members, National Caucus of American Indian/Alaska Native School Board Members, National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members, and the Council of Urban Boards of Education.

The guide serves as a blueprint for school board members to build a better-coordinated system of supports for children and their families. By partnering with key stakeholders and local service providers, school boards can ensure that all children benefit from a “Personal Opportunity Plan” that guarantees access to out-of-school resources each child needs to succeed in school and in life.

One such example is the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Initiative in Oregon, as featured in the guide. This school community partnership helps create a seamless learning environment. A cohesive collaboration between the school districts, the city, and county, it includes more than 70 schools within the Portland-Multnomah County Area. SUN partnered with various partners such as libraries, parks, local health clinics, churches, and businesses to provide in-school and wraparound support to students and their families. The collaboration is guided by an inter-governmental among between all three entities that outlines that processes in which they will work together in creating a shared vision and common goals to support the schools within the initiative.

NSBA partnered with the Alliance for Excellent Education; American Federation of Teachers; Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning; Coalition for Community Schools; National Education Association; Opportunity Action; National Opportunity to Learn Campaign; and Rural School and Community Trust to release the guide.

Alexis Rice|April 22nd, 2014|Categories: CUBE, Curriculum, Dropout Prevention, Reports, School Boards, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers, Urban Schools|

Courage is an essential quality for school leaders

How big is your brave, Angela Maiers wants to know.

Courage, according to the teacher, speaker, and social media evangelist, is not just an essential part of being a leader – it’s the most important quality and the one through which other qualities follow.

Maiers was part of a three-speaker hour-long opening General Session April 7 at NSBA’s annual conference in New Orleans, which included Erin Gruwell and Nikhil Goyal. The speakers then continued in separate sessions that went more in-depth.

Maier asked a group of kindergartners, “What does it mean to be brave?” They came up with this list:

1. Love yourself

2. Never give up

3. Be calm in yourself

4. Stand up for yourself

5. Believe in yourself

6. Be brave

“If you don’t follow that to-do list, you have no chance of asking anyone else to do any of those things,” she said. “You are the leader they wish to be. You are the change that needs to be.”

Maiers shows schools how social media and technology can bring out the genius in students and teachers and bring about social change. Some schools have put into place a “genius hour” where students can meeting physically and virtually to plan projects.

An entire district – with children from kindergarten to 12th grade – took on this project – Hutto, Texas. The district has 6,000 students. “All I said was give me a group of kids and we’ll figure it out,” Maiers said. “All we needed was school board that said, ‘I believe in you; we will be brave.’” From the project, 57 social enterprises were launched.

A large part of being a courageous leader is having a community of leaders to turn to. “I feel brave because I don’t do this work alone,” she said. “I have a network of educators and others who make me smarter every day. I have never felt so supported.”

Maiers announced that she was starting a Twitter chat for school board members, SBchat, so they could build a community, as well. The chat will run through her Choose 2 Matter website.

 

Kathleen Vail|April 10th, 2014|Categories: Governance, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards, Social Networking, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , , , , |

Video: NSBA Annual Conference TV for April 7

Check out today’s NSBA Annual Conference TV video that highlights Saturday’s activities at the conference:

Alexis Rice|April 7th, 2014|Categories: Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards|Tags: |

Children need adults who care, says ‘Freedom Writer’ teacher and author

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All that children need to be able to rise above poverty and abuse is the presence of adults in their lives who care and believe in them, according to Erin Gruwell, the California teacher whose unconventional teaching techniques were portrayed by Hilary Swank in the movie “Freedom Writers.”

School board members can be those adults, Gruwell told board members in a session entitled, “Becoming a Catalyst for Change,” on Monday at NSBA’s annual conference.

Gruwell was part of a three-speaker hour-long opening General Session on Monday, which included Angela Maiers and Nikhil Goyal. The speakers then continued in separate sessions that went more in-depth.

“You are all soldiers in an undeclared war … where children are afraid to dream,” Gruwell said. “You don’t wear capes, but you’re superheroes” for kids.

It means taking an interest in every child and how their unique history has shaped them. It also means never ignoring a swastika painted on a wall or “that word that denigrates others.”

She showed a video of sessions from the Freedom Writers Institute, where teachers practice games like one that involves peanuts, with the metaphorical lesson that “inside a hard shell, there’s something delicious.”

Also portrayed was the “line” game made famous in the movie. In the video, Gruwell asks her students to step to a line in the center of the room if various things are true…. “if you know someone who’s homeless … if you know someone who’s depressed.”

Gruwell believes students can profit from a classroom environment that has a combination of fun, sharing, and activities that some might characterize as shades of group therapy.

Education isn’t about standardized tests, Gruwell said. “It’s about connections.”

 

Eric D. Randall|April 7th, 2014|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards, Teachers|Tags: , , |

Pickler looks back on his presidency

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David Pickler, NSBA’s 2013-14 President, gave an overview of his year at the Second General Session on Sunday at NSBA’s Annual Conference.

“We said, nearly a year ago, that if we did not have a seat at the table, we could find ourselves on the menu,” he said. “We realized the power of our board members and stakeholders to stand up for public education and proclaim the real truth about public schools and the essential role of school board governance.”

He recalled the beginning of the Army of Advocates, which started out with about 3,700 members a year ago and now has more than 1 million members. “We have built a foundation to be a leading advocate for public education in America,” he said. “We are just getting started.”

Part of that foundation is NSBA’s national public advocacy campaign, “Stand Up 4 Public Schools“. Celebrity spokespeople such as Sal Khan, Montel Williams, and most recently, Magic Johnson, have brought the campaign to national prominence.

“Together, we will show the world the real voice of public education,” he said. “The power of partnership will become the power of possible.”

He pointed to NSBA’s partnership with the filmmakers of “12 Years a Slave” to distribute the movie to 30,000 high schools nationally at no cost to the schools. This partnership led director Steve McQueen to wear the signature Stand Up 4 Public Education red wristband while receiving his Academy Award for Best Picture.

State school board associations are recruiting their own local celebrities to personalize the campaigns for their states.

Pickler told the audience that NSBA was the only K-12 education group invited to testify in front of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee on the 2015 federal budget.

“We were truly at the table, engaging in direct dialogue with elected leaders who determine the budget,” he said. “This invitation is recognition of NSBA growing in influence and importance. It established this federation as the leading advocate for public education in the U.S.”

He reaffirmed his belief that publication education is a civil for our children. “It is the great equalizer. It makes sure our children can make a living and lead a life of limitless potential.”

Pickler closed with his signature line: “Together we can. Together we must.”

Kathleen Vail|April 6th, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, Public Advocacy, School Boards|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: , , , |

Wrestling with difficult people

In a Sunday session entitled “Working with Difficult People is like Wrestling Gators in the Bayou!”, attendees at NSBA’s Annual Conference learned that when people move out of their comfort zone, they tend to become either more aggressive or more passive. Given the challenges in public education and the pace of change, it’s inevitable that conflict will occur at every level of school leadership, including board leadership.

It’s a fool’s errand to try to get anyone to change their style and their priorities, said speaker Winton I. Goodrich, a former Vermont School Boards Association official who was recently hired to be superintendent of Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union school district in Swanton, Vt.

More effective is to change your attitude toward the person and your behavior with the person. “This is the thesis of this presentation: Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you deal with it,” Goodrich said.

It’s easier said than done, because having a confrontation with a difficult person can fire the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, Goodrich said.

Start by trying to understand what personal style a difficult person has. There four common styles:

1. Drivers who want to get things done.

2. Analyzers who want to get it right.

3. Amiable folks who want to get along.

4. Expressive types who want appreciation.

All types can be assets in board work. For instance, drivers will keep your meetings from getting bogged down, while the amiable will play a key role in consensus-building. Both are skills needed on school boards.

Equally valuable on school boards are analyzers, who want to ensure all data receives adequate attention and demand facts. For creative brainstorming, and comfort with change, turn your boards’ expressive member.

Conflict on boards and within districts is inevitable, but Goodrich said a good way to reduce it is to focus on what inspires and motivates each person to be a strong leader.

As management guru Peter Drucker wrote, “The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths … making a system’s weaknesses irrelevant.”

 

 

Eric D. Randall|April 6th, 2014|Categories: Governance, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards|Tags: , , |

Hispanic Caucus breakfast speaker urges school boards to ‘flip the narrative’

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School boards have an opportunity to help “flip the narrative” about Hispanic Americans and create a healthier sense of identity for the 12.4 million Hispanic students attending public K-12 schools.

That was the message of journalist Maria Hinojosa at a Sunday breakfast meeting of the National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members at NSBA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans.

“Latino teens have the highest attempted suicide rate in the country,” said Hinojosa, host of National Public Radio’s Latino USA show and winner of four Emmy awards. “Our Latino teenagers are depressed.”

She said she thinks it has a lot to do with a weak sense of identity among Hispanics. She cited comments she’s heard from Latino students at DePaul University, where she teaches. They have asked her, “Can I call myself American?”

Perhaps the cruelest identity issues involve students from “illegal” immigrant families. “There are no illegal people,” Hinojosa said, attributing the quotation to Elie Wiesel.

Such issues can be addressed by school board members because they have a unique role in society as advocates for all children, regardless of ethnicity or background.

She cited a school district that announced that it will address the fact that 65 percent of its Hispanic students drop out. She wondered aloud why the rate had to get that horrific before it got some attention, joking that 50 percent must have been considered okay.

After hearing reports by caucus leaders of projects including a scholarship program for Hispanic students who are admitted to colleges, Hinojosa praised such efforts.

She also urged board members to active as “democracy junkies.” For instance, she said it’s a national disgrace that those detained in immigration facilities have no legal right to challenge the conditions of their detention.

Hinojosa announced that she has received a “green light” from the Public Broadcasting System to host and executive produce a TV show called “America by the Numbers with Maria Hinojosa” that will tell stories of Latino issues that are “based on data.”

She urged school board members to send her story ideas at info@futuromediagroup.org.

 

Kathleen Vail|April 6th, 2014|Categories: Immigrants, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards|Tags: , , , , |

Minn. school board member connects with National Connection program

Your board colleagues are using the benefits of the National Connection program to help them do their jobs better.

Meet Lisa Wagner, the chair of Minnesota’s Minnetonka School Board. She was elected to the board in 2007. During her first term, she was elected to the positions of clerk and vice chair. She was elected chair during her second term.

“NSBA has had a long history of providing leading edge advice and insights into educational trends for school board members,” says Wagner. “We have especially appreciated articles and sessions addressing governance, leadership, and technology. We look forward to continued excellence with the National Connection program.”

Wagner also puts great value on NSBA’s Technology Site Visits, which, she says, “provide an excellent opportunity for networking with leading edge professionals and school board members from districts around the country.”

To find out about your National Connection benefits or how to enroll in National Connection, go to www.nsba.org/services/national-connection.

 

Kathleen Vail|April 6th, 2014|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards, State School Boards Associations, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , , |
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