Articles tagged with Anne L. Bryant

Bryant: “Virtual Schools Need a Grounding in Reality”

NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant wrote a blog, “Virtual Schools Need a Grounding in Reality,” for “Transforming Learning,” published by Education Week.  Her commentary is based on the new groundbreaking report by NSBA’s Center for Public Education, “Searching for the Reality of Virtual Schools.”

Bryant notes that, “Until we take a hard look at the potential and peril of virtual schools, lawmakers must tread much more cautiously.”

The report examines data on all types of online learning, but most notably finds that the data available on the fast-growing field of full-time virtual schools shows low rates of graduation, course completion, and assessment scores.

“The rate at which state legislatures have approved these institutions is remarkable,” Bryant writes. “What’s more remarkable, perhaps, is that the Center found these schools operate with few accountability measures, and states and districts are paying online providers from 70 to 100 percent of the costs of educating students in traditional schools, even though their actual costs should be much lower.”

Further, she writes, “All of this has taken place with no research to back it up — in fact, what little research and anecdotal evidence exists on full-time virtual learning shows alarmingly low graduation rates, course completion and test scores.”

Not all the news is bad, though. Through its 25-year-old Technology Leadership Network, NSBA has highlighted many successful examples of online learning through its Technology Site Visits and conferences, Bryant notes.

The Learning First Alliance is a coalition of 16 major education groups.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|May 17th, 2012|Categories: Center for Public Education, Charter Schools, Data Driven Decision Making, Educational Technology, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Online learning, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , , |

NSBA comments on U.S. Chamber of Commerce report on school boards

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may not agree on everything regarding K-12 education, but when it comes to basic recommendations for improving school board governance they can find some common ground.

Consider School Board Case Studies, a new report by the chamber’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce, which was released May 15 at a forum in Washington. Among the report’s findings:

  • School boards are most effective when they have clearly defined, and limited, responsibilities
  • Superintendents play a key role
  • Effective training and board development can make a difference
  • Caliber and commitment of individual board members matters

“Frankly, that’s what we call The Key Work of School Boards,” said NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant, one of several panelists asked to comment on the report. NSBA’s Key Work is a framework of eight interrelated action areas to focus and guide school boards in their efforts to improve student achievement.

The chamber’s report looks at case studies of 13 mainly urban school districts across the country that are experiencing varying degrees of success, from the internationally recognized Long Beach Unified School District in Southern California to more challenged school systems in Detroit and Newark, N.J. The report emphasizes the role that business can play to create — as panelist Andrew J. Rotherham, co-founder of Bellwether Education Partners, put it — “urgency and context for reform.”

Rotherham said that business leaders and other concerned parties need to encourage well-qualified people to run for school boards. He said recruiting the right people doesn’t mean finding someone who shares your political views as much as choosing citizens who are up to this increasingly complex job.

“The reality is — it’s the type of habits and skills that people have” that are important, Rotherham said.

Bryant agreed. But she pointed to the 2011 report by NSBA, the Iowa School Boards Foundation, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, School Boards Circa 2010: Governance in the Accountability Era to counter some of the claims in the report, including a claim that school board elections are driven by special interests that are pouring money into races. School Boards Circa 2010 found that nationally, 74 percent of school board members said they spent less than $1,000 on their most recent race, and 87 percent spent less than $5,000.

Bryant also noted that two-thirds of board members surveyed for the report saw an urgent need to improve student achievement. As a group, the board members were also well-educated; 75 percent had at least a bachelor’s degree. And they typically aren’t using the board as a stepping stone to other positions, as some critics charge. When asked what prompted them to serve on a school board in the first place, just over 50 percent of respondents reported that their first motivation was to ensure that schools were the “best they can be,” 22 percent said “civic duty,” and only 1 percent said “developing their role as a public leader,” according to School Boards Circa 2010.

Bryant emphasized the need for collaboration, but also warned that strong partnerships take time and work.

“ We know from experience that our most successful partnerships start by building a culture of collaboration,” Bryant said. “This is hard work and any business or local chamber of commerce needs to understand that it takes time not only to build partnerships but to recognize their schools’ strengths and challenges. We’ve seen many partnerships flounder when a business coalition comes in and tells a school what to do without understanding how schools work and what the levers of real long term change are.”

Another panelist, Don McAdams,  chairman and founder of the Center for Reform of School Systems, criticized the report and said the 13 case studies were used to advance opinions rather than represent a snapshot of national findings.

The audience also heard from former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, now president of the chamber’s U.S. Forum for Policy Innovation. She said that business people need to have more of a presence at school board meetings, which she said are typically attended by vendors, teacher unions, and others with special interest in the proceedings.

 

 

Lawrence Hardy|May 15th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Data Driven Decision Making, Governance, Key Work of School Boards, Student Achievement, Teachers, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , , , |

Bryant: Time to make our voices louder for public education

Strong public schools are the best investment Congress can make—and it’s time for advocates to raise their voices even louder, the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Executive Director Anne L. Bryant says in a commentary for District Administrator.

The extremely slow process to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and a sense that Washington is broken cannot discourage school officials from getting involved in the political process, she says.

“We can’t get too discouraged by the politics,” Bryant writes. “We must instead take the initiative to get more involved, for the sake of our schools and the children we serve.”

Personal contact is key to persuading Washington lawmakers to take action, she adds. More than 750 school board members attended NSBA’s Federal Relations Conference in February to learn about top issues in education and meet with their representatives on Capitol Hill. But any school board member can take action by contacting their lawmakers, whether federal, state, or local, and talking about their school district’s successes and their needs.

The commentary was published in the March, 2012 issue of District Administrator.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|April 2nd, 2012|Categories: Elementary and Secondary Education Act, FRN Conference 2012, Legislative advocacy, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|Tags: , , |

NSBA, AASA leaders look back, ahead

The relationship between school boards and the superintendents they hire is continuously evolving, with built-in opportunities for issues to be fruitful, fractious, or both. But the leaders of the two national organizations serving these groups believe working together is more critical than ever.

Anne L. Bryant, National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) executive director, and Dan Domenech, who holds the same position for the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), discussed board/superintendent relations and many other topics during a 60-minute session at AASA’s annual conference in Houston.

The annual session originally was titled “The Changing Nature of School Board Governance and Leadership,” but the AASA audiences knew it would be another edition of “The Dan and Anne Show.” (Billing is reversed at NSBA’s conference.) And while that changing landscape was covered during the 60 minutes, the informal conversation also served as an overview of Bryant’s NSBA career.

Bryant, who was the executive director of the American Association of University Women prior to coming to NSBA, said she is proudest of three things during a 16-year tenure that will end with her retirement in September:

The Key Work of School Boards, an eight-part framework for governance launched in 1999.

• The creation of the Center for Public Education, created in 2006 to “translate research that’s not Democrat, not Republican, not spin, but telling the truth in public education.”

• The organization’s advocacy work on Capitol Hill. “We have a strong lobbying team,” she said. “When we send out an alert and 6,000 to 8,000 school board members e-mail their members of Congress, that’s power. And we need that grassroots advocacy now.”

Both Bryant and Domenech expressed concerns with Congress’ failure to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as well as increased “federal intrusion” into local schools.

“It’s awful. It’s terrible,” Bryant said of the politics that have seeped into public education since she came to NSBA in 1996. “It’s gone from bantering to bickering, from back slapping to back stabbing, and there’s a meaner sense out there. … On my pessimistic days I wonder if we’ll ever get a good reauthorization of ESEA. On my good days, I think we might.”

Domenech agreed with Bryant that “clearly we’re at a point where politics is doing more harm than good.”

“A lot has to do with the fact that the politicians who are trying to lead the charge of education reform are not focusing on the very things they value,” said Domenech, who was superintendent of school districts in New York and Virginia prior to coming to AASA in 2008.

Other highlights from the session:

• Bryant discussed her interview with the search committee, which was seeking a successor to Thomas A. Shannon. “I said I wanted to know if they were an organization that was about defending school boards or an organization that wants to make school boards more effective, and they asked me to leave the room,” she said.

“When I was asked to come back in the room, the committee members said, ‘We’ve been an organization about defending school boards. We want to be an organization that’s about effective school board governance.’ And the board has never waivered from that. They have been absolutely committed to the concept of effective governance, and that is what has driven me and driven our board.”

• After taking the job, Bryant met with state association executive directors, presidents, the NSBA staff and board of directors. She also met with executive directors for the various education organizations that are based in the Washington, D.C. area.

“I wanted to know why school board members run for office, what keeps them there, what motivates them, what keeps them satisfied, and it became clear after hundreds of conversations that they cared deeply about student achievement,” she said. “They really wanted to talk about student achievement.”

She recalled talking to Paul Houston, AASA’s former executive director, after the Key Work’s release, noting that he pulled together ten superintendents to work on creating a section of the guidebook that focused on the board/superintendent roles in creating a vision for districts.

• Collective bargaining can be one of the most contentious issues for school boards and superintendents. Bryant, noting that each state is different, said she is “very proud of how our state school boards associations have gone out on a limb and taken a lead role on this issue.”

“There is a fine line between protecting the jobs of teachers and some of the protections that were hurting education,” she said. “There’s a different culture in every state, and what we’ve got to focus on … is collective bargaining for student achievement.”

• Domenech noted that AASA was founded in 1865 — 75 years before NSBA — and “for many, many years was the only game in town.” Today, both executives are active in the Learning First Alliance, an organization of 16 education associations that meets monthly to discuss key issues affecting K-12 public schools.

“There’s this growing sense that there needs to be a voice for public education,” Bryant said. “We’re trying to do it, very often very individually, but we don’t have the resources that unfortunately that the critics of public education seem to have and bring to the table. It’s so important to come together and speak with one voice. We have to do more of that.”

Both Bryant and Domenech, who will have one more segment of this show at NSBA’s annual conference in April in Boston, said they are looking forward to a merged conference between the two organizations starting in 2013.

“I think it will be important,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to show that our organizations are in sync and working to make sure the board and superintendent see itself as a team.”

Glenn Cook|February 20th, 2012|Categories: Center for Public Education, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Programs, Key Work of School Boards, School Boards|Tags: , , |

Celebrate Digital Learning Day today

Today, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is proud to be a core partner in the first-ever national Digital Learning Day. This event celebrates innovative teaching practices that make learning more personalized and engaging and encourage exploration of how digital learning can provide more students with more opportunities to get the skills they need to succeed.

“The National School Boards Association has been an advocate for the use of technology to enhance teaching and student achievement for more than two decades,” said NSBA’s Executive Director Anne L. Bryant. “On Digital Learning Day, we must ensure that all students have access to these resources or we will see the digital divide widen.  Devices and content alone will not transform education.  Policies and targeted resources must also be aligned to ensure teachers have the essential professional development opportunities that are necessary to maximize learning in this exciting new age of content.”

Today, a majority of states, hundreds of school districts, thousands of teachers, and more than a million students will encourage the innovative use of technology by trying something new, showcasing success, kicking off project-based learning, or focusing on how digital tools can help improve student outcomes.

To see real examples of the positive impact digital resources are having on learning, visit here to participate in Digital Learning Day’s virtual town hall meeting today from 1-2:30 p.m. EST. NSBA will be hosting a Technology Leadership Network site visit February 19-21 in the Texas’ Klein Independent School District, one of the districts featured during the virtual town hall. To learn more about Klein Independent School District’s technology initiatives go to:  http://www.nsba.org/tlnsitevisits/klein.htm.

Naomi Dillon|February 1st, 2012|Categories: Educational Technology|Tags: , , |

NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant announces retirement

NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant has announced her plans to retire in fall 2012. Bryant has served as head of NSBA for more than 15 years, where she has been instrumental in focusing the organization’s governance, research, and training on increasing achievement for all students and advocating on behalf of school boards in Congress, in the federal courts, in federal agencies, and in the public media.

Read NSBA’s press release for more details.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 13th, 2011|Categories: Announcements, Center for Public Education, Leadership, Legislative advocacy, School Law, Uncategorized|Tags: , |

Watch NSBA’s President on Education Nation today

Update: The video for “Going Local: What A City Can Do For Its Schools,” is now archived at educationnation.com.

This week, NBC News is hosting its second annual Education Nation Week and Summit. NBC News is promoting the 2011 Education Nation as a way to, “address the developments, challenges, and progress of the past year, as well as identify and explore new, exciting opportunities to reinvent America as an Education Nation.”

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) President Mary Broderick and Executive Director Anne L. Bryant are representing NSBA at the Education Nation Summit. Broderick will be on the Education Nation panel, “Going Local: What A City Can Do For Its Schools,” scheduled for today, September 27 from 1 – 2 pm EDT. Broderick will be joined by mayors and community leaders to discuss how they’re addressing education.

NBC News’ Lester Holt will moderate this session. The Twitter hashtag for this session is #LocalEdNat.

Mary will be a panelist in the second part of the session with:

  • Mayor Richard Berry of Albuquerque
  • Mayor Cory Booker of Newark
  • Mayor Angel Taveras of Providence

The first part of the session will feature:

  • Michael Brown, CEO & Co-Founder of City Year, Inc
  • Marguerite Kondracke, President and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance
  • Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia
  • Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore

 

The session is scheduled to be live web streamed on the South Stage feed.
View it here:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Additionally, during Education Nation, Bryant will serve an education expert on EducationNation.com.  Bryant will be answering users’ questions. To ask her a question or to view questions Bryant has already answered, go to the Ask an Expert page .

Alexis Rice|September 27th, 2011|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Announcements, Board governance, Key Work of School Boards, School Board News, School Boards, Student Achievement, Teachers|Tags: , , , , |

WH sidesteps Congress, offering relief from NCLB

The Obama administration has unveiled its plans to offer states and local school districts some regulatory relief from the more onerous mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act—a policy move that NSBA calls encouraging.

First proposed this summer, the initiative will allow states to request waivers to specific NCLB mandates in exchange for “serious” reform efforts designed to close achievement gaps and boost accountability.

For local school boards, such waivers could offer greater flexibility in the use of federal funds—or the elimination of the highly unpopular requirement that local districts set aside 20 percent of Title I funds for school choice and supplemental tutorial services.

States also can seek relief from NCLB’s accountability system, with its unrealistic expectation that all students will be 100-percent proficient by 2014, and from such punitive sanctions as forcing a low-per-forming school to fire its principals and teachers or close down.

The waivers will come at a price. The White House says states and local school districts will need to embrace new accountability standards, create tougher and more meaningful teacher evaluation systems, and make greater efforts to ensure all graduating students are college and career-ready.

“The purpose is not to give states and districts a reprieve from accountability, but rather to unleash energy to improve our schools at the local level,” Obama said in a statement released Friday.

NSBA has long campaigned for federal policymakers to fix the flaws of NCLB, and NSBA officials welcomed the Obama administration’s latest initiative.

“The proposed NCLB regulatory relief plan is a positive step as it could provide much needed assistance to local school district efforts to improve student achievement,” says Anne L. Bryant, NSBA’s executive director.

Still unclear, however, is whether individual local school boards will see the regulatory relief they want.

“The effectiveness of the plan will depend upon the details of the application requirements, the specific locally needed relief states ask for, and whether the merit of a state’s application is judged adequate by the U.S. Department of Education to receive the relief that it asks for,” Bryant notes.

The administration’s waiver program might yet need to take another step forward, suggests Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy.

“NSBA believes that federal requirements that are educationally, financially, or operationally counter-productive at the school house level should be eliminated as a matter of policy not as a condition for states qualifying to meet new conditions,” Resnick says. “We encourage the U.S. Department of Education to provide local relief along those lines should its state-based approach fall short of the local relief needed.”

Administration officials said they’ve acted because of delays in Congress over NCLB’s reauthorization. Under the law, schools are facing increasingly serious sanctions as they approach the 2014 deadline for bringing 100 percent of the nation’s students to proficiency levels in reading and math.

One federal estimate is that 82 percent of the nation’s schools will miss that target.

“The states are desperately asking for us to respond,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said last month.

Most states have indicated they will apply for waivers. The White House says the first waivers could be granted by early 2012.

 

Del Stover|September 23rd, 2011|Categories: Board governance, School Board News, School Boards|Tags: , , , , , |
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