Articles tagged with leadership

Video: NSBA discusses school climate and bullying on Comcast Newsmakers

BoardBuzz recommends you check out Mary Broderick, President of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), recent appearance on Comcast Newsmakers.

Broderick discusses school climate, bullying, and cyberbullying, and promotes NSBA’s Students on Board: A Conversation Between School Board Members and Studentsproject to get school board members across the country to start talking with students about school climate.

Alexis Rice|August 18th, 2011|Categories: School Boards, Teachers, Bullying, Center for Public Education, School Climate, Student Achievement, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|Tags: , , , , , , , |

The week in blogs

Here are two unsettling statistics on school discipline, based on an unprecedented study of nearly 1 million Texas secondary school students: Nearly 60 percent of these children were suspended or expelled over the course of the six-year study, and African-American students were disproportionately disciplined for infractions that the researchers described as “discretionary” — that is, the school had the option of not suspending or expelling the student but chose the harsher path.

As it turns out, it’s not as much the behavior of the students that leads to vastly different kinds of discipline, says the study by The Council of State Government’s Justice Center and Texas A&M University’s Public Policy Research Institute. It’s the policies of school leaders.

“The bottom line is that schools can get different outcomes with very similar student bodies,” Michael D. Thompson, a co-author of the report, told the Washington Post. “School superintendents and teachers can have a dramatic impact.”

To that list we should also add school board members, who hire the superintendent and, through their policy-making decisions, have significant authority over the way schools handle discipline.

The day after that report was made public, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder issued a new Supportive School Discipline Initiative that aims to dismantle the “School-to-Prison Pipeline” that pushes students into the juvenile justice system for school infractions that could be handled in other ways.

Citing the Texas report and the high number of suspensions and expulsions it found, Holder said, “I think these numbers are kind of a wake-up call. It’s obvious we can do better.”

In yet another critical look at school discipline, journalist Annette Fuentes, in her new book, Lockdown High, examines the heightened national concern about school safety – and its negative consequences – since 9/11 and Columbine.

“The Columbine scenario is terrifying, but the odds of it occurring in your hometown are about one in two million,” Fuentes told the Post.

In a later interview, she makes another point that is well known to most school board members: School is among the safest places for children and young people to be.

So how about those ultra-safe playgrounds, with nothing too high or too hard, too fast or too rickety? Not good for kids, says Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University of Norway. Yes, they may prevent a few physical injuries (and even that is open to debate) but the psychological toll – in children becoming more fearful because they’re not given the chance to adequately explore their world — outweighs the benefits, she says in a New York Times article.

So too safe is bad – psychologically. What about too extravagant, for example, the $248,000 playhouse a former CEO built for his grandchildren? Not a great idea, notes the Post’s Ruth Marcus. Could make for overly indulged, uncreative kids. Imagine that?

At least that’s one problem cashed-strapped school districts don’t have to worry about.

Lawrence Hardy|July 22nd, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized, Teachers, Week in Blogs, School Security, School Climate, Reports|Tags: , , , , , , |

Pink Describes What ‘Drives’ Us

In the final general session of the 2010 NSBA Leadership Conference, former political aide, speech writer to Al Gore, and author Daniel Pink illuminated audience members with the findings from his latest book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” Better yet, he showed them what he discovered after several years of research.

“Who here didn’t have breakfast and is thinking about lunch?” Pink queried the crowd.

A hand in the back of the room shot up. It belonged to a woman named Kathy, who hailed from Grand Rapids, Mich.

“Kathy, you’re hungry? Here you go,” Pink said, before handing her a bag containing a bagel and orange juice. “So, Kathy’s being hungry is one motivation. We eat when we’re hungry, drink when we’re thirsty, and we have sex to satisfy our carnal needs. But that’s not all we need as humans, except if you’re a man between ages of 15 to 17.”

Pink called on the audience to illustrate another human motivator.

“I’ll give anyone $10, if they come up here and hold my book up for 30 seconds.” Charlie from Columbus, Ohio, obliged willingly. “As you see, humans respond exquisitely to rewards and punishment.”

But it’s the third drive, the concept that humans will do things because it’s interesting, because we want to get better at it, because we want to contribute to the world, which can inspire humans the most, yet is the least utilized by management and organizations.

“That third drive is extraordinarily important in achieving all kinds of things,” Pink said. “The trouble is businesses and even schools rely too much on that second drive. They think the only reason people will do anything worthy is to entice them with a carrot or beat them with a stick.”

But four years of research and countless studies have shown that just isn’t true.

“If you doubt the salience of that third drive, then let me ask you this: What are you doing here?” Pink said. “Why do you serve on a school board of a state association? You do it because it matters, because it contributes to your community.”

Even though, much of education reform these days seems to focus on incentives and punishments, Pink told the audience they should have cause to be optimistic about their teaching force.

“Intrinsic motivation is what they understand, almost better than anybody else.”

Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|January 31st, 2010|Categories: School Boards, Teachers, Leadership Conference 2010, School Board News|Tags: |

Attorneys: Don’t Run From Diversity Policies

More than two years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down race-conscious student assignment policies in the Seattle and Louisville public schools, many other districts are needlessly avoiding strategies that can increase diversity and boost student achievement, NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negron Jr. said Saturday.

“Most school districts are simply going to run from diversity policies because of fear of litigation.” Negron said Saturday at a break out session titled “Diversity: Dead or Different?”

But running scared is a mistake, said Negron and Arthur L. Coleman, managing partner for EducationCounsel L.L.C. Within decades the United States will be a “majority minority” nation. Global economic competition will continue to increase. The most successful students will be those who can thrive in a diverse environment. And one way to prepare them for that future is to continue seeking diversity in public schools and classrooms as an academic goal.

“Race and diversity are very much in play,” Negron said. “But you have to do it the right way…. It has to be part of a broad academic policy.”

That means districts not under court-ordered desegregation plans cannot seek to diversity as a means of redressing past discrimination; their efforts must instead have a broad academic purpose, Coleman said. He said the high court emphasized in its rejection of the Louisville plan that only about 3 percent of the district’s students would benefit from its race-based student assignments — hardly a prescription for broad academic benefit.

Districts interested in diversifying schools can use things like geographic boundaries, socioeconomic status, designation as English language learners, and other demographic criteria, but not if these are proxies for race, Negron said. And they should look to stakeholders outside the district, including businesses and community groups, to validate their actions, something the University of Michigan did in the wake of its own 2003 Supreme Court case concerning undergraduate admissions. In fact, Coleman said, looking at the policies of colleges and universities can benefit school districts as well.

“Who are the external validators who can come in and say, ‘This is important to our success?'” Coleman asked. “And this is exactly what the University of Michigan did.”

He added: “Frankly, there is more abundant higher education consideration of race than in the K-12 setting,” Coleman said.

Lawrence Hardy, Senior Editor, Publications

Lawrence Hardy|January 30th, 2010|Categories: School Law, Leadership Conference 2010, School Board News|Tags: , |

Helping School Boards Understand and Use Data

Despite the numerous federal and state policies that have established data-based decision making as the norm for K-12 education in recent years, many school board members aren’t sure exactly what the concept means and how they should be using it to do their work.

Working with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NSBA’s Center for Public Education partnered with three state associations (Michigan, Illinois, and California) to not only help school boards understand data but specifically show them how to use it to evaluate and guide their policies.

One of the first steps in the training, consultant Katheryn Gemberling explained at the Leadership Conference breakout session, Good Measures for Good Governance, is helping school boards understand the types of data available and ways that data could be used to make their work more effective. Her training uses real-life scenarios and hands-on examples of models that show the different ways data can be compiled and then used.

“We try to get boards really comfortable and confident in using data,” she said. “We use all kinds of data, too, not just student data.”

One of the most important facets, Gemberling added, is helping board members figure out the critical questions to ask — questions are often more important than answers.

One common mistake that she demonstrated was the danger of using averages, which can mask the extremities and trends within a particular study. The project shows school boards how distribution models such as stacked columns, which show disaggregated data by percentage, and scatter plots, which show the range of the subjects examined, give a much more comprehensive view.

For instance, one district used a stacked column to show how teacher assignments to high-need, mixed, and low-need schools correlated to the years of experience of the teacher. While the average years of teaching experience in high-need schools was relatively high, the column showed that about 40 percent of the teachers were actually in their first year of the job.

Nuances exists between using data for accountability and using it to drive continuous improvement.

The CPE, Gemberling, and other consultants have built three modules to demonstrate effective use of data: Creating a Data Culture, Teacher Quality, and High School and Beyond. The CPE is surveying the school officials within the three pilot states for guidance on new modules.

Ultimately, the CPE and NSBA will work with other state associations to provide materials and a training process for their local members. The CPE also will offer online self-guided tutorials and tools.

Joetta Sack-Min, Online Editor

Joetta Sack-Min|January 30th, 2010|Categories: School Boards, Leadership Conference 2010, Educational Technology, School Board News|Tags: , |

Building a 21st Century Education

Though it was one of the final breakout sessions of the afternoon and snow showers continued to blanket the DC Metro area, Saturday’s program on building a 21st century education drew a packed room and ended with a lively discussion.

Led by Patte Barth, director of NSBA’s Center for Public Education, the 45-minute session offered a brisk overview of the forces that have changed the workforce in the last few decades and how schools must adapt to equip students with the necessary skills they need to be successful.

In 1980, for instance, Americans collectively consumed 4,500 trillion words a day; in 2008 that figure is 10,845 trillion words.

“Can anyone even comprehend what a trillion is,” Barth asks the audience.

“That’s like our national debt,” shot back an audience member.

After the laughter subsided, Barth explained that while the Internet — which feeds some 3.6 zettabytes of data to U.S. consumers a day — has made information more accessible, it hasn’t made it more attainable.

“The information is just bombarding us now, we have to process it, digest it, make sense of it,” Barth says.

Hence the need for higher-order thinking skills and a broader view of competencies. The traditional curriculum is not enough, Barth says, students need to develop the ability to apply what they learn in various contexts.

In the 21st century, students need to have the 3C’s: critical thinking or problem solving, communication/collaboration, and creativity. Barth referenced a scene from the movie, Apollo 13, to illustrate what the 3C’s look like in action.

“This engineer comes in and throws all these random parts on a table and says this is what they have to work with, figure out a way to fix this ship and get them back to earth,” Barth says. “Of course, the engineers knew their stuff, but they had never encountered this situation before and they had to collaborate, and communicate with one another be really creative to find a solution.”

Before ending the session, Barth turned it over to the audience, to find out what solutions their school boards had discovered or what educators as a whole should work on to bring schools into the 21st century.

“Having an analysis of the outcome, not being afraid to fail, it’s a way of thinking that has to start in kindergarten, one audience member posited. “Why do kids like math in kindergarten, but they hate it in fourth grade? Teaching critical thinking skills starts early and needs to continue through education.”

Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor, Publications

Naomi Dillon|January 30th, 2010|Categories: Leadership Conference 2010, Educational Technology, School Board News|Tags: , |

Photos on Flickr

Photos from NSBA’s Leadership Conference are available for download on our Flickr site. Go to

Glenn Cook|January 30th, 2010|Categories: Leadership Conference 2010, School Board News|Tags: |

Cisco Officials Outline ‘Education 3.0’

Schools are not matching the needs of today’s workplace, school leaders were told at an afternoon leadership session presented by Cisco Global Education.

Consultant James Lengel illustrated how the workplace and the schoolhouse matched during the mid-1800s and at the beginning of the 20th century. Using Winslow Homer’s paintings between 1850 and 1875, Lengel showed how “Workplace 1.0” required people to work in small, multi-age groups, with lots of collaboration and connection to the outside world. “Education 1.0” looked the same, with students working in multi-age groups together at a variety of tasks, with lots of connection to the outside world.

Lengel moved to 1909, the year Homer died, after the Industrial Revolution. Photos showed “Workplace 2.0” – people worked in large groups, all doing the same thing and not talking to each other. They used mechanical tools and had little or no contact with the outside world while they were working.

“The schools changed to match the outside work world,” said Lengel. A photo of a classroom at the same time revealed that students were sitting in rows, working on the same task in isolation.

“Now there’s a clock,” said Lengel. “There was no clock in Homer’s classroom., but you need a clock now.”

Again, schools moved to match the workplace.

Lengel fast-forwarded to 2008-09 to talk about the needs of “Workplace 3.0”: Small groups work together to solve problems. They use digital tools and have varied styles, and they have many connections to the outside world.

“That is our economy now,” Lengel said. “If the schools had adapted to this workplace, what would they look like?”

That question led Lengel to discuss “A Day in the Life of a 21st Century Student.” The hypothetical high school student, Sally, uses her handheld device and other electronics to connect with her student work group, collects data from the local water source, and ends up seeing her information used in a state Senate debate over water quality.

At Sally’s high school, subjects are connected, students are required to serve on internships, and teachers are resources who point students in the right direction to find out information.

Also during the session, Cisco’s Gene Longo and Cynthia Temesi talked about how the company can help school leaders match today’s workplace. Temesi outlined the Education 3.0 framework, which includes four pillars.

They are:

Pillar 1: Curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment

Pillar 2: Infrastructure and technology

Pillar 3: Policies, procedures, and management

Pillar 4: Leadership, people, and culture

For more information go to

Kathleen Vail, Managing Editor-Publications

Kathleen Vail|January 30th, 2010|Categories: Leadership Conference 2010, School Board News|Tags: |

NJ’s Belluscio, 5-State Team Earn Shannon Awards

NSBA honored Frank Belluscio of the New Jersey School Boards Association and a five-state team with the 2010 Thomas A. Shannon Award at its Leadership conference on Jan. 30. The award, named after NSBA’s former executive director, is given annually to individuals and groups that have shown exceptional leadership.

Belluscio, NJSBA’s communications director, has worked in the association’s communications department for more than three decades, and has taken on many projects to analyze and interpret data. Some of his notable projects were using data to build support for a state school construction initiative and dispelling negative myths about administrator’s salaries. He also oversees a “best practices” program for innovative curriculum and “Innovations in Special Education,” which highlights creative and successful programs for students with disabilities.

In Belluscio’s nomination, Executive Director Marie Bilik referenced the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and said that public education would not have been the same in the state without Belluscio. “Frank is our George Bailey, just like the movie,” she said. “He proves one person can make a difference.”

Belluscio said he appreciated the reference.

“Movies that Frank Capra directed really capture small-town principles,” Belluscio said when accepting the award. “Even though those small towns are disappearing, those principles remain, and the work of local boards of education takes place at that level.”

The second Shannon Award was given to a project that links school board policies to student achievement. The “Targeting Achievement through Governance” (TAG) program provides services to districts that have failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for two or more years, offering workshops, training and assistance to those school boards.

The project, now in its 14th year, is a collaboration between the state school boards associations in Illinois, Maine, California, Washington, and Pennsylvania. The project group works as a think tank and supports its work by producing analysis and products and publications for other school boards.

“The work of these teams was ahead of its time—it was born and underway before No Child Left Behind,” said Anne L. Bryant, NSBA’s executive director. “Their work is an example to follow.”

Other states and school boards have adapted the team’s work to their specific needs, said Michael Johnson, the executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards.

“We’re very proud of the various ways states have taken these tools and used them in unique ways in each state,” Johnson said. “Our primary goal is to get this information out to school boards across the country.”

Joetta Sack-Min, online editor

Joetta Sack-Min|January 30th, 2010|Categories: Leadership Conference 2010, School Board News|Tags: |

Leadership Conference Starts with ‘Nine Shift’

NSBA’s Leadership Conference 2010 kicked off with a glimpse into how accurate one influential book’s look into the future and its forecast that a seismic shift in how people live, work, and learn in the 21st century were playing out.

“Even though they wrote this at the beginning of the 21st century, look at how on target they were,” says Katheryn Gemberling, an education consultant who presented the morning’s first session, basing it on the popular book, “Nine Shift,” by husband and wife co-authors, Julie Coates and William Draves.

In the book, the pair contend that some 75 percent of life as we know it would change between 2000 and 2020, mimicking a similar dramatic shift that occurred at the dawn of the 20th century, when the electric car replaced the horse-drawn buggy, and factories and industrial plants gained traction over working in the fields.

Whereas the automobile revolutionized the 20th century, the Internet has proved to have the biggest impact in the 21st century, says Gemberling, who serves as the project director for NSBA’s Gates Foundation grant to train school boards on using data to drive decisions, developing teaching effectiveness, and making sure all students are ready for college.

A decade into the 21st century and midway through the predictions they made in their book, Coates and Draves seem nearly clairvoyant.

Teleworking, once a rare practice, is becoming company protocol, reducing commuting time, cutting down on turnover, and allowing businesses to keep the best and brightest workers. Mixed-use neighborhoods and downtown revitalizations are becoming popular, with retail, schools, and transportation hubs clustered within walking distance of each other. And in schools, education becomes more Web-based, self-discipline replaces supervision, and collaboration is considered productive.

“This is going to kill most educators,” Gemberling says, half-jokingly. “The idea that you need to be alone to work is outdated.”

So is the idea that learning has to occur in a building. In the future, half of all learning will occur online, a format that supports students learning at their own pace, during their peak time.

“So what about the other half of learning, which will be face to face?” Gemberling asks rhetorically. “It can’t be done the same.”

Educators must help students put cognitive learning into context, advise them on which ways they learn best, and help students learn how to learn.

“In other words, schools will need to combine the high-tech with the high touch.”

Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|January 30th, 2010|Categories: School Boards, Leadership Conference 2010, Educational Technology, School Board News|Tags: |
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