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AASA News of the Nation

Hot TopicsLeadership Matters
Superintendents in the NewsAASA News


  Hot Topics 


How School Districts Can Stretch the School Dollar
Fordham Institute, April 18
WASHINGTON--Here are some key do’s –- and more pointedly, do not’s -- for public school administrators in making very tough budget decisions these days. Use a scalpel, not a cleaver. DO (1) Aim for a leaner, more productive and better-paid workforce, (2) Be willing to pay for productivity, and (3) Go for technology, but do it thoughtfully. Some No No’s: (A) Don’t shrink your workforce by laying off only the newest teachers, (B) Don’t narrow your curriculum, (C) Don’t furlough workers, and (D) Do NOT pass the buck -- pun intended -- to families. Michael J. Petrilli of the Fordham Institute argues that quick fixes just won't solve the money problem, nor will slashing teacher salaries. His tool kit and other suggestions are at

Teacher Evaluation Technology Improving Student Success

Improving the teaching talent in your district is the best way to impact student outcomes. TalentEd Perform cloud software automates the teacher evaluation process your district is using, and helps ensure all teachers are evaluated to your standards. MORE

Victims of Cyberbullying Fight Back in Lawsuits
Associated Press, April 27
ATLANTA, Ga. -- Alex Boston, 14, has gone to court to fight alleged bullying. The Georgia middle school student told police and school officials she had been bullied on Facebook, but they said their hands were tied because the harassment occurred off campus. So, she's slapped two classmates with a libel suit. Almost every state has a law or policy prohibiting cyberbullying, but few cover intimidation off of school property. Experts say laws aren't strong enough, and lawsuits such as this will become more commonplace. Alex remembers the mean glances and harsh words from students when she arrived at her school, then discovered the phony online page. Meanwhile, the issue of whether schools may censor students who are off campus when they attack online has led to split decisions in federal courts. Administrators and judges wrestle over whether free speech rights protect students off campus.

Common Core Standards Driving Wedge in Education Circles
USA Today, April 28
WASHINGTON -- Two years ahead of a planned national coming-out party, Common Core Standards for math and reading in U.S. public schools have run into red lights on the right and the left. It raises questions over whether basic building blocks for elementary and secondary education will come to be. Conservatives say standards supported by the U.S. Education Department and President Obama have become virtually mandatory and, therefore, represent government intrusion into education. Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says she would support a state legislative effort to block Common Core implementation. In March, NYU education expert Diane Ravitch blasted the standards, writing that they've never been field-tested. ‘No one knows whether these standards are good or bad, whether they will improve academic achievement or widen the achievement gap,’ she said. But American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten says the move is just a simple way to boost skills and help Americans ‘compete in a global economy.’

Posted Images of California School Tests Raise Cheating Concerns
Los Angeles Times, April 28
LOS ANGELES -- Concerns are rising about test security and cheating by California public school students as hundreds of photos of standardized tests have begun to appear on social networking sites. In a worst-case scenario, the photos could lead to invalidating test scores for entire schools or prevent the state from using certain tests. But for now, officials have warned school districts to heighten test security and investigate breaches. Students are not allowed to have access to cellphones or other devices that can take pictures when the tests are administered. ‘Test security was compromised when students posted images of actual test questions, answer documents and test booklets to social networking sites,’ Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Deb Sigman said in a letter to districts. ‘You have a responsibility to prevent any such incidences in the future.’

Join Discussion and Discover the Resources You Need
The 2012 AASA Summer Leadership Institute will be held June 28-29, 2012, at the Renaissance Harbor Hotel in Baltimore, Md. This year's featured speakers are Diane Ravitch, research professor of education at New York University and a historian of education, Doug Reeves, founder of The Leadership and Learning Center and Charlotte Danielson of The Danielson Group. Please forward this information to others you think might be interested. Learn more.

   Leadership Matters 


Time Will Render Bold Oconomowoc School Plan Effects
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 28
MILWAUKEE, Wisc.--The Oconomowoc School Board has received a bold plan to reallocate staffing resources and strengthen the instructional program at Oconomowoc High School providing more support and staff development training for teachers, increased salaries for many faculty members, and Increasing opportunities for both students and teachers to use 21st century technology tools in the classroom. The plan allows these changes with no increase in class size or reduction in programs. Additionally, the reallocation will yield savings of half a million dollars annually. Oconomowoc Superintendent Pat Neudecker calls the plan "the right thing to do for our students, our schools and the teaching profession. Neudecker is currently president of the American Association of School Administrators; she was a leading figure in developing a statement issued by a group of Milwaukee area educators in 2010 that called for these kinds of changes.JS Online

Time Out From Testing
The Forum for Education and Democracy, April 24
WASHINGTON -- Here’s a proposed resolution by The Forum and other activist education groups imploring Washington, state governors and legislatures to ‘reexamine’ public school accountability systems and scrap the controversial influence of standardized testing. It is modeled on a resolution passed in April by more than 360 Texas school boards and can be endorsed by both individuals and groups. The proposal charges that ‘high-stakes standardized testing has negative effects for students from all backgrounds, and especially for low-income students, English language learners, children of color, and those with disabilities...” It calls for a new judging system, ‘based on multiple forms of assessment,’ which does not require extensive standardized testing, more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning, and is used to support students and improve schools. Results of standardized student tests, according to the education activists, should no longer be used to evaluate

How Obama’s Latest Education Initiative Could Threaten American Preschool
The New Republic, March 23
WASHINGTON – A new Obama administration policy this year requires Head Start providers deemed ‘deficient’ to compete for federal funding that was previously guaranteed. The plan’s ‘blunt approach,’ according to New Republic Magazine, ‘is jeopardizing perfectly good Head Start providers’. Author-researcher Simon van Zuylen-Wood says that, while No Child Left Behind’s K-12 mandates are being phased out, other national standards are coming to early childhood learning. In March, he toured Washington D.C.’s Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center, one of 1,600 low-income preschool providers funded by the Head Start program. ‘Everything I saw suggested happy students, clean classrooms, and engaged teachers,’ van Zuylen-Wood reported. But Mazique -- somewhat of a poster child for Head Start -– is in danger of losing its funding because providers that fail to meet certain thresholds in any one of seven criteria (such as student health, teacher quality, or proper use of funds) must re-apply for grants against non-Head Start facilities. It’s dubbed “re-competition.”

The Critical Task of Hiring a New Chief
District Administration, May Issue
NORWALK, Conn.--Finding a school superintendent can be a daunting jungle trek in these days of budget woes, parent traps and political minefields. In a special report, District Administration Magazine says experts advise school boards to start early, leverage local insight and perhaps cast a wide net. ‘The fiscal incentive to become a superintendent, in some places, is not what it was,’ says head-hunting specialist Michael Osnato. ‘So you have to be ambitious, and you have to want to take a chance on leadership to become a superintendent.’ Interim superintendents, hired to lead a district while the school board finds a replacement, have become a popular option in the last decade, says Executive Director Daniel Domenech of the American Association of School Administrators. ‘It’s not uncommon that the interim superintendent winds up getting the job,’ adds Domenech, ‘but there can also be an upfront proviso that they cannot be an applicant.’ The full report at

Make a Difference!
Join your colleagues in common voice to improve ESEA and lessen or eliminate cuts to key federal education programs.

2012 AASA Legislative Advocacy Conference, July 17-19, Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC.

The annual AASA Legislative Conference will feature the latest inside information of the reauthorization of ESEA and the potential January 2013 across the board cuts of about 9% because of the failure of the super committee to reduce the deficit and the debt. Learn more how to register.

   Superintendents in the News 


Paterson Superintendent Faces Parents Over Plan To Replace ‘Social Promotion’ With New Summer School Program
Bergen Record, April 23
PATERSON, N.J. -- Paterson Schools Superintendent Donnie Evans, facing angry parents, defended the district’s recent announcement that it will no longer use ‘social promotion’ to advance underperforming students to the next grade. ‘It’s why Paterson has the reputation it has as a low-performing school’ system, he said of a long-standing policy of ignoring its own rulebook by allowing students to progress regardless of whether they demonstrate proficiency in reading and math. He told parents at Eastside High School that the practice was fundamental to Paterson’s ills. Parents are in an uproar over the timing of a letter just before the end of the school year warning that some children may need to attend a new summer school program to have another shot at promotion. Kesha Hopkins, mother of a fourth-grader, said she supports the new policy in principle, but would have arranged for a tutor had she known earlier that her son was in danger of being left behind. ‘Two months left – that’s a lot of pressure on a 10-year-old,’ she said.

Rochester's Faith Community: ‘Superintendent Process Was Rigged’
WHEC-TV, April 25
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Members of the Rochester clergy -- leaders of the Faith Community Alliance -- are complaining that they were shut out of the process of choosing Bolgen Vargas as the new permanent city schools superintendent. Vargas has been interim superintendent since last May, when then-Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard left the job. Alliance leaders say they have great respect for Vargas and that their protest is not about him. Some alliance members have complained in the past about sex education in city schools and the quality of education in general. The ministers charge that Teachers’ Union President Adam Urbanski told the community who the new superintendent was going to be even before the process began and that Urbanski and Vargas favor the status quo. ‘The process was tainted. It was a sellout,’ according to Minister Franklin Florence.

Superintendent Hired by Stockton
The Press-Enterprise, April 25
RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- Steve Lowder has been hired to become superintendent of the Stockton (Calif.) Unified Schools District. The school board vote was 4-3 in favor of Lower, who has been superintendent of Hemet, Calif., schools for 21 months. The split vote came amid allegations by some board members that Lowder was using Stockton to pad his future retirement. The Stockton Record also reported there were allegations that one board member’s re-election campaign was offered $10,000 in exchange for support of Lowder, which that member denied. In the 22,000-student Hemet district, Lowder, 60, was earning $205,000 yearly under a contract renewed last summer to run through 2015. He will earn $225,000 yearly in the 37,000-student Stockton district, plus benefits that include a $600-per-month car allowance.

Limestone Board To Publicly Discuss Superintendent Candidates Thursday
Athens News-Courier, April 25
ATHENS, Ala.--The Limestone County School Board is preparing to narrow its choice from among five finalists for the position of school superintendent. The board is seeking a replacement for former Superintendent Barry Carroll, who retired last December. Salary for the position ranges from $113,000 to $130,000 a year. The finalists, picked from among 23 applicants, are Interim Limestone Superintendent Zebbra Green, Assistant Professor Dwight Pullen of Central Michigan University, Human Resources Supervisor Thomas Sisk of Baldwin County Schools, Tuscambia County Schools Superintendent Joe Walters, and Assistant Superintendent Leonard Westbrook of the Independence (Mo.) School District.

  AASA News 

New! AASA Special Interest Groups
AASA offers Special Interest Groups as a way to enrich the knowledge and contacts of group members. As a participant in a Special Interest Group, members are able to share ideas and exchange information; swap solutions and resources such as photos, documents and links; and encourage the professional growth around an area of interest in education. Each group provides different resources to its members. Join discussion today!
New AASA Member Benefit: Special Offers and Amazing Discounts for AASA Members
SmartSavings is marketplace that provides you with access to hundreds of brand-name retailers and local merchants--all in one online marketplace. AASA members will find exclusive offers and discounts that you won't find anywhere else on SmartSavings. We negotiate the best deals and regularly update the offers to help you stretch your hard-earned dollars. From clothing to vacations, you'll find it all on SmartSavings! More.
2013 Call for Proposals Close May 16
AASA is searching for the "best of the best" presenters to engage attendees in a dialogue about cutting-edge trends, issues and solutions. Consider your leadership skills and professional competencies and how you can help public school education leaders improve the quality of education for all children. Submission criteria, conference themes and more information is online at Submissions must be received by May 16, 2012. With questions contact Jennifer Rooney at
Latest Issue of School Administrator
School Administrator’s May issue explores how to navigate around obstacles to differentiated instruction. Expert Carol Ann Tomlinson tackles 10 common sticking points about differentiation, while Kelly Hedrick of the Virginia Beach, Va., City Public Schools discusses how her district has embraced differentiation, in part through teacher evaluation. Also, researcher Sandra Stotsky shares her findings on the efficacy of single-sex classrooms. The board president and superintendent in Meriden, Conn., team up on ideas for inspirational leadership. The magazine is available online at The print edition will reach members’ mailboxes by mid-May.
AASA's Healthy Classroom and Cafeteria Environments
Check out AASA's Healthy Classroom and Cafeteria Environments virtual walk-throughs. Then, take AASA's Quiz on Healthy Classroom and Cafeteria Environments. For more information, visit

Upcoming AASA Webinars:
The Principal as Leader
May 9, 2012, 1-2 p.m. ET
Outstanding school leadership doesn't just happen. Based on 10 years of research from The Wallace Foundation, effective principals employ five key practices. The School Principal as Leader gleans lessons from Wallace-supported scholarship by leading researchers (at institutions including the RAND Corporation, Stanford, Vanderbilt, the University of Washington, and the Universities of Minnesota and Toronto) as well as Wallace-funded projects in 24 states and numerous districts. It concludes that these five practices are central to effective principal leadership: shaping a vision of academic success for all students, creating a climate hospitable to education, and cultivating leadership in others, improving instruction and managing people, data and processes to foster school improvement. Register at

    Wendy Robinson, Superintendent, Fort Wayne Community Schools, Ind.
    Robert Bender, Principal, P.S. 11, New York, N.Y.
    Jody Spiro, Director of Education Leadership, The Wallace Foundation, New York, N.Y.
For Every Child, Multiple Measures: What Parents and Educators Want From K-12 Assessments
May 17, 2012, 3-4 p.m. ET
What are parents, teachers and district administrators — those with the most practical and personal experience with the day-to-day impact of assessments and accountability — looking for in K-12 assessments? Find out in an upcoming webinar focused on a new report: For Every Child, Multiple Measures: What Parents and Educators Want From K-12 Assessments. The study comes at a pivotal time, as policymakers are considering a new blueprint for education improvement and significant education reform initiatives are currently underway. Join AASA, NWEA and Grunwald Associates, LLC and share your thoughts as we explore this study on actionable assessments in education. Register at

    Charles Merritt, vice president of Policy and Advocacy, Northwest Evaluation Association
    Peter Grunwald, president and founder, Grunwald Associates, LLC.
    Patrick Murphy, superintendent, Arlington Public School System, Va.
    Krista N. Vega, teacher, Montgomery County Public Schools, Md.

AASA Video
Webinar Recordings
Driving School Improvement through a College Access and Success Agenda [1 hour].
Stopping the Summer Slide and Closing the Achievement Gap [38 min]
Building a Strong Principal Pipeline: Improving Student Achievement through Leadership [1 hour]


Henrico County Public Schools Success Story

Through new school discipline and parental engagement strategies, administrators in Henrico County are effectively combating the widening achievement gap in the school district. 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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