Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child

The Public School Insights Blog

July always marks a special time of year for AASA, The School Superintendents Association. Some of the sharpest minds in public education have gathered in our nation’s capital for our annual legislative advocacy conference.

Dozens of superintendents, the “champions for children” who are the catalysts behind the achievements taking place in our school systems today, joined us this month.

It was only fitting that during AASA’s 150th anniversary year, we saw the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The strong efforts from our members combined with the great work of our policy and advocacy team was a major lever in creating the new legislation. ...

Learning First Alliance Executive Director Richard M. Long chatted about the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the importance of stakeholder engagement on a recent episode of Education Talk Radio.

ESSA, the latest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, gives a new voice to practitioners as it largely shifts accountability back to the state level. To guide the process for stakeholder engagement, LFA has released a set of principles for state and local policymakers.

The new statute does not specifically define what stakeholder engagement must entail, but requires the process to be meaningful, Long said.

He also noted that the concept of engagement has evolved to bring in stakeholders to work together and have time to go back and forth with concepts. ...

There is a fast-growing trend with Phishing scams targeting school districts. Perpetrators are using social engineering tactics to trick people into giving up information. They’re researching organizational charts and reporting structures from your district’s website. This provides them with some initial information to start their scam.

One of the common ways a Phishing scam starts is when a spoofed email message is sent. A spoofed email looks like a legitimate email from another employee when in fact it’s not. Most of the time they involve a request from the superintendent, assistant superintendent, or other business official:

Once a reply is made, the perpetrator of the email starts a conversation to try and get a money wire transfer, payroll, W2 or other personal information from the district. ...

The Learning First Alliance today released, “Working Together for Student Success: A Back-to-School Communications Toolkit,” a resource to help educators communicate with their parents and communities. 

The toolkit contains advice for helping local school leaders and other educators publicize and explain their successes in implementing college- and career-ready standards. The document is designed to help shore up support for public education across the country by showcasing innovative and effective programs in schools as well as the myriad of school staff members who help students on their paths to graduation.

“We are proud to offer a toolkit that will help school leaders and other educators strategize back-to-school communications,” said Richard M. Long, executive director of the Learning First Alliance. “We know that there are many good programs and examples of schools preparing students for post-graduation success, and we hope this guide gives superintendents, principals, PTA leaders and other educators ideas and inspiration to show the good work that is happening in their schools.” ...

Learning First Alliance Executive Director Richard M. Long will join Education Talk Radio on Thursday, July 21 to chat about the importance of involving the local stakeholders in the age of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

LFA released a paper last month that proposes principles for stakeholder engagement for the law, which calls for significantly more input from local school leaders. The new law, the latest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, requires states and localities to bring together educators, parents, and other leaders to determine policies and practices.

Join the discussion at 9 a.m. EDT with host Larry Jacobs at Education Talk Radio. ...

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Hot Summer Reads

Planning to take advantage of another hot (in much of the country) weekend to catch up on your reading? Check out some of the top stories that you may have missed on the Public School Insights’ blog during the 2015-2016 school year:

Five Things School Leaders Do That Make a Big Difference For Teachers. Learning Forward Executive Director Stephanie Hirsh shares research on what system and school leaders do that teachers find most helpful in their efforts to ensure high-quality instruction for all.

New Models of Professional Learning: Why Now Is the Time to Invest in Different Solutions. ISTE’s Yolanda Ramos talks about her organization’s efforts to advance teacher quality through team-based professional learning. ...

What is the worth of real work experiences for today's students?

What was once a rite of passage in our collective coming of age stories—the summer job—has succumbed under fuller employment and other socio-economic factors which remove these opportunities for young people. With the death knell of summer jobs has gone countless experiences essential to our young peoples' academic and life skills development. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, summer labor for young people (ages 16-24) has declined from a high of 77.5% to 60.0% in 2015.

 "The labor force participation rate for all youth was 60.0 percent in July 2015, little changed from a year earlier. The summer labor force participation rate of youth has held fairly steady since July 2010, after generally trending downward for many years. The summer youth labor force participation rate peaked at 77.5 percent in July 1989." –Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2016. ...

What's next for the college- and career-ready standards movement? Learning First Alliance Executive Director Richard M. Long discussed the pertinant issues with Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in a recent chat on social medium Blab.

With the worst of the Common Core political wars behind us, the issue now turns to how to educate students who are disadvantaged and those who were struggling to keep up before the higher standards came into play, Mr. Petrilli says.

Learn more about upcoming issues in the ongoing move to instill college- and career-ready standards by watching the Blab chat: 

...

Last month, the Supreme Court upheld the consideration of race in admissions in its Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin decision. In our contemporary policy context of expanded civil rights—and their accompanying backlash—this ruling prompts reflection on the fundamental value of cultivating a diverse community, especially in educational settings, that includes but also extends beyond race.

Why is it important to give college students the opportunity to learn with peers from both similar and different backgrounds? For all students, having at least a “critical mass” of peers with shared characteristics boosts self-efficacy and academic success. Meanwhile, being situated in a heterogeneous learning community, particularly one that supports interaction both within and across groups, builds students’ interdependence, empathy, and fluency with “otherness.” ...

The Learning First Alliance welcomes Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director of the National School Boards Association, as the new 2016-17 chair of the board of directors. The LFA board also has chosen JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, as its 2016-17 Secretary-Treasurer; and Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward, is now the immediate past president.

Gentzel brings more than three decades experience in education policy and advocacy. Prior to joining NSBA as its executive director in 2012, he was a key figure at the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, serving as its executive director for 11 years after working as chief lobbyist for more than 20 years. He also was an officer at the National School Public Relations Association and a member of Pennsylvania State University’s Outreach Advisory Board.

“Tom Gentzel’s deep knowledge of education and the policymaking process is a valued asset as the Learning First Alliance is turning its attention to the Every Student Succeeds Act and other federal actions,” said LFA Executive Director Richard M. Long. “I look forward to working with Tom and LFA’s new leadership team in the coming year.” ...

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