Articles tagged with education

Watch live: NSBA President to testify on the funding needs of America’s public schools

National School Boards Association (NSBA) President David A. Pickler has been invited to testify on education funding issues today, March 25, 2014, before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Pickler is the only witness selected from the K-12 community to address specifically the funding needs of America’s public schools.

“Providing informed testimony around public education before a key U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations subcommittee is a great honor,” said David A. Pickler, board president, National School Boards Association. “As subcommittees are the ‘workhorses’ of Congress, school boards are the ‘workhorses’ of America’s public schools. Our inclusion in this federal fact-finding process lends voice to America’s 50 million public schoolchildren.”

The hearing started at 10 am EST and you can watch it live right now on Ustream.

Pickler is one of 22 witnesses scheduled to testify, starting at 10 a.m. EDT in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Rayburn House Office Building in Washington. Other education groups represented include colleges, health organizations, charitable groups, and various health and human services organizations.

In his testimony, Pickler, a 16-year member of the Shelby County Board of Education in Memphis, Tenn., will speak on challenges confronting public schools, including the impact of federal budget sequestration on school finances, issues concerning competitive grant programs, and the need for the federal government to fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Although much of the funds affected by federal budget sequestration have been restored in Fiscal Year 2014, many school districts have suffered a significant loss of resources. K-12 programs and Head Start were affected by a reduction of almost $2.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2013.

Because strong public schools are essential to America’s economic stability and global competitiveness, Pickler will ask Congress to develop a plan to protect the nation’s educational investment in Fiscal Year 2015 and beyond.

Alexis Rice|March 25th, 2014|Categories: Educational Finance, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , , , , , |

Three numbers that could alter the 2012 elections: 92, 37 and 6

August 26th is Women’s Equality Day, marking the 92nd anniversary of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote.  While much work remained in the 20th century to assure that everyone could exercise their right to vote, the 19th amendment was an important threshold.  It is particularly significant for local school boards, as Kentucky’s 1838 law permitting married women with children to vote in school board elections was the first state suffrage law following the American Revolution. It took the rest of the country more than 80 years to catch up.

Casting a shadow on this celebration, however, is the wave of laws proposed or passed in 37 states to impose stricter requirements for voting – laws that could adversely impact representation in our highest-need communities.  These laws frequently require various forms of identification in order to vote, but other restrictions – such as limiting early voting hours – are other forms of voter suppression.  While safeguards for the integrity of elections are necessary, a nationwide analysis of 2000 alleged voter fraud cases published in the The Washington Post shows that instances of voter impersonation are extremely rare. If extrapolated to the entire eligible population, voter impersonation could be as rare as 1 in 15 million prospective voters.

BoardBuzz thinks school districts can be catalysts for civic education and engagement by students and communities – especially for students who are 18 years old and eligible to vote for the very first time.  This year’s national elections will set the course for the United States for years to come. Redistricting resulting from the 2010 Census means that many Americans will be voting for newly-minted candidates and/or state & national legislative districts.  And only once every twenty years does redistricting coincide with the presidential election, upping the stakes for voters who must also choose who will represent them in the White House.

The most important number for the 2012 elections then? November 6th – Election Day!

Lucy Gettman|August 21st, 2012|Categories: Curriculum, Diversity, Educational Legislation, Leadership, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards|Tags: , , , , , |

School board leader’s letter to Obama on the need to rethink public education gets national attention

Mary Broderick’s, the 2011-2012 president of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), open letter to President Barack Obama has had far reach. Broderick shared the letter during her speech Sunday, April 22 at NSBA’s Annual Conference.

The letter noted that “public education in the U.S. is on the wrong track” and encouraged Obama to convene a national dialogue on education reform.

Conference attendees began posting tweets about the powerful letter and the letter went viral on Twitter. Today, the letter was published in The Washington Post‘s The Answer Sheet.

Here is the full letter:

Dear President Obama:

The night of your election, in Grant Park, you said, “I will listen to you especially when we disagree.” We are all committed to the best educational future for the children of America. Yet, as the nation prepares for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), school board members and top educational thinkers overwhelming urge abandoning the current “command-and-control” federal educational oversight. America’s treasure lies in unleashing the creativity of our youth. Though well-intentioned, the current federal direction is ignoring and working against much of what we know about student motivation and achievement. Instead, the federal government should support local efforts to ignite curiosity, creative potential, and a drive for excellence among students and staff.

Throughout my presidency of the National School Boards Association, I have travelled to many states and written for our national journal and asked for input to this letter. School board members and educators across the country have contributed their thinking here. We share your sense of urgency: We must give every child, no matter their circumstances, the opportunity to excel. We must ensure high quality experiences so each child develops fully. Our major disagreement comes from how we go about this task.

We want for each American child the same things that you and Michelle want for Sasha and Malia—inspiration, aspiration, creativity. I know you don’t want an overemphasis on testing. I have heard you say it. Experience in schools and communities, supported by research, tells us that relentlessly focusing on standardized tests erodes our national competitiveness and deadens curiosity and drive. Clearly, we need some testing to gauge student learning, and we have no problem with appropriate accountability. But we have swung to a far extreme that is significantly hurting children. “Students are numbing over testing for testing’s sake…. We can’t test this country into excellence.” (Sonny Savoie, LA)

Other countries that traditionally focus on testing recognize the shortcomings of their systems and come to our shores to learn how we inspire a spirit of innovation. And decades of work by motivation theorists, such as Daniel Pink, help us understand why a focus on testing and standards may not cultivate the learners we want. Others have found that such narrow focus restricts our views of what is possible, and even causes unethical behavior, such as the rash of testing scandals here and abroad.

By contrast, Finnish schools are now “exemplars of many of the success indicators we … want to see in American schools. Achievement is consistently high. Students are self-motivated and engaged in their learning. Schools have wide latitude to decide on their own programs, and there are no intrusive sanctions.” (Jill Wynns, CA)

The focus on strict quantitative accountability has never worked for any organization, and it has not worked with No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Teachers are trying to meet the mandates of those programs and consequently “our children suffer and are not getting educated to their individual potential.” (Carolyne Brooks, IL) Teachers’ focus on tests is undermining their potential and initiative, making it more difficult to share a love of learning with their students.

Our students will never be first in the world on standardized tests. We never have come close. Nor is that something toward which we should aspire! We simply are not a compliant people willing to absorb facts without challenge. But we have had the most innovative workforce in the world (and now vie with Finland for that top position). Though intended to encourage equity, our current policy is, in fact, driving us toward mediocrity. Our students may be becoming better regurgitators, but what we need is excellent thinkers.

We have significant challenges in many of our communities, especially those that are underserved, yet we continue to boast some of the best schools in the world. We have models of excellence from which we should all be learning. Our vision should be to empower excellence—to draw out the best in each and every individual in our schools. We should recognize that our children’s brains are our most important resource. We should aspire to having children take responsibility for their own learning. We can have a common curriculum as a guide, but leave it to our local “civic labs,” as Thomas Jefferson envisioned them, to find optimal ways to inspire learning.

That said, we won’t achieve any vision without significant teamwork. Finland’s process may offer a model: They spent years developing national consensus about the essentials for successful education and, hence, the nation. Collaboration can promote independent thinking and action.

As a nation, rather than inspiring people toward a vision of excellence, we have been blaming some for blocking student achievement. It is time to inspire all toward a pursuit of excellence for each of our children.

The work world our children inherit will be significantly different from the one we have known. Jobs in the 20th century were mostly algorithmic or routine. According to McKinsey & Co., most such jobs have already evaporated because of automation and outsourcing. Future work will be more complex, so we had better prepare students differently than through standardized tests.

As the nature of work changes, so too must motivators. Carrots and sticks, which worked with routine jobs, actually impede efforts when the work is more complex, Daniel Pink says. Instead, the rewards of learning and challenges of the work itself must now be the primary motivators. Adults learn best, experts say, if they feel competent, autonomous, and a sense of belonging.

Much in our current school systems works against these, and our new national focus on teacher evaluation will continue that trend. As a result of ignoring innate needs, our schools too often are not innovative hubs. Yet to meet the challenges of our future, we must cultivate a spirit of innovation and inspiration. We will only succeed in preparing for our future if we empower all in our schools to think through complex problems and processes and generate solutions. Rather than laboring over bureaucratic compliance problems, let’s engage students and teachers (even board members!) in solving problems of teaching and learning.

Our schools will never become great through threat or intimidation. Schools must be safe places to take risks, where staff members and students feel valued for their ideas and talents and empowered to fail so that they can grow. Students will learn what they see, experience, and enjoy.

We have the knowledge and experience to do this at the national, state, and local levels. However, the present narrow focus on accountability and trend of demonizing those in public education, arrogantly focusing on “failing schools,” is diametrically opposed to fostering excellence.

Again, we can learn from Finland: It holds teachers in high regard (appealing to competence). Teacher training includes a strong feedback loop; professional development is embedded in the work, through coaching and ongoing support (appealing to belonging). People are willing to try new approaches and ideas (appealing to autonomy).

Innovation requires investment. Retired school superintendent Jack Reynolds noted that under the original ESEA we had a national system for identifying, supporting, and sharing excellent, vetted educational ideas. We should return to such a system of research, development, and diffusion, using technology to share teaching and learning approaches. Further, Ohio school board member Charlie Wilson suggested we encourage and fund our universities to conduct empirical research on the considerable experimentation that does occur in our schools.

Some board members suggested that we benefit from broad, guiding curriculum principles. Wyoming’s David Fall encouraged you to continue your work with the National Governors’ Association to refine core standards. However, our children would be best served if the standards were guides, but decision-making remained local.

Across the nation, I have heard growing support for an emphasis on the early years. To close achievement gaps, we need to provide rich early learning environments for children born with the least. We need to teach their parents how to encourage their learning. Please continue to support states’ early childhood efforts.

Mr. President, public education in the U.S. is on the wrong track. As we have moved decision-making farther from teachers and children, we have jeopardized our competitive edge and keys to our national success: our ingenuity, our openness to innovation, and our creativity.

I urge you to convene a national dialogue, not made up of politicians, but including the breadth of educational opinion, to reconsider our educational direction. I would love to help you do this. Let’s ensure that each child has the tools to be successful. Let’s marshal the nation’s brain power and tap into the research, proven practice, and demonstrated evidence of excellence.

Please bring your parent hat to determining our new direction for public education. Your daughters, like all of our children and all of our teachers, don’t need more tests designed to identify weaknesses. They need excited, motivated, passionate teachers who feel challenged, supported, and encouraged to try new approaches, who share with their students a learning environment that is limitless. If we work collaboratively on a shared vision of excellence, if we foster team development, encourage innovation, and care for the growth of our teachers, our children will lead us into the future with confidence. And public education will remain the cornerstone of our vibrant democracy.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

Sincerely,
/s/
Mary Broderick
National School Boards Association President

Alexis Rice|April 24th, 2012|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2012, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards, School Reform, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |

What K-12 issues will Obama address in the State of the Union?

Education Week‘s Politics K-12 blog is speculating what education issues will be discussed in the president’s State of the Union address tonight.

Education Week‘s Alyson Klein noted, “In giving this election-year State of the Union speech, Obama may brag about some of the steps his administration has taken on education, including creating the Race to the Top education redesign competition, and offering states wiggle room under key parts of the No Child Left Behind Act if they agree to take-on the administration’s reform priorities.”

Klein went on to mention, “Last year, President Obama asked Congress to pass a bipartisan reauthorization of the law. But it never happened, and now the administration is moving ahead with a waiver package that Obama’s own secretary of education thinks is stronger than any of the legislation under consideration. So, if I were a betting woman, I’d guess there won’t be much talk about NCLB this time.”

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) will be hosting a Twitter chat during the State of the Union address tonight starting at 9 p.m. EST.

Join the Twitter chat by using hashtag #EdSOTU and share your thoughts about the president’s speech and his plans for K-12 education.

By using #EdSOTU in your tweets, you will become a part of this virtual conversation. To see the entire conversation stream just go to Twitter and search #EdSOTU.

Alexis Rice|January 24th, 2012|Categories: Educational Technology, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Race to the Top (RTTT)|Tags: , , , |

NSBA to host Twitter chat on education issues during State of the Union

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) will be hosting a Twitter chat during President Obama’s State of the Union address,  starting at 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Join the Twitter chat by using hashtag #EdSOTU and share your thoughts about the president’s speech and his plans for K-12 education.

By using #EdSOTU in your tweets, you will become a part of this virtual conversation. To see the entire conversation stream just go to Twitter and search #EdSOTU.

 

Alexis Rice|January 23rd, 2012|Categories: Announcements, Educational Technology|Tags: , , , , , |

Top Education Reads of 2011

The editors of American School Board Journal (ASBJ) have compiled their annual list  of the top 10 notable books in topics related to K-12 education from the last year in the magazine’s January 2012 issue.

“Our 2011 list reflects books on education that have a major impact on public opinion and are important to school leaders,” said Kathleen Vail, ASBJ’s Managing Editor.

Topping the list is Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools, one of most talked-about education books of the year, which portrays unions as the primary obstacle to school reform.

“Teachers unions continued to take a beating in 2011 in the court of public opinion, and several books on our list certainly reflect their place on the firing line,” Vail said.

Check out the full list at ASBJ.com.

Alexis Rice|January 4th, 2012|Categories: Curriculum, School Boards, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , , , |

Obama’s vision for a new education system

Pres. Obama delivered his first major speech on education at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce today, watch it in its entirety here


Naomi Dillon|March 10th, 2009|Categories: American School Board Journal, Student Achievement|Tags: , , |

From Sea to Shining Sea

Election Day came and went on Tuesday without as much fanfare as we’re used to seeing in most states. With no presidential election or mid-term elections to entice people to go to the polls, the more local matters became the center of attention. Yesterday we highlighted the Utah voucher vote which was watched closely in education circles, but what about some of the other issues? From Seattle to Miami, and everywhere in-between, there are some big challenges to address, especially in urban districts.

A recent study from the Southern Education Foundation found that poverty is on the rise in the south, requiring school districts to accept the fact that, according to our friends at Ed Week, “low-income students are now a majority in the public schools of the U.S. South, and that schools in the West may cross that line in the near future.” This undoubtedly brings health issues to the forefront of public schools, and it seems that you can’t open the newspaper or go to the web without seeing a blurb about childhood obesity. In Houston, they’re facing the issue with a pilot program that brings in chefs to discuss healthy eating, cook great food, and change the way students choose what to eat. An article in the Houston Chronicle on election day outlines the program and discusses the challenges. But poverty, health, and obesity are not alone…

National academic standards, school choice, school safety, conquering the achievement gap, NCLB, and pre-kindergarten (just to name a few) are on the minds of Americans, but are they on the minds of the candidates? Now that election day 2007 has come and gone, these issues could actually be addressed by the 16 presidential candidates. So far, other issues have dominated the debates and the rhetoric so in some cities, it’s the students who are chiming in with ideas. In Washington, D.C., almost 200 students participated in a town hall meeting to tell Mayor Adrian Fenty and School Chancellor Michelle Rhee how they thought the D.C. schools could be improved. What’s happening in your part of the country? Leave a comment to share the issues that you feel should be addressed.

Erin Walsh|November 8th, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards, Wellness|Tags: , , , |
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