Articles tagged with public education

Stand Up 4 Public Schools unveils Magic Johnson ads

A new “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” ad featuring legendary basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr. debuted today in Businessweek magazine.2014-201_nsbaStandUp_JohnsonAd.indd

Stand Up 4 Public Schools is the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) public advocacy campaign that celebrates the good things happening in public schools. In the ad, Johnson notes, “Who I am today began with public education,” the campaign tagline.

He also states, “I developed a strong work ethic at home in Lansing, Mich. My father was an assembly worker and my mother was a school custodian. I developed my mind and body at public school—that’s where the ‘Magic’ began.”

The ad, along with several other versions featuring Johnson, is downloadable at the Stand Up 4 Public Schools website. Other celebrity spokespersons include Khan Academy founder Sal Khan and television host and actor Montel Williams.

Johnson spoke about the campaign and the importance of public education earlier this month at NSBA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans. Watch a video of the presentation and a question-and-answer session with NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel on NSBA’s You Tube channel.

Aside from his professional basketball career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Johnson also is considered the most successful African-American businessman in our nation. Having left the basketball court for the boardroom, Johnson is Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE), which provides high-quality products and services that focus primarily on ethnically diverse and underserved urban communities through strategic alliances, investments, consulting and endorsements.

His business portfolio includes: ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball and the WNBA team Los Angeles Sparks; a $500 million private equity fund; ASPIRE, an African-American television network; MAGIC Workforce Solutions, a staffing company, and SodexoMAGIC, a food service and facilities management company, among many other entities.

His philanthropic work includes the Magic Johnson Foundation, which he founded in 1991 to develop and fund programs addressing HIV/AIDS prevention, HIV testing, and effective treatment for persons living with HIV/AIDS. It runs five HIV/AIDS Clinics that assist all patients regardless of their ability to pay and have tested more than 40,000 individuals.

The foundation also runs a scholarship program that currently has 160 students. It also helps fund and build Community Empowerment Centers to help bridge the education gap by providing ethnically diverse urban communities access to resources and programming that educate, empower and strengthen individuals through the innovative use of technology. Currently there are 18 empowerment centers.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|April 25th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Public Advocacy, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA promotes new vision statement for future of public schools

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has unveiled a new vision statement, “elevator speech,” and guiding principles, important aspects of a unified framework that helps education leaders become better advocates and boosts NSBA’s presence as a leading advocate for public education and school board governance.

A School Board Vision for Public Education

NSBA unveils ” A School Board Vision for Public Education”

The documents were written by NSBA’s Board of Directors to help NSBA members as well as members of the general public advocate effectively for public education.

The Board-approved unified framework aims to build NSBA’s ‘army of advocates’ and influence key federal legislative issues, NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel said in a video showcasing the new documents.

“School boards are different than any other player in the education community,” Gentzel said. “We are not a special interest, our local school board members are elected officials and they have a responsibility to stand up in the community and say ‘here’s what we think needs to happen.’”

Advocates can use the statement and principles in their messages to Congress and the public, as well as to aggressively pursue NSBA’s federal agenda, deal with an emerging environment in Congress, address critical priorities in education and school governance, and promote key strengths of NSBA.

A comprehensive statement entitled “A School Board Vision for Public Education,” lays out the vision and results that public schools should achieve. Those include accountability for the success of each child, closing the achievement gap, continuously meeting high expectations for student achievement and community satisfaction, and providing a safe learning environment that focuses on individualized instruction and protecting the civil rights of each child.

To do this, public schools need capacity to provide effective teachers, technology, and other resources; the necessary funding, research, and technical assistance to meet the educational demands of a dynamic world; active participation by parents and the community; locally elected school boards who work with the community and educators; and state and federal lawmakers who are committed to public education and the goals of their local schools.

A concise “elevator speech” highlights key tenets of the larger NSBA vision statement. NSBA also is printing pocket-size laminate cards for distribution at upcoming meetings and events.

The final part of the unified framework, “Guiding Principles for Implementation,” frames the development of specific resolutions in three key areas: Public Education, Local School Board Governance, and Equity and Excellence in Education.

Watch the video:

Joetta Sack-Min|November 7th, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Board governance, Leadership, Legislative advocacy, School Boards, School Reform|Tags: , , , |

Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act introduced in U.S. Congress

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) praised today’s introduction of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act in the U.S. House of Representatives that would protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counter-productive federal intrusion from the U.S. Department of Education.

“Local school boards and local educators play a vital role in educating our nation’s schoolchildren which should not be eroded by unnecessary federal regulations,” said C. Ed Massey, NSBA President and member of Kentucky’s Boone County Board of Education. “The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act would ensure that local school boards have the ability to make decisions to create greater academic success for all students, efficiency, and responsiveness to the desires of local communities.”

This legislation, introduced by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), would ensure that the U.S. Department of Education’s actions are consistent with the specific intent of federal law and are educationally, operationally, and financially supportable at the local level. This would also establish several procedural steps that the Department of Education would need to take prior to initiating regulations, rules, grant requirements, guidance documents, and other regulatory materials. The legislation is also supported by the American Association of School Administrators.

“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,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “Public education decisions made at the federal level must support the needs and goals of local school districts and the communities they serve. The U.S. Department of Education should not be imposing its rules and priorities to our nation’s more than 13,500 school districts by trying to by-pass Congress and input from the local level. “

Additionally, the legislation is intended to provide the House of Representatives and Senate committees that oversee education with better information regarding the local impact of U.S. Department of Education’s activities. The legislation is also designed to more broadly underscore the role of Congress as the federal policy-maker in education and through its representative function.

“As a former school board president, I believe that the combination of parents, educators, employers and the local community must work together to ensure all children develop the skills and acquire the educational tools they will need to become successful. I believe a big part of this is ensuring local school boards do not have their authority eroded by regulators in Washington,” said Schock. “Not all education regulations are misguided, but the ones that are need to be taken off the books. The focus has to be expanding the opportunity to learn; not tying the hands of local administrators with more red tape by federal bureaucrats. My legislation ensures this encroachment does not continue and restores the local authority school boards need.”

NSBA is encouraging school board members to contact their members of Congress to support passage of this legislation.

Alexis Rice|March 21st, 2013|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA: Fordham survey misses the mark on school funding

The National School Boards Association Executive Director Anne L. Bryant was asked to comment on a new survey by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation that shows how members of the public would cut funding for public schools. The survey found that many would prefer to downsize the ranks of administrative staff rather than teachers, freeze teacher salaries, or lay off teachers based on factors other than seniority. Bryant’s response is below.

Looking at the new Thomas B. Fordham Foundation’s survey, “How Americans Would Slim Down Public Education,” it’s abundantly clear that Americans are interested, engaged and supportive of their local schools. There is also an overriding sense that many of these hard choices must be made at the local level with a community’s input–thus showing clear evidence for the need for local school boards.

The authors have created a scenario of choosing between critical programs and staff for public schools—choices such as laying off teachers, instructional leaders, arts and music classes and extracurricular activities. However, this survey is about four years late–many public schools are already operating on a bare-bones administration and have been forced to make tough choices to lay off teachers and cut academic programs. And with the federal government looking to implement sequestration this January, K-12 programs may see further across-the-board cuts.

While reducing the number of administrators seems like the obvious answer, as 69 percent of respondents chose, many of these officials play key roles in developing curriculum, managing services, and performing other duties that are directly tied to student achievement. Like any business, school districts need officials to manage budgets and operations to ensure that students are safe and teachers and principals can focus on their jobs.

The public sent a clear message that they prefer forgoing raises or slight salary cuts for teachers and other staff in lieu of layoffs. We’ve seen many examples of school boards, administrators and union representatives working together to navigate these budget choices. For instance, school board members and officials in the Boone County Public Schools in Florence, Ky., worked with their teachers union on a plan to forgo raises in lieu of layoffs, so that student/teacher ratios could be maintained. The labor-management relationship “is truly a relationship built on trust, accountability and respect,” as school board member and current President of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) C. Ed Massey recently told me, and the board has brought in coaches to help all teachers improve their skills. That’s an investment that has paid off in continuous improvement in student learning and college and career readiness, as evidenced by average ACT scores that have climbed from 19.5 in 2008 to 20.9 in 2012.

Fordham should not be at all surprised at the tepid response for full-time cyber schools, as too many at-risk students are performing poorly, or simply not logging in. The Center for Public Education found in its recent report, “Searching for the Reality of Virtual Schools,”  that emerging research shows dismal results for some schools and there is little accountability for public funds.

One aspect of the survey is particularly flawed. The questions related to support for special education services show that, among other findings, 71 percent say programs should be evaluated on their effectiveness and “replaced” if deemed not effective.

The survey questions ignore the landmark 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)  law that mandates a “free appropriate public education” in “the least restrictive environment” for every student identified with a disability. This was a major victory for students with disabilities who previously had been denied an education or received inferior services. Since the law’s passage the numbers of students with disabilities have increased tremendously, largely because of better diagnoses of conditions such as autism and in part because better medical treatments have allowed some severely disabled students to live and attend mainstream schools. More recent reauthorizations of the law have instilled new accountability requirements onto school systems to ensure that students with disabilities are meeting high expectations.

Yet the federal government has never come close to funding the 40 percent of excess costs for educating these students as lawmakers had promised in 1975. Each year NSBA and thousands of school board members and educators lobby the U.S. Congress to request full funding; however, funding currently stands at $11.5 billion, or about 17 percent, and is in danger of being reduced by $900 million through sequestration. This program has been a priority of both parties, as it frees up state and local funding to be spent on programs that each community deems to be its priorities.

A strong public education system attracts and retains businesses that are essential to local economies. Public schools must have the resources to give our students the knowledge and skills needed for long-term global competitiveness. Our nation’s future economic success depends on how smartly and adequately all levels of government invest in public education today.

Erin Walsh|August 2nd, 2012|Categories: Educational Finance, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards, Special Education, Teachers|Tags: , , , , , |

Is cheating prevalent in our public schools?

The following was also posted on the National School Boards Assocation’s Center for Public Education blog, The Edifier.

Articles this past weekend by the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) and the Associated Press  strongly suggest the answer is yes.  AJC attempted to answer this question by analyzing state standardized test scores from all 50 states to identify districts and schools that had statistically unusual fluctuations in their year to year test scores which is an indicator that cheating may be taking place. Although the unusual fluctuations do not prove there was cheating it does point to the strong possibility that cheating is in fact taking place. As a matter of fact, the newspaper used a similar methodology in 2009 which helped uncovered extensive cheating in Atlanta public schools.   

But is cheating as prevalent across our public schools as the articles strong imply? The answer is quite simply no. When you actually look at the data from AJC you see that about 200 out of the nearly 15,000 school districts (which includes charter school districts and other special districts) analyzed by AJC had suspicious test scores like those found in Atlanta. This represents just 1.3 percent of all school districts nationwide. Keep in mind, even within these districts most schools showed no signs of cheating.

In fact, when AJC calculated how many individual students were likely to be directly impacted by cheating, just a tiny fraction (less than 1 percent) of the 13 million students examined were enrolled in the grade level within the schools where cheating likely took place.

Of course any cheating at the school or district level is not acceptable but the data does show that the AJC’s assertion that the results “…suggest a broad betrayal of schoolchildren across the nation” is not only overblown but outright wrong.  In fact their data shows that cheating is limited to a small proportion of districts and even smaller proportion of students nationwide. So parents and the general public should be confident that teachers and administrators in close to 99 percent of districts act in an ethical and professional manner.

Does this mean cheating shouldn’t be a concern? Of course not.  More work needs to be done by state and district leaders to ensure that the integrity of the test results are not compromised and that struggling students are appropriately identified so they receive the support and resources they need to actually improve their performance.  In the case of the districts identified in the article they need to look further into the data to determine if in fact cheating is going on in their schools. Or whether the fluctuations are due to highly effective instruction in high scoring grades and ineffective instruction in following low scoring grades. Either way, districts need to know why there are such fluctuations so they can either eliminate any cheating or focus on improving instruction in grades where test scores drop.

While statistically large fluctuations in scores indicates a strong possibility of cheating, as anyone who has seen the movie Stand and Deliver, great teaching can lead to unpredictable increases in student achievement. And those teachers should not be considered guilty until proven innocent. But it also doesn’t mean that such indicators of cheating should be ignored either.  Either way, the actual data shows that cheating is limited to a small number of schools nationwide contrary to what the AJC and Associated Press articles imply.

Jim Hull|March 29th, 2012|Categories: Center for Public Education, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Reports|Tags: , , , |
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