Articles tagged with NSBA

NSBA: Allegations of misused funds by charter school operators show need for school board oversight

According to The Washington Post, D.C. authorities filed a lawsuit Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court in which former senior managers and the board chairwoman of D.C.-based Options Public Charter School (OPCS) are accused of diverting millions of taxpayer dollars intended to fund student programs.

The lawsuit claims that improper payments of more than $3 million were made since 2012. The filing alleges a “pattern of self-dealing” in which large payments were made to for-profit companies that OPCS managers founded while running the charter school. The OPCS enrolls about 400 at-risk students in middle and high school, many of whom have disabilities, for which the charter school receives thousands of dollars in extra taxpayer-based payments because they have special needs. The OPCS board chairwoman is D.C.-based WUSA9 news personality J.C. Hayward.

“The alleged charges surrounding this local issue should spark national attention and concern,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association. “While charter schools authorized by local boards of education assure the public of transparency and accountability, those solely in the for-profit sector without the oversight of a public school board offer a degree of risk that does not effectively serve the public interest. Strong local governance protects students’ interests. If these allegations are proven true, it is yet another case in point that local school boards are what best serve the public good.”

According to the D.C. Public Charter School Board (PCSB), Options Public Charter School opened in 1996 as one of D.C.’s first five charter schools. While the initial charter was issued by the D.C. Board of Education, oversight for the past six years (including the period during which the abuses are alleged to have occurred) has been the responsibility of PCSB, an appointed board with no direct accountability to the public.

NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. noted that any misuse of public funds would ultimately hurt students and the public schools that serve D.C. families.

“The diversion of tax dollars from traditional public schools into charter schools lacking the oversight of a public school board serves neither students nor taxpayers,” said Negrón. “Diverting scarce monies into such programs limits the ability of traditional public schools to carry out their mission to educate all children.”

Joetta Sack-Min|October 2nd, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Charter Schools, Educational Finance, Governance, Public Advocacy, School Boards, School Reform|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA mourns the passing of Gene Broderson

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is mourning the death of Gene Broderson, the Assistant Executive Director for State Association Partnership Programs, on Sept. 16.

Broderson_2013Broderson had been with NSBA since 2005, overseeing NSBA’s National Affiliate and Technology Leadership Network programs, which serve many of the nation’s leading school systems.  More recently, he was leading efforts to develop several new services in partnership with state school boards associations, including the BuyBoard National Purchasing Cooperative, and USBAflex, which provides cost-effective flexible spending account options for school systems.

“Gene had exceptional talents in a range of fields from business to digital media, and teaching,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “We will miss the energy and enthusiasm he brought to every project.”

Prior to his work at NSBA, Broderson was the Director of Education for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and was responsible for helping public television stations improve and enhance their educational offerings for children, teachers, and adult learners. He also worked for CALIBRE Systems, Inc., a government contractor that acquired Gene’s company, Training Media Incorporated, in 1999. Training Media produced award winning training material for associations. He also had worked as a teacher in Virginia and New York.

Memorial contributions to honor Broderson can be made to Save the Children, National Wildlife Federation or the American Cancer Society. The Washington Post also published an obituary from Broderson’s family.

Joetta Sack-Min|September 18th, 2013|Categories: Announcements|Tags: , |

NSBA President: Effective school boards will improve students’ success

David A. Pickler, the 2013-14 president of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and a member of Tennessee’s Shelby County School Board, wrote this column for the October 2013 issue of American School Board Journal.

How can school boards become more effective?

Through our work at NSBA and the state associations, we’ve seen many good examples of school boards that function well and show results through student achievement. We’ve learned through NSBA’s Center for Public Education (CPE) that school boards in districts with high student achievement are different than school boards in low-achieving districts.

So this would seem to be a fairly straightforward matter of identifying what makes school boards work effectively. But teasing out the tangible areas where school boards can make a difference is still an emerging area of research, and the question is more complex than it initially appears.

I recently spoke at a media event in Seattle, hosted by the Alliance for Education. This nonprofit group is working with the Seattle school board to improve academic achievement and guide student success in the district — and to sustain those actions over time. We talked about CPE’s recent report, “Eight Characteristics of Effective School Boards,” as well as other research by the Iowa School Boards Foundation and NSBA’s Key Work of School Boards. Researcher Thomas L. Alsbury, a professor at Seattle Pacific University, also discussed the important role that a school board holds as “one of the few remaining vestiges of accessible democracy.”

So what do we know about effective school boards — those that are making progress in student achievement across all sectors of their student population? CPE’s research shows that some of those characteristics include:

  • An ability to set goals reflecting high expectations for students and monitoring progress toward goals, an understanding of student data and how it can be used
  • A relentless focus on student achievement and spending less time on operational issues
  • A comprehensive understanding of the needs of the school district, and strong relationships with the superintendent, other administrators, teachers, and other key stakeholders, and
  • Perhaps most importantly, everyone in the district is committed to success.

More information about the eight characteristics can be found at CPE’s website.

Student success should be the core mission for any school board. We cannot focus on a single issue but must be committed to a comprehensive plan that will support all our students and their needs, Alsbury noted. Board conflict and turnover ultimately will harm student achievement. We must not get mired in micromanagement and organizational details.

As school board leaders, we must lead, and we must model these characteristics for the district staff, students, and the community. We must ensure that every child is prepared for the 21st century and beyond. We know that we are living in exponential times of change—in just the last few years technology has changed our work and our lives in ways we never imagined. The generation of students that we are now educating will be taking on jobs that don’t yet exist.

This work becomes even more important in light of the new landscape of education policy, where we as school boards are being forced to justify our existence more frequently.

Not every school board has an organized group like the Alliance for Education to monitor our work, so we must take it upon ourselves to learn from this research, taking a hard look at our inner workings and continuously striving for improvement. We also could look for community and business partnerships with like-minded groups such as the Alliance. If we use our ability to lay a foundation and set the culture for the school district, our students will benefit for years to come.

Our students need—and deserve—the best we can give.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|September 11th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Center for Public Education, Educational Research, Governance, Key Work of School Boards, Leadership, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Reform|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA mourns death of longtime colleague Gus Steinhilber

Gus Steinhilber

Gus Steinhilber

August W. Steinhilber Jr., NSBA’s former General Counsel, Associate Executive Director, and head of NSBA’s Office of Federal Relations, died on August 20 at age 81.

Steinhilber, who was known as “Gus,” helped build NSBA’s Federal Relations Network and greatly expanded the organization’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill during the Carter and Reagan administrations. He worked at NSBA from 1968 to 1998, and prior to NSBA, he served in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare as the deputy assistant commissioner of education for legislation.

“Over the 28 years we worked together he fought every day for cause of public education and loved every minute of it,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy.

During his tenure as NSBA General Counsel, he filed over 50 amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court, advanced the organization’s legal advocacy efforts, and provided leadership for NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys (COSA).

After retiring from NSBA, Steinhilber continued to be involved in school law through NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys, and he also worked as a counsel for the Maryland law firm of Reese & Carney, LLP. In 2005, COSA honored Steinhilber with its Lifetime Achievement Award for exemplary leadership and distinguished service. He is remembered as a strong advocate for public education and the school law profession.

Joetta Sack-Min|August 23rd, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Council of School Attorneys, Federal Advocacy, School Law|Tags: , , |

State school board leaders focus on transformative leadership at NSBA event

David Pickler

NSBA President David Pickler addresses Presidents’ Retreat

More than 80 state school board leaders gathered in Memphis, Tenn., last week to discuss school governance trends, hone their leadership skills, reflect on the fast-changing landscape, and learn from their colleagues at the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) annual Presidents’ Retreat.

NSBA President David A. Pickler, a member of the Tennessee’s Shelby County Board of Education, hosted the retreat in his hometown for state school boards association presidents, past presidents, and state executive directors.

The retreat focused on transformational leadership, Pickler’s theme for his term as president and addressed the challenges in public education. Pickler encouraged school board leaders to become more effective advocates for public education and school board governance.

“This is our time to challenge conventional wisdom and embrace the possibilities ahead,” said Pickler. “We also must consider the challenges ahead with the efforts by well-funded and well-organized entities that want to dismantle our American institution of public schools and local school board governance. We must take on those who are trying to take away our students’ right to a great education and fight for the futures of more than 50 million schoolchildren.”

School board leaders participated in a highly interactive training event with staff from the Crew Training International (CTI), a Memphis-based company that specializes in human factors training used by commercial and military aviators to accomplish their complex missions. The facilitated training began with enhanced academics and culminated with a simulated space flight using CTI’s interactive, computerized training.

“This training gave school board leaders real skills to build teams, communicate effectively, and capture best practices so they can positively affect public education and the advocacy required to promote it,” said David Dufour, CTI’s Director of Operations who led the training program.

Following the leadership training, school board leaders participated in a wing-pinning ceremony recognizing their leadership training with Commander W. Brent Phillips of the U.S. Navy Recruiting Command. Phillips, before pinning the school board leaders, gave remarks and noted to the school board leaders, “My kids have benefited from your efforts. Thank you for all that you do”

Representatives from the National Governors Association, Northern Kentucky University, several state school boards leaders, and previous NSBA Presidents spoke about key leadership topics and vital issues in the states and federal level concerning K-12 education policy.

Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Maj. Gen. Patrick Henry Brady addressed the retreat’s closing session and discussed leadership and his experiences in the Vietnam War and longtime career with the U.S. Army.

Action News 5 – Memphis, Tennessee

Brady discussed that school board member’s are “key to the success to the future of America.” Brady noted that we must “teach young people the importance of charter and patriotism” and show them “they can be heros.”

Pickler announced a new NSBA partnership with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation’s (CMOHF) Medal of Honor Character Development Program. The program incorporates the ideals of courage and selfless service into the middle and high school curriculum to build character and promote responsible citizenship. The program offers Medal of Honor-related lesson plans that draw upon the ideals embodied in the Medal of Honor and their application in daily life. The program already is in 33 states and Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe and the Pacific.

NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, praised the new partnership and noted, “We are honored to ally with the CMOHF to pursue our mutual goals of ensuring that students fully appreciate the value of these contributions and that they will be inspired to fulfill all their responsibilities as citizens of the United States. NSBA looks forward to working exploring partnership opportunities with the Foundation and to lend our active support to its mission.”

Brady’s address and the Presidents’ Retreat were featured on WMC-TV Action Five News in Memphis.

Alexis Rice|August 22nd, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Governance, Leadership|Tags: , , , |

NSBA expert discusses educational technology on South Korea radio show

President Barack Obama recently lauded South Korea as a model for educational technology and internet accessibility on a recent visit to a U.S. school. But South Koreans aren’t convinced their schools are worthy of the praise.

A broadcast on TBS eFM’s “This Morning” in Seoul queried Lucy Gettman, the National School Boards Association’s Director of Federal Programs, on the federal e-Rate program and the need for more technology in U.S. schools.

Gettman discussed the challenges that U.S. schools face in fully utilizing the internet and educational technology, including getting high-speed internet connections to all U.S. schools, ensuring instructional content is high quality, and ensuring teachers are supported with proper training and tools.

Outside the classroom, most students are already well-versed in using technology, so for U.S. schools, “our opportunity is to engage students in a more meaningful way,” Gettman said.

Listen to the Aug. 19 interview on “This Morning,” a Korean radio show that discusses news and current affairs.

Joetta Sack-Min|August 21st, 2013|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Educational Technology, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Student Engagement, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , , |

Americans support for public schools, yet skepticism on testing, PDK/Gallup poll finds

The general public is quite skeptical about school vouchers, standardized testing, and teacher evaluations using student test scores, according to the annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll, released August 21. But those surveyed continued to give record-high grades to their local public schools and showed strong support for charter schools.

The general public also overwhelmingly feels that schools are safe, and supports more funding for mental-health services instead of hiring security guards.

This year, 53 percent of the public gave their local schools a grade of A or B, the highest percentage recorded in the poll’s 45-year history. Public education as a whole received an average of a C, consistent with recent polls.

Public school parents named “lack of financial support” and “overcrowding” as the biggest problems facing public schools. PDK/Gallup reported that three concerns have risen on the list of the biggest problems facing public schools: lack of parental support, difficulties in getting good teachers, and testing requirements and regulations.

The poll also showed that a majority of the public believes charters do a better job educating students than traditional public schools, and two of three respondents support opening more charters in their communities. Yet, support for private school vouchers was extremely low, with only 29 percent of the respondents said children should be allowed to attend private schools at public expense.

And in a question that was sharply divided on partisan lines, 55 percent of respondents oppose providing a free public education to children of illegal immigrants. A majority also support home-schooling and support allowing home-schooled students to attend public school part-time and participate in athletic programs.

The poll also showed a growing skepticism toward standardized testing in schools, where 36 percent of those questioned said increased testing was hurting the performance of their local schools, 41 percent said it had made no difference, and 22 percent said it helped. In 2007, 28 percent of respondents said testing had helped their schools.

William Bushaw, executive director of PDK International and co-director of the PDK/Gallup poll, said in written remarks, “Americans’ mistrust of standardized tests and their lack of confidence and understanding around new education standards is one the most surprising developments we’ve found in years. The 2013 poll shows deep confusion around the nation’s most significant education policies and poses serious communication challenges for education leaders.”

Further, the public knows very little about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)—slated to go into effect in 2014—and those who do still don’t understand it, the poll found. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they had never heard of CCSS, and of the remaining 38 percent, most believed that the federal government was forcing states to adapt the standards and that the standards covered more subjects than English/language arts and mathematics.

NSBA and the major administrators’ groups issued a statement in May that supported the principles behind Common Core but warned states and districts face “very real obstacles” to align their curricula with the new standards and administer the required tests.

In June, the Learning First Alliance, a coalition of 16 education groups including NSBA, called on lawmakers to give states and school districts more time to transition to the Common Core, noting that there needs to be more time to develop the proper resources for students and teachers, including curriculum, assessments, and professional development.

The 2013 PDK/Gallup poll results are available at www.pdkpoll.org.

Joetta Sack-Min|August 21st, 2013|Categories: Assessment, Common Core State Standards, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, National Standards|Tags: , , , |

NSBA, N.C. school boards ask court to restore preK for at-risk children

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA) are calling on the North Carolina Supreme Court to require the state to fulfill its commitment  to give all at-risk children an opportunity to attend pre-kindergarten programs to prepare them to succeed in school.

NCSBA and NSBA have filed an amicus brief in Hoke County Board of Education v. State of North Carolina that urges the Court to rule that the state legislature, through funding cuts and legislation that restructured the “More at Four” program, abandoned its constitutional responsibility to provide the services that would afford “at-risk” children equal access to the opportunity to receive a sound basic education. After expanding the “More at Four” prekindergarten program in response to previous court orders, the state legislature in 2011 severely limited access to the program through substantial budget cuts and caps on the percentage of at-risk children permitted to enroll.

“Research has proven countless times that a quality early childhood education benefits all children, and it is most beneficial for children living in poverty and other at-risk situations,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Prekindergarten programs help the neediest children get the interventions they need so that they can succeed in elementary school and beyond.”

In a series of lawsuits that began two decades ago, the North Carolina Supreme Court held that all children residing in North Carolina have a state constitutional right to the “equal opportunity to receive a sound basic education.”

“The state chose to offer these critical prekindergarten programs to meet its constitutional obligations, and it must not be allowed to back away from that commitment,” said NCSBA Executive Director Ed Dunlap, Jr. “School boards across North Carolina are committed to giving each and every child, including those deemed at risk, a strong public education, and we hope the state will fulfill its obligations as well.”

Joetta Sack-Min|July 29th, 2013|Categories: Preschool Education, School Law, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , , |

NSBA expresses concerns on House K-12 budget proposal

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is disappointed in the House of Representatives’ proposed fiscal 2014 budget for K-12 programs and is calling on House members to restore funding.

The budget would create “devastating” cuts to many education programs, including $4.5 billion cuts to Title I and the main federal special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, if the budget cuts were to be applied across the board, according to NSBA.

In a July 24 letter to members of the House Appropriations Committee, NSBA wrote, “Local school boards have grave concerns over the Subcommittee’s overall 302(b) funding allocation that would impose greater budget cuts to programs implemented at the local school district level. Local school boards are also concerned that federal funding to support K-12 education is being significantly reduced at a time when there should be increased investments in our nation’s future.”

The NSBA letter refers to the overall subcommittee allocation, which was approved by the full committee more than a month ago.

Joetta Sack-Min|July 25th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , |

NSBA urges House to approve ESEA bill this week

In anticipation of a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives later this week, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has written to all House members to urge them to support the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization. Specifically, NSBA is supporting an amendment that would  give school districts greater input in the development of federal regulations, and it would prohibit the U.S. Department of Education from extending its authority to make regulations outside specific legislative authority.

NSBA also has concerns about the funding authorizations included in the bill, H.R. 5. It has urged House members to support the reinstatement of Maintenance of Effort requirements to ensure that schools receive adequate state funding in an era of tight budgets.

Finally, NSBA announced its opposition to an amendment that would require school districts to reallocate Title I funds on a per-pupil basis and set up a system of public school choice. “Title I portability would cause irreparable harm to high-needs schools and the students they serve,” the letter states.

H.R. 5, also called The Student Success Act, “makes significant improvements to restore greater flexibility and governance to local educational agencies that will enable these agencies to better meet the unique needs and conditions of their local schools and students. It also re-affirms the appropriate roles and responsibilities between the Executive and Legislative Branches of government that are vital to the representative decision-making at the federal level that under girds public education as a democratic institution across all three levels of government,” the letter states.

Joetta Sack-Min|July 17th, 2013|Categories: Charter Schools, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation|Tags: , |
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