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Articles tagged with urban education

NSBA develops guide for school boards on boosting student success through community partnerships

Cover of "Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success"

Cover of “Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success”

A new guide released today details how school board members can build partnerships to secure a high-quality education, from early learning to graduation, for students in their districts. “Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success,” demonstrates how school boards can work with other community partners to provide seamless services and engage community members to improve their schools.

Every student who leaves high school without a diploma costs the U.S. hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income over the student’s lifetime. Despite the recent gains in U.S. graduation rates, far too many young people, mainly students of color from educationally and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, are leaving school without a high school diploma or are severely underprepared for college-level work.

“As advocates for equity and excellence in public education, school boards play a key role to build a student-centered environment that addresses the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students in their school district,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association (NSBA).

“School board members are local leaders who understand the needs of their students, teachers, and school staff, and this guide shows how to tap into community resources to further enhance and strengthen their community’s schools.”

NSBA led the effort to develop this guide with a group of school board members from NSBA’s National Black Caucus of School Board Members, National Caucus of American Indian/Alaska Native School Board Members, National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members, and the Council of Urban Boards of Education.

The guide serves as a blueprint for school board members to build a better-coordinated system of supports for children and their families. By partnering with key stakeholders and local service providers, school boards can ensure that all children benefit from a “Personal Opportunity Plan” that guarantees access to out-of-school resources each child needs to succeed in school and in life.

One such example is the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Initiative in Oregon, as featured in the guide. This school community partnership helps create a seamless learning environment. A cohesive collaboration between the school districts, the city, and county, it includes more than 70 schools within the Portland-Multnomah County Area. SUN partnered with various partners such as libraries, parks, local health clinics, churches, and businesses to provide in-school and wraparound support to students and their families. The collaboration is guided by an inter-governmental among between all three entities that outlines that processes in which they will work together in creating a shared vision and common goals to support the schools within the initiative.

NSBA partnered with the Alliance for Excellent Education; American Federation of Teachers; Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning; Coalition for Community Schools; National Education Association; Opportunity Action; National Opportunity to Learn Campaign; and Rural School and Community Trust to release the guide.

Alexis Rice|April 22nd, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Teachers, Student Achievement, Dropout Prevention, Student Engagement, Reports|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

North Carolina school board leader to serve as chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) has selected Minnie Forte-Brown of Durham, N.C. to serve as Chair of CUBE’s Steering Committee, completing the term of Sandra Jensen of Omaha, Neb. who has retired. Forte-Brown previously served as Vice Chair of CUBE’s Steering Committee.

The selection of Forte-Brown for Chair was made by CUBE’s Steering Committee. Forte-Brown’s term as Chair will last through April 2013 when CUBE elections will take place. As Chair of CUBE, Forte-Brown will serve on the Board of Directors of NSBA.

CUBE is an organization guided by Steering Committee members who represent a diverse group of urban school board members dedicated to the needs of children in urban centers. CUBE represents more than 100 urban school districts in 35 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The districts that comprise CUBE educate nearly 7.5 million students in over 12,000 schools, with a collective budget of approximately $99 billion. CUBE helps urban school boards find solutions to challenges at the local level and helps them to strengthen their policymaking effectiveness.

“It is an honor to serve as Chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education, as I am strongly passionate about equity and excellence and believe effective, focused, and committed governance can aid in making those tenets of justice a reality for all students,” said Forte-Brown.

Forte-Brown is currently the Vice Chair of Durham Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education and has served on the board since 2004 and was the Chair from 2006-2012. Under her leadership, the DPS Board of Education participated in Reform Governance in Action training, a two-year program of the Center for Reform of School Systems. Forte-Brown is committed to engaging students, parents and the community. Forte-Brown was appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue to the North Carolina Council of the Status of Women and the Gang Advisory Task Force. She is the co-founder of the East Durham Children’s Initiative and serves on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina School Boards Association and National School Boards Action Center.

“Minnie Forte-Brown is a strong leader who will help CUBE advance its work supporting urban school boards as they find solutions to critical policy issues in urban education that enhances student and academic achievement,” said CUBE’s Director Deborah Keys.

Alexis Rice|October 26th, 2012|Categories: Announcements, Urban Schools, CUBE|Tags: , |

School districts in Maryland and Nevada named finalists for national urban education award

Three urban school districts: Maryland’s Baltimore City Public Schools and Prince George’s County Public Schools and Nevada’s Washoe County Public Schools have been named finalists for the 2012 National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence.

“This year’s CUBE award finalists clearly demonstrate effective board leadership driven by raising student achievement,” said Anne L. Bryant, executive director of NSBA. “These school boards have focused on policymaking, are driven by an accountability system which makes student learning and success their number one goal. They have demonstrated strong leadership—with the goal of improving the quality of education offered in their schools.”

CUBE showcases excellence in school board governance every year by presenting the Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence. Award winners share their ideas and promote effective techniques at CUBE conferences and through CUBE publications. These districts serve as a resource for other CUBE districts, sharing best practices to help all urban districts improve.

The three finalists were selected by an independent judging panel based on materials submitted by the school district, independent follow-up research, and information provided by the district’s state school boards association. The judges selected the finalists based on the following four criteria: excellence in school board governance, building civic capacity, closing the achievement gap—equity in education, and demonstrated success of academic excellence.

About the Finalists:

Baltimore City Public Schools

For many schools to stay open in Baltimore, it is essential to have the support of students and families. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a traditional school operated by the school district or a charter school run by an outside group. School choice is the mantra of the city school board, and under its new school funding formula, the money follows the child. This vision for the Baltimore City Public Schools makes it one of the most aggressive nationwide in restructuring itself for the 21st century.

Breaking with the top-down management model of the past, the school board and its CEO, Andrés Alonso, have chosen to dramatically decentralize decision-making. Individual schools now have a large degree of autonomy over budgeting and operations, and the central office’s role is being repositioned to one of providing guidance, support, and accountability.

The district’s success speaks for itself. High school graduation rates hit a record high in recent years, while dropout rates declined. In four years, the district boosted reading scores by 21.7 percent in grades three to eight, while math scores rose 28.4 percent. More students now enroll in Advanced Placement classes, and efforts to expand preschool programs increased the number of children arriving in kindergarten “ready to learn” by 15.5 percent.

Prince George’s County Public Schools

With 127,000 students, Prince George’s is among the Top 20 districts in nation in terms of enrollment size. No doubt, some students were getting a good education when the new board took over in 2006. But in a predominately minority district were more than half the students receive federally subsidized lunches, those students tended to live primarily in the wealthier sections of the county; a large portion of the others were being left behind.

The board and former superintendent focused on a “five-pronged vision” for high student achievement, highly effective teaching, safe and supporting schools, strong community partnerships, and effective and efficient operations. In order to better serve all students, the board in 2010 implemented “Student Based Budgeting,” a system that allocates money based not only on the number of students enrolled in a school but also on the particular needs of those students. Poverty would no longer be an excuse for not providing an equitable education for all.

The payoff has come in test results, with scores on the Maryland School Assessment rising in both reading and math. Between 2007 and 2011, for example, fifth-grade proficiency rates have increased from 61.8 percent to 83.9 percent in reading, and from 64.5 percent to 72.6 percent in math. Test scores are one thing. But equally important is a new spirit in the county and a sense of unity emanating from what a few years ago would have been a most unlikely place: the local school board.

Washoe County Public Schools

The academic gains at Washoe County School District are certainly impressive: graduation rates rose from 56 percent in 2008 to 70 percent in 2011; the achievement gap closed as third-grade math and reading scores for African-American and Hispanic students jumped double digits; and the classes at all Title I schools can now boast of being led by highly proficient teachers. Though the results deservedly get all the attention, they believe the careful planning and foundation it was built upon, which began with the board recognizing it could and should expect more from its students, its staff and itself.

The exhaustive research, data analyses, and community input served as the basis of a five-point reform initiative that aimed to institute performance management systems; engage parents and the community; develop effective teachers and instructional leaders; instill a caring and positive school climate; and ensure all students leave ready for college and careers.

“Envision WCSD 2015, Investing in Our Future,” their strategic plan was rolled out slowly, methodically among its staff, who worked in committees and groups to work toward the goals and internalize the message. With employees embracing the new mission, district officials could now turn to selling the value proposition to the public — developing key messages based on its mission, identifying and segmenting its target audience, using a variety of communication tools and channels, and most importantly, developing communications plans that foster two-way communications.

CUBE represents a total of more than 100 urban school districts in 35 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The districts that comprise CUBE educate nearly 7.5 million students in over 12,000 schools, with a collective budget of approximately $99 billion. CUBE helps urban school boards find solutions to challenges at the local level and helps them to strengthen their policy making effectiveness.

Alexis Rice|September 6th, 2012|Categories: Urban Schools, Student Achievement, CUBE|Tags: , |

Stories of success in urban education are always best when shared

1386-0902-0318-0632It’s always nice to read some good news about urban education. And it’s even nicer to share: So let’s look at a program called High School Ahead.

Sponsored by the Houston Independent School District, this program is designed to help overage, academically behind middle school students to catch up with their peers.

I learned about the program in a recent article in the Houston Chronicle, which describes the program as a way to put “middle school students on the fast track, with most able to complete two years of courses in one.”

High School Ahead was launched in February as part of Houston Superintendent Terry Grier’s efforts to reduce the district’s dropout rate. At the middle school level, nearly 2,900 students are at least two grade levels behind their peers, and that puts these students at high risk of dropping out in high school.

About 400 are served by this program.

The Houston school system also “continues to contract with the charter school Inspired for Excellence, which runs two other campuses for overage middle school students,” the Chronicle reports. Those campuses opened in 2008 and serve about 170.

Students in these programs take a series of eighth-grade courses in traditional classrooms, while high school level-courses are available “through a self-paced computer program.” Principal Jorge Cardenas told the newspaper that teachers focus on the main objectives in the state’s curriculum—the meat and potatoes . . . to move students along quickly.”

Naomi Dillon|October 28th, 2010|Categories: Governance, Student Achievement, Leadership, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

Fenty’s loss puts urban school reform in limbo

Yesterday’s unsuccessful bid for reelection by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty was hardly a surprise. For months, there had been signs Fenty’s hard-charging style, insular politics, and perceived aloofness had rubbed Washingtonians the wrong way— much like his appointed schools chief, Michelle Rhee.

In the three years she’s been in D.C., Rhee has alienated many, whether it was with her now infamous Time magazine cover, her decision to shutter dozens of schools, or her mass firing of hundreds of teachers. Still, it wasn’t so much what Rhee has done that’s been so polarizing, but what she hasn’t: included stakeholders in these decisions.


Naomi Dillon|September 15th, 2010|Categories: Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , |
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