Articles in the Teachers category

California School Boards Association speaks out on teacher tenure ruling

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

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

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

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

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

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

NSBA launches international student travel policy guide for schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education shows disparities in K-12 education

Science classes with mostly high-achieving students are much more likely to use advanced technologies such as microscopes and graphic calculators than those with mostly low-achieving students, according to the 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education.

The survey is the fifth major report in a series of studies that began in 1977 and are funded by the National Science Foundation. The research documents long-standing problems, such as inequities in instructional technology and teacher preparedness, as well as positive indicators, such as findings that mathematics is taught every day in elementary schools and that more than three-quarters of elementary mathematics teachers describe themselves as “very well prepared” to teach mathematics.

On the downside, only about one-fifth of elementary school classes teach science every day, and less than 40 percent of elementary science teachers feel that they are very well prepared to teach the subject.

The results come from a nationally representative survey of more than 1,500 schools and 7,752 science and mathematics teachers from across the country.

The 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education is “the only detailed, nationally representative snapshot of the K-12 science and mathematics education system, which comes at a critical time when the country is adopting new standards in these disciplines,” said Eric R. Banilower, the study’s principal investigator.

More than 40 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and literacy. In addition, 10 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to separate science standards developed by the National Science Teachers Association. Improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education has also been a major objective of the Obama administration and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The report’s data on the uneven distribution of instructional technology document part of a larger problem with ensuring that all students have access to equal educational opportunities. The report found that 39 percent of classes composed of mostly high-achieving students had graphing calculators, compared to 23 percent of classed that had average achievers or a mixture of students at various levels of achievement. Just 18 percent of the classes with mostly low achievers had graphic calculators.

A similar disparity was found in access to microscopes, with 82 percent of the classes with mostly high achievers having access, compared to 63 percent of classes with mostly average or mixed achievers, and 59 percent of classes with mostly low achievers.

Among the positive findings were that 81 percent of elementary school teachers considered themselves “very well prepared” to teach reading and language arts, and 77 percent said they were “very well prepared” to teach math. However, these levels fell to 47 percent for social studies and 39 percent for science.

Just 29 percent of elementary school teachers said they were “very well prepared” to teach life sciences. The rates of high preparedness were 26 percent for earth science, 17 percent for physical science and 4 percent for engineering.

Lawrence Hardy|May 7th, 2014|Categories: Curriculum, Educational Research, Professional Development, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , |

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

School board member blasts fed’s rescission of NCLB waiver for Washington state

In a strong and incisive letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Washington school board member David Iseminger has decried the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to rescind the state’s waiver of some of the more onerous requirements of No Child Left Behind, a move that will cause nearly all state schools to fail to reach the law’s student achievement benchmarks and require school districts to send “failure letters” to parents if they want to receive critical federal funds.

Last week, the department said it was rescinding the wavier because the state has not moved fast enough on its promise to use student test data to evaluate teachers and principals. The waivers allow states to escape from the law’s requirements that all schools educate 100 percent of their students to proficiency and math and language arts by this year–a provision widely criticized by educators and researchers as nearly impossible to meet.

In his letter, which was published on the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog, Iseminger characterized Duncan’s action as arbitrary and detrimental to schools and students.

“Your reason for revoking our waiver: we didn’t pass legislation you wanted,” wrote Iseminger, a board member for both the Lake Stevens School District and the Washington State School Directors’ Association. “More precisely, we passed legislation, but it didn’t have the wording (actually, one specific word) you wanted.”

Noting that Washington, D.C., is nearly 3,000 miles from his state, Iseminger offered to tell Duncan about “this other Washington” where “we have strong leadership in our board rooms, schools, and classrooms” and students who “are capable, confident, and work extremely hard.”

“In Lake Stevens — and in school districts across America — we lead by example,” Iseminger said. “We create confidence, capacity, knowledge, and opportunity for everyone in our community. There is a palpable and ubiquitous culture of excellence in Lake Stevens, where it’s common knowledge that each individual is supported, challenged, engaged, and empowered. Such things don’t appear overnight, they’re not accidental, and I have no intention of having our work undermined by distant labels and bracketed explanations.”

Among the schools that the education department would have the state call “failing” are “Schools of distinction one of them four years running,” Iseminger said, as well as Washington Achievement Awards schools and a Reward School. He said Lake Stevens has won a Magna Award from the National School Boards Association (NSBA)’s American School Board Journal and is a recognized Board of Distinction.

With NCLB reauthorization languishing six years in Congress, the law “has been subverted into a name-calling, label-applying bully pulpit,” Iseminger said.

“We tried to help,” Iseminger said. “With input and work from many education advocates, Congress was provided an extensive list of fixes that would make NCLB workable and forward-thinking, and keep us all accountable. I was there too — as a member of the (NSBA’s) Federal Relations Network (FRN), I made the trek to Washington D.C., multiple times to ask our members to reauthorize, year after year. While there, many of us from Washington also met with people from your Department of Education, in your building, trying to create relationships and press for a change in policy and tone: ‘Stop telling our students and educators they’re failing,’ I said.”

Iseminger works for Microsoft in its Business Intelligence Group, part of the Cloud + Enterprise Division. He said if the Education Department follows up the rescinding of its waiver by withholding Title I money and other key funds, disadvantaged students will suffer.

“If you pull our funding, you’ll be forsaking Washington’s most needy students — the very students for whom the original ESEA legislation was passed 50 years ago,” Iseminger wrote. “You’ll be abandoning those students, but we won’t. In Lake Stevens — and in every district across America – we’ll do whatever we must to ensure no child is left behind, waiver or not.”

Joetta Sack-Min|May 6th, 2014|Categories: American School Board Journal, Assessment, Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Programs, NSBA Recognition Programs, School Reform, Teachers|Tags: , , , , |

National Teacher of the Year “stands up” for public schools

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel presented NSBA’s “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” red wristband to Sean McComb, the 2014 National Teacher of the Year, at a gala honoring the nation’s top teachers this week.

NSBA’s “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” is a national public advocacy campaign that celebrates the good work in public education and believes that all children, regardless of their ZIP code, deserve a world-class education and a promising future. Celebrities including Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Sal Khan, and Montel Williams have joined the campaign.

Sean McComb, the 2014 National Teacher of the Year

NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel presented NSBA’s “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” red wristband to Sean McComb, the 2014 National Teacher of the Year

The National Teacher of the Year Program is run by the Council of Chief State School Officers. McComb, a high school English teacher from Baltimore, Md., created a mentor-based, college-preparatory program that helps students who are academically in the middle and in need receive the mental and academic supports they need to take rigorous college preparatory courses. McComb and all 2014 State Teachers of the Year were lauded by President Barack Obama at the White House on May 1.

Kathleen Vail, editor of American School Board Journal, served as a judged for the awards.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 1st, 2014|Categories: Public Advocacy, Teachers|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: , , , , , |

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

AC_gruwell

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: , , |

NSBA highlights international student travel concerns

Mark Blom Senior Staff Attorney for National School Boards Association (NSBA) presented a preview of a comprehensive policy guide for school boards on International Student Travel (IST), during a session on “What School Boards Need to Know About Student Travel” held Sunday, April 6 at the NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference in New Orleans.

It is estimated that over 100,000 U.S. students travel abroad each year in groups touring and learning about the various countries and cultures of the world. The session and corresponding guide are aimed at raising awareness of important legal concerns and ensure school board leaders can ask the right questions and spot potential problems before students reach the departure gate.

Although IST offers enriching experiences for participants, a lack of clarity about responsibility can create legitimate liability for the school district, no matter the district’s perceived involvement in the trip. If a parent of a student harmed on a trip has a legitimate expectation that the school sponsored the trip—through its employees—the school district faces the costs of litigation, possible settlement, and judgment, in addition to adverse publicity.

The report lists the three types of IST and provides guidance on the recommended district-led policies for each.

A. School sponsored and school district managed: The tour is school sponsored, and the school district manages the tour. The school district arranges all aspects of the trip—itinerary, travel arrangements, lodging, tours, restaurants, local guides, ground transportation, etc.

B. School sponsored and tour company managed: The tour is school sponsored, and the school district contracts with a tour company to manage the trip.

C. Non-school sponsored: A tour takes place involving students of the district, perhaps even with a teacher serving as the host, but the trip is not sponsored by the district. These are purely private trips.

In addition, the report promotes better understanding of outside tour companies, insurance policies, and academic credit programs.

Alexis Rice|April 6th, 2014|Categories: Leadership, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , , |
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