Articles tagged with Thomas J. Gentzel

School boards encourage FCC to modernize E-rate program

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel issued the following statement on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Public Notice on the Wireline Competition Bureau Seeks Focused Comment on E-rate Modernization to modernize the E-rate program and increase the quality and speed of Internet connectivity in our nation’s schools.

For nearly twenty years, NSBA has supported the goals of the E-rate program to increase Internet connectivity and provide digital learning opportunities to underserved students, schools and libraries. NSBA also is steadfast in its support for the ConnectED initiative and Broadband deployment in education, so that students are prepared to be competitive and successful in the global marketplace.

To assure that these goals can be met, NSBA renews its call for the FCC to address the funding needs of schools and libraries. Other than inflationary adjustments authorized in 2010, there has been no increase in the $2.25 billion cap on E-rate resources since the program’s inception in 1996, and demand has consistently been much higher than the available funding. The current demand is $4.9 billion.

Modernization of E-rate is essential to increasing the quality and speed of Internet connectivity and to close technology gaps that remain, and NSBA will carefully consider the FCC proposal to explore a new future for the program. However, NSBA cautions against redirecting static resources without regard to the impact on the beneficiaries of the E-rate program – high-need students, schools and libraries.

E-rate has been successful largely because it allows school boards and other district and school leaders to make decisions based on their students’ and local communities’ needs. The Public Notice acknowledges NSBA’s position that local decision making has been one of the hallmarks of the E-rate program. Any changes to the E-rate program should not undermine innovation by local school districts through mandates and should maximize local flexibility.

Alexis Rice|March 6th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs|Tags: , , , , , |

Watch NSBA discuss digital learning at Discovery Education’s Future@Now

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel is a featured panelist at Discovery Education’s second annual Future@Now forum, where he and other K-12 education leaders will discuss the transition from traditional classrooms to digital classrooms and the critical steps necessary to successfully implement digital learning.

E931FA4B-6A7C-4150-ACBF-6A983511A493-1Future@Now: Roadmap to the Digital Transition is designed to give educators the opportunity to hear practical advice and real success stories from K-12 and technology educators. This event takes place Feb. 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, U.S. Rep. George Miller, Broad Prize Winner Superintendent Alberto Carvalho of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and leaders from other national education groups will participate as well. Duncan will lead attendees on a live visit to a digital classroom in Washington D.C. Panels will include student discussions of technology, how to transition to digital learning, creating a culture and community of change, developing teacher leaders, and integrating digital resources into the classroom.

The free event also will be live-streamed at Discovery Education. Register today to watch.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 21st, 2014|Categories: Curriculum, Data Driven Decision Making, Educational Technology, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , |

Celebrities showcase public education in NSBA’s national campaign

In partnership with its state associations, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has launched www.standup4publicschools.org, an all-new national campaign to highlight the success of public education. The campaign features advertisements with celebrity advocates and public school graduates to tell their stories of public education.

“Great public schools reflect the will of local communities and the strong governance of local school boards dedicated to advancing student achievement,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “This is an excellent vehicle for NSBA and our state associations to connect to share the great things happening in America’s public schools.”

Sal Khan ad ad

Sal Khan, founder of the not-for-profit Khan Academy, is a campaign advocate

Sal Khan, founder of the not-for-profit Khan Academy, is the campaign’s first celebrity advocate. Two other household names have joined upcoming phases of the campaign: basketball legend and business mogul Earvin “Magic” Johnson and talk show host and celebrity spokesperson Montel Williams. State school boards associations will be highlighting local celebrities in their campaigns as well, and more celebrities will be joining the national campaign over the next year.

“NSBA’s campaign intends to counter the aggressive, well-funded attacks on public education with national and local outreach that supports local school board governance and honors the achievements of America’s public schools,” Gentzel said.

The campaign operates against a simple premise: “Who I am today began with public education,” paired with the rejoinder, “Today’s public schools are better than ever.”

In one of the advertisements featuring Khan, he notes that “People talk about college and career readiness, but both are just a means to an end. What we really need to talk about is life readiness.”

The campaign website, www.standup4publicschools.org, includes more details on the campaign and how individuals can get involved and take action to support public schools.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 19th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Leadership, Public Advocacy|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA video: School board members encouraged to join “army of advocates” for public education

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and David A. Pickler, NSBA’s 2013-14 President, urge school board members to join NSBA’s “Army of Advocates” and fight for public education. Gentzel asks school boards to stand up to “those who abandon student achievement and sell off public schools and end local school board governance for their own profit,” and details some of NSBA’s new advocacy initiatives.

View the video:

Alexis Rice|February 5th, 2014|Categories: Multimedia and Webinars, School Boards|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA featured in major media on school choice concerns

After Republicans introduced legislation that would allow states to send up to $24 billion in federal funding toward school choice programs, National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel offered a reality check on the performance of charter schools, vouchers, and other measures. Gentzel appeared on Fox News and was quoted in The Washington Post and The New York Times stories on the measure.

“We certainly haven’t seen any consistent evidence anywhere in the country that these kinds of programs are effective or producing better results,” said Gentzel, who appeared on a segment during Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier on the Senate proposal, introduced this week by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has introduced legislation in the House that also would include some students with disabilities and use funds from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Watch the video segment.

In the New York Times article, Gentzel countered proponents of school choice who claim that traditional public schools have not improved fast enough, and that low-income families should have other choices.

“The big issue is really that lack of accountability,” Gentzel told the Times. “Frankly, our view is every child should have access to a great public school where they live.”

In The Washington Post, Gentzel discussed Alexander’s proposal, the “Scholarships for Kids Act,” which would allow states to create $2,100 scholarships from existing federal K-12 programs, including Title I, to “follow” 11 million children whose families meet the federal to any public or private school of their parents’ choice. The total cost would be $24 billion—41 percent of the current federal education allotment.

“School choice is a well-funded and politically powerful movement seeking to privatize much of American education,” he told the Post. “We’re not against public charters, and there are some that are well-motivated. . . . But our goal is that public schools be schools of choice. We need to invest and support public schools, not divert money and attention from them to what amounts, in many cases, to experiments.”

Reginald Felton, NSBA’s Interim Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy, also told Governing magazine that Title I would inevitably face cuts under Lamar’s plan, along with other programs that benefit disadvantaged children. For states that would choose not to opt into the proposed program, that means less money is available for their most vulnerable populations, he said.

“It’s hard for us to believe that a $24 billion reallocation could exist without drastically reducing funding for Title I students,” he told Governing.

The Ohio Schools Boards Association (OSBA) recently showcased how funding to choice programs hurts neighborhood public schools. In its December newsletter, OSBA notes, “Ohio Department of Education data shows traditional public schools will lose more than $870 million in state funding to charter schools in fiscal year (FY) 2014. That’s an increase of 5.4 percent over FY 2013, when approximately $824 million was transferred from traditional public schools to charters. This increase comes amid ongoing reports of charter school mismanagement, conflicts of interest and felony indictments and convictions.”

According to CREDO (Center for Research on Educational Outcomes) research on charters, states that empower multiple authorizing agencies are more likely to report the weakest academic results for charter schools. Local governance – enacted by local school boards – offers transparency and accountability along with a direct focus on student achievement versus profit.

In 2008, 64 percent of Ohio’s charter schools were on academic watch or emergency status, compared to 9 percent of traditional public schools, according to “The Regulation of Charter Schools” in the Jan./Feb. issue of American School Board Journal.

While the state changed its regulations in 2008, ASBJ cites the case of Hope Academy Cathedral, a K-8 charter school in Cleveland, as an example of the loopholes that exist in Ohio’s charter law. The school was ordered to close in 2011 after repeatedly being rated as in “academic emergency.”

Less than two months later, a new K-8 charter — Woodland Academy — opened in the same building, with 15 returning staff members, the same authorizer, and the same for-profit management firm, wrote ASBJ Senior Editor Del Stover. In its first year of operation, the new charter school also was judged to be in academic emergency.

 

 

NSBA participates in White House meeting to plan State of the Union

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel took part in a meeting with White House officials this week to help glean ideas and themes for President Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 28.

The White House called together leading K-12 groups for their input on the annual speech and gave participants the opportunity to present their priorities.

Gentzel pressed the White House officials to call for increased funding for K-12 education, and also include funding for early education services, and again called for a push to finish the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

He also made the point that more than 90 percent of children in the United States attend public schools, and asked that President Obama show support for school boards and public education.

“With the continuing focus on choice—vouchers, charters, and other options—it would be good for the president to acknowledge the hard working teachers, school staff, and school board members who do their jobs every day,” Gentzel said after the meeting.

NSBA will be discussing issues surrounding school choice during National School Choice Week, which is held Jan. 26 to Feb. 1 and is sponsored by groups promoting vouchers and taxpayer funded expansions of school choice.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 17th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , |

NSBA: School board involvement critical to addressing discipline issues

The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice have issued a four-part guide designed to address disparities in discipline practices and improve school climate. The guide, which includes data showing that minorities and students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by harsher punishments, is the first time the federal government has dealt with these issues through guidance.

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), responded to the guidance and noted that  local school board and community involvement is essential in addressing concerns of discipline and race.

“Our nation’s school boards share the Education and Justice departments’ concerns for ‘safe, inclusive and positive school climates,’ with zero tolerance for discriminatory practices in public schools,” he said. “NSBA is generally pleased with the documents’ emphasis on positive interventions, but it is vital to underscore that school discipline must acknowledge the various levels of resources available to public schools and communities. It is critical that the guidelines not impose any type of unfunded mandate on local public schools and not be misused as a loophole to fund private educational placements at taxpayer expense. A one-size fits all approach is not appropriate, since public schools, communities, and resources differ.”

Further, he added, “NSBA is concerned that part of the Education and Justice departments’ legal framework may constitute an expansive interpretation of the law. We are studying the agencies’ legal analysis and will likely issue further comment.  We invite the agencies to confer further with NSBA to ensure that guidelines released incorporate school boards’ perspective on these critical topics.”

The guide could be helpful to local school boards because it provides a detailed process of how the Education and Justice departments will approach investigations with respect to student discipline and race, he added.

On a related topic, NSBA released a report, “Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members,” in April 2013. The document examines discipline policies and the disproportionate impact on students of color. It recommends that school disciplinary measures should not be used to exclude students from school or deprive them of educational services, and suspensions should only be used as a last resort for school safety.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 9th, 2014|Categories: Discipline, Diversity, Dropout Prevention, Educational Research, Governance, School Climate, School Security|Tags: , |

NSBA urges high court to review “I Heart Boobies” case

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), joined by other leading education groups and a state school boards association, is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to accept Easton Area Sch. Dist. v. B.H for review and to reverse the appellate court’s decision as contrary to well-established Supreme Court precedent.

The case focuses on a school district decision to require two female  students at a Pennsylvania middle school  to remove bracelets with the slogan, “I  ♥ Boobies KEEP A BREAST,” because of reports that the bracelets were causing a distraction for students, including instances of possible sexual harassment.

NSBA is joined by AASA, the School Superintendents Association; the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) in asking the Supreme Court to reverse the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and reaffirm that school officials have authority to determine that messages such as “I Y Boobies” disrupt the school environment and interfere with the rights of others.

“NSBA is representing the voices of parents and others who want their children focused on education and protected from lewd speech while attending public schools,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “This important amicus brief urges the Supreme Court to recognize the authority of school officials to regulate student speech during the school day if such speech disrupts the school environment or interferes with the responsibility of schools to teach civil discourse as an inherent democratic value and to protect the rights and sensibilities of other students.”

“The Third Circuit ruling forces school officials to jettison educational judgments for highly legalistic ones in a way that jeopardizes the day-to-day work of public schools and potentially harms students,” said NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. “This ruling misreads Supreme Court precedent recognizing that school officials have the authority to determine what is appropriate speech in schools and to limit student expression that is contrary to their educational mission.”

The appellate court introduced a new standard that conflates language from two separate Supreme Court cases in a way that leaves school officials subject to litigation and restricts their ability to maintain harassment-free school environments. It replaces well-established precedents with a legally complex test that requires school officials to discern whether the student speech is “plainly lewd” or “ambiguously lewd.” If the speech falls into the latter category, it may not be regulated if it could be interpreted as political or social commentary.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 6th, 2014|Categories: Discipline, Federal Advocacy, Governance, Leadership, School Law|Tags: , |

NSBA applauds USDA action on school nutrition regulations

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is pleased with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent decision to make permanent the temporary relief from a provision of the federal school lunch program that limited lean protein and whole grains at school meals.  However, NSBA is still urging USDA to make other regulatory changes to give school districts more flexibility in the operation of the program.

“We applaud USDA for listening to parents and school leaders who said these restrictions were unnecessary and not in the best interests of students’ health,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “The program still needs additional changes to give school districts more flexibility to provide nutritious school meals and ensure that students won’t go hungry because of unreasonable limits on the amount of food schools may serve.”

A permanent provision on whole grains and lean protein was one of four changes requested in the Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act, which was introduced in December by Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and is endorsed by NSBA.

“The USDA’s announcement comes after a tremendous amount of pressure from parents, school administrators, and Congress,” Noem said. “What they are offering is a step in the right direction and adopts some of the provisions offered in my bill to give relief. A more permanent legislative fix and even greater flexibility is needed, however, in order to give parents and school administrators the tools they need when planning our kids’ lunch programs.”

Among the other issues Noem’s bill addresses are flexibility for school districts struggling to comply with new standards for school breakfast; items sold outside the federal school meal program such as those in vending machines, fundraisers and school stores; and federally mandated prices for unsubsidized school meals.

Lawrence Hardy|January 6th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Food Service, Nutrition, Obesity, Wellness|Tags: , , |

With budget passage, America’s school boards encourage Congress to prioritize education funding

Here is the statement from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel praising the U.S. Senate for passing the budget plan known as the Bipartisan Budget Act, which seeks to restore many of the cuts to prek-12 education:

NSBA thanks the U.S. Senators who put partisan differences aside and approved the Bipartisan Budget Act today. This measure will help mitigate the impact of the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration and restore critical programs to public schools across the nation. We are pleased that President Barack Obama has pledged to quickly sign the bill.

This budget is particularly critical for America’s public schools to continue to improve and educate a growing and diverse population of students. Our economy is dependent on our ability to prepare our next generation of students for college and career readiness in today’s complex global economy. That foundation begins at prek-12 levels.

As Congress now moves forward with the remaining work of the FY14 appropriations process, we urge the Appropriations Committees to write funding bills that prioritize federal education programs that are crucial to helping our most disadvantaged students, specifically Title I and grants for students with disabilities. These federal programs are essential to support long‐standing federal commitments and help offset the recent budget cuts, which have forced school districts to cut academic programs and have disproportionately hurt our neediest students and schools.

We especially thank Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray for their leadership in finding a solution that will help America’s public schools. We support their continued leadership to develop a long-term solution that will sustain federal investments in prek-12 education and put our students first.

Additionally, NSBA, along with other leading national education groups, sent a letter to members of Congress this evening to encourage that education priorities and federal commitments are addressed in the appropriations process.

Alexis Rice|December 18th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, School Boards|Tags: , , , , , , , |
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