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AASA News of the Nation

Hot TopicsLeadership Matters
Superintendents in the NewsAASA News

 

  Hot Topics 

 

California's Rejection of NCLB Waivers Sends a Message
Education Week Teacher, Nov. 29
BETHESDA, Md.--With a majority of states rushing to seek federal waivers from the No Child Left Behind Law, prominent education historian Diane Ravitch is praising California for refusing to follow suit. ‘I was very pleased … I think it took a lot of courage by Governor (Jerry) Brown and (California Dept. of Education) Superintendent (Tom) Torlakson,’ she told Education Week in an interview. ‘The emphasis on testing under the waiver plan is as heavy-handed as it has been under NCLB. Many schools with high numbers of low-scoring students will be subject to firings and closings. They need help, not punishment,’ stressed Ravitch, a New York University professor. She calls NCLB ‘a terrible, punitive, ineffective law,’ saying it showed that the federal government doesn’t know how to improve schools. blogs.edweek.org




SHARE YOUR SUCCESS STORY
Just a few years ago, Boston's Clarence Edwards Middle School was on the verge of being shut down by the Boston Public Schools. Through an expanded learning time initiative grant, the school transformed itself into one of the highest-performing, most-sought-after middle schools in Boston. Read their amazing story and learn how they did it on aasaconnect.com. Think you have a great success story to share?

More Students 'Cyberbaiting' Their Teachers
Education Week Teacher, Nov. 28
BETHESDA, Md.--One in five teachers has either experienced or known another teacher who has been subjected to ‘cyberbaiting’, according to a new study. The Norton Online Family Report says students use social media on the internet to irritate and bait teachers in an attempt to make them lose control. ‘Students are ready for the teacher to crack and film the incident on cell phones so they can later post the footage online, causing further shame or trouble for the teacher or school,’ according to the study into the effects of technology on youth and the impact on parents and teachers. It found that even though 67 percent of teachers believe interacting with students on social networks elevates the risk of cyberbaiting, 34 percent of teachers continue to "friend their students" on the networks. blogs.edweek.org


No Child Left Behind Waivers Require Big Changes Fast
The PEW Center on the States, Nov. 29
WASHINGTON--States face tight public education deadlines beginning in February if their petitions for federal relief from the No Child Left Behind Law are granted. Iowa and others are scrambling to make changes. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is refining a bills package before the legislature meet in January. He has shifted course once, retreating from an evaluation plan with four tiers of teachers. Gov. Chris Christie is pressing New Jersey lawmakers to pass his NCLB reforms. In exchange for waivers, states must draw up concrete goals. They include standards that prepare students for college or a vocation, creating statewide measures of student performance and plans to reform schools that don’t meet them, and developing teacher-principal evaluations linked to student performance. stateline.org


Lines Grow Long for Free School Meals, Thanks to Economy
The New York Times, Nov. 29
NEW YORK –- The number of American public school students receiving subsidized lunches rose to 21 million last school year from 18 million in 2006-7--a 17 percent increase--according to The New York Times. A Times analysis showed that millions of students are receiving free or low-cost meals for the first time as their parents, many once solidly middle class, have lost jobs or homes during the economic crisis. Eleven states, including Florida, Nevada, New Jersey and Tennessee, had four-year increases of 25 percent or more, huge jumps in a vast program long characterized by only incremental growth. ‘These are very large increases and a direct reflection of the hardships American families are facing,’ said University of Minnesota economist Benjamin Senauer. ‘People like myself, who do research, are struggling to keep up with it (the surge),’ he added. nytimes.com


   Leadership Matters 

 

Having Trouble Finding a School Superintendent? Get in Line
MetroWest Daily News, Nov. 6
FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--The tenure of a Massachusetts district school superintendent is now only a little over four years because, experts say, the rigors of school chief have created high turnover in the state. A generous pension system has also enabled many superintendents to retire early, further thinning the crop of qualified candidates, according to Executive Director Glenn Koocher of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. ‘A lot of people don't want to do this any longer than they have to,’ he said. Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, says many school chiefs take their work home with them after long hours and weekends in the office and on the road. ‘It's a 24/7 job," Scott adds. ‘And you do it all very publicly ... everything's done in an open book, which allows for everyone to have an opinion.’ metrowestdailynews.com


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New Study on Hispanic Achievement Paints Stark Picture
Education Week, Nov. 29
WASHINGTON--The Council of the Great City Schools has released a study examining Hispanic students in U.S. public schools, and the findings are pretty bleak. It takes a look at the nation’s fastest growing school population and how they are doing in urban systems compared with white peers nationally. On ‘readiness to learn,’ Hispanics are less likely than white or black peers to recognize letters of the alphabet, know how to write their name, or be able to count to 20 or higher. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Hispanic and English language learning proficiency rates in reading and math from 2003 to 2009 were below rates for white students. Hispanics in 2008 were more at risk of dropping out than their white and black peers. liblogs.edweek.org


School Board Strips PTAs of Major Fundraising Roles
Malibu Patch, Nov. 30
MALIBU, Calif.–-Citing financial inequities, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education has voted to change the district's fundraising rules. On a 6-0 vote, the board prohibited school PTAs from raising money to hire personnel and to block them from funding programs and services eliminated in the wake of state budget cuts. ‘Allowing individual PTAs to raise and expend money to hire staff ... has created great inequities across the district,’ said Superintendent Sandra Lyon. It ‘creates a climate in which the instruction and instructional experiences students receive and the conditions in which teachers work are altered by the amount of money individual PTAs can raise,’ she added. The nonprofit Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation will be placed in charge of such efforts. malibu.patch.com


Virtual Schools are Multiplying, but Some Question Their Educational Value
Washington Post, Nov. 26
WASHINGTON--K12 Inc. of Herndon, Va., is the country’s largest provider of full-time public virtual schools, leading a national movement to replace classrooms with computers on which children as young as 5 can learn at home at taxpayer expense. But K12 is being bombarded by critics who question its funding, quality and oversight. Opponents say students profit by sharing the classroom experience. In K12’s virtual system, learning is largely solitary via lessons online to a child who progresses at his or her own pace. Both sides agree that the public education structure is not designed for virtual schools. How do you pay for a school in cyberspace when education funding formulas are rooted in the geography of property taxes? How do you ensure quality? But full-time virtual schools are proliferating. In two years, more than a dozen states have removed obstacles to virtual schools. washingtonpost.com


   Superintendents in the News 

 

Superintendent Responds to Concerns Over Bus Cameras
Barnegat-Ocean Acres Patch, Nov. 29
BARNEGAT, N.J.--Barnegat School District Superintendent Karen Wood says parents should know that recorded camera tapes from school buses are examined by officials only if a behavioral incident prompts a review. She said parents concerned over video recording of student athletes who might be changing clothes on buses don’t need to worry. Some parents said girls on the cheerleading squad sometimes change on the bus on the way to and from competitions. ‘Nobody is regularly viewing the videotapes,” said Wood. ‘We don’t have the time or the money, nor do we need to, unless there’s a discipline problem.’ She pointed out that the board of education gave notice of the camera decision agenda before it took place and that ‘I’ll talk to parents any time’ about the issue. barnegat.patch.com


Oakland County Superintendents Unsupportive of Charter School Bill
The Daily Tribune, Nov. 30
MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich.--Avondale Schools Superintendent George Heitsch is urging parents in his district to tell Michigan lawmakers to vote against a bill that would allow more charter schools to open in the state. Heitsch is among several Oakland County superintendents voicing opposition to the legislation. The state House Education Committee has approved the bill, which now goes before the full House for a vote. The Senate narrowly passed it in October. ‘Senate Bill 618 will remove all limits on the number of charter schools in our state’ and ‘could have a devastating impact on public education in Michigan,’ Heitsch said. There are currently 255 such schools teaching 115,000 students in Michigan. dailytribune.com


Dispute in Limbo Over Former Pinellas Superintendent's Severance Package
St. Petersburg Times, Nov. 30
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.-–When Pinellas County School District Superintendent Julie Janssen retired three months ago, said she was owed $138,000 in benefits. The School Board indicated it had no plans to pay her that money, and the outcome is still unclear. Attorneys for Janssen and the board have not announced any settlement, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Janssen's contract called for her to receive a year’s salary, plus sick leave and benefits. She said that totaled $621,536. But the board would not sign off on $138,000 of that amount that Janssen’s attorney, Ron Meyer, said she would have earned during one more year had the district continued to pay into her state retirement fund. Board attorney Jim Robinson called that claim ludicrous. The board also said no to paying Janssen's annual $3,000 communications allowance and $10,800 car allowance. tampabay.com


How Does Limestone Rank in School Superintendents' Pay?
The News Courier, Nov. 30
ATHENS, Ala.--Limestone County School Superintendent Barry Carroll, who retired Dec. 1, would have received a salary of $129,533 had he finished out the fiscal year ending next Sept. 30. That’s for a district with 9,016 students and the pay ranks 14th among 65 county superintendents in Alabama. In comparison, Mobile County has the highest superintendent pay at $195,000 and Choctaw County the lowest at $74,295. City and county school boards determine such pay based on several factors, including the number of schools in the system, the location, number staff members and superintendent’s education and experience. Athens City Schools Superintendent Orman Bridges Jr. will earn $117,927 in fiscal 2012. In comparison, Trussville City Schools has the highest superintendent pay in the state at $202,025 and Linden City Schools the lowest at $78,063. enewscourier.com


  AASA News 

 
The School Administrator
The School Administrator's December issue examines superintendent evaluation. Paul Vranish, superintendent in Tornillo, Texas, discusses how his district organically developed a better evaluation system, while Tom Owczarek, a school board member in Fitzgerald, Mich., for nearly 30 years, describes his board's revamped process. Kristen School and Middleton McGoodwin candidly share their unsatisfying experiences with evaluation and offer insight on what to avoid. Sharon Skeans and Rob Smith make seven suggestions for seeing the bigger picture when evaluating a school district program. Members should receive their print copies in mid-December.
Are Standards, Testing and Measurement Weighing You Down?
Plan to attend these sessions: Desperately Seeking Standards: The Intersection of Teacher Evaluation and School Improvement; Making Strategic Change Through Assessment Data; Improvement Is Not a Random Act; among others. Then, find the answers at the 2012 National Conference on Education in Houston, Texas!
Webinar: Will Expanded Learning Time = Better Outcomes?
Thursday, Dec. 8, 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. ET
The U.S. Department of Education has established a waiver process to help states obtain additional flexibility in meeting No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) performance standards. States across the nation have begun to apply for these new waivers, which were issued this fall. The waivers give educators as well as state and local leaders greater flexibility in exchange for developing clear and rigorous plans to improve educational outcomes. Hear what educators and policy leaders have to say about Waiver 11's implications for school districts and community-based organizations. Register now.
Where Technology Empowers Learning: Engaging All Students, Expanding Knowledge, Embracing Diversity

Klein Independent School District, Klein, Texas
Feb. 19-21, 2012
NSBA Education Technology Site Visit


Located near Houston, Klein ISD is a highly diverse district serving 46,000 students. Led by Dr. Jim Cain, one of 2010's ten "Tech-Savvy Superintendents", the visit is conveniently scheduled to coincide with the conclusion of AASA's annual conference. See the district's Technology Baseline Standard Initiative in action that assures all students have access to a suite of technology tools, and teachers are prepared to maximize those tools through an updated curriculum. Visionary leadership and job-embedded professional development are critical factors in the district's accomplishments that include the deployment of more than 8,600 Tablet PCs, and much more. Visit classrooms where curriculum goals drive technology decisions. See first-hand how 1:1 initiatives advance student learning. The visit offers classroom observations across all grade levels, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities. For full registration information and agenda please go to: http://www.nsba.org/tlnsitevisits/klein.htm.
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Professional Learning Communities Work
Richard DuFour is regarded as one of the nation's leading authorities on bringing professional learning community concepts to life in the real world of schools. Listen now.

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Coming Events

Webinar: Will Expanded Learning Time = Better Outcomes?
Thursday, Dec. 8, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. ET

Webinar: Indoor Air Quality
Tuesday, Dec. 9, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. ET.

Webinar: Next Generation Curriculum Delivery
Tuesday, Dec. 13, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. ET.

Feb. 16-19, 2012 - National Conference on Education, Houston, Texas.



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