Articles tagged with 2013 NSBA Annual Conference

New NSBA President David Pickler takes office in midst of change

David A. Pickler

David A. Pickler knows about change.

His career has evolved from business to law to financial planning and accounting.  As a member of the Shelby County, Tenn. school board, Pickler is in the midst of a massive merger with Memphis City Schools that will drastically change the demographics and operations of the school district.

So as Pickler becomes NSBA’s 2013-14 President at the Third General Session this afternoon, he has plans to help NSBA become a “change agent,” and a stronger, more responsive organization. Working with NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, he wants NSBA to become a reform leader and an even greater proponent for public education.

“Our responsibility is to lead the conversation, forge the alliances with core stakeholders, and bring forward a powerful message,” Pickler says.

As a member of the organization’s board of directors, he has been lending his expertise as a financial planner and attorney to NSBA in recent years. C. Ed Massey, NSBA’s 2012-13 President, said he and Pickler have worked together very closely over the past year and he expects a seamless transition.

“David has the requisite communication skills and certainly the knowledge to make sure we keep NSBA on track as we continue to promote our advocacy about public education in multiple ways,” Massey says. Further, “at a time where finances are a consistent and constant challenge, his particular skill set will assist NSBA.”

After graduating from Arkansas State University and working for International Paper in Dallas for one year, Pickler joined the Xerox Corp. and began attending law school at night. He intended to specialize in corporate law, but two and a half years in was offered a promotion by Xerox that would have forced him to give up a legal career. Instead, he decided to look for a job in finance—and after a series of cold calls to brokerage firms, he took a job with PaineWebber.

By the time he graduated law school in December 1985, Pickler had already built a successful financial planning business. The next year, he passed the bar exam and began practicing law on the side.

The two careers finally merged in 2005, when Pickler opened his own wealth management firm, Pickler Wealth Advisors. Two years later, he opened The Pickler Law Firm, and in January, 2012, founded Pickler Accounting Advisors.

“Our motto is, we bring it all together,” Pickler says. “It’s a very holistic model of services for our clients, one of very few organizations in country.”

Pickler has been named to Barron’s Magazine’s list of the country’s top financial planners, and the trade magazine Registered Rep awarded Pickler its highest honor, the “Altruism Award,” in 2011 for his work with children, calling him “the children’s advocate.”

With his wife Beth, he became involved with the Shelby County district through the PTAs at his two children’s schools. He ran for the county’s first elected school board in 1998, and served as board chairman from 1999 to 2011.

“Our board has really strongly advocated for traditional values,” Pickler says. For instance, when he realized many classrooms did not have an American flag, he convinced FedEx Corp. and its founder Fred Smith to donate a flag for each of the district’s 50 schools and 1000 classrooms. The board also passed a policy to ensure each day begins with a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance.

In 2001, Shelby County became the first large district to mandate every school have an active and empowered PTA.

“Districts like ours were significantly underfunded,” Pickler said. “We wanted to send a message to principals that parent engagement is an essential ingredient to student achievement.”

In 2011, the Shelby County board found itself in the midst of an unprecedented merger when the Memphis City board voted 5-4 to give up the city’s charter for a special school district. The move meant the suburban 47,000-student Shelby County district would be responsible for educating 103,000 new students, a population that was 85 percent African-American and with many living in poverty.

Logistically, the challenges have been enormous, and many more challenges remain, Pickler says. A merged school board now has 23 members to manage two systems. Both the Memphis and Shelby County superintendents have resigned in recent months and hundreds of teachers and staff have chosen to retire or leave. The merger will be completed at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Most recently, the Tennessee legislature is expected to approve a measure that would allow all the incorporated towns in Shelby County to create their own school districts, and as many as six are expected to apply.

Throughout the difficult process, Pickler said he has tried to focus on student achievement and issues that will unite the many “wonderful, passionate people who really care about public education in our communities.” A lesson learned, he says, is that “monumental decisions should not be made by small majorities.”

Outside his school board work and professional career, Pickler loves sports. An avid racquetball player and huge St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, he has been a Dallas Cowboys season ticket holder for over a quarter century. He also describes himself as a voracious reader, with a particular interest in American history.

He also chairs the board of directors for the Memphis Oral School for the Deaf, a school that teaches deaf children from birth to age 5 to “listen, learn and talk.”

“This miraculous place gives deaf and profound hearing loss children the gift of sound and speech, and empowers them to enter school as a non-special needs student and look forward to a life of limitless possibilities,” Pickler noted. His wife, Beth, is a longtime volunteer at the school.


Joetta Sack-Min|April 15th, 2013|Categories: Governance, School Boards, Conferences and Events, Crisis Management, Board governance, Leadership, Legislative advocacy, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|Tags: , |

Geena Davis urges educators: Take note of women’s roles in children’s media

Is it coincidence that only 17 percent of women hold positions of leadership and authority in key sectors of American society—and that percentage also holds true among female characters depicted in today’s family oriented movies and television shows?

And what does it mean when female characters in animated children’s films often are as scantily clad as women in R-rated movies?

Those were the kind of questions raised when Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis spoke about gender stereotypes in the media—and the impact on children—at Saturday’s First General Session.

“The invisibility, hyper-sexualization, and dis-empowerment of women and girls in the media cry out for change,” Davis told conference attendees.

Known best for her performances in such films as “The Accidental Tourist,” “Thelma and Louise,” and “A League of Their Own,” Davis offered school leaders her credentials to speak as an authority on these negative stereotypes.

“I’ve spent most of my adult life advocating for equal rights for women and girls, among other ways by appearing in movies that women might find empowering,” she said, jokingly adding, “I was in a movie, “Earth Girls Are Easy,” but that was early on. That one title aside, you can feel free to take me seriously.”

It’s likely that attendees did just that. As Davis explained, her interest in the issue was sparked nearly a decade ago while watching G-rated movies and children’s television with her then-two-year-old daughter.

“I had this ‘Spidey’ sense about the women’s roles,” she said, “I immediately noticed, with the exception of Dora the Explorer, that there seemed to be far fewer female characters than male characters in these entertainment programs that were made for kids.”

It was an issue that Davis started raising with friends and colleagues in Hollywood, all of who assured her that such stereotypes were fading. “They were very sincere in their interest in gender equity. They truly believed they were working on it … so this made me think I need the numbers.

That led to the launch of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which has gathered a large body of research on now females are portrayed in movies and television—and has worked to put those findings in front of writers, directors, producers, and others in the entertainment industry

What’s her institute has found is that the role of women and girls hasn’t changed significantly in Hollywood since the 1940s, Davis said. One study found that, in G-rated movies released between 2006 and 2009, “not one female character was depicted as a leader in business, the law profession, medical science, or politics.

More worrisome is how this portrayal of women and girls impacts on children, she said. “The message is sinking in. The more hours a girl watches [these shows], the fewer options she feels she has in life. The more TV a boy watches, the more sexist he becomes.

The good news is that change is possible, Davis offered. When her institute shares this data with movie studies and network executives, “their jaws are on the ground. They have absolutely no idea that the worlds they were creating were so bereft of a female presence.”

School board members can do their part, she suggested. They can examine their textbooks to review how women are depicted—that women are shown just as engaged in science as boys are and that women are taking up their rightful space in history book.

“I want the day to come very soon when I can share this story with my daughter—that once upon a time girls were considered a little less important than boys, and she will look at me with this incredulous look and say, “Mom, are you making this up?’ ”

Del Stover|April 14th, 2013|Categories: Conferences and Events, Diversity, Educational Research, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|Tags: , , |

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:

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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.

See the National 9/11 Flag at NSBA’s Annual Conference

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) 2013 Annual Conference will display the National 9/11 Flag, the 30-foot flag that was nearly destroyed during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and subsequent collapse of the World Trade Center in New York.

NSBA’s 73rd Annual Conference is one of the last stops for the 50-state tour of the historic flag, which had hung across the street from the Ground Zero site during the Sept. 11 attacks then was placed in storage.  In 2008, the New York Says Thank You Foundation began organizing events around the country where local service heroes help stitch the tattered flag back together using retired American flags, including threads from the nation’s first flag and a piece of the American flag that cradled President Abraham Lincoln’s head when he was shot at Ford’s Theater.

The National 9/11 Flag

After the NSBA conference, the flag will become a permanent display at the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center.

The tour of the flag is designed to inspire citizenship and national pride and bolster the spirit of volunteerism as well as educate younger generations.

“NSBA and the thousands of school board members and educators who will attend NSBA’s Annual Conference will be honored to have the opportunity to view the National 9/11 Flag during its journey,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “This historic flag is a poignant symbol of our country’s pride and perseverance.”

Jeff Parness, Founder & Chairman of the New York Says Thank You Foundation, said that the project’s mission is to help teach students about how national tragedies can give the nation hope and a spirit of service.

“This is one of the core tenets of The 9/12 Generation Project which is providing a framework for teachers to educate students about 9/11 through the filter of kindness, humanity, and citizenship that we experienced as a Nation – and as a world – on 9/12,” Parness said. “These positive and uplifting lessons are embodied in the flag and are timeless and universal for educators and students alike. We are honored to share this national treasure with the NSBA before the flag is transferred to its final home at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.”

The museum does not yet have a schedule for opening. After being mired in financial and governance controversies for years, construction was further delayed when Hurricane Sandy flooded the site in November.

For more information about the flag and the efforts to recover and restore it, go to 




Joetta Sack-Min|February 26th, 2013|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2013|Tags: , , |
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