Articles in the State School Boards Associations category

“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: , , |

Massachusetts Association of School Committees’ governance project honored with national award

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) honored the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) for a project that has helped Massachusetts school boards improve teaching and learning in their districts. MASC received a 2014 Thomas A. Shannon Award for Excellence at NSBA’s Leadership Conference in Washington on Feb. 2, 2014.

The Massachusetts District Governance Support Project (DGSP) is a joint initiative of MASC, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This project, which began in 2010 and was fully implemented in 2013, is part of a larger professional development initiative that includes a professional development program for principals, a new superintendent induction program, and a labor management partnership.

“The Massachusetts Association of School Committees has led an important effort to provide school boards with tools to improve their educational programs and operations,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Their project will ultimately lead to stronger public schools and greater student achievement in Massachusetts.”

MASC staff and collaborators produced a seven-part training program which focused on different strategies for the boards to understand and execute their roles in a way to improve outcomes for students. The MASC staff engaged in implementing training throughout the state to ensure that school boards understood the state’s new, comprehensive educator evaluation system. As part of the program, a highly detailed school committee evaluation tool was developed and utilized as well.

“Our goal was to use the research on how boards advance teaching and learning and to make our members part of the solution,” said MASC Executive Director Glenn Koocher. “If we want our democracy to include school governance, it’s a mission that must succeed.”

The Thomas A. Shannon Award, named after a former executive director of NSBA, is a national award for leadership in public education given annually by NSBA.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 2nd, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Educational Research, Governance, Professional Development, State School Boards Associations|

NSBA honors Illinois Association of School Boards leader for 50-year career

Patricia Culler of the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) received the 2014 Thomas Shannon Award for Excellence from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) at its Leadership Conference in Washington on Feb. 2, 2014.

Culler is IASB’s Assistant to the Executive Director and the Director of Meetings Management. She began working at IASB in 1964, when the organization had five employees. Today it has more than 70.

“In her remarkable career, Pat has become an extremely valuable asset to our Illinois affiliate,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Her work and the relationships she has cultivated over the past 50 years have helped build the organization, which in turn improves public schools for the children in Illinois.”

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

“Pat Culler has demonstrated that one person can make a difference, not only to one state school board association, but to a national mission,” said Roger Eddy, IASB Executive Director. “When she started, IASB was a small organization working out of a few offices.  Now, largely due to Pat’s efforts over the years, it is among the national leaders in fulfilling the mission of excellence in local school governance in support of quality public education. She is retiring after 50 years of dedicated service to IASB and this award is a fitting capstone to an amazing career.”

Culler is responsible for managing IASB’s annual conference, which draws more than 10,000 attendees, and other organization events. She also works closely with IASB’s Executive Director and Board of Directors to facilitate information and communications. Most recently she helped organize events surrounding IASB’s 100th anniversary in 2013.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 2nd, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Conferences and Events, NSBA Recognition Programs, State School Boards Associations|Tags: |

Phil Gore to lead National Connection, BuyBoard

Phil Gore, a former staff member with the Washington State School Directors’ Association, has been named Director of NSBA’s State Association Partnership Services, where he oversees BuyBoard® National Purchasing Cooperative and National Connection, a service that provides high-quality, national resources for school districts.

In his former role as the Washington association’s Director of Leadership Development Services, Gore researched, designed, oversaw, and delivered board development consultation for Washington’s 1,477 school board members. During that time, he led the development of school board standards and a validated board self-assessment based on the standards.  He also led a statewide initiative to develop multiple approaches and instruments for superintendent evaluation in the state.

Before getting into education policy, Gore had a successful 20-year career in church ministry. While he was a local school board member, he returned to grad school to earn a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington in Seattle. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Washington and is completing his dissertation on the factors and sources of information that school boards consider when evaluating a superintendent.

Gore and his wife, Julie, who have three grown children, live in Alexandria, Va.

 

Lawrence Hardy|January 30th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Board governance, Educational Finance, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , |

NSBA mourns the passing of longtime colleague Michael Eader

MichaelEader

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is mourning the death of Michael E. Eader, who had previously served as NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Federation Member Services from 1985 to 1997, passed away Monday.

”Mike worked closely with state associations and built many lasting friendships during his service here and in his roles with state school boards associations and as a consultant to school districts,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “He was truly committed to public education and will be deeply missed by all of us who knew him.”

Most recently, Eader was an international education governance consultant, providing presentations, programs and workshops for NSBA, several state school boards associations, and local school districts. He was executive director of the Florida Association of School Administrators from 2003 to 2005, and executive director of the New Hampshire School Boards Association, from 2001 to 2003.

A native of Michigan, Eader also served as executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards in the 1980s.

“Mike, a fellow Detroiter, and I go way back,” said Timothy G. Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association. “We met at an NSBA trainers’ conference in Atlanta in the early ‘80s.”

After that meeting, Kremer said that he and Eader were “fast friends and troublemakers from the start.”

“Quick smile, big hug, but also a smart, complex guy,” Kremer said. “I will miss you, Mike.  God bless you.”

Lawrence Hardy|January 15th, 2014|Categories: Governance, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , |
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