Articles tagged with Thomas J. Gentzel

Sen. Inhofe receives NSBA’s Congressional Special Recognition Award

Sen. Inhofe

NSBA’s President Anne M. Byrne along with members of the Executive Committee of NSBA’s Board of Directors presented the award at a special event in Sen. Inhofe’s Capitol Hill office

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) honored U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) today with the Congressional Special Recognition Award. Inhofe received the NSBA’s top Congressional award for his leadership to advance public education.

“We are proud to honor Sen. Inhofe with NSBA’s Congressional Special Recognition Award for his ongoing efforts to advance public education and his commitment to local school board leadership,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “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. We thank Sen. Inhofe for his leadership on public education as we must ensure that public education decisions made at the federal level must support the needs and goals of local school districts and the communities they serve.”

NSBA’s President Anne M. Byrne along with members of the Executive Committee of NSBA’s Board of Directors presented the award at a special event in Inhofe’s Capitol Hill office.

Alexis Rice|June 5th, 2014|Categories: NSBA Recognition Programs, School Boards, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , |

Common Core implementation concerns raised

AASA, the School Superintendents Association, has newly released a survey of superintendents on the adoption and implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The survey, “Common Core and Other State Standards: Superintendents Feel Optimism, Concern and Lack of Support,” found that although superintendents were overwhelming optimistic about the new standards, a majority also expressed concern about a lack of implementation support at the local level.

Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have adopted CCSS, which establish grade-level expectations in math and English language arts for K-12 students. The standards go into effect next school year, with the first state-wide student assessments expected in the spring of 2015.

Of note in the AASA survey is that many superintendents expressed concern that their districts will not be prepared for implementation of the standards, especially the year-end assessments.

Other key findings in the AASA Common Core survey of superintendents include:

• Superintendents overwhelmingly (92.5 percent) see the new standards as more rigorous than previous standards.

• More than three quarters (78.3 percent) agree that the education community supports the standards, but that support drops to 51.4 percent among the general public.

• More than half (60.3 percent) of the respondents who had begun testing say they are facing problems with the tests.

• Just under half (41.9 percent) say schools in their states are not ready to implement the online assessment, while 35.9 percent say they lack the infrastructure to support online assessments.

Part of the problem has been finding and approving new curriculum and teaching materials aligned with CCSS. NPR recently reported on the “void” between the new rigorous standards and the curriculum materials available to help educators develop enriched lesson plans. Fears that teachers may “hit a wall” when asked to teach tougher standards without changes to materials have contributed to concerns about next year’s assessments.

The National School Board Association (NSBA) supports high academic standards, including CCSS when they are voluntarily adopted by states with school board input and when the standards are free from federal directions, mandates, funding conditions or coercion. NSBA has previously raised concerns about CCSS implementation.

“High academic standards are important for improving student achievement,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “For Common Core State Standards and other state standards to succeed, states and school districts must have the financial resources, infrastructure, and the necessary professional development for school personnel before implementation.”

For more information about CCSS, read NSBA’s Center for Public Education’sUnderstanding the Common Core.”

Alexis Rice|June 4th, 2014|Categories: Center for Public Education, Common Core State Standards, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , |

NSBA calls for research, not mandates, to help public schools serve ELLs

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel participated in a National Roundtable on English Language Learners at the U.S. Department of Education this week, where he discussed the needs of students whose primary language is not English.

Gentzel emphasized the need for the federal government to focus on providing technical assistance and disseminating best practices rather than imposing new mandates on school districts.

“Changing demographics are affecting school districts of all sizes in every part of the country,” Gentzel said after the discussion, which included representatives of nearly a dozen national and statewide organizations, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and several other officials from the Department of Education.

The U.S. student population is growing in diversity, and about 10 percent of students are ELLs, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). In schools in southern and western states, more than half of students in prekindergarten through 12th grade were minorities, according to 2011 data from NCES. And that same year, the U.S. Census reported that, for the first time, the majority of children under one year old in the United States were minorities, which will further impact diversity in public schools.

To continue to meet the needs of these students, local school districts will require greater collaborative support from other federal, state and local state agencies to ensure these students and their families have the appropriate support to succeed.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 28th, 2014|Categories: Diversity, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs|Tags: , |

Gentzel calls for school board oversight of charters in USA Today letter

Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) said that federal legislation on charter school law should recognize the need for accountability for student performance in charters, given the low performance of the majority of charter schools. His letter to the editor was published in the May 21, 2014 issue of USA Today.

Gentzel wrote, “In 2013, Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes revealed that only 25% and 29% of charters outperformed traditional public schools in reading and math assessments, respectively. These low percentages were actually an improvement over the 2009 data. CREDO attributed many of the improvements to the actions that authorizers — key among these local school boards — are taking to close down ineffective charter schools.

“Strong local governance matters. It cannot and should not be excluded from education reform initiatives. To give America’s schoolchildren strong accountability centered on student outcomes, the National School Boards Association calls for local school boards to serve as the sole authorizers of charter schools.”

USA Today also published comments from Twitter related to charter schools. Read more.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 21st, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Charter Schools, Educational Legislation, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, Privatization|Tags: , |

House funding bill gives school relief from nutrition mandates

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) successfully supported language in the U.S. House of Reprepesentative’s fiscal year 2015 funding bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to grant flexibility and relief from certain requirements for school meals and competitive foods standards.

The bill, approved by subcommittee this week, would require USDA to establish a waiver process for schools that cannot comply with national nutrition standards without incurring a net loss in the food operation. NSBA is supporting additional flexibility provisions when the bill is considered by the Appropriations Committee next week.

“Students need healthy meals and adequate nutrition to achieve their potential in school, and school board members are committed to ensuring all students are prepared to learn,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “However, school boards cannot ignore the higher costs and operational issues created by the rigid mandates of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.”

In a May 19 letter to the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, NSBA urges revisions to federal requirements for school meals and competitive foods, including:

  • Retaining the current requirement that 50 percent of grains offered for lunch and breakfast be whole grain rich rather than further increasing the requirement to 100 percent;
  • Retaining the July 1, 2014, Target 1 sodium levels, and suspend implementation of further reductions of sodium levels unless and until scientific research supports such reductions for children;
  • Eliminating the requirement that students must take a fruit or vegetable as part of a reimbursable breakfast and/or lunch, in order to reduce plate waste and program costs;
  • Allowing any food item permitted to be served as part of a reimbursable meal to be sold at any time as a competitive food, in order to eliminate unnecessarily complex and duplicative standards for food items sold in schools.

NSBA also is supporting the Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act, HR 3663, sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota. The legislation would provide options for school districts struggling to comply with some of the more problematic mandates of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 20th, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Food Service, Nutrition, Obesity|Tags: , , , , , |

In Huffington Post column, Gentzel calls for vigilance in Brown decision

To mark the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, National School Boards Association Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel reflected on the impact of the decision and the challenges that public schools still face. The following commentary was published by the Huffington Post:

 

In the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a timeless and transformative message: All students deserve a great public education; separate systems are not equal.

In marking the 60th anniversary of this landmark Supreme Court ruling, it is important to reflect upon the ongoing effect of Brown v. Board of Education on the work of America’s school boards and our nation’s public schools. Enshrining this decision as a historic relic does not serve the nine out of 10 school-age children who attend our nation’s public schools. To protect students’ rights, freedoms and ready access to a high-quality education, we must actively heed the central tenets of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is particularly concerned about the unintended consequences of privatization through vouchers, charter schools not governed by local school boards, and other means that research indicates are leading to the re-segregation of public schools, mainly in high-poverty urban areas.

In its most recent issue, NSBA’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal, reports that the number of schools with a minority enrollment above 90 percent has climbed precipitously. Similarly, the Civil Rights Project at the University of California-Los Angeles also has reported that African-American and Hispanic students are increasingly segregated at the schools they attend.

Ironically, this comes at a time when America’s public schools are becoming much more diverse. The percentage of students who are white dropped from 61 percent in 2000 to 52 percent in 2010, and today stands at about 50 percent. Schools in the south and west now have a majority of minority students, according to the National Center on Education Statistics. And with more than half of babies born today falling into a minority classification, demographics will continue to diversify. At the same time, poverty and other risk factors also have increased.

Our lawmakers must continue to look at the entire public education system to ensure that we invest in our public schools and give them the support that is needed, rather than diverting scarce taxpayer dollars to voucher schemes and charter schools that lack local school district oversight. Today more than ever, it is essential that we continue to focus on ensuring that every child has access to an excellent and equitable education.

Data show public schools are educating today’s diverse student population to higher levels than ever before. We should be proud that our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high — about 80 percent of students graduate on time, and when late graduates are included, the graduation rate rises to more than 85 percent. The graduation rate of Hispanics, the fastest growing group of students in our nation’s schools, jumped from 61 percent to 76 percent between 2006 and 2012. And African-American students made significant gains during this period, improving their graduation rate from 59 percent to 68 percent.

Brown v. Board of Education honors a truth core to our nation’s democracy: to provide a strong education to each and every child who enters our nation’s public school system. We must stay focused on investing equitably in our public schools and students, ensuring that they have the resources and support they need, and we must not be diverted by programs that have the effect of re-segregating America’s public education system. We must honor Brown v. Board of Education‘s intention for every child to achieve, and we must insist that every child in America has access to a great public school where they live. No exceptions; no excuses.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 19th, 2014|Categories: American School Board Journal, Board governance, Charter Schools, Diversity, Privatization, School Law, Student Achievement, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA calls for equity in education with the upcoming 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) honors the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling by calling on America’s school boards, parents and communities to continue to ensure that public education is a right made available to all students on equal terms.

“The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision catalyzed education reform and reminds us to be ever vigilant in challenging segregation to maintain a civil society,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “School boards believe that every child in America should be able to attend a great public school where they live—no exceptions, no excuses.”

The urgency of the 60th anniversary is that segregation is not an issue of yesteryear – it is a growing concern today. While the Brown v. Board decision made clear the inherent inequality of a separate educational system based on race, today the data show that many areas have been resegregating. NSBA is particularly concerned about the impact of resegregation for schools in underserved communities. Research shows that students learn more—both academically and socially—in settings where their peers may be of a different race and have different life experiences.

In a special report on the Brown decision, NSBA’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal (ASBJ), reports that the number of schools with a minority enrollment above 90 percent has climbed precipitously. In a video segment, ASBJ shows the legacy of Brown and the challenges that the Pittsburgh school district currently faces in integrating its schools when most of its neighborhoods are highly segregated.

ASBJ also has created a timeline documenting major events and court cases involving racial issues in public education.

NSBA is encouraging public schools across the country to mark the anniversary with an appropriate ceremony and remembrance. Through a resolution issued by our Board of Directors on behalf of this nation’s 90,000 school board members, NSBA and its state associations are promoting district-level activity that activates students’ personal commitment to democracy and recognizes the contributions of civil rights leaders.

NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education also is commemorating this important anniversary with a year-long focus on special programming focusing on excellence, equity, and unity to advance urban education.

“The mission of the National School Boards Association to advocate for equity and excellence remains ever-vigilant as we mark the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision,” said NSBA President Anne M. Byrne, a school board member from New York’s Nanuet Union Free School District. “School board leadership is essential to protect our public schools and demand that equitable funding and equitable resources be made available so that each child has the opportunity to achieve, no matter where they live.”

Alexis Rice|May 13th, 2014|Categories: CUBE, Diversity, Multimedia and Webinars, School Boards, School Climate|Tags: , , , |

School boards disapprove of Congress’s attempt to expand charter schools

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), the leading advocate for public education representing more than 90,000 local school board members, is opposed to H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, which is scheduled for a floor vote this week.

Decisions regarding charter schools should rest with the state and the local school board, not federal lawmakers, NSBA contends.  The legislation also fails to recognize that to protect student outcomes, charter schools should be authorized exclusively by the local school board.

“Charter schools absent school board oversight have far less accountability for student achievement than traditional public schools,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director.  “The school board governance model protects student outcomes for the many, not the few, and strives to resolve inequities in educational delivery and service.”

Further, lawmakers must focus on adequately funding the primary system of public education instead of creating a secondary system of education that siphons off essential funding. With multiple chartering authorities, local school districts can be adversely impacted as the per-pupil expenditures are re-allocated or deducted from operational revenue essential to maintain already cash-strapped school district operations.

America’s school boards agree that charter schools are facing challenges with overwhelming operational costs, facilities in need of repair or renovation, and technical support vital toward improved teaching and learning—yet traditional public schools grapple daily with these very same challenges.

“The future of America is dependent on ready access to a high-quality education,” said Gentzel. “If Congress passes legislation to help states and local communities improve the quality of their public schools absent federal intrusion, we applaud it, but this should apply to all students equally, not just those enrolled in charter schools. The call to action the legislation raises is that our nation must create a level playing field for public charter schools and traditional public schools alike.”

Alexis Rice|May 8th, 2014|Categories: Charter Schools, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, School Boards|Tags: , , , |

NSBA participates in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), represented NSBA at gala dinner reception in Washington, D.C., honoring student recipients of the 19th Annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

The May 4 dinner at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History was the culmination of a four-day event that brought 102 state honorees — one middle level student and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia — to the nation’s capital to be recognized for their outstanding volunteer service to their communities. Selected from a field of more than 30,000 student volunteers, the state honorees were personally congratulated by actor Forest Whitaker, and each given a $1,000 award.

Ten students from the group were named national honorees for community service initiatives that ranged from feeding the hungry to helping victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings. Each received $5,000 personal rewards and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for charities of their choice.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards are sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. NSBA is proud to endorse these awards.

 

Lawrence Hardy|May 7th, 2014|Categories: High Schools, Middle Schools, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , |

U.S. Supreme Court affirmative action ruling hampers diversity policies, NSBA says

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action will embolden groups opposing diversity to push for state constitutional proposals that could restrict or invalidate local school board-initiated policies that help facilitate diversity in public schools.

By upholding a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans the use of racial preferences in college admissions, the Supreme Court’s decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action on April 22, could limit school districts from adopting diversity policies by prohibiting the consideration of race and other factors in public education.

“The academic goal of diversity benefits all students, not just racial or ethnic minorities,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Diversity promotes student achievement both through improvement on standardized test scores in the short term and as preparation for participation in a pluralistic, democratic society.”

NSBA had urged the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Michigan’s Constitutional amendment in an amicus brief in the Schuette case . NSBA argued that instead of protecting the rights of public school students, the ill-conceived Michigan amendment would limit students’ opportunities by interfering with local control of education and local school boards’ abilities to design voluntary policies promoting the academic benefits of diversity.

“These kinds of state constitutional amendments will limit the use of race and therefore greatly limit the ability of schools to implement diversity policies that work,” said NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. “We are concerned that in places that pass these kinds of constitutional provisions, public schools that want to maintain diversity policies will have to show that there is specific, invidious, or aggravating injury to minorities in order for those policies to pass a constitutional test.”

Negrón noted that school diversity policies can still exist under the Schuette ruling as long as they comply with the 2007 Supreme Court ruling in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, which stipulated that policies must be narrowly tailored to achieve academic benefits for all students.

Read more details about the ruling in NSBA’s Legal Clips.

Alexis Rice|April 23rd, 2014|Categories: Diversity, School Boards, School Law|Tags: , , , , , |
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