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Articles in the School Boards category

Call for proposals for NSBA’s 2015 Annual Conference

2015 NSBA Annual Conference

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is requesting proposals for breakout sessions to be conducted during our 75th Annual Conference in Nashville, Tenn., March 21-23. The conference will draw thousands of attendees, exhibitors, and guests representing nearly 1,400 school districts, and will feature distinguished speakers and hundreds of workshops, presentations, and other events that will help school board members develop leadership skills, boost student learning, and improve school districts’ operations.

If your school district or organization has an idea for a high-quality breakout session that focuses on a topic of critical interest to school board members for presentation at this conference, please complete a proposal online by the deadline of Monday, June 16 at 5 p.m. EDT. Only proposals submitted through the online process  will be considered. Breakout sessions will be 30, 45, or 75 minutes in length and will be scheduled throughout the conference.

Proposals are being solicited for the following focus areas:

• Innovations in District Management
• Legal and Legislative Advocacy
• Professional and Personal Development
• School Board/Superintendent Partnerships
• Student Achievement and Accountability
• Technology + Learning Solutions

USDA oversteps authority with new school nutrition regulations, NSBA says

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to evaluate the financial impact the federal school nutrition law and proposed regulations will have on school districts and give waivers to school districts that prove the financial and regulatory burdens are insurmountable.

Having overstepped its regulatory authority, the USDA should also eliminate a proposed regulation that would subject all foods available in school—including those that are not sold on the school campus during the school day, such as treats brought from home for birthday parties–to meet the strict nutrition guidelines consistent with competitive food standards.

NSBA’s recommendations are part of comments to the USDA on its proposed regulations for the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which requires schools to serve healthier meals and severely restricts the sale of high-fat, high-calorie foods but does not reimburse school districts for the much higher costs they face.

NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel pointed out in the April 28 letter that school board members are deeply committed to fostering a healthy and positive learning environment for children to achieve their full potential, and NSBA has participated in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Active Schools campaign.

“It is therefore disappointing to see yet another set of requirements from the Department that extends federal overreach at the expense of local school districts and the children they serve,” Gentzel wrote in the letter.

New cumbersome and costly reporting and recordkeeping requirements threaten to further diminish school districts’ abilities to operate their food services departments on sound financial footing.

NSBA also urges the USDA to propose a separate rule on the marketing of foods and beverages.

The USDA has proposed a sweeping plan that would regulate the types of foods and beverages that can be marketed on school property, although NSBA notes that the federal law only allows the USDA to regulate the marketing of foods included in the National School Lunch Program and the federal school breakfast program.

“Congress has not given the [USDA] the authority to regulate the marketing of foods that are not part of those food service programs,” the letter states. Furthermore, NSBA does not believe that the law “permits the Department to restrict through regulation or otherwise how a school district interacts with its vendors and community sponsors through its advertising of various foods and beverages, and finds that the proposed definition of marketing offered by the Department is too sweeping and will result in unintended consequences for school districts and students.”

The USDA should also clarify, if the proposed food marketing rules are not deleted or changed, that those rules would not require school districts to breach existing contracts with their vendors, which could lead to litigation and liability, NSBA says.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 1st, 2014|Categories: Educational Finance, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Food Service, Nutrition, School Boards, Wellness|Tags: , |

NSBA issues student data privacy guide in cloud computing era

As school districts increasingly move to cloud computing instead of on-site data storage, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and its Council of School Attorneys (COSA) have released a guide for school boards introducing the legal issues associated with protecting student data and suggesting best practices.

The guide, “Data in the Cloud,” seeks to raise awareness of student data privacy concerns, and to provide a framework for comprehensive student data privacy approaches in school districts.

The guide notes that cloud computing applications offer ease of use and accessibility, but come with the potential for loss of privacy and increased liability, as personal information is transferred to the application.

“School boards should consider starting a discussion with school district staff and their communities about building a comprehensive student privacy protection program,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “This guide is a helpful tool for school boards as they review and potentially rethink policies related to data and student privacy.”

The guide uses a question-and-answer format to explain the relevant terminology, recent academic research, the breadth of software offerings, important legal requirements, and additional resources available to school board members and school lawyers.

“The legal requirements that could potentially govern student data privacy are still evolving,” said Greg Guercio, COSA Chair. “The school law requirements section of this guide is a key asset for school districts and their attorneys. Current laws still leave plenty of room for interpretation on student privacy, making it is essential for district leaders to ask the right questions and understand potential problems.”

Recommendations for school boards include:

• Identify an individual district-wide Chief Privacy Officer (CPO), or a group of individuals with district-wide responsibility for privacy;

• Conduct a district-wide privacy assessment and online services audit;

• Establish a safety committee or data governance team that includes the school or district’s Chief Privacy Officer to work with the school community, recommend policies and best practices, and serves as the liaison between the school district and the community on privacy issues;

• Regularly review and update relevant district policies and incident response plans;

• Consistently, clearly, and regularly communicate with students, parents, and the community about privacy rights and district policies and practices with respect to student data privacy;

• Adopt consistent and clear contracting practices that appropriately address student data; and

• Train staff to ensure consistent implementation of school district’s policies and procedures.

Alexis Rice|April 28th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, School Boards, School Law, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , , , |

Sign up for Promise Zone Initiative webinars

Join federal government experts for one of three webinars by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development next week on the Promise Zone Initiative, President Barack Obama’s plan to partner with and invest in communities to create jobs; increase economic security; expand educational opportunities; increase access to quality, affordable housing; and improve public safety.

The webinars will occur on April 29 and 30 and be separated into three groups of school districts: tribal, urban, and rural. Webinar topics will include: the public comment period for the second round of applications, eligibility criteria, best practices from the first round, the timeline for the second round, and other details about the president’s Promise Zone Budget Proposal.

The deadline to register any of these webinars is 5 p.m. EDT, on Friday, April 25.

Here is the webinar schedule and the links for registration information:

Promise Zone Initiative Tribal Stakeholder Webinar on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 2-3 p.m. EDT

Promise Zone Initiative Urban Stakeholder Webinar on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 3:30-4:30 p.m. EDT

Promise Zone Initiative Rural Stakeholder Webinar on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 3-4 p.m. EDT

Lawrence Hardy|April 23rd, 2014|Categories: Federal Programs, School Boards, School Buildings, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , |

U.S. Supreme Court affirmative action ruling hampers diversity policies, NSBA says

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action will embolden groups opposing diversity to push for state constitutional proposals that could restrict or invalidate local school board-initiated policies that help facilitate diversity in public schools.

By upholding a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans the use of racial preferences in college admissions, the Supreme Court’s decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action on April 22, could limit school districts from adopting diversity policies by prohibiting the consideration of race and other factors in public education.

“The academic goal of diversity benefits all students, not just racial or ethnic minorities,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Diversity promotes student achievement both through improvement on standardized test scores in the short term and as preparation for participation in a pluralistic, democratic society.”

NSBA had urged the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Michigan’s Constitutional amendment in an amicus brief in the Schuette case . NSBA argued that instead of protecting the rights of public school students, the ill-conceived Michigan amendment would limit students’ opportunities by interfering with local control of education and local school boards’ abilities to design voluntary policies promoting the academic benefits of diversity.

“These kinds of state constitutional amendments will limit the use of race and therefore greatly limit the ability of schools to implement diversity policies that work,” said NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. “We are concerned that in places that pass these kinds of constitutional provisions, public schools that want to maintain diversity policies will have to show that there is specific, invidious, or aggravating injury to minorities in order for those policies to pass a constitutional test.”

Negrón noted that school diversity policies can still exist under the Schuette ruling as long as they comply with the 2007 Supreme Court ruling in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, which stipulated that policies must be narrowly tailored to achieve academic benefits for all students.

Read more details about the ruling in NSBA’s Legal Clips.

Alexis Rice|April 23rd, 2014|Categories: Diversity, School Boards, School Law|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA develops guide for school boards on boosting 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: Dropout Prevention, Reports, School Boards, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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


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


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: , , , , , , , |
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