Articles in the School Boards category

Center for Public Education report finds no gains in mayoral control

Collaboration between mayors and school boards, not mayoral takeovers, can lead to better school governance and student achievement, according to a new report by the Center for Public Education (CPE) at the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

Toward Collaboration, Not A Coup: What the research says about mayoral involvement in urban schools,” explores the intersects between effective school boards and involved mayors. In its review of existing research on mayoral control, the report categorizes the various existing forms of mayoral involvement, examines benefits and challenges for school districts, then argues for effective relationships between school boards and mayors.

Through secondary analysis, CPE found that mayoral takeovers are “a rare, and largely urban phenomenon,” and out of more than 13,000 school districts in the U.S., only about 20 have come under formal mayoral control in the last 20 years. Researchers have been unable to determine conclusively whether the mayoral governance model actually improves academics and student achievement.

The report also found that mayors can provide great benefits to public schools in other ways, especially by enabling better integration and coordination of services for children and families.

“What this research suggests is that while the interest of mayors in public schools can bring benefits to public education, a mayoral takeover risks disengaging community interests and disregards the governance responsibility of elected school board leaders,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director.

The report recommends several steps for mayors and school boards to work collaboratively to improve student achievement, including:

• Formal and informal processes for coordination between the mayor’s office, school boards and superinten¬dent.

• Clearly defined areas of responsibility for the school board, mayor’s office, and other agencies that are involved;

• Media coverage and community outreach to increase voter participation in school board elections; and

• Professional development for school boards and other leadership teams.

“Nothing indicates that students would necessarily benefit if public schools were run by mayors,” said CPE Director Patte Barth. “But takeovers come with a high risk of disenfranchising parents and other community members. A better approach for districts would be the collaborative involvement of mayors, school leaders and the communities they serve.”

Alexis Rice|June 11th, 2014|Categories: Center for Public Education, School Boards, Urban Schools|Tags: , |

California School Boards Association speaks out on teacher tenure ruling

Today, a California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles judge issued a decision on Vergara v. California, ruling that state laws regarding teacher tenure and dismissal are unconstitutional as they infringe upon poor and minority students’ right to an equitable education. The lawsuit is expected to have national implications as its backers are examining teacher-tenure laws in other states.

California School Boards Association (CSBA) President Josephine Lucey issued a statement today on the Vergara decision:

Today’s Vergara v. California court decision is a call for all stakeholders to work together to ensure that all of California’s 6 million school children have an equal opportunity to a quality education.

We should not and cannot afford to wait for the appellate courts to address these critical issues. Regardless of the legal outcome, the education community should immediately begin working with the Governor and the California Legislature to resolve these important issues of inequality in education.

CSBA has worked for years on these issues and remains committed to true reform by working with all of our education partners to meet the needs of our children.

Alexis Rice|June 10th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, School Reform, Teachers|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA praises the U.S. Senate introduction of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) praises the introduction today of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act (S. 2451) in the U.S. Senate by Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.). The legislation would protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counterproductive federal intrusion from the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

“We appreciate Sen. Inhofe’s leadership on the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, which would ensure that local school boards are able to make sound decisions based on the needs of their students and their communities,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “Federal regulations that fail to recognize the value of strong local governance put politics before the best interests of our nation’s students.” The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act would:

  • Establish local school boards’ authority and curb overreach by ED on issues that impact local school districts unless specifically authorized in federal legislation;
  • Ensure that local school board concerns and issues are solicited and addressed in the process of creating new federal regulations;
  • Create procedural steps that ED would be required to take prior to initiating any regulations, rules, grant requirements, guidance documents, and other regulatory materials; and
  • Ensure that ED’s actions are consistent with the specific intent of federal law and are supportable at the local level.

The new Senate legislation is a companion bill to H.R. 1386 introduced last year in the U.S. House of Representatives, which has 43 bipartisan sponsors and co-sponsors. The House’s version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, H.R. 5, approved by the full House last summer, also includes key provisions of H.R. 1386. NSBA is encouraging school board members to contact their senators to support passage of this legislation.

“The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act will give state and local school boards a voice in how the federal government issues regulations and guidelines for education,” said Inhofe. “It’s time for the Department of Education to be accountable to the parents, teachers, and local elected officials who work first hand with our nation’s children. Education needs are unique to each community, and in order to give the next generation of Americans a better future and wealth of opportunities, my legislation will give state and local school boards the authority they need to carry out the education goals that are best suited for their children.”

Recently, Inhofe received NSBA’s top Congressional honor, the Congressional Special Recognition Award, for his leadership to advance America’s public education. Watch the video of the award presentation:

Alexis Rice|June 10th, 2014|Categories: Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, School Boards, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

PDK chief shares insight on nation’s views of public education

Bill Bushaw, the Executive Director of Phi Delta Kappa International, discussed the top issues and key findings from the 2013 PDK/Gallup poll on public schools with the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Board of Directors this week.

The annual poll, one of the most comprehensive surveys of this country’s attitudes toward public education, consistently has shown strong support for local public schools. In particular it recently has found that parents of children in public schools are giving their schools increasingly high grades, with the majority giving their oldest child’s school a grade of “A” or “B.”

At his presentation to NSBA, Bushaw discussed key topics from the 2013 data that included Common Core State Standards, school safety, school choice, and vouchers, among others. For the 2014 report, which will be released later this summer, Bushaw noted that the analysis will include data on international comparisons.

He noted that PDK/Gallup’s data show confusion around the Common Core State Standards. More generally, the public also has expressed a lack of confidence in standardized testing.

Other discussion included:

  • Seven in 10 Americans favor charter schools. However, it is uncertain whether the public is aware of the national data that shows charter performance overall is murky. NSBA supports local school board authorization of charter schools to ensure accountability for student performance and fiscal stewardship.
  • Conversely, seven in 10 adults oppose vouchers that use public funds to pay private tuition.
  • The top skills parents desire include: critical thinking (80 percent), communication, and goal setting.
  • There is an interesting right-hand, left-hand disconnect between the public’s perception of a neighborhood school versus the public education system as a whole: Most surveyed give their own local schools an “A” or “B,” but give the nation’s public schools a “C” for quality.
  • The public expresses great trust and confidence in public school teachers and principals.

Bushaw noted that the poll is made up of a sampling of more than 1,000 adults.

Joetta Sack-Min|June 9th, 2014|Categories: Charter Schools, Common Core State Standards, Educational Research, School Boards|

School boards urge U.S. appeals court to provide flexibility for schools in promoting a safe environment

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), joined by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), filed a “friend of the court” (amicus) brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the case of Doe v. Board of Education of Prince George’s County. At issue in the case is the standard that courts should use to hold a school district liable for money damages under Title IX for the alleged harassment and sexual assault of a student by another student. Title IX is a federal civil rights statute that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs receiving federal funds.

A 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, developed a clear and stringent standard in peer-on-peer sexual harassment cases that only when school officials are deliberately indifferent to severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive harassment of which they have actual knowledge are school districts liable for monetary damages.

“School officials who know their students and local circumstances are in the best position to respond to reports of sexual harassment in a way that makes sense,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “The Davis standard recognized the importance of school officials retaining the flexibility to make professional judgments about how to address discriminatory peer harassment.” In its amicus brief, NSBA and MABE seek the Fourth Circuit’s support of the judiciary’s long-standing deference to school officials’ decision-making about maintaining safe, harassment-free learning environments for students.

The parents offered guidance documents from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) – along with “expert” reports and testimony – to support their claim that the school district did not do enough to investigate the reports of harassment and would have been able to prevent the alleged subsequent assaults had they done so.

“The legal argument for liability in this case is contrary to existing law,” said NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. “Unfortunately, this argument relies in part on confusing statements from OCR, which NSBA has warned previously would lead to more lawsuits needlessly filed against school district based on an incorrect legal standard.”

In their brief, NSBA and MABE make clear that the parents’ approach departs from established legal doctrine on deliberate indifference and is one that the Supreme Court has rejected. The effectiveness of the district’s response as judged in hindsight, based solely on “expert” evaluations made after the fact and recurrence of harassment is insufficient to establish deliberate indifference.

“We have to get this important case right,” added Gentzel. “School personnel who have exercised appropriate professional judgment in carrying out their day-to-day responsibilities cannot live in fear of lawsuits that second-guess their decisions, especially when those decisions are based on Supreme Court precedent.”

Alexis Rice|June 6th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, School Climate, School District Reorganization, School Law, School Security|Tags: , , , , , |

Sen. Inhofe receives NSBA’s Congressional Special Recognition Award

Sen. Inhofe

NSBA’s President Anne M. Byrne along with members of the Executive Committee of NSBA’s Board of Directors presented the award at a special event in Sen. Inhofe’s Capitol Hill office

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) honored U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) today with the Congressional Special Recognition Award. Inhofe received the NSBA’s top Congressional award for his leadership to advance public education.

“We are proud to honor Sen. Inhofe with NSBA’s Congressional Special Recognition Award for his ongoing efforts to advance public education and his commitment to local school board leadership,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “In recent years local school board members and educators have become increasingly concerned that the local governance of our nation’s school districts is being unnecessarily eroded through over reaching federal policies and requirements established by the U.S. Department of Education. We thank Sen. Inhofe for his leadership on public education as we must ensure that public education decisions made at the federal level must support the needs and goals of local school districts and the communities they serve.”

NSBA’s President Anne M. Byrne along with members of the Executive Committee of NSBA’s Board of Directors presented the award at a special event in Inhofe’s Capitol Hill office.

Alexis Rice|June 5th, 2014|Categories: NSBA Recognition Programs, School Boards, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , |

NSBA urges U.S. House members to oppose school voucher bill

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel sent a letter today to members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging them not to support the CHOICE Act as it would provide federal resources for voucher schemes and fund private schools that are not fully accountable to the same laws and civil rights that govern public schools.

Representatives Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) are expected to introduce the CHOICE ACT on Thursday, May 29, 2014. The bill would provide vouchers to students educated under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students who reside in military installations, and students enrolled or waiting for vouchers through the DC Opportunity Scholarship program.

The letter notes:

On behalf of the 90,000 school board members who govern our nation’s public school districts which educate nearly 50 million students, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is writing in strong opposition to the CHOICE Act (Creating Hope and Opportunities for Individuals and Communities through Education Act) that is scheduled for introduction on May 29. Therefore, we urge you not to support the CHOICE Act.

NSBA urges Congress to maximize resources for our public schools, which serve all students regardless of gender, disability or economic status, and adhere to federal civil rights laws and public accountability standards. Hence, NSBA opposes private school vouchers and urges Congress to reject using any federal funds or incentives for a national voucher program, including any special education vouchers for military children and/or specific subgroups of ,students. NSBA also opposes amendments to make vouchers part of a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), or other legislation.

An overwhelming majority (70 percent) of Americans oppose private school vouchers, according to the 2013 PDK Gallup poll. Likewise, based on the policies adopted by our Delegate Assembly, NSBA opposes any efforts to subsidize tuition or expenses at elementary or secondary private, religious, or home schools with public tax dollars. Specifically, NSBA opposes vouchers, tax credits, and tax subsidies for use at non-public K-12 schools. Public funds should not be used directly or indirectly through tax credits, vouchers, or a choice system to fund education at any elementary and/or secondary private, parochial, or home school.

NSBA supports federal investments in our public school students and applauds Congress’ work to improve our nation’s public schools.

Alexis Rice|May 28th, 2014|Categories: Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, Privatization, School Boards, School Vouchers|Tags: |

School boards encourage local school district flexibility for school meals

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is encouraging the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations to provide funding for school kitchen equipment modernization and flexibility for school districts struggling with child nutrition regulations. Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of NSBA, sent a letter today regarding NSBA’s concerns on school meals to Appropriations committee members before they consider FY 2015 appropriations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The vote on this is expected to happen on Thursday, May 29, 2014.

The letter notes:

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), representing more than 90,000 local school board members across the nation, working with and through our state school boards associations, writes to express support for local school district flexibility and modest regulatory relief for school meal programs in the FY 2015 Appropriations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Students need healthy meals and adequate nutrition to achieve their potential in the classroom, and school board members are committed to ensuring all students are prepared to learn. However, school boards cannot ignore the higher costs and operational issues created by
mandates in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (PL 111-296). Therefore, NSBA supports two important measures in the legislation that the Committee will consider on May 29, 2014:

• NSBA supports the appropriation of $25 million for school meal equipment grants, which will help schools prepare and serve healthier meals, and improve food safety.

• NSBA also supports a provision requiring the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a process by which a state shall grant a temporary waiver from compliance with national nutrition standards.

The waiver provision offers relief to school districts from some of the federal mandates that have led to soaring operational costs along with other unintended consequences, such as plate waste and reduced participation.

NSBA looks forward to working with Congress and the Secretary to assure that school districts can successfully comply with the law and also serve the very best meals and provide excellent nutrition to children.

Alexis Rice|May 28th, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Nutrition, School Boards|Tags: , , , |

Oklahoma legislature lauds record-setting school board member

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has honored Frances M. Percival for her work as the longest-serving school board member in Oklahoma’s history. She also is the longest-serving female elected official in the United States, according to state Rep. Mike Shelton.

Frances Percival with Oklahoma Rep. Mike Shelton

Frances Percival with Oklahoma Rep. Mike Shelton

Leaders of the Oklahoma House of Representatives surprised Percival with a resolution “for her many contributions to the Millwood School District and the State of Oklahoma,” which was adopted by unanimous consent and three standing ovations. The resolution was then delivered to the Senate for consideration.

Percival, 86, was recognized for 44 consecutive years as a member of the Millwood school board and more than half a century of service as a Millwood School District volunteer. The resolution states that Percival began her service in the Millwood district as a volunteer in 1958: “She served selflessly as a classroom assistant office aide, cafeteria monitor, patron telephone book editor, and held a PTA office.” She was instrumental in the first Oklahoma City public school uniform dress code implemented at Millwood, and was active in the development of the Millwood Arts Academy and the Freshmen Academy, according to the resolution sponsored by Rep. Shelton.

Percival represents the Millwood school board on the Oklahoma State School Boards Association as a District 6 director, and has served on three of the OSSBA’s committees. Shawn Hime, executive director of the OSSBA, noted that her fellow board members “have elected her to the board for over 25 years.”

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) recognized Percival in 1997 for “outstanding commitment to public education through proven school board leadership,” and she received NSBA’s Award for Distinguished Service. She also has participated in NSBA’s Federal Relations Network and the State Legislative Network.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 14th, 2014|Categories: NSBA Recognition Programs, School Boards, State School Boards Associations|

NSBA launches international student travel policy guide for schools

Bon Voyage! A Legal and Policy Making Guide for School Boards on International Student Travel

Bon Voyage! A Legal and Policy Making Guide for School Boards on International Student Travel

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has released a new policy guide on international student travel to help school boards anticipate and interpret important legal considerations and planning issues before students reach the departure gate.

This innovative guide, “BON VOYAGE! A Legal and Policy Making Guide for School Boards on International Student Travel,” provides vital information explaining the three types of international student travel, which include school sponsored and school district managed, school sponsored and tour-company managed, and non-school sponsored/private trips, providing guidance on recommended district-led policies for each. In addition, the report promotes improved understanding of outside tour companies, insurance policies, liability issues, and academic credit programs.

“Paving the way to successful international travel requires informed readiness,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director. “This guide will help school boards understand the important questions they should be asking to ensure that districts and students conduct the planning steps essential to optimize overall return on investment and enhance students’ travel experience.”

Hundreds of thousands of students from U.S. public schools learn about the various countries and cultures of the world by traveling abroad each year in structured tour groups. These trips are often organized by teachers or the more than 250 tour companies that offer student packages.

The guide advises that every school board have a policy on international student travel. The document, which is laid out in a question-and-answer format, shows school board members the important details to consider, such as the educational value of a trip and class credits, the types of insurance to purchase, how to make clear to participants whether a trip is either school sponsored or non-school sponsored, and policies and procedures for school-sponsored trips. It also advises school board members to consult a school attorney to review their policies.

Alexis Rice|May 14th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , |
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