Articles tagged with Anne M. Byrne

NSBA President Anne Byrne: “High standards are a must”

Bryne-3-13-2014

Anne M. Byrne

National School Boards Association (NSBA) President Anne M. Byrne recently discussed the challenges and potential for the Common Core State Standards during a meeting of the Learning First Alliance (LFA), a coalition of national education groups. LFA followed up with specific questions for Byrne, including queries about her firsthand experience as a school board member from the Nanuet Union Free School District in New York. Byrne noted that in New York, “In spite of all the bumps in the road, teachers are seeing their students learning the subject matter more deeply and more clearly. This is a very good result.”

Read the interview, below:

First, we would love to get your thoughts on the actual standards. As a school board member, and as a state and national leader, when you assess the standards, what are your first impressions, both in terms of opportunity and potential challenges? Are there particular elements you are excited about, or nervous about? What are the implications for student achievement and equity?

This movement to higher standards is a very good thing. High standards are a must whether you call them career- and college-ready standards or the Common Core. Let me tell you about two experts at conferences I recently attended. At one, I heard from Bill Daggett, the founder and president of the International Center for Leadership in Education, who spoke to the data around present standards and clearly made the point of the absolute necessity to raise our standards in order to be career and college ready–and Common Core does exactly that. At another, Kevin Baird of the Common Core Institute talked about where we need to go so that all of our children can be successful. He, too, made the case using data how raising standards is a must. Both were powerful presentations about what the standards are and why we must raise them.

That said, there is a gap between where we are and where we need to be. Some states have greater gaps than others. Each state has their own standards. Massachusetts, for example, has the highest standards in the nation. All of the rest of the states go from high standards to not so high standards. The key to moving forward is for states to embrace higher standards and build a solid implementation plan. One state that’s implementing the standards well is Kentucky.

My first impressions are that it is going to be hard work for boards, administrators, teachers, parents and students. Higher standards allow opportunities that are directly related to brighter futures for each of our children. The potential challenges include making sure the resources are available to school districts; providing cutting edge professional development for our teachers; ensuring curricular materials are aligned to the new standards, and assessments aligned to the new curricular materials; making sure our children with special needs and English language learners are part of the conversation on how to help them reach the standards; and helping parents and communities to understand what the standards are and why they are so important. I am excited about the opportunities for children. I am nervous that because the standards are higher than what all of us have now, there might be a tendency to withdraw from them.

The implications for student achievement are not only great for our students, but also our country.
Equity is always a concern, because right now there are schools that do not receive adequate or equitable funding, both of which are needed to implement higher standards. Schools that are low performing need extra help and resources so that each child has the opportunity to succeed.

When it comes to district level alignment, what steps should local school boards take to prepare for Common Core implementation?

First, we must understand what the Common Core Standards are. We must ensure that our public and staff understand why we need high expectations for our students, why we need our students to be globally competitive, why we need to train staff in good professional development, and why we must raise our current standards.

This takes resources, so the school board must use the resources necessary to be successful. We need good curricula aligned to the Common Core, good learning materials for our staff and students, staff development to help staff teach and to keep parents and community informed.

We also must have patience. It will not happen overnight. It will take hard work to accomplish, but it must happen. We also have to find ways to decrease the test-taking anxiety of our students and their parents.

One of the big CCSS infrastructure questions concerns technology capacity and online assessments. Would you provide us with some information about your district and your preparations for testing? What are districts doing across New York; how big is the variance in preparedness by district?

According to an April, 2013 article by the New York State School Boards Association, in 2010, the Federal Communications Commission surveyed all schools that participate in the federal E-Rate program on their preparedness for online testing. It found that 80% of participating schools believe their broadband connections don’t meet their demands, and 55% of respondents cited “slow connection speed” as the main reason.

Most New York schools get their broadband connections through a RIC (regional information center) via a shared wide area network (WAN) service that is constantly being upgraded. This service is done in conjunction with BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services). I don’t know if all New York schools have enough bandwidth or capacity with hardware to allow all their students to take the assessments on line, but they are certainly working toward that goal. My own local school board, Nanuet Union Free School District in Rockland County, has the capacity to allow our students to take their assessments on line.

New York State has encountered some bumps with implementation. Many individuals ascribe to the belief that there is just as much, if not more, to be learned from failure as there is from success. Would you mind identifying a few lessons that can be taken from New York’s recent challenges?

Communication is paramount to implementing the new standards. The implementation plan broke down in New York because communications broke down. Tests were given last year without curriculum modules, teacher preparation, student preparation, or parental involvement. The curricular guides are still being rolled out for English Language Arts and mathematics, and they have not been available for other subjects. The guides are highly prescriptive– you would need much longer than a year to complete a year’s worth of work. Staff is working very hard to modify and adopt the guides for their students. Parents are having a hard time helping their children with their homework, especially in math.

InBloom, the outside data collection group that was going to be collecting our children’s data, came under fire from parents because of data privacy concerns; now inBloom is no longer going to be collecting data, and the state education department has scaled back the timeline for implementation.

We see from this experience that we must have a curriculum that aligns with the standards and teachers who are adequately prepared to teach that curriculum. And we must ensure that we are working with a realistic timeframe to make changes and educate our parents, teachers, and other stakeholders about how and why we are doing this.
In spite of all the bumps in the road, teachers in the classroom are seeing their students learning the subject matter more deeply and more clearly. This is a very good result. This is why we need patience. This is hard work and it takes time.

More specific to the question of state level implementation, would you be able to discuss the particulars around the role of teacher evaluations during the transition to the standards?

One of the hottest conversations surrounding Common Core is the connection between teacher and principal evaluations and the Common Core. Some have called for a pause because teachers do not have the needed tools and as a result will be judged unfairly. Interestingly enough, in the initial round of evaluations, only one percent of teachers were found to be ineffective and less than 5% classified as “developing.” The data suggests that 94% of all teachers are succeeding in showing growth in their classrooms. Of course statewide exams in New York count for 20% of evaluation, and local exams another 20%, with 60% having to do with classroom evaluations. The school district, using considerable resources, and the local union negotiated the language used to develop each school district’s evaluation process and implementation plan.

Full Common Core implementation is a complex task, and general public awareness is fairly low. What is the biggest misconception you’ve personally heard about the standards? What role do school boards play in providing information and transparency for parents and local community members? What resources should they utilize, and what aspects of the standards should they emphasize?
There are many misconceptions about the Common Core Learning Standards. First, the standards are NOT the assessments, NOT the curriculum and NOT a national agenda to take over schools. Common Core standards are not a dumbing down of the curriculum; in fact, Common Core is more rigorous than most state standards and expects every student to learn Algebra 2, which is also higher than most states now. It is also not true that the new standards will crowd out classical literature, since reading and writing will be done across the subject areas. It is true that the new standards do not require cursive writing, but schools can still teach it.

It is crucial for school boards to make sure the district provides professional development for staff, aligned instructional material and supports for students and parents. There is lots of research on line to look at the standards; NSBA’s Center for Public Education is a good source. Each state education department also has many resources. In New York you can look at engageny.org, the New York State Education Department’s website on the Common Core.

Collaboration is a critical part of school climate and is often an essential component for success. With the new standards posed to have a significant impact on all levels of a school building, from teaching and learning, to testing administration and evaluation, collaboration and trust among building staff will help ensure a smoother transition. What steps and actions can local school boards take to facilitate greater district level collaboration at this particularly stressful and anxious juncture in time?

The Iowa Lighthouse Inquiry was a 10-year study by the Iowa School Boards Foundation that examined whether school boards made a difference in student achievement, and the answer was, yes they did. Starting with that premise, effective boards must set clear and high expectations for student learning, create the conditions for success, be accountable for results, create the public will to succeed, and learn as a team. Since boards are the policy makers in a district, they should have written policies on student achievement and maintain a collaborative relationship with staff and the community. Communications, both internal and external, are key to helping staff and the public understand what is happening and relieving some of the stress associated with the new standards. I think it helps if everyone is on the same page and staff and community feel they are listened to and kept apprised of any new developments.

Generally speaking, it seems that the school districts that are having a smoother transition to the Common Core Learning Standards tend to be those districts that valued and practiced collaboration prior to adoption and implementation of the Standards. It is part of their everyday work and mission. According to the Center for Public Education’s report, “Eight Characteristics of Effective Boards,” effective school boards tend to have a cohesive and reciprocal relationship with school personnel and the community. They value collaboration and effective communication, and it is embedded in their school district’s strategic vision and policy development.

As President of NSBA, would you mind taking a moment to discuss the national landscape with regards to implementation? Do you see particular districts that are doing an outstanding job in this work? What types of support from different entities or levels of government would be particularly useful over the next year or two?

Local school boards are responsible for the implementation of any new academic standards such as Common Core standards, which include locally approved instruction and materials in a manner that reflects community needs. Therefore, NSBA urges states to provide financial and technical support to enable school districts to implement, in an effective and timely manner, voluntarily adopted rigorous standards, including the Common Core standards.

NSBA supports high academic standards, including Common Core, that are voluntarily adopted by states with local school board input and free from federal direction, federal mandates, funding conditions or coercion.

It is apparent that every state is in a different place with implementation. Kentucky was the first state to start the implementation process, and they have done a good job, taking the time to communicate with all their stakeholders and making sure staff has good professional development opportunities. Massachusetts is also going about implementation at a thoughtful and steady pace, examining the gaps with their current standards, piloting in some districts and implementing the changes needed. I am sure there are other states that are far along in the process and others who need more time and help.

As far as help from any level of government, it would be refreshing if our elected state and federal representatives were more visionary. It takes looking down the road 10 years and saying, “Where do I want public education to be, and what do I need to do to make that happen?”

Of course more resources are vitally important, since public education is a labor intensive enterprise. But just as important is relief from onerous regulations and rules. Think about all the resources needed now to run a state or federal government. If we educated every child well, most of the money we spend now would be decreased. We would need fewer jails and less social service benefits, and we would be more productive as an economy.

Are there any additional thoughts you’d like to share with us that haven’t been covered above?

The bottom line is that raising our standards is absolutely necessary so each child can succeed.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Michelangelo, who said, “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we will miss it, but it is too low and we will make it.”

Until every child is given the chance to be successful, we cannot rest. America is a great country, and public education is the cornerstone of our democracy. It is crucial for the future of our democracy and the future of public schools that all children have the opportunity to be successful.

Joetta Sack-Min|June 5th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Center for Public Education, Common Core State Standards, Educational Research, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , |

Sen. Inhofe receives NSBA’s Congressional Special Recognition Award

Sen. Inhofe

NSBA’s President Anne M. Byrne along with members of the Executive Committee of NSBA’s Board of Directors presented the award at a special event in Sen. Inhofe’s Capitol Hill office

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) honored U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) today with the Congressional Special Recognition Award. Inhofe received the NSBA’s top Congressional award for his leadership to advance public education.

“We are proud to honor Sen. Inhofe with NSBA’s Congressional Special Recognition Award for his ongoing efforts to advance public education and his commitment to local school board leadership,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “In recent years local school board members and educators have become increasingly concerned that the local governance of our nation’s school districts is being unnecessarily eroded through over reaching federal policies and requirements established by the U.S. Department of Education. We thank Sen. Inhofe for his leadership on public education as we must ensure that public education decisions made at the federal level must support the needs and goals of local school districts and the communities they serve.”

NSBA’s President Anne M. Byrne along with members of the Executive Committee of NSBA’s Board of Directors presented the award at a special event in Inhofe’s Capitol Hill office.

Alexis Rice|June 5th, 2014|Categories: NSBA Recognition Programs, School Boards, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , |

NSBA calls for equity in education with the upcoming 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) honors the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling by calling on America’s school boards, parents and communities to continue to ensure that public education is a right made available to all students on equal terms.

“The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision catalyzed education reform and reminds us to be ever vigilant in challenging segregation to maintain a civil society,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “School boards believe that every child in America should be able to attend a great public school where they live—no exceptions, no excuses.”

The urgency of the 60th anniversary is that segregation is not an issue of yesteryear – it is a growing concern today. While the Brown v. Board decision made clear the inherent inequality of a separate educational system based on race, today the data show that many areas have been resegregating. NSBA is particularly concerned about the impact of resegregation for schools in underserved communities. Research shows that students learn more—both academically and socially—in settings where their peers may be of a different race and have different life experiences.

In a special report on the Brown decision, NSBA’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal (ASBJ), reports that the number of schools with a minority enrollment above 90 percent has climbed precipitously. In a video segment, ASBJ shows the legacy of Brown and the challenges that the Pittsburgh school district currently faces in integrating its schools when most of its neighborhoods are highly segregated.

ASBJ also has created a timeline documenting major events and court cases involving racial issues in public education.

NSBA is encouraging public schools across the country to mark the anniversary with an appropriate ceremony and remembrance. Through a resolution issued by our Board of Directors on behalf of this nation’s 90,000 school board members, NSBA and its state associations are promoting district-level activity that activates students’ personal commitment to democracy and recognizes the contributions of civil rights leaders.

NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education also is commemorating this important anniversary with a year-long focus on special programming focusing on excellence, equity, and unity to advance urban education.

“The mission of the National School Boards Association to advocate for equity and excellence remains ever-vigilant as we mark the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision,” said NSBA President Anne M. Byrne, a school board member from New York’s Nanuet Union Free School District. “School board leadership is essential to protect our public schools and demand that equitable funding and equitable resources be made available so that each child has the opportunity to achieve, no matter where they live.”

Alexis Rice|May 13th, 2014|Categories: CUBE, Diversity, Multimedia and Webinars, School Boards, School Climate|Tags: , , , |

NSBA elects board leaders: Anne M. Byrne of New York to serve as president

School board leader Anne M. Byrne of New York’s Nanuet Union Free School District was named the 2014-15 President of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) at the association’s Annual Conference in New Orleans.

John D. Tuttle of Oklahoma’s Kellyville Public Schools was elected President-elect and Miranda Beard of Mississippi’s Laurel School District was elected Secretary-Treasurer by NSBA’s 150-member Delegate Assembly. Additionally, David A. Pickler of Tennessee’s Shelby County Schools, who served as the 2013-2014 President, will now serve as Immediate Past President.

Byrne has been a member of the Nanuet Union Free School Board for 32 years and has served as Vice President and President. She has served as President and Vice President of the Rockland County School Boards Association. She is also an executive board member and a past President of the Mid-Hudson School Study Council. She is a founding member of the Hudson-Long Island Coalition for responsible state funding, a nine-county coalition, and served as its chair.

In addition, Byrne has served as President during 2004-2005 followed by a term as Immediate Past President of the New York State School Boards Association. Byrne joined the National School Boards Association’s Board of Directors in 2006.

In the one-year term as NSBA President, Byrne plans to help NSBA become a “reservoir of research” for how engaged school boards positively affect student achievement. Byrne spoke at Annual Conference about how she wants NSBA to become an even greater advocate for public education.

“Research very clearly says that if a school board expects each child in their district to be successful and they devote the time, it happens. But school boards have to have that vision first,” said Byrne. “Once we make the decision to focus on leading children to excellence and turning around low-performing schools, we have an opportunity to change the conversation about public schools with the media and the public.”

NSBA’s Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel praised Byrne’s dedication to public education and school board governance.

“As a committed advocate for student achievement and school improvement, Anne Byrne is a champion for delivering quality education for all children starting at the local level,” said Gentzel. “Anne is the type of leader who will stand up for public education and engage in productive dialogue with school boards about how we can help all children to succeed.”

NSBA’s Delegate Assembly also elected the following school board members as regional directors to NSBA’s Board:

• ElizaBeth D. Branham of South Carolina’s Lexington School District Two was elected as a Southern Region Director;

• Anne Ritter of Idaho’s Meridian Joint School District #2 was elected as a Western Region Director;

• Viola Garcia of Texas’s Aldine Independent School District Board Member was elected as a Southern Region Director; and

• Charles Wilson, of Ohio’s Worthington School District was elected as a Central Region Director.

Serving as NSBA ex-officio directors on the NSBA Board for 2014-2015 will be: Van Henri White of New York’s Rochester City School District as the Chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education; Ellis A. Alexander of Louisiana’s St. Charles Parish Public Schools as Chair of the National Black Caucus of School Boards; Guillermo Z. Lopez of Michigan’s Lansing Public School District as Chair of the National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members; Gregory J. Guercio of New York’s Law Offices of Guercio & Guercio, LLP as the Chair of the Council of School Attorneys; Karen Echeverria of the Idaho School Boards Association as the Chair of the Organization of State Association Executive Directors’ Liaison Committee; and NSBA’s Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|April 10th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Board governance, Governance, Leadership, NSBA Annual Conference 2014|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Byrne set to take reins of NSBA with focus on student achievement

Anne M. Byrne starts her  term as NSBA's President

Anne M. Byrne starts her term as NSBA’s President

Anne M. Byrne isn’t afraid to have crucial conversations about school improvement.

As a school board member for more than 30 years on the Nanuet Union Free School District, Byrne has always focused on closing the achievement gap and putting the students in her district first. Byrne acknowledged she thinks high expectations are essential not only for students, but also for school boards who want their students to succeed.

Byrne becomes the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) 2014-15 President at the Third General Session this afternoon, and she has plans to help NSBA become the “reservoir of research” for how engaged school boards positively affect student achievement. Byrne spoke about how she wants NSBA to become a reform leader and an even greater proponent for public education.

“Research very clearly says that if a school board expects each child in their district to be successful and they devote the time, it happens. But school boards have to have that vision first,” Byrne says. “Once we make the decision to focus leading with excellence and turning around low-performing schools, we have an opportunity to change the conversation about public schools with the media and the public.”

She has been lending her expertise on student achievement as a member of NSBA‘s Board of Directors since 2006. She hopes to buoy the strong progress made over the last year by her predecessor, 2013-14 President David A. Pickler, and Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel.

“We’ve had tremendous leadership over the last year; we’ve moved advocacy front and center at NSBA and we’re changing public rhetoric,” says Byrne. “It’s perfect timing to carry those programs forward and focus on student achievement and school improvement.”

Byrne noted that implementing a vision for student achievement does not have to reinvent the wheel. She will work with the NSBA board and the Agenda to Action committee to vet research and examine different types of successful implementations.

“We must provide research-based solutions and offer ways for school boards to utilize parents, curricula, and community to move the school forward,” says Byrne. “We don’t want to tell school boards what do; we want to show them what works.

Since 1981, Byrne has been a member of the Nanuet School Board, on which she has served as vice president and president. She has served as vice president and president of the Rockland County School Boards Association. She is also an executive board member and a past president of the Mid-Hudson School Study Council. She is a founding member of the Hudson-Long Island Coalition for responsible state funding, a nine-county coalition, and served as its chairwoman.

What keeps her involved and committed after more than 30 years is the day where she hands high school diplomas to the graduating students in her district. She also pointed out that she has been lucky her fellow school board members are supportive and focused.

“We have a lot of duties as board members, but I think I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a school board focused on the kids. I wouldn’t have been around this long if I had had contentious meetings every time. Instead, I love going to my board meetings, because there is always something new to learn and interesting things to hear about from our educators and students.”

Byrne received her R.N. from St. Vincent’s Hospital School of Nursing and a bachelor’s degree from Pace University. She and her husband Patrick have raised three children in the public schools. But when she thinks of where she got her drive for improving education, she thinks of her parents.

“My parents were both immigrants who had high-expectations of their children. My mother came over from Ireland when she was only 15 with a sixth grade education, and she cleaned houses all day so I could go to school. Both my father and mother instilled that need for education and that hard work ethic in us.”

Taking on hard work doesn’t bother Byrne, and she knows changing the current rhetoric about public schools will not come easy.

“I am really proud to be coming on as president, and I know that this is not something that is going to be completed in my presidency. This goal will take a number of years to accomplish, but we have to start. But it starts with saying ‘It’s unacceptable to have low-performing schools.’ We have to start there.”

Staff|April 7th, 2014|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2014|Tags: , |

Video: NSBA’s President-Elect previews the final day at the 2014 Annual Conference

On the preview video for the last day of the National School Boards Association’s 2014 Annual Conference, NSBA President-Elect Anne M. Byrne introduces the “new and unconventional” morning General Session, which features three speakers: Bestselling author Nikhil Goyal will present the student’s perspective on transforming schools; education and technology consultant Angela Maiers will share how literacy changes lives; and former English teacher and author Erin Gruwell, will talk about how her teaching experience inspired the movie Freedom Writers.

At the final General Session, author, life coach, and leadership catalyst, Simon T. Bailey will present techniques formulated to bring out brilliance in yourself and your organization while getting actionable takeaways that produce sustainable results.

Byrne will assume leadership as President at the end of the conference, and she welcomed attendees to join her on the “journey toward leading children to excellence.”

Additionally, there will be a General Session from 11am with basketball legend, entrepreneur, and public school advocate, Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Watch the video:

Alexis Rice|April 6th, 2014|Categories: Leadership, Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards|Tags: , |
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