Articles in the State School Boards Associations category

Court deems Virginia school takeover plan unconstitutional

A Circuit Court judge has struck down a state school takeover board that would have stripped local school boards of their authority over low-performing schools, ruling in favor of the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) and the City of Norfolk school board.

Norfolk Public Schools and VSBA sued the state last fall, arguing that the state’s Opportunity Educational Institution (OEI) and its governing board, established by then-Governor Bob McDonnell and the Virginia General Assembly to take over schools deemed to be chronically low performing, violated the state’s constitution.

“This ruling is an important affirmation of the Virginia Constitution’s intent that localities hold the responsibility for their public schools,” said VSBA Executive Director Gina G. Patterson. “With that being said, there is still much work to be done to ensure that all of our schools are successful.”

The OEI and the OEI Board were created by the state legislature in its 2013 session to take over the supervision of schools that were denied accreditation and to require documentation and information about schools that had been accredited with warning for three years. The legislation also granted the OEI Board the authority to vote to take over the supervision of any school accredited with warning for three years. The legislation creating the OEI and the OEI Board purported to make the OEI “a statewide school division” and the OEI Board “a policy board in the executive branch of state government.”

The school board of a school taken over would have been required to transfer to OEI not only the local funds required by the state-mandated Standards of Quality, but also any local funds appropriated to the school division of residence in excess of the state-mandated amount.

The VSBA and the Norfolk School Board argued that the law violated Article VIII, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia, which provides that “the supervision of schools in each school division shall be vested in a school board.”

The OEI board was a policy board under the executive branch of government and an education institution falling under Title 23 of the Code of Virginia, which relates to institutions of higher education. Further, the lawsuit argued that the legislation establishing the OEI board violates Article VIII, Section 5, of the Constitution of Virginia, which provides that the State Board of Education shall create school divisions. The General Assembly, not the Virginia Board of Education, created the OEI board as a statewide school division.

Norfolk School Board Chairman Kirk Houston said, “We are pleased with the ruling. We value our strong partnership with Virginia elected and appointed leaders, however, state takeover of schools was not going to be a magic formula for addressing challenges with student achievement, particularly in high-poverty schools. In Norfolk, our community is focused on creating school environments that maximize all children’s academic potential, with consideration for all of their unique needs.”

Since the lawsuit was filed, more than 100 school boards and municipal governing boards, including Norfolk’s City Council, passed resolutions supporting it.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|June 11th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Governance, School Law, State School Boards Associations|Tags: |

NSBA President Anne Byrne: “High standards are a must”

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Anne M. Byrne

National School Boards Association (NSBA) President Anne M. Byrne recently discussed the challenges and potential for the Common Core State Standards during a meeting of the Learning First Alliance (LFA), a coalition of national education groups. LFA followed up with specific questions for Byrne, including queries about her firsthand experience as a school board member from the Nanuet Union Free School District in New York. Byrne noted that in New York, “In spite of all the bumps in the road, teachers are seeing their students learning the subject matter more deeply and more clearly. This is a very good result.”

Read the interview, below:

First, we would love to get your thoughts on the actual standards. As a school board member, and as a state and national leader, when you assess the standards, what are your first impressions, both in terms of opportunity and potential challenges? Are there particular elements you are excited about, or nervous about? What are the implications for student achievement and equity?

This movement to higher standards is a very good thing. High standards are a must whether you call them career- and college-ready standards or the Common Core. Let me tell you about two experts at conferences I recently attended. At one, I heard from Bill Daggett, the founder and president of the International Center for Leadership in Education, who spoke to the data around present standards and clearly made the point of the absolute necessity to raise our standards in order to be career and college ready–and Common Core does exactly that. At another, Kevin Baird of the Common Core Institute talked about where we need to go so that all of our children can be successful. He, too, made the case using data how raising standards is a must. Both were powerful presentations about what the standards are and why we must raise them.

That said, there is a gap between where we are and where we need to be. Some states have greater gaps than others. Each state has their own standards. Massachusetts, for example, has the highest standards in the nation. All of the rest of the states go from high standards to not so high standards. The key to moving forward is for states to embrace higher standards and build a solid implementation plan. One state that’s implementing the standards well is Kentucky.

My first impressions are that it is going to be hard work for boards, administrators, teachers, parents and students. Higher standards allow opportunities that are directly related to brighter futures for each of our children. The potential challenges include making sure the resources are available to school districts; providing cutting edge professional development for our teachers; ensuring curricular materials are aligned to the new standards, and assessments aligned to the new curricular materials; making sure our children with special needs and English language learners are part of the conversation on how to help them reach the standards; and helping parents and communities to understand what the standards are and why they are so important. I am excited about the opportunities for children. I am nervous that because the standards are higher than what all of us have now, there might be a tendency to withdraw from them.

The implications for student achievement are not only great for our students, but also our country.
Equity is always a concern, because right now there are schools that do not receive adequate or equitable funding, both of which are needed to implement higher standards. Schools that are low performing need extra help and resources so that each child has the opportunity to succeed.

When it comes to district level alignment, what steps should local school boards take to prepare for Common Core implementation?

First, we must understand what the Common Core Standards are. We must ensure that our public and staff understand why we need high expectations for our students, why we need our students to be globally competitive, why we need to train staff in good professional development, and why we must raise our current standards.

This takes resources, so the school board must use the resources necessary to be successful. We need good curricula aligned to the Common Core, good learning materials for our staff and students, staff development to help staff teach and to keep parents and community informed.

We also must have patience. It will not happen overnight. It will take hard work to accomplish, but it must happen. We also have to find ways to decrease the test-taking anxiety of our students and their parents.

One of the big CCSS infrastructure questions concerns technology capacity and online assessments. Would you provide us with some information about your district and your preparations for testing? What are districts doing across New York; how big is the variance in preparedness by district?

According to an April, 2013 article by the New York State School Boards Association, in 2010, the Federal Communications Commission surveyed all schools that participate in the federal E-Rate program on their preparedness for online testing. It found that 80% of participating schools believe their broadband connections don’t meet their demands, and 55% of respondents cited “slow connection speed” as the main reason.

Most New York schools get their broadband connections through a RIC (regional information center) via a shared wide area network (WAN) service that is constantly being upgraded. This service is done in conjunction with BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services). I don’t know if all New York schools have enough bandwidth or capacity with hardware to allow all their students to take the assessments on line, but they are certainly working toward that goal. My own local school board, Nanuet Union Free School District in Rockland County, has the capacity to allow our students to take their assessments on line.

New York State has encountered some bumps with implementation. Many individuals ascribe to the belief that there is just as much, if not more, to be learned from failure as there is from success. Would you mind identifying a few lessons that can be taken from New York’s recent challenges?

Communication is paramount to implementing the new standards. The implementation plan broke down in New York because communications broke down. Tests were given last year without curriculum modules, teacher preparation, student preparation, or parental involvement. The curricular guides are still being rolled out for English Language Arts and mathematics, and they have not been available for other subjects. The guides are highly prescriptive– you would need much longer than a year to complete a year’s worth of work. Staff is working very hard to modify and adopt the guides for their students. Parents are having a hard time helping their children with their homework, especially in math.

InBloom, the outside data collection group that was going to be collecting our children’s data, came under fire from parents because of data privacy concerns; now inBloom is no longer going to be collecting data, and the state education department has scaled back the timeline for implementation.

We see from this experience that we must have a curriculum that aligns with the standards and teachers who are adequately prepared to teach that curriculum. And we must ensure that we are working with a realistic timeframe to make changes and educate our parents, teachers, and other stakeholders about how and why we are doing this.
In spite of all the bumps in the road, teachers in the classroom are seeing their students learning the subject matter more deeply and more clearly. This is a very good result. This is why we need patience. This is hard work and it takes time.

More specific to the question of state level implementation, would you be able to discuss the particulars around the role of teacher evaluations during the transition to the standards?

One of the hottest conversations surrounding Common Core is the connection between teacher and principal evaluations and the Common Core. Some have called for a pause because teachers do not have the needed tools and as a result will be judged unfairly. Interestingly enough, in the initial round of evaluations, only one percent of teachers were found to be ineffective and less than 5% classified as “developing.” The data suggests that 94% of all teachers are succeeding in showing growth in their classrooms. Of course statewide exams in New York count for 20% of evaluation, and local exams another 20%, with 60% having to do with classroom evaluations. The school district, using considerable resources, and the local union negotiated the language used to develop each school district’s evaluation process and implementation plan.

Full Common Core implementation is a complex task, and general public awareness is fairly low. What is the biggest misconception you’ve personally heard about the standards? What role do school boards play in providing information and transparency for parents and local community members? What resources should they utilize, and what aspects of the standards should they emphasize?
There are many misconceptions about the Common Core Learning Standards. First, the standards are NOT the assessments, NOT the curriculum and NOT a national agenda to take over schools. Common Core standards are not a dumbing down of the curriculum; in fact, Common Core is more rigorous than most state standards and expects every student to learn Algebra 2, which is also higher than most states now. It is also not true that the new standards will crowd out classical literature, since reading and writing will be done across the subject areas. It is true that the new standards do not require cursive writing, but schools can still teach it.

It is crucial for school boards to make sure the district provides professional development for staff, aligned instructional material and supports for students and parents. There is lots of research on line to look at the standards; NSBA’s Center for Public Education is a good source. Each state education department also has many resources. In New York you can look at engageny.org, the New York State Education Department’s website on the Common Core.

Collaboration is a critical part of school climate and is often an essential component for success. With the new standards posed to have a significant impact on all levels of a school building, from teaching and learning, to testing administration and evaluation, collaboration and trust among building staff will help ensure a smoother transition. What steps and actions can local school boards take to facilitate greater district level collaboration at this particularly stressful and anxious juncture in time?

The Iowa Lighthouse Inquiry was a 10-year study by the Iowa School Boards Foundation that examined whether school boards made a difference in student achievement, and the answer was, yes they did. Starting with that premise, effective boards must set clear and high expectations for student learning, create the conditions for success, be accountable for results, create the public will to succeed, and learn as a team. Since boards are the policy makers in a district, they should have written policies on student achievement and maintain a collaborative relationship with staff and the community. Communications, both internal and external, are key to helping staff and the public understand what is happening and relieving some of the stress associated with the new standards. I think it helps if everyone is on the same page and staff and community feel they are listened to and kept apprised of any new developments.

Generally speaking, it seems that the school districts that are having a smoother transition to the Common Core Learning Standards tend to be those districts that valued and practiced collaboration prior to adoption and implementation of the Standards. It is part of their everyday work and mission. According to the Center for Public Education’s report, “Eight Characteristics of Effective Boards,” effective school boards tend to have a cohesive and reciprocal relationship with school personnel and the community. They value collaboration and effective communication, and it is embedded in their school district’s strategic vision and policy development.

As President of NSBA, would you mind taking a moment to discuss the national landscape with regards to implementation? Do you see particular districts that are doing an outstanding job in this work? What types of support from different entities or levels of government would be particularly useful over the next year or two?

Local school boards are responsible for the implementation of any new academic standards such as Common Core standards, which include locally approved instruction and materials in a manner that reflects community needs. Therefore, NSBA urges states to provide financial and technical support to enable school districts to implement, in an effective and timely manner, voluntarily adopted rigorous standards, including the Common Core standards.

NSBA supports high academic standards, including Common Core, that are voluntarily adopted by states with local school board input and free from federal direction, federal mandates, funding conditions or coercion.

It is apparent that every state is in a different place with implementation. Kentucky was the first state to start the implementation process, and they have done a good job, taking the time to communicate with all their stakeholders and making sure staff has good professional development opportunities. Massachusetts is also going about implementation at a thoughtful and steady pace, examining the gaps with their current standards, piloting in some districts and implementing the changes needed. I am sure there are other states that are far along in the process and others who need more time and help.

As far as help from any level of government, it would be refreshing if our elected state and federal representatives were more visionary. It takes looking down the road 10 years and saying, “Where do I want public education to be, and what do I need to do to make that happen?”

Of course more resources are vitally important, since public education is a labor intensive enterprise. But just as important is relief from onerous regulations and rules. Think about all the resources needed now to run a state or federal government. If we educated every child well, most of the money we spend now would be decreased. We would need fewer jails and less social service benefits, and we would be more productive as an economy.

Are there any additional thoughts you’d like to share with us that haven’t been covered above?

The bottom line is that raising our standards is absolutely necessary so each child can succeed.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Michelangelo, who said, “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we will miss it, but it is too low and we will make it.”

Until every child is given the chance to be successful, we cannot rest. America is a great country, and public education is the cornerstone of our democracy. It is crucial for the future of our democracy and the future of public schools that all children have the opportunity to be successful.

Joetta Sack-Min|June 5th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Center for Public Education, Common Core State Standards, Educational Research, State School Boards Associations|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|

School board leadership DOES matter

An editorial by Robert Rader, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education:

The Fordham Institute, whose president, Chester Finn, has called the school board “an aberration, an anachronism, an educational sinkhole” that should be put “out of its misery,” recently published a report, “Does School Board Leadership Matter?

It definitely contradicts the spirit of Finn’s previous comments.

The document lists information that we have known ever since the original Iowa Lighthouse Initiative was released: School boards, particularly their attitudes on student learning, are an important element of student success. Other information points us to what we must do to ensure that boards are relevant, effective, and beneficial.

The report comes at a critical time for executive directors from state school boards associations who have been involved in attempting to discern what the board of tomorrow will be like. It gives us an idea of what boards need to do to accomplish their primary goal: increasing student achievement and growth.

I believe it also implicitly supports the idea of boards of education, with all of their warts, is the most effective way in which to govern almost all school districts.

Report authors Arnold F. Shober and Michael T. Hartney started with information from “a national [2009] survey of 900 school board members situated across 417 unique school districts.” They combined this information with demographic and student achievement data for the same districts.

Here’s what they found. The bolded sentences below indicate findings from the study. Other comments are mine.

1. Board members, by and large, possess accurate information about their districts and adopt work practices that are generally similar across districts. But there is little consensus about which goals should be central.

The fact that board members have good information about their districts is a hugely significant fact. Without such data, whether provided by the administration or by other board members or from the community is central to making good decisions.

Unfortunately, while the report states that in school finance, teacher pay, collective bargaining, and class size board members have “reasonable knowledge of district conditions,” they “appear less knowledgeable about the rigor (or lack thereof) of academic standards in their respective state.”

2. Districts that are more successful academically have board members who assign high priority to improving student learning. School boards that comprise a higher proportion of members who have an academic focus are, all else being equal, more likely to govern districts that “beat the odds”—that is, districts whose students perform better academically than one would expect, given their demographic and financial characteristics.

Thirty years ago, the focus of boards across the country was on issues such as collective bargaining, the termination of underperforming teachers, and fiscal matters. Today, more focus is on student achievement, measured in standardized test scores and in other ways. However, we still have not identified what those “other ways” are. The public basically only sees and reacts to the test results.

Districts that are “punching above their weights” (my phrase), are those that have embraced raising student achievement as the central goal of the board. While all boards are affected by such factors as politics, funding, and other issues, those that focus on academics do the best, which is what the original Lighthouse study taught us a decade ago.

On the other hand, the study is based on the 2009 survey. I would hope that today, with all of the discussion of Common Core and five more years of discussion of increasing student achievement, there would be an even stronger recognition of the importance of increasing achievement.

3. Political moderates tend to be more informed than liberals and conservatives when it comes to money matters; educators and former educators are less informed.

This is a particularly interesting finding. While the report found “strong evidence that both knowledge and focus are shaped by board members’ occupational background and political ideology,” which is no surprise, it also found that political liberals “are more likely than moderates or conservatives to place less focus on improving student learning, believing instead that schools serve many goals.”

On the other hand, conservatives “do not subscribe to either an academic or plural focus, suggesting that their priorities may lie in financial stewardship (or other matters) rather than in student learning or other outcomes.”

4. At-large, on-cycle elections are associated with districts that beat the odds.

This would appear to be good news for Connecticut, where almost all school board elections occur in conjunction with general elections. The report did not examine the effect of board members running on political lines, which comes with its own benefits and disadvantages.

This study indicates a need to keep our eye on the prize: higher academic achievement for all of our students. It reminds us that board members must become as knowledgeable as possible on understanding relevant data, as well as best practices and current education trends.

In most cases, board members do not join boards as experts in education and, as the study shows, those who do, do not necessarily focus on student achievement. But, the board members who are determined to learn more and, I would add, get involved in regional and statewide opportunities for learning, provide their districts with the value that will make their boards and their students even more successful than they are now.

And in this competitive world, every little bit helps.

Staff|April 29th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Key Work of School Boards, Leadership, State School Boards Associations, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

“Myths and lies” threaten public schools, renowned researcher David Berliner says

DavidBerlinerInside

David C. Berliner  participated in a no-holds-barred interview with the Arizona School Boards Association.

David C. Berliner, Regents Professor Emeritus of education at Arizona State University (ASU) and co-author of the recently released book “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools,” recently spoke with the Arizona School Boards Association‘s (ASBA) Arizona Education News Service. Berliner discusses the policies, practices and popular beliefs that he believes are the greatest threats to Arizona’s public schools and shares his thoughts on how schools can better serve children. His co-author was Gene V. Glass, also a Regents Professor Emeritus of education at ASU.

The following question-and-answer session is republished with permission from ASBA.

Q: What three policies, practices and popular beliefs mentioned in the book affect Arizona’s public schools most?

A: The first and most important myth is that American students do not do well in international competition, which shows how poor our schools are. This is complete nonsense.

If you start to break up the scores of kids on the tests into five groups – one of which are kids that go to schools where less than 10 percent of the families are in poverty, and another group of schools where less than 25 percent of kids are in poverty –in the last big international test scores, the PISA, those kids actually scored among the best in the world.

In reading, they scored almost better than anyone else. Even in mathematics, which is not our strongest area in the U.S., they scored terrific.

It’s the other end of the spectrum – kids who go to schools where there are over 50 percent in poverty or at schools where there are over 75 percent of kids in poverty – they’re doing terrible.

The blanket statement that our schools don’t do well is factually incorrect.

The proper statement is that some of our schools are not doing well, and almost all of them are schools where poverty is endemic.

The second one that I would touch on is the absolutely stupid policy passed by our Legislature (Move on When Reading) to hold kids back if they are not reading well in third grade.

There is no better set of research in education than in that area. We know quite factually, as certainly as we know evolution and as well as we know global warming, that leaving a child back is a wrong decision for almost all of them. It’s a mistake.

The child who is left back has a much higher chance of dropping out of school. They don’t like school. When those students are interviewed, they call up the equivalent of wetting their pants in school, or losing a parent, or going blind. It’s a horrible occurrence for the family.

What’s more, the state has committed itself to putting in another approximately $8,000 because to leave that child back, means one more year of elementary school.

If they used that $8,000 for tutoring of the kid, you wouldn’t have to leave the kid back. The kid wouldn’t drop out of high school. The kid wouldn’t be a negative force in classrooms and wouldn’t be overage for their grade. You’d be much better off.

The third one I’d suggest is one promulgated by Arizona’s own Goldwater Institute, in which the president of the Goldwater Institute says early childhood education is no good.

She is factually wrong.

There are studies out showing that for all kids high-quality early childhood education makes a difference in their lives and for poor kids in particular it has really profound effects.

Those are three areas where Arizona, in particular, has got it all wrong.

Q: Which specific funding issues identified in the book need to be addressed most urgently and how?

A: There are a number of parts to this. Number one, teacher salaries in Arizona have gone way down. Other states, while they had to rescind some salaries during the recession, have restored them. During the recession, Massachusetts’ teachers’ salaries went up.

You cannot attract the best and the brightest to the field even if they want to be teachers, if you don’t pay them enough for the starting salary.

Maybe even worse for the long-term in Arizona is that state funding for the three state universities has gone straight down for the last 20 years while the demand for higher education and the demand for educated workers is up.

You can’t have a future in a knowledge economy without people possessing knowledge.

Also, we have not restored the funding that the state gives to school districts either. So we’ve had to cancel art and music classes, we’ve had to cancel a lot of special services for kids who need them, and after school programs, etc.

Not only have you hurt who you can attract to the field, but you’ve actually hurt the systems themselves.

Funding matters a lot. Other states are way, way ahead of us.

Q: You have identified a group of college-and-career ready “myths and lies.” What is the most prevalent issue related to this that you identify in the book?

A: We don’t think most people know what career- and college-ready means.

What we need is certainly a literate workforce, a numerate workforce, a scientifically literate workforce, but we’ve always needed that. I don’t think that’s anything new.

What we really need to save our state and our nation is a population that takes its role in citizenship seriously. We are more likely to lose our pre-eminence as a nation because of apathetic voters than anything else.

Q: How can schools better serve children?

A: Schools could be better if they were, in our more modern times, more encompassing of the child.

That means more after-school programs, because lots of families are not home for kids after school. It could be homework areas for kids with tutors, it could be sports, it could be music, it could be art.

There’s a fascinating study that says when people reach the age of 55 or so, which is usually around the peak earning parts of their lives, people who have studied the humanities out-earn people who have gone into business.

But what we see all over America is the cutting of the humanities – less government, less history, less art, less music.

What we’re doing is cutting off our humanities, when we need to keep them. We need the journalism club. We need the music classes. We need the art classes. That would make some schools better, but it also makes kids want to go to school.

I bet very few kids want to go to school to study mathematics. I bet lots of kids want to go to school to be part of the music program, the art program, and the sports program.

What you want are the hooks to keep kids in school, and those are the ones that we’re getting rid of. Every parent knows this, and every legislator doesn’t care.

Q: “Myths and lies” is a pretty inflammatory title. Why did you choose this as a way to discuss the serious issues facing America’s and Arizona’s public schools?

A: A good deal of what’s promulgated is self interest.

School uniforms companies tell everyone learning improves if you wear uniforms. Not true. Your laundry bill may improve, though.

Other companies sell iPads, and say it will help kids do better in school. Well, there’s no evidence of that.

Another part of it is simple failure to understand the research base. Like the passage of Move on When Reading.

(The interview was edited for length and clarity.)

Joetta Sack-Min|April 23rd, 2014|Categories: Assessment, Curriculum, Data Driven Decision Making, Educational Research, Governance, Policy Formation, Preschool Education, Privatization, Public Advocacy, School Reform, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA offers sympathies for victims in school stabbing incident

According to news reports, a teenage student went on a stabbing rampage at Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville, Pa., seriously injuring at least 20 people. At the request of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) released the following statement on April 9:

“Our deepest sympathies go out to the 20 students and staff seriously injured in today’s stabbing rampage at Franklin Regional Senior High in Murrysville,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “As the police, school and local community begin to piece together facts on what led to this horrific crime, it is important to emphasize how rapidly the school district mobilized to keep district students at all levels – middle, high school, and elementary – safe.”

“While such violence is unimaginable, parents, families and the Pittsburgh community should take comfort in the rapid responses of the school principal and the school resource officer to contain the high school sophomore identified as the suspect. While America’s public schools are still one of the safest places we can send our children, this shows why when the unimaginable occurs, having strong safety plans and procedures in place has the power to save lives and protect communities.”

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|April 9th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Crisis Management, School Climate, School Security, State School Boards Associations|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: , , , |

Delegate Assembly approves NSBA advocacy agenda

NSBA Delegate Assembly

NSBA’s Delegate Assembly approved the association’s hard-hitting advocacy agenda around public education at its business session Friday in New Orleans. The meeting was held right before the start of NSBA’s Annual Conference, which opens Saturday.

“This will now form the basis for NSBA’s advocacy efforts and become part of our enduring beliefs,” said David Pickler, the 2013-14 NSBA President. He referred to the three core policies voted on by the assembly as the three “legs” of the association’s aggressive and ambitious advocacy agenda.

The first “leg” is opposition to unlawful expansion of executive authority. According to the resolution, NSBA supports “an appropriate federal role in education.” However, it opposes the “federal intrusion and expansion of executive authority by the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies” in the absence of authorizing legislation, viewing it as an “invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority.”

Such overstepping has had a detrimental effect on schools and districts, including imposing unnecessary financial and administrative requirements and preventing local school officials from making the best decisions for their students based on their close knowledge of community needs and priorities.

The second “leg” is opposition to privatization — vouchers, tuition tax credits, and charter schools not authorized by local school boards. Privatization has resulted in a “second system of publicly funded education” that sends tax-payer money to private schools, fails to hold private schools accountable for evaluating and reporting student and financial performance and abiding by open meeting requirements, and often has the effect of resegregating schools.

High academic standards, including the Common Core State Standards, are the topic of the third “leg.” NSBA supports high academic standards, including Common Core, when they are voluntarily adopted by states with school board input and when the standards are free from federal directions, mandates, funding conditions or coercion.

Local school boards are responsible for the implementation of any new academic standards. Instruction and materials should be locally approved, to reflect community needs. In the resolution is a “call to action” to states to provide the financial and technical support that school districts require to implement voluntarily adopted rigorous standards in an effective and timely manner.

Also at the meeting, the assembly elected NSBA’s new officers and regional directors. They will take office on Monday, April 7.

The 2014-15 NSBA President, Anne Byrne of New York, was formally sworn into office at Delegate Assembly. “I promise to work hard for you to advance the mission of NSBA,” she told the group. “Leading children to excellence is my theme. To me, it is a deep commitment to the children we all serve.”

The Delegate Assembly is the policy-making body of NSBA, and it consists of delegates chosen by state school board associations. This year, changes in the Delegate Assembly meeting included holding small-group briefing sessions so delegates and state association leaders had a chance to fully understand and debate the issues around the three core elements.

Also new was an online forum for the delegates to review and debate the issues before they arrived in New Orleans.

Kathleen Vail|April 5th, 2014|Categories: Common Core State Standards, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , , , , , , |

NSBA highlights 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education decision

NSBA’s Board of Directors has unanimously approved a resolution commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, saying it “has had a profound, significant, and beneficial impact on all aspects of life in the United States.”

While the historic decision repudiated the doctrine of “separate but equal” — ruling that separate educational systems, by their very nature, could not be equal — the board noted that “many areas of our nation are still struggling with the vestiges of segregation in American.”

The resolution was proposed by Frank Pugh, Director of NSBA’s Pacific Region, and enthusiastically endorsed by Board President David A. Pickler.

Pugh called the ruling the most important educational decision of the past 100 years and worthy of continued reflection as public schools strive to make a world-class education available to all children, regardless of such difference as race, income, and ethnicity.

“It’s good for school boards to recognize how history has created the type of schools that we have today that are open to everyone and are equitable to all,” Pugh said. At the same time, he added, “there is a lot of work to be done” to ensure that all children have the opportunity to succeed.

The resolution now goes to NSBA’s Delegate Assembly, which meets April 4 at the association’s 74th Annual Conference in New Orleans

The Board of Directors has asked state school boards associations and school districts to issue their own commemorations of the historic civil rights decision made on May 17, 1954, and its resolution “encourages direct student participation through essays, creative arts, lectures, research and writing, community projects, and other activities to foster personal commitment to democracy.”

 

Lawrence Hardy|February 20th, 2014|Categories: Diversity, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, State School Boards Associations|

Report: Pennsylvania’s charters are costly to traditional public schools

Pennsylvania’s growing number of charter and cyber-charter schools do not save school districts money and, in many cases, add to their expenses, says a new report from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA).

“Charter schools do not charge a standard rate for their educational services,” says the report by PSBA’s Education Research and Policy Center. “In fact, the amount paid to charter schools varies greatly by school district, and is often completely unrelated to the actual operational costs incurred by charter schools.”

Tuition payments to Pennsylvania charter schools rose from $960 million in 2010-11 to more than $1.15 billion in 2011-12.

The tuition calculation for charter schools is much the same as for the per-student Actual Institutional Expense (AIE) of traditional schools; however, several cost elements excluded from the AIE —  for example, early intervention, vocational expenditures, and selected federal revenue — are included in the charter school tuition formula, thus driving up the cost of this subsidy, the report said.

“The problem is compounded by the fact that in most cases, less than 30 students from each district building attend charters, meaning districts are unable to reduce overhead costs, such as heating and electricity,” the report said. “Neither are school districts able to reduce the size of their faculty or staff.”

In addition, many students choosing to attend charter or cyber-charter schools were previously attending private schools or being home-schooled, meaning that these tuition payments are “an entirely new expense for school districts,” the report said.

PSBA’s report made several recommendations, among them requesting that the state set “reasonable limits” on the amount of unexpended tuition funds charters can receive from school districts and that these schools be required to return any unused balances to the district that sent them the money.

 

 

Lawrence Hardy|February 12th, 2014|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Privatization, School Vouchers, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , |
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