Articles tagged with President Obama

Watch inspiring speeches by NSBA leaders on YouTube

Videos of NSBA’s leaders’ speeches given during NSBA’s 2012 Annual Conference, held April 21-23 in Boston, are now available on NSBA’s YouTube channel.

Mary Broderick, NSBA’s 2011-12 President, detailed a letter to President Obama she had written during her term as president, calling for a greater focus on nurturing children’s desires to learn rather than an emphasis on testing.

Speaking at the Second General Session on April 22, Broderick cited examples of federal and state policies stifling children’s motivation and learning through an overemphasis on standards and testing. She called for more focus on motivational research on students, and she also emphasized the need for public education systems to attract and retain good teachers and administrators by giving them flexibility to do their jobs.

Broderick’s letter to President Obama elicited several news stories and hundreds of Twitter “tweets.”

NSBA President C. Ed Massey also engaged attendees with a speech on adaptive leadership and ways that school boards can position their schools to adapt to a constantly changing world. Rethinking the ways the system has operated can improve students’ learning, and ultimately, the nation’s economy, he said at the Third General Session on April 23.

Massey called on national leaders and school board members to “commit to public education as a civil and moral right” and to make education a top priority in policy and budget discussions.

The NSBA YouTube channel also features videos of speeches by leaders and presenters at previous NSBA conferences.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|June 22nd, 2012|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2012, Teachers|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: , , , , , |

NSBA backs Pres. jobs bill, hopes Congress will too

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) commends President Barack Obama’s speech Thursday, during which he unveiled the American Jobs Act, a $447 billion package that would help struggling school districts retain teachers and address the antiquated state of many public schools.

“Our school children deserve a quality education and that cannot happen when their teachers are getting laid off and their school buildings are in need of repairs and upgrades that keep getting postponed due to budget cuts,” said NSBA’s Executive Director Anne L. Bryant. “In the face of massive budget shortfalls and education layoffs at school districts across the country, this new funding would provide necessary aid to America’s schools.”

Breaking down the numbers, 31 percent of Obama’s jobs proposal would be allocated to infrastructure and local aid, with $25 billion earmarked for modernizing public K-12 schools and $35 billion committed to preventing 280,000 teachers and emergency responders from being laid off.

“The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools,” Obama detailed in his speech. “It will put people to work right now fixing roofs and windows; installing science labs and high-speed internet in classrooms all across this country.”

According to Education Week, the school construction monies would be divided among the neediest states, which would have until Sept. 30, 2012 to decide how to divvy it up, though the largest 100 districts would receive a direct grant.

Obama challenged the notion that America can prosper as a society by simply dismantling Big Government.

“Ask yourselves – where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways and our bridges; our dams and our airports? What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges?” Obama asked Congress members.

“No single individual built America on their own. We built it together. We have been, and always will be, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all; a nation with responsibilities to ourselves and with responsibilities to one another.”

The question that now remains is will Congress live up to those responsibilities?

Naomi Dillon|September 9th, 2011|Categories: Educational Finance, Federal Programs, School Board News, Teachers|Tags: , , , , |

Extra funds in Jobs Bill not needed, according to some. Really?

The $10 billion Education Jobs Bill signed by President Obama last week is going to soon give school districts so much money that officials won’t even know how to spend it—not that they needed it anyway–according to some pundits.

According to folks like Fox News commentator and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, schools were doing just fine without this money. After 1210-1242160343u74VPresident Obama quickly signed the bill on Aug. 10, Huckabee and others told Fox  that the money would be wasted on bureaucracy.
(more…)

Naomi Dillon|August 16th, 2010|Categories: American School Board Journal, Budgeting, Governance, Policy Formation|Tags: , , |

New on ASBJ.com

1209_ASBJ_ndBill Clinton created Goals 2000. George W. Bush launched No Child Left Behind. Now, nearly one year into his first term as president, Barack Obama is embarking on perhaps the biggest expansion ever of the federal role in public schools.

Led by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the administration is asking states and school districts to experiment, to challenge long-held assumptions about teaching and learning, and to innovate — and it is putting up nearly $5 billion in “Race to the Top” (RTT) funds and other incentives to prod them to do it.

Will they be successful? This month, ASBJ puts that question, and several others, to seven authorities in the field of public education. Read what they have to say in this month’s cover story, now available online.

Naomi Dillon|November 30th, 2009|Categories: American School Board Journal, NSBA Publications|Tags: , |
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