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AASA News of the Nation

Hot TopicsLeadership Matters
Superintendents in the NewsAASA News


  Hot Topics 


6-Year High Schools To Open in Fall
NBC Chicago, Feb. 29
CHICAGO -– Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges and five technology companies will open six-year high schools offering associate degrees to students in the fall. The Chicago Sun Times reports that students will leave those schools equipped with a diploma, a degree and a promise of a job interview. Verizon, IBM, Microsoft, Cisco and Motorola Solutions will create the engineering, technology and math coursework for students. The companies will provide mentors and internships to get students ready for their fields. The schools are exciting some area companies interested in hiring young, tech savvy professionals close to home. ‘I love the idea of local talent coming from an organization with such strong founding partners,’ said Andy Pace, chief operating officer at SingleHop, a data center operator. ‘We work in a very specific field of technology that requires not only a sound educational background but a willingness to learn.’

Class Can Boost Rural Students' Access, Skills
Education Week, Feb. 29
BETHESDA, Md. -- A new federal study concludes that online Algebra 1 classes can bridge the gap for rural students who are ready for advanced math but whose schools lack the resources for a face-to-face class. Algebra 1 is seen as a gateway course. The study, released by the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands, found that 8th-graders taking a virtual algebra course performed better in algebra testing and were nearly twice as likely to take rigorous math courses by 10th grade as students who only had access to general 8th-grade math. ‘We know the critical importance of providing Algebra I to eighth graders who are ready to take the course,’ said Armando Vilaseca, Vermont's education commissioner and a member of REL-NEI's governing board. ‘The research makes a compelling case for extending access to an online version of Algebra I in schools that otherwise do not typically offer the course.’

Ohio Shooting Suspect Confesses, Prosecutor Says
New York Times, Feb. 28
CHARDON, Ohio –- ‘We’re not just any old place, Chardon. This is every place,’ said schools Superintendent Joseph Bergant. ‘As you’ve seen in the past, this can happen anywhere,’ He spoke as the fatal shooting rampage in Chardon High School in this quiet suburb of Cleveland remained a puzzle. Prosecutors said a 17-year-old student from another school had confessed to the three killings and two woundings, telling them he did not know his victims and chose them at random. They said T. J. Lane, admitted taking a .22-caliber Ruger semiautomatic pistol to Chardon High on Feb. 27 and firing 10 rounds at four students at a cafeteria table. Prosecutors said it is likely Lane will be tried in an adult court. Three of the victims -- Russell King Jr., Demetrius Hewlin and Daniel Parmertor -- have died. One of the wounded has been released from a hospital. More questions than answers remain in this blue-collar town of 5,000. Lane is a sophomore at Lake Academy, an alternative high school for at-risk youths, some of whom take a bus from Chardon High. Students interviewed at both schools described him as quiet but friendly, and interested in Nascar and hunting.

Born To Not Get Bullied
New York Times, Feb. 29
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -– If you’re involved in public education and are tired of the sad stories about bullying, listen to what Lady Gaga has to say. Praised by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the superstar pop singer told him that when she was in high school in New York, she was thrown into a trash can and bullied because she seemed different. ‘I was called really horrible, profane names very loudly in front of huge crowds of people,’ she said. ‘I didn’t want to go to class. And I was a straight-A student.’ But she recently launched her ‘Born This Way Foundation’ at Harvard University with crowds of supporters, including Oprah Winfrey and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Harvard is cooperating with her to empower kids and nurture a more congenial environment in and out of schools. Kristof reports that any self-doubt the star harbors should have been erased by the throngs that greeted her here. The move ‘is not restitution or revenge for my experiences,’ she stressed. ‘This is: I am now a woman, I have a voice in the universe, and I want to do everything I can to become an expert in social justice and hope I can make a difference and mobilize young people to change the world.’

   Leadership Matters 


Exploding Common Myths in Education
Jensen Learning, Feb. 28
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- No, children often do NOT talk too much at school. That according to the Jensen Learning Center, which specializes in brain-based learning and says a new federal study indicates some teachers may be overzealous in spending a portion of their day trying ‘to manage the noise.’ ‘It seems we are social before we are born and that some schools artificially suppress our social side. Researchers believe that brains may be hard-wired to be social (autism is an exception, of course),’ the center reports in a blog by Eric Jensen. He concludes that some management of social groupings is needed, but that poor social conditions, isolation or social ‘defeat’ are correlated with fewer brain cells. ‘Build cooperative groups and teams,’ writes Jensen. ‘Stop suppressing social activity and start incorporating it into your work . . . . If your students spend all of class in isolated rows, I feel sad. This is the year 2012. Allow students more time to interact!’

Maryland School Board Moves to Limit Student Suspensions
Washington Post, Feb. 28
BALTIMORE, Md. -- Student suspensions are used too often for nonviolent offenses and too much class time is lost, says the Maryland State Board of Education. The board, also drawing a link to achievement gaps, is moving to sharply cut the number of students suspended from schools in the state. Members endorsed findings in a study that out-of-school suspensions disproportionately affect minorities and special education students. The board unveiled a detailed written plan which would redefine the vocabulary of suspension — what is short, what is long — and require Maryland’s 24 school systems to pay far closer attention to whom they suspend and why. ‘What we’re trying to do is to prompt people to think differently about discipline, with an eye toward achievement for all students,’ board President James H. DeGraffenreidt told the Washington Post. The board will allow public comment on the plan until March 30.

Report Examines ‘School to Home’ Communications
eSchool News, Feb. 27
BETHESDA, Md. -- A new report says the growing use and understanding of mobile devices can improve communication among school teachers, parents and students. ‘Connecting in the 21st Century, born of a questionnaire from Project Tomorrow and Blackboard Inc., identifies trends and issues in communications among school stakeholders. The annual survey suggests that parents' perceptions of how well their schools communicate has a profound effect on how they view their children's education ‘Many parents said a school's online portal helps them stay on top of their child's academic progress,’ writes Managing Editor Laura Devaney of eSchool News. The report spotlights a ‘growing need for more effective, timely, and targeted communication between the school and home.’ The top five ways that parents now receive communications from their child’s school are personal emails (64 percent), face-to-face meetings (53 percent), printed newsletters and fliers (52 percent), a school portal (51 percent) and automated phone messages (46 percent).

Detroit Schools Report Decrease in Violent Crime
Associated Press, Feb. 27
DETROIT, Mich. -- Efforts by Detroit Public Schools officials to reduce violent crime in and around schools are paying off. Assaults, armed robberies and concealed weapons incidents are all down in schools compared to the same period last academic year. The district reports that there is a 13 percent overall reduction in reported crime six months into this school year. Armed robberies are down 58 percent, violations for concealed weapons 45 percent and felony assaults 43 percent. Statistics also show fewer larcenies, misdemeanor assaults and burglaries of school buildings. Officials have improved school security, video cameras and alarm systems to tackle violence inside and outside district buildings.

   Superintendents in the News 


150 Turn Out To Hear Finalists For Superintendent
Hartford Courant, Feb. 28
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- The New Britain schools system wants its new $200,000-a-year superintendent in office before July 1, and about 150 people turned out to question the three finalists. The crowd included several dozen parents and a sprinkling of students, but appeared to be mostly teachers and other school workers. The candidates gave separate presentations, but agreed that no single strategy, policy or curriculum change would solve the system's troubles. The finalists are Sadia White, a former Newark schools administrator who has been in charge of academic policy at a group of charter schools in Washington, D.C.; Robert Copeland, superintendent of the 7,300-student Piscataway, N.J., school system, and Kelt Cooper, superintendent of the 10,400-student school system in Del Rio, Texas. The superintendent will oversee a system that has created a series of new mini-learning centers and specialized academies in its schools, along with an innovative program to prepare high school students for careers in medicine and health. The system has hampered by staff and program cuts, a high dropout rate and low scores on reading tests.

Superintendent: City Schools Near Desegregation Compliance
Valdosta Daily Times, March 1
VALDOSTA, Ga. –- The U.S. Justice Department has reached a settlement agreement with the Valdosta City School system to ensure desegregation of the district’s faculty and staff. ‘It hasn’t been approved by the federal judge yet, but it will be. We’re confident of that,’ said VCS Superintendent Bill Cason. The city has been dealing with the issue for more than four decades, and when Cason took over the district four years ago, he vowed to make desegregation a priority. ‘It’s been a lot of work. It’s been a long process,’ he told the Valdosta Daily Times, adding that VCS had to change its personnel procedures, its hiring policies, had to recruit additional African-American teachers and to balance the racial ratios based on the district average. According to the consent order, DOJ initiated the school desegregation lawsuit on Nov. 30, 1970. It has been modified several times since. The superintendent hopes that a federal judge will approve the final settlement within the next six months.

Lake Bluff District 65 Hires New Superintendent
News-Sun, March 1
LAKE BLUFF, Ill. –- Jean Sophie will become the new superintendent of Lake Bluff Elementary District 65 Schools. The district school board approved a three contract at $178,000 yearly and she will take over from Interim Superintendent Ben Martindale on July 1. Sophie, a Barrington resident, comes to the district with 14 years of school administrative experience. She has spent the last four years as superintendent of west suburban Westchester District 92½, a K-8 grade district with 1,290 students and three attendance centers in Cook County. The Lake Bluff district received 47 written applications for the position and 12 candidates were initially interviewed. The district will host several receptions in the spring and summer so that the community will have the opportunity to meet Sophie.

Middleton Named Superintendent at Newport
The Ledger Independent, March 1
NEWPORT, Ky. -- Kelly Middleton has been named superintendent of Newport Independent Schools and will take over on July 1 with a four-year contract. He is leaving the job of associate superintendent of Mason County Schools after 14 years in that system. ‘The decision is bittersweet, one that affords new challenges and opportunities,’ said Middleton in a message to his current district, where he has grown up as a student, ball player, principal, assistant superintendent and associate superintendent. Newport Independent is comprised of four schools -- elementary, intermediate, middle and high school -- and has an enrollment of approximately 1,800 students. That’s equivalent to the Mason County district. "I know there's work to be done ... it doesn't bother me to be in an inner city school,’ Middleton said. ‘I'm excited and I hope to make some significant changes for the kids.’

  AASA News 

The Election for AASA President-Elect
Eligible AASA voting members were sent an e-mail on Feb. 29, with instructions on how to access their online ballot. The e-mail included the online ballot and biographical information on each of the candidates. Click on the following link to access the ballot. You will need your member ID and election passcode that was included in the e-mail. Paper ballots were mailed to those members without e-mail addresses or whose e-mail returned also include the member ID and election passcode, allowing them to vote either electronically or by mail.
School Administrator March 2012: Advocacy Insiders
School Administrator's March issue takes an inside look at legislative advocacy by school leaders. Retired superintendent Belinda Pustka reports on her recent stint as a staff aide during a Texas state legislative session, while four AASA members describe how they have influenced federal legislative affairs. In addition, AASA public policy staff member Noelle Ellerson offers strategies for school leaders to begin appropriations lobbying. Plus, in an interview, author Daniel Pink talks about applying his book Drive to the work of educators, and AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech shares how AASA has increased its advocacy efforts. The magazine is available online at
Teaming for Transformation
AASA and CoSN invite you and members of your district leadership team to join Teaming for Transformation, an exclusive network of districts working to improve student-centered learning in a digitally-rich learning environment. Applications will be accepted until Apr. 30, 2012. District leadership teams accepted into this exclusive network will be contacted in May 2012 on next steps. Complete a brief application at: Join Teaming for Transformation now!
Creating Quality
Noting growing recognition that quality is crucial to having arts education pay off for children, The Wallace Foundation and Big Thought have launched a new website, Creating Quality, that provides information, tools and other resources to evaluate and improve the quality of arts education and creative learning in schools, after-school programs and summer learning opportunities. Visit new site at
Gainesville City Schools' Achieves Good Results From Developing a Unified and Comprehensive System of Learning Supports
The Education Development Center has just released a report highlighting the processes and outlining the successes of Gainesville, Ga. City Schools as the district creates a unified and comprehensive system of learning supports.
AASA's 2012 NCE Healthy School Environments Recap
Exhibit Wellness was a huge hit this year. The Wii returned with Just Dance 2. Not only did we work up a sweat, but we recruited some AASA members to join in on the fun. In addition to dancing, we had morning yoga, blood pressure tests from a local hospital, cancer prevention guides, a cooking demonstration, water bottle and pedometer giveaways from ING, and several of AASA's Children's Programs publications. To get a full recap, visit AASA's The Conference Daily. Enjoy the pictures HERE and see you all next year.

AASA President-Elects

Robert Slaby, superintendent of the Storey County School District in Virginia City, Nev.
Watch video [5:37].
Amy Sichel, superintendent of the Abington School District in Abington, Pa.
Watch video [5:37].
Joseph Gertsema, superintendent of the Yankton School District 63-3 in Yankton, S.D.
Watch video [4:39].

>> Watch AASA Videos From National Conference

New Success Story
Learn how Clarke County, Ga opened doors and corrected community misperceptions about student achievement by building key community partnerships. With over 12,000 students and 24 native languages spoken, the Clarke County School District in Athens, Georgia offers a culture of academic excellence and diversity. There are 21 total schools – 14 elementary, 4 middle and 3 high, in addition to the Athens Community Career Academy.Read story here. Submit your story here.

AASA Premier Member
NJPA Contract Solutions AASA and NJPA have formed an exclusive, business relationship that provides K-12 public school districts nationally access to over 120 national competitively bid, contract purchasing solutions. Learn more.

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