Articles in the Uncategorized category

NSBA webinar to explore Common Core challenges for English language learners

Join Patte Barth, executive director of NSBA’s Center for Public Education, and Rosa Aronson, executive director of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., (TESOL) for a webinar 2:30 -4:40 p.m. Wednesday, titled  The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and English Language Learners: Challenges and Opportunities for Academic Success.

As school districts begin adjusting their programs to meet the expectations of the CCSS, they need to ensure that English Language Learners get the curriculum they need to meet the CCSS’s requirements and achieve academic success.

The webinar will outline the benefits and challenges of CCSS and provide practical solutions to these challenges for teachers, administrators and policymakers.

The webinar is sponsored by NSBA’s National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members.

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat here.

 

Lawrence Hardy|January 7th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Student Achievement, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

At international technology conference, NSBA discusses potential to improve U.S. schools

Ann Flynn, Director of Education Technology for the National School Boards Association, was invited to participate in the recent World Innovation Summit for Education, known as the WISE conference, in Doha, Qatar. This is the second time Flynn has been invited by the Qatar Royal Family to participate in the initiative by the Qatar Foundation. In this video, she describes her experience, the potential of technology to improve the U.S. education system, and the plights of countries with far fewer resources than the U.S.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 9th, 2013|Categories: Conferences and Events, Diversity, Educational Technology, Governance, Leadership, Online learning, STEM Education, Technology Leadership Network, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

Schools reversing Zero Tolerance policies

It was called the “broken windows” theory, and it shows — quite tragically, in some cases — how taking a social policy that might make sense in one context and applying it to another can have disastrous consequences.

The theory, popular with police departments and big-city mayors in the 1980s and 1990s, was that if police ignored petty crime – the broken windows of a neighborhood – these incidents would grow to create a climate where more serious crimes would occur.

Was the policy successful? That depends on whom you talk to. But big problems resulted when it was applied to the public schools.

“Some of the same crime policies filtered into the school system,” said Dwanna Nicole, Policy Advocate for the Advancement’s Project’s Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track Program, who gave a webinar Thursday sponsored by her organization and NSBA’s National Black Caucus of School Board Members.

That policy, also spurred by the Columbine shootings and a mistaken fear that youth violence was increasing, has spawned the kind of zero tolerance policies that have resulted in huge spikes in the number of suspensions and expulsions for all students, but particularly for African-American and Hispanics students, students with disabilities, and gay students.

Now, however, in places like Denver, Buffalo, N.Y., and Broward County, Fla., those numbers are starting to turn around as more school districts embrace discipline polices that put the long-term needs of students first. The Denver Public Schools now have one of the most progressive discipline codes in the nation, Nicole said. This has been augmented by a recent state Smart School Discipline law and a brokered Memorandum of Understanding between law enforcement agencies and the school district.

While black students in Denver are still suspended at greater rates than whites, these numbers are going down. In 2010-2011 86 percent of black students did not have out-of-school suspensions. By 2012-13, 90 percent had no  suspensions.  Attendance rates for black and Hispanic students have also increased steadily since 2008.

Districts such as Denver are explicitly addressing racial disparities in suspensions, expulsions, and other forms of discipline and collecting better discipline records, Nicole said.

Lawrence Hardy|December 6th, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Data Driven Decision Making, Discipline, Diversity, Dropout Prevention, High Schools, School Climate, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

Gentzel: School boards needed for strong American democracy

A strong public education system–governed by locally elected or appointed school boards–is necessary to continue our nation’s prosperity and our democratic society, National School Boards Association Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel told attendees at a symposium titled “Improving Schools through Board Governance.”

NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel speaks at the University of Georgia on October 22.

NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel speaks at the University of Georgia on October 22.

Gentzel was keynote speaker at the Oct. 22 event, which was sponsored by the University of Georgia and designed to bring together school board members, superintendents, community members and other educators to discuss school governance issues.

The nation’s 90,000 school board members are committed to student achievement and helping guide the next generation to fulfilling and productive lives, Gentzel said.

He also discussed NSBA’s framework, “The Key Work of School Boards,” which guides school boards toward better leadership skills and ways to improve student achievement through governance.

Gentzel also lauded the “Vision for Public Education Project,” which was created by the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) and the Georgia Superintendents Association. The project built a framework based on seven core principles for improving the educational experience for public school students. GSBA also has written standards for the state’s school boards, which have been adapted with some revisions by the state board of education.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|October 25th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Key Work of School Boards, Leadership, School Reform, State School Boards Associations, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

Registration opens for NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference in New Orleans

Update: Due to the huge demand for Annual Conference registration, we are experiencing difficulties relating to high volume.  We apologize for the inconvenience.  Please continue to check back often.

Housing and registration opens on Oct. 23 at 9 a.m. EDT for the National School Boards Association (NSBA) 74th Annual Conference, April 5-7, 2014 in New Orleans. This year’s conference registration again features a streamlined process to make the registration experience easier than ever.

Join thousands of fellow board members and administrators in New Orleans, and gain valuable knowledge and information in five key areas — leadership, advocacy, technology + learning, urban school issues, and school law. The conference features more than 200 programming sessions, workshops, speakers, site visits and exhibitors with cutting-edge content, best practices, and the freshest ideas to support student achievement.

This year NSBA is pleased to have two distinguished keynote speakers, Thomas L. Friedman and Sir Ken Robinson. Friedman, author of “The World is Flat” and “That Used to be Us,” is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and a columnist for the New York Times.  Robinson is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation, and human resources in education and business. He works with government and education systems in Europe, Asia, and the U.S., as well as international agencies and Fortune 500 companies. He frequently speaks on the lessons he has learned through his work and research. A new April 7 morning session will include inspirational talks by author Nikhil Goyal and educator Angela Maiers.

Check the Annual Conference website frequently for more announcements and complete information on housing, registration, and schedules of events.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|October 23rd, 2013|Categories: Announcements, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, Uncategorized|Tags: , |

LSBA: U.S. Justice Dept. action in Louisiana vouchers shows weakness of law

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Louisiana to stop a voucher program spending millions in taxpayer funds to send low-income students to private and religious schools, saying that the vouchers have impeded long-standing desegregation orders in many of the state’s school districts.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) joined the Louisiana School Boards Association (LSBA) in a lawsuit last year challenging the legality of the voucher plan, which was pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal and GOP lawmakers. The LSBA lawsuit ultimately prevailed when the state’s Supreme Court found the funding mechanism to be unconstitutional but the GOP-led legislature is attempting to keep the program alive through alternative funding sources.

LSBA has closely monitored desegregation litigation in Louisiana for many years. LSBA Executive Director Scott Richard noted that many school boards have spent millions of dollars in order to attain unitary status and freedom from federal oversight due to past discriminatory practices—and this latest round of legal problems with the Louisiana voucher program only exacerbates the issues raised in the recent state Supreme Court ruling that struck down the law and highlighted the program’s illegal funding schemes.

“The fact that the U.S. Department of Justice has to get involved at this point again punches holes in the flawed legislation,” Richard said. “It is irresponsible that state government in Louisiana, with all of the legal resources available, would move forward with this effort fully knowing that many school districts continue to be under federal desegregation orders – basically ignoring federal law.”

Proponents for the voucher plan have decried the federal government’s move and argued that the vouchers help low-income students “escape failing schools.” However, LSBA and other education groups have countered that the plan actually allows kindergarteners zoned for high-achieving public schools—those graded A or B—to receive vouchers as well.

Thirty-four school districts, of which 22 send students to private schools using voucher funds, would be subject to the Justice Department’s ruling, according to the New Orleans Times Picayune.

 

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|August 28th, 2013|Categories: Educational Finance, Governance, Privatization, School Boards, School Law, School Reform, School Vouchers, State School Boards Associations, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

NSBA applauds Supreme Court’s school diversity ruling

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) lauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today for upholding a 2003 case that finds schools have a compelling interest in pursuing the educational benefits of diversity.

In Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the Supreme Court voted to uphold its decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which permitted the use of race in university admissions if such policies were narrowly tailored. The Court remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously had ruled in favor of the university, for further review.

“NSBA is glad that the Supreme Court recognizes the value of diversity in the role of public schools,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “While this is a case that specifically involves higher education admissions, elementary and secondary schools also need the ability to consider diversity to promote student achievement.”

NSBA, joined by the College Board and 11 other educational organizations, filed an amicus brief in support of the University of Texas at Austin’s (UT) admission policy promoting a diverse student body.

The case centers on Abigail Fisher, a student who was denied admission to UT’s 2008 freshman class. More than 80 percent of the university’s students are admitted through a formula that automatically accepts the top 10 percent of each Texas high schools’ graduating classes; however, the alternate formula that was challenged by Fisher allows the university to use special circumstances as criteria for admission, including the socioeconomic status of the applicant or her high school, the applicant’s family status and responsibilities, and race.

In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy reiterated the right of schools and universities to deference from the courts to educational decisions involving diversity. NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr., noted that NSBA’s amicus brief was designed in part to appeal to Justice Kennedy in its call to uphold Grutter.

“In upholding Grutter, the Court preserves an important framework available to schools to put into place diversity policies that advance the educational benefits of students,” Negrón said. “We are pleased that this decision does not erode the existing legal landscape for the K-12 diversity environment.”

For further analysis, read NSBA’s Legal Clips.

Alexis Rice|June 24th, 2013|Categories: Diversity, School Law, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

New Mexico School Boards Association Executive Director receives the Abrazo Award

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members (NHC) awarded New Mexico School Boards Association (NMSBA) Executive Director Joe Guillen with the Abrazo Award, NHC’s highest honor. This award is given annually to honor individuals who have committed their time, energy, and resources to improving educational opportunities for all Latino children. The term “Abrazo” translates in English to “hug or embrace,” a gesture Latinos use to greet or say goodbye to each other. Guillen was selected as the Abrazo recipient for his leadership and dedication to the NHC and for his commitment in advancing Hispanic students academic achievement. The award was presented at the 2013 NSBA Annual Conference in San Diego in April.

Before becoming Executive Director of NMSBA, Guillen was a school board member for more than ten years on the
Española Public Schools Board of Directors and was the 2004-2006 Chair of NHC and an ex-officio member of the NSBA Board of Directors during his time as NHC Chair.

The NHC works to promote and advance equal educational opportunities for Hispanic children. NHC members are actively engaged in a national dialogue on educational problems, issues and concerns in conjunction with NSBA and other national organizations committed to the continued growth and development of minority youth.

Alexis Rice|May 7th, 2013|Categories: School Boards, State School Boards Associations, Student Achievement, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

Professor learns by labeling students ‘designers, artists, and writers’

When S. Craig Watkins, a professor of radio-television-film at the University of Texas at Austin, and his partners went into an Austin high school to help the students make an interactive iPad book in three weeks, they wanted to make changes based on the research they had done on how students learn best with technology.

Watkins told audience in a Sunday session at NSBA’s annual conference about how he and other researchers got the students, many from disadvantaged, non-English-speaking families, to create so quickly. “We flipped the environment, the norms and expectations,” said Watkins. “We called it a studio, not a classroom.”

Other changes they made: They created spaces where students could visualize their ideas. They didn’t call them students. “We called them designers, artists, and writers. They took on other learner roles.”

Another important aspect: They asked the students to consider each other resources, important sources of social capital.

The students decided to work on a book about student obesity, so they took a field trip to the local hospital to gather information and data and do interviews. “They met a community and made important connections,” said Watkins.

Watkins and the other researchers wanted learning to be hands-on. “We wanted kids to be makers, innovators, authors.” And they not only learned about the technical side, but also about the skills side. “We can’t get kids to do this if they can’t read,” he said.

The class was successful in getting the book done in three weeks, and Watkins showed some samples of the students’ work.

In putting this project together, he said, “We asked ourselves these questions:
• What skills do your kids need?
• What kind of dispositions do they need?
• What learning environments do they need?

Kathleen Vail|April 14th, 2013|Categories: Educational Technology, NSBA Annual Conference 2013, Uncategorized|

NSBA, AASA leaders: We’re stronger working together

Just as it’s essential for school boards and superintendents to work well together on behalf of their schoolchildren, it’s equally important for NSBA and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) to partner successfully on behalf of public education.

That was the opening observation of NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel during an informal discussion with AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech at a Focus on Education session Saturday.

Both national organizations are committed to strengthening public education, which “is under attack right now in a lot of different ways,” Gentzel said. “The question is how do we defend against those attacks and promote quality education.”

One concern for both organizations is the accelerating erosion of local school control in the past decade, Domenech said. Although state policymakers can claim education is a state responsibility, federal officials can’t make the same argument when explaining their interference in local decision-making.

Yet, “we’ve seen just a growing involvement and intrusion” by federal officials who’ve used the promise of federal dollars to both encourage and coerce state and local officials to accept new federal initiatives, programs, and policies.

That’s one reason AASA gave its support to NSBA’s proposed legislation, the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, Domenech said. The bill is designed to curb the power of the U.S. Department of Education to impose unnecessary rules and regulations.

“When you folks came up with your bill, we thought it was great, and we were more than happy to sign up,” he added.

Both men expressed similar attitudes about charter schools and school choice. Although not opposed to these reform models, they agreed that more deliberation should be put into their use. There are times, Gentzel said, when other strategies would likely prove more successful.

For example, he said, the enthusiasm of some state and federal policymakers for charter schools seems unwarranted. “If charter schools are not outperforming public schools, then why the push to create more and more of them?”

Similar concerns also were raised during the discussion about other reform models, such as state takeovers, the firing of principals or turnaround efforts at so-called failing schools, and recent experiments in teacher evaluation systems.

One concern in the rush to use these strategies is that state and federal policymakers seem to ignore the powerful impact of poverty on the academic performance of school districts that are identified as low performing, Domenech said. The reality, at times, is that policymakers aren’t willing to put the money and resources into helping a struggling school or district to improve.

“We don’t have the moral courage or the political courage to do the right thing by these kids.”

There may be a way that NSBA and AASA can provide a better alternative, Gentzel suggested.

“Where there have been failing school systems that have managed to turn themselves around, one of the things we can work on together is to identify those places as models [we can study] and transfer their lessons to others. I think it’s an important message to send to state policymakers before they consider other ideas … let’s consider what works.”

Del Stover|April 14th, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized|
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