Articles in the Urban Schools category

Look closely at discipline, suspension policies, CUBE speaker says

California law and school policies that allow officials to suspend students for “willful defiance” in the classroom has been overused and are contrary to the goals of school boards to help every student find an avenue to success, according to a Friday presentation by representatives of the Los Angeles-based “Every Student Matters Campaign” at a session of thee National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Urban Boards of Education.

The campaign, which successfully advocated for five new laws involving school discipline in California, is a part of a $25 million effort to address issues involving boys and men of color through community organizing. The campaign is funded by a group called the California Endowment.

School policies and procedures for discipline and school safety are often counterproductive because they are punitive and are used, unfairly, to exclude students from school, said Tonna Onyendu, campaign manager.

Disciplinary action such as suspension might be appropriate for a student who demonstrates “willful defiance” by threatening a teacher, but it has been used against students who put their heads down and fail to participate and have engaged in other behaviors that can easily be explained by tumultuous circumstances in the students’ home life, Onyendu said.

Echoing a resolution passed by the NSBA Delegate Assembly Friday, he said out-of-school suspensions should be used as a last resort.

While many districts have boosted use of school resource officers in the wake of the Newtown shootings, Onyendu said having police officers in schools can lead to too many offenses being handled as criminal matters when it would be more appropriate to have the incident handled by school administrators as a disciplinary matter.

Onyendu said his group is working at the local level to have school districts recognize a student bill of rights related to discipline. Items include the right of students to have:
• Positive behavioral interventions and support – a widely used approach often referred to as PBIS.
• Alternatives to suspension as penalties for certain offenses.
• Access to data on student discipline.
• Community oversight mechanisms.

— Eric Randall

Erin Walsh|April 12th, 2013|Categories: CUBE, Discipline, NSBA Annual Conference 2013, Urban Schools|

CUBE speaker: Reduce dropouts through grading policies, other strategies

School boards looking for a roadmap to reduce dropouts need to assert their authority regarding grading policies and create strategies to help students recover from various kinds of failure, East Baton Rouge Superintendent Bernard Taylor Jr. said at a Friday session sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s Council of Urban Boards of Education.

“For some students, school is about despair, not hope and opportunity,” Taylor said. That’s particularly common among boys, who are 30 percent more likely than girls to drop out of school.

But schools can create policies and programs to turn that around and get better results, Taylor said in a presentation entitled “Reclaiming Those with Promise.” In his former district, Michigan’s Green Rapids Public Schools, the number of schools making adequate yearly progress jumped from 26 to 49 over five years.

One crucial area is grading policy, he said. If you ask a teacher why a given student received a given grade, “You will hear this: ‘I have the right to give this student the grade I think he or she deserves.’”

To which Taylor replies: “Who sets the grading policy for the district?”

It’s the school board, of course. “If your grading policy is creating your failure problem, and your failure problem is creating your dropout problem, you have to look at whether you are shooting yourself in the foot with your policies or the interpretation of those policies.”

Some common dropout factors include poor attendance, disengagement from school, and lack of emotional support. For that reason, school leaders ought to stop concentrating on student-teacher ratio and instead put a priority on “caring adult to student ratio.”

While one traditional approach to address failure has been summer school, a key element of success involves having the right personnel for such programs, Taylor said. “If you are employing the same people who failed the children during the school year, you are making a critical mistake.”

He also suggested outsourcing of guidance and other forms of counseling can improve results.
Regardless of what kinds of interventions your district uses, be sure there are metrics to assess results. If that’s missing, “don’t pay for it.”

— Eric Randall

Erin Walsh|April 12th, 2013|Categories: CUBE, Dropout Prevention, High Schools, NSBA Annual Conference 2013, School Boards, Urban Schools|Tags: , |

NSBA’s Annual Conference Exhibit Hall offers one of the largest national showcases of education products and services

One of the most exciting places to be at the Annual Conference is the Exhibit Hall. This year, more than 290 exhibitors are waiting to show you their latest services and products, including more than 100 first-time exhibitors.

This year’s Exhibit Hall hours are Saturday, April 13 from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm, with exclusive hours from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, and 2:45 to 3:45 pm. The Exhibit Hall will reopen Sunday from 11:30 am to 4 pm, with exclusive hours from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

“Even if you are a conference veteran, we’ve added some new features to the 2013 Exhibit Hall that you will not want to miss,” says Karen Miller, NSBA’s Exhibit Director. “Each year dozens of our conference attendees find new products and services from our exhibitors that save their school districts money and help streamline their operations, so we hope everyone will take advantage of the Exhibit Hall time.”

Be sure to take in a Learning Lounge session while you are here. Sponsored by OdysseyWare and Pearson, these informal 20-minute sessions give you a quick briefing on hot topics, from social media to legal issues and leadership skills. Check your conference schedule for a list of events and times.

The NSBA booth–No. 943–also has been expanded to show you the full range of NSBA services. You can meet some of the experts on NSBA’s staff, have your picture taken with a sign supporting school boards and public education for your social media account, and pick up some great deals on NSBA merchandise. Also, the booth is hosting book signings by authors Diane Ravitch, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Stacey Bess.

Don’t miss the new Technology Showcase Pavilion at Booth No. 543. This exhibit showcases the six winners of NSBA’s first Technology Innovation Showcase.

The NSBA Health Fair is back, and will be featured once again in the Health and Wellness Pavilion (Aisle 1500) Demonstrations are scheduled for both days, from 12:30 to 3:30 pm, on topics such as Nutrition, exercise, tobacco use, and relaxation. You can also have your blood pressure checked and speak with health-care professionals.

The Green Zone (Aisle 500) will show you how to advance green initiatives in your schools and improve student achievement.

Music & Arts Main Street (Aisle 200) is one of the most popular features, with numerous exhibitors showing ways to strengthen your schools’ music and arts programs. Be sure to stop by and see a student performance at the designated times, below:

  • Saturday, noon: McMichael Phoenix Singers, Dalton L. McMichael High School, Mayodan N.C.
  • Saturday, 3 pm: “OPUS” – San Diego Youth Symphony, 4-5th grade String Ensemble, San Diego
  • Sunday, noon: McKay Chamber Orchestra, McKay High School, Salem, Ore.
  • Sunday, 1 pm: Mariachi Chula Vista, Chula Vista High School, San Diego

Look for the NSBA Exhibit Exam Challenge inside the Exhibit Hall Addendum/Pavilion Guide or at the NSBA Information booth. Visit the participating exhibitors, get the answers to questions about their companies, then drop your “exam” in the raffle bin in the Health and Wellness Pavilion (located in Aisle 1500) by 3 pm on Sunday for the chance to win exciting prizes!

The NSBA Marketplace is a special area in the rear of the hall where exhibitors are allowed to sell their products and services.

And when you need a break, stop by the upscale College Board Lounge, at Aisles 300-400. The lounge features comfy seating, refreshments and even a TV.

NSBA Booth Schedule (# 943)

Saturday

11:30 am -2 pm – Take your picture and stand up for public education!

2:30 – 3:30 pm – Kathryn Wege– Healthy students, healthy schools;

2:45-3:15 p.m.– Kathleen Branch, Reggie Felton, Deborah Rigsby – Legislative advocacy at the federal level;

3:30 – 4:30 – Marie Bilik and Debbie Finkel – Meet NSBA’s new Chief Operating Officer.

 

Sunday

11:30 am – noon – Patte Barth — Learn the latest findings from The Center for Public Education;

12:30 – 1:30 pm – Kathleen Vail and Glenn Cook – Meet with NSBA publications staff;

2 – 4 p.m.– Take your picture and stand up for public education!

3 – 3:30 pm – Kanisha Williams-Jones answers your questions about NSBA Caucuses and Leadership Services.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|April 12th, 2013|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2013, Nutrition, Online learning, School Boards, School Buildings, School Security, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers, Technology Leadership Network, Urban Schools|

Education Talk Radio previews NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference

Kanisha Williams-Jones, Director of Leadership & Governance Services at the National School Boards Association (NSBA), was a guest today on Education Talk Radio providing a preview of NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference. Thousands of school board members, administrators, and other educators will be coming to San Diego to take part in the April 13-15 event.

Listen to the broadcast:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio

The conference will feature more than 200 sessions on timely education topics, including federal legislation and funding, managing schools with tight budgets, the legal implications of recent court cases, new research and best practices in school governance, and the Common Core State Standards. A series of sessions will focus on school safety and security.

Expanded education technology programming will include site visits to the University of San Diego and Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning Center to explore its research laboratory on mobile learning; Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to examine the technology in science education and STEM; Encinitas Union School District to view its One-to-One Digital Learning Program; and the San Diego Zoo to learn about the cutting-edge learning tools used to teach at-risk students. U.S. Navy SEALs will show leadership and team building skills during another workshop.

The meeting also includes one of the largest K-12 educational expositions, with some 300 companies showcasing their innovative products and services for school districts.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

It’s not too late to register, visit the Annual Conference website for  more information.

CUBE honors former leader at Congressional luncheon

Katrina Kelley program

Katrina Kelley's memorial service program and Congressional Record listing

The Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) honored its former director, Katrina Kelley, at its annual luncheon on Capitol Hill on Jan. 29. Kelley worked with CUBE and on urban school board issues for almost 20 years at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) before stepping down in March. She died on Oct. 9.

During the luncheon, several school board members and former colleagues spoke in honor of Kelley, who had worked on Capitol Hill before she joined NSBA. CUBE Steering Committee Chair Minnie Forte-Brown also read this tribute that was sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and published in the Congressional Record on Dec. 21:

United States of America Proceedings and Debates of the 112th Congress, Second Session

House of Representatives

HONORING KATRINA KELLEY FOR HER SERVICE TO THE RESIDENTS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS AND TO SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS AND CHILDREN OF URBAN DISTRICTS IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

HON. KEITH ELLISON

OF MINNESOTA IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

December 21, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honor of Katrina Ann Kelley, a dedicated public servant whose service to the House of Representatives and the National School Boards Association spanned 28 years.

Katrina Ann Kelley was born on September 29, 1960, to William and Joan Kelley, in Galesburg, Illinois where she was raised along with six beloved siblings. She graduated Galesburg Sr. High School in 1978 as member of the National Honor Society before heading to Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa, for a Bachelor of Arts in social work.

Katrina joined the staff of Congressman Lane Evans in 1984 as a District Caseworker in his Illinois office; then made the move to Washington DC to become a Legislative Assistant. Later, Katrina served as a Legislative Assistant and a Legislative Director for Representative Charles A. Hayes of Chicago. Katrina loved her years “on the Hill” where she made many lifelong friends and brought her compassion for constituent service to every position. Katrina had immense respect for Congressman Evans and the late Representative Hayes and considered each of them personal mentors and lifelong friends.

Katrina took her comprehensive legislative knowledge and understanding of urban issues to the National School Boards Association, NSBA, where she served as the Director of Urban School District Advocacy, and later as the Director of the Council of Urban Boards of Education, CUBE, until her departure in 2012. Katrina helped to shape the CUBE program as a critical component of the National School Boards Association, touching over one hundred urban districts and millions of children in the United States and the Virgin Islands. Katrina’s work helped urban school leaders find solutions to challenges at the local level and to improve their policy-making effectiveness, leading to improved outcomes for children. Katrina deeply believed in increasing the opportunities for all students, particularly low income and minority students.

Katrina passed away with her sisters at her side on October 9, 2012. I stand here today to honor Katrina Ann Kelley for her legacy of service to the citizens and students of the United States.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 1st, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Conferences and Events, CUBE, FRN Conference 2013, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |

New federal nutrition rules caused a ‘buzz’

So many parents have complained that school meal portions are too meager—and that their children are hungry and tired by the end of the school day—that Congress is beginning to pay attention.

That’s one of several developments that are keeping policymakers busy more than two years after passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, said Lucy Gettman, NSBA’s director of federal programs.

Speaking at a Saturday briefing to NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) in Washington, D.C., Gettman told urban education leaders that the new federal rules on school meals that went into effect this year caused “quite a buzz.”

Although some expected the biggest complaint would center on inadequate financial support for new and costly mandates, Gettman said the most notable criticism has focused on the size of federally reimbursable school meals as mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Designed as a tool to combat the nation’s childhood obesity problem, the strict calorie limits on meals has prompted tens of thousands of letters and phone calls to members of Congress.

“Parents, students, and other citizens were giving their members of Congress an earful,” Gettman said, noting that one online music video mocking the meal rules has gotten more than 1 million viewers.

The protests prompted the House Committee on Education and Workforce to send a letter asking the U.S. Government Accounting Office to look into the impact of the new law and the USDA rules.

In the letter were a “pretty thorough list of questions, and I think it will really be helpful to Congress once they get a report back,” Gettman said. “It can guide Congress on future policy.”

The public outcry already has prompted the USDA to grant schools some relief in meeting federal guidelines, she added, “but the relief is only temporary” as that the rules were waived only for the rest of this school year.

Another issue still unresolved is what federal standards will exist for “competitive foods”—food sold in vending machines or at concession stands at school athletic events, Gettman said. Those rules—which USDA has yet to release in draft form—could affect the revenue that schools use to support athletic, food-service, and other programs.

School policymakers also are waiting for draft rules concerning the training and certification of food-service personnel.

USDA has indicated it’s going to do “everything in its power so that these standards won’t be costly,” Gettman said. “But the proof is in the pudding.”

Del Stover|January 27th, 2013|Categories: CUBE, FRN Conference 2013, Leadership Conference 2013, Legislative advocacy, Nutrition, Obesity, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , |

New USDA regulations present challenges to urban districts

Some challenges confront urban school districts seeking to comply with the new, more healthy oriented regulations mandated for school meals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

It turns out that some kids don’t like the healthier cafeteria fare—and won’t eat it. Parents complain that strict, new calorie portions are too stingy for high school students—and their children are going hungry during the day.

Finally, school food-service directors are warning that cooking healthier meals is more costly than the additional 6 cents that USDA has promised to help comply with its new mandates.

Yet school districts are finding ways to cope, a panel of school board members and school food-service experts told urban leaders attending a Saturday workshop for NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE).

The session was an Early Bird offering of NSBA’s Federal Relations Network (FRN) Annual Conference, which starts today in Washington, D.C.

Convincing students to eat the new daily portions of fruits and vegetables mandated for federally reimbursed school meals—as well as other healthier fare—requires a calculated redesign of school recipes and changes in food preparation, panelists said.

Virginia’s Hampton City Schools are working with local restaurant chefs to learn new preparation techniques and relying on student taste-testings to find recipes that will win over students, said school board member Monica Smith.

The district also is seeking to change student attitudes by educating them about nutrition, as well as revamping cafeterias with smaller serving lines and a more aesthetic, restaurant-oriented appearance that makes the school meal experience more appealing, she said.

Improving menus and cutting operational costs will require more professional development—and not just for managers and cooks, added Amy Virus, assistant food-services director for the Philadelphia Public Schools. Under new USDA regulations, school meals are not federally reimbursable if students don’t have the mandatory fruit and vegetable servings on their food trays—and the cafeteria staff has to stay atop of student choices.

“It’s a huge change for us,” she said. “For our cashiers, for our line staff … so we’ve really focused on training, talking about new meal patterns.”

The USDA is reconsidering the controversial calorie counts it imposed on school meals, but the cost issue remains a challenge to be overcome, panelists say. Some school districts are complaining the price of healthier foods is proving greater than the additional financial support provided by USDA.

A drop in participation can exacerbate the challenges created by rising costs, a phenomenon reported by some school lunch programs. But, in Hampton, Smith said, food-service personnel are looking for ways to cut costs—and have managed to increase in participation as cafeterias fine-tune their healthier fare to meet student tastes.

So healthier school meals aren’t necessarily a negative—simply a new challenge that requires new practices, panelists said. But school boards can make a big difference in whether these challenges ultimately are met.

Boards need to set the priority, put district wellness programs in place, and hold food-service personnel accountable, Smith said. But also “listen to the trained staff and give them the flexibility to do the job … let them be creative [while] we show our support.”

Del Stover|January 27th, 2013|Categories: CUBE, Food Service, FRN Conference 2013, Leadership Conference 2013, Legislative advocacy, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |

Two federal meetings feature leadership and legislative advocacy for school boards

Over the next four days, School Board News Today will be covering the top events and sessions at NSBA’s annual Leadership Conference and its Federal Relations Network (FRN) Conference, held in Washington, D.C.

The NSBA Leadership Conference, held Jan. 26 to 27, is a two-day networking and professional development event designed to explore issues and opportunities related to state school board association leadership and management. The conference brings about 200 people to Washington, D.C., including the NSBA Board of Directors and state school boards association officers as identified by the executive director.

The annual FRN Conference, which runs from Jan. 27 to 29, brings more than 600 school board members, selected by their state associations, and state association staff to Washington to learn about the most current federal policies and issues that will impact their schools. This year, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) are scheduled to speak at the conference.

Participants will spend a day meeting with their representatives on Capitol Hill to further discuss federal issues and pending legislation and advocate for the needs of their school districts.

In addition, NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education members will meet concurrently on important issues for urban schools.

Keep reading School Board News Today for highlights from these activities.

Kathleen Vail|January 26th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, CUBE, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, FRN Conference 2013, Governance, Leadership Conference 2013, Legislative advocacy, School Boards, State School Boards Associations, Urban Schools|Tags: , |

North Carolina school board leader to serve as chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) has selected Minnie Forte-Brown of Durham, N.C. to serve as Chair of CUBE’s Steering Committee, completing the term of Sandra Jensen of Omaha, Neb. who has retired. Forte-Brown previously served as Vice Chair of CUBE’s Steering Committee.

The selection of Forte-Brown for Chair was made by CUBE’s Steering Committee. Forte-Brown’s term as Chair will last through April 2013 when CUBE elections will take place. As Chair of CUBE, Forte-Brown will serve on the Board of Directors of NSBA.

CUBE is an organization guided by Steering Committee members who represent a diverse group of urban school board members dedicated to the needs of children in urban centers. CUBE represents more than 100 urban school districts in 35 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The districts that comprise CUBE educate nearly 7.5 million students in over 12,000 schools, with a collective budget of approximately $99 billion. CUBE helps urban school boards find solutions to challenges at the local level and helps them to strengthen their policymaking effectiveness.

“It is an honor to serve as Chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education, as I am strongly passionate about equity and excellence and believe effective, focused, and committed governance can aid in making those tenets of justice a reality for all students,” said Forte-Brown.

Forte-Brown is currently the Vice Chair of Durham Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education and has served on the board since 2004 and was the Chair from 2006-2012. Under her leadership, the DPS Board of Education participated in Reform Governance in Action training, a two-year program of the Center for Reform of School Systems. Forte-Brown is committed to engaging students, parents and the community. Forte-Brown was appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue to the North Carolina Council of the Status of Women and the Gang Advisory Task Force. She is the co-founder of the East Durham Children’s Initiative and serves on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina School Boards Association and National School Boards Action Center.

“Minnie Forte-Brown is a strong leader who will help CUBE advance its work supporting urban school boards as they find solutions to critical policy issues in urban education that enhances student and academic achievement,” said CUBE’s Director Deborah Keys.

Alexis Rice|October 26th, 2012|Categories: Announcements, CUBE, Urban Schools|Tags: , |

Magna Awards featured on Education Talk Radio

If you’re planning to nominate one of your school district’s programs for American School Board Journal’s (ASBJ) Magna Awards, be sure to listen to Pittsburgh Public Schools Board Member Mark Brentley talk about his district’s experiences as a Magna Awards grand prize winner. He joined by ASBJ Publisher Glenn Cook and Sodexo’s National Wellness Director Roxanne Moore on Education Talk Radio.

Pittsburgh Public Schools, was a 2012 Magna Awards grand prize winner in the more than 20,000 enrollment category for their “Take a Father to School Day” outreach program aimed at increasing the participation of fathers and other male role models in their schools.

Listen to Education Talk Radio on Blog Talk Radio

The Magna Awards is a national recognition program co-sponsored by ASBJ,  National School Boards Association, and Sodexo School Services that honors school board best practices and innovative programs that advance student learning. Magna nominations are judged according to three enrollment categories (under 5,000 enrollment; 5,000-20,000 enrollment; and over 20,000 enrollment). One Grand Prize Winner in each category receives a $4,000 contribution from Sodexo School Services. There are five additional winners and five honorable mention winners within each enrollment category.

Learn more about the Magna Awards and nominate your program on ASBJ’s website. The deadline is Oct. 31, 2012 for nominations for the 2013 Magna Awards.

Alexis Rice|October 12th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, Board governance, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , , , , |
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