The Public School Insights Blog
By Sharon P. Robinson, President and CEO, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)
Recently U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued a statement responding to widespread concerns about standardized testing—saying that “testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools” and offering to delay by a year the federal requirement that teacher evaluations include some “significant” influence from students’ performance on state assessments.
Reaction from the field1 to Duncan’s statement has been, as expected, profoundly respectful and professional. Unions, administrators and policymakers have expressed relief that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has finally acknowledged feedback from the field as to the wisdom of policy. While the announced delay in tying teacher evaluations to these impact measures is very important, I am even more interested to see how consistent, congruent and powerful the Obama administration intends to be in its handling of similar policy questions. ...
A week ago, U. S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, issued a Back to School message in his Department of Education blog, Homeroom, that made news because it announced that states will have the opportunity to request a delay in when test results matter for teacher evaluation in their compliance efforts with No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Certainly, this was a welcome announcement, and the Learning First Alliance (LFA) issued a statement later that same day in support of the Secretary’s announced flexibility.
However, the aspect of the announcement that was most heartening to me wasn’t the new flexibility offered, but the tone of the message and the respect communicated for the educators on the ground doing the work. Too often in the past, messages from the Department of Education have led with doom and gloom and the assertion that America’s K-12 public education system is “failing” and that the professionals working in the system are not among the academically skilled in the workforce and “come from the bottom third of their class”. This year’s Back to School blog was “a message of celebration and thanks” for the educators who have worked tirelessly over the past years with the results that America’s students have posted some unprecedented achievements ...
By Nora Carr, APR, President of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) and Chief of Staff for Guilford County Schools (NC)
Like sports teams, school districts have seasons. If high school graduation represents our Super Bowl, then August is our pre-season, and the first day of school is our season opener. Make it count.
For public schools, this is an annual gift. Unlike other businesses, we get to hit the reset button once a year. Every new school year represents a fresh start. Kids are excited. Parents are even more excited. Retail businesses are primed with special sales. And the news media wants to shine a big spotlight on schools.
Take the PR Advantage to the Max
In terms of PR heaven, it doesn’t get any better than this. So, let’s take full advantage of the PR opportunities in front of us. Here’s how: ...
By Amber Chandler, American Federation of Teachers member and 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts Teacher at Frontier Middle School in Hamburg, NY
Religion. Politics. Sexual Orientation. Breastfeeding. Abortion. Homeschooling. Salary. Buy or lease. Immigration. Organic. In no particular order, these are some of the topics of conversation that I generally avoid talking about with complete strangers or getting in to verbal duels on Facebook about. Sure, if you are in my inner circle, you might know how I truly feel about these issues. That is not to say that I don’t have an opinion, but that is to say, I’m not generally the type to try to indoctrinate anyone, and I’ve been known to play devil’s advocate to make the conversation more interesting. It isn’t that I don’t have conviction, I do. I just try to intellectually consider the other side. To some people, this makes me interesting. To others, infuriating. If you would fall in to the later category, you have my permission to stop reading, no hard feelings.
In the last year, I’ve added the words “Common Core” to my inner radar of “let’s not go there unless you have an hour” topics. I have heard and read so many ideas about this topic that I am certain we are not all talking about the same thing. The conversations have stopped being healthy debate, but rather devolved in to lines in the sand with picketers on both side, and politicians handing out tracts and gathering email addresses. The machine is at work, and despite most people’s best efforts, we’ve been sucked in ...
When we discuss the implementation of new college- and career-ready standards, such as the Common Core, we talk a lot about how teachers can adapt their practice to best help students achieve. And we talk a bit about the important role that principals, superintendents and parents will play in the process.
One stakeholder is rarely mentioned: The school counselor. Yet the adoption of new standards directly impacts their daily work, their pre-service training and their professional learning.
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is in the process of updating their Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success, which identify and prioritize the specific attitudes, knowledge and skills that students should be able to demonstrate as a result of a school counseling program. This document is intended to serve as the foundation for classroom lessons, small group work and activities within a school counseling program, and its newest iteration will be aligned with the Common Core, as well as with other national, state and district level documents.
In a recent e-interview, ASCA Assistant Director Eric Sparks took the time to tell us more about this project and the important role that school counselors play in academic support, as well as how their work is shifting with the adoption of new college- and career-ready standards.
Public School Insights (PSI): What are the topline messages that those in the education community who are not school counselors – such as teachers, principals and parents – should know about the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success?
Sparks: The ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success describe the knowledge, skills and attitudes that students need to achieve academic success, college and career readiness and social/emotional development. ...
By Jim Bender, Executive Director, NEA Health Information Network
Back-to-school is always exhilarating. The new classes, teachers, and students always promise new adventures. We at NEA HIN want all those adventures to be healthy ones. That’s why we have new information on three of the issues that most affect students—allergies, hunger, and nutrition.
Take a moment to find out how to help students stay healthy and become the best learners they can be.
Fighting allergies and anaphylaxis
It’s critical that ALL school employees, including teachers and education support professionals, know about allergic reactions, how to identify them, how to respond in an emergency, and how they can help prevent those reactions in the first place. ...
By Anne Foster, Executive Director, Parents for Public Schools (PPS)
This is the 46th year for the annual PDK/Gallup Poll, a survey that wants to know what the public thinks about their public schools. As usual, there is a lot to absorb from the responses to the questions, and the answers raise more questions that must be answered. Because the poll revisits questions asked in previous years, it is a window to changing opinions about public schools. This year’s poll suggests that Americans aren’t sure they like the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) or even that the federal government should be involved in public schools. Everyone interested in improving public schools, and especially those who consider themselves “reformers”, should pay close attention to this poll – because public education is not something that is “done” to people. The people speaking are the people who own and pay for public schools and whose children are being educated in them. What they think and what they want matter.
Among the 33% of Americans who favor CCSS, they do so because these standards will help children learn what they need to know regardless of their zip code. Common Core was initiated as a way to bring consistently high standards to public schools across the country and to make sure that the quality of a student’s education does not depend on zip code or state ...
Our frequently stated goal is for all US students to graduate from high school prepared for college and career. The current emphasis on standards-based education reforms reflects our belief that there are things students should know and be able to do that will help them in that endeavor. While one of the main purposes of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was to better identify and support struggling students, the law ultimately resulted in an overemphasis on high-stakes standardized testing and school performance (though fortunately, some policy leaders are beginning to take steps to reduce the emphasis on testing, particularly as many state transition to new academic standards). Ironically, educators, businesses and parents generally agree that test scores are a poor indicator of future success. ...
Today, in response to the U.S. Department of Education announcement that states may delay tying teacher evaluation to standardized assessments, the Learning First Alliance (LFA), a partnership of leading education organizations representing more than 10 million parents, educators and policymakers, released the following statement:
“The Learning First Alliance supports the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to allow states to delay tying teacher evaluation to standardized assessments aligned to new standards, including the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
LFA has long recognized the potential of the CCSS to transform teaching and learning and provide all children with knowledge and skills necessary for success in the global community; we have also long advocated for a transition period that respects the time that good implementation requires prior to attaching high-stakes decisions to aligned assessments. Today’s decision is a good step in the right direction. ...
Today, the first results of the 2014 PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools were released.* The overall conclusion: Americans aren’t convinced that federal involvement will improve public education.
The report is called Try It Again, Uncle Sam, but some of the topline findings suggest that Get Out of the Way, Uncle Sam may better reflect the public’s views on the federal role in education – as the report notes, a majority of Americans do not support public education initiatives they believe were created or promoted by federal policymakers. Consider:
- 56% of Americans say local school boards should have the greatest influence in deciding what is taught in the public schools
- 60% of Americans who are aware of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) oppose having teachers in their community use them to guide what they teach
Click here to browse dozens of Public School Insights interviews with extraordinary education advocates, including:
- National PTA President Otha Thornton on the Common Core
- 2013 School Counselor of the Year Mindy Willard on the state of her profession
- Supervisor of Administration John Swang on saving money in energy costs
The views expressed in this website's interviews do not necessarily represent those of the Learning First Alliance or its members.
Excellence is the Standard
At Pierce County High School in rural southeast Georgia, the graduation rate has gone up 31% in seven years. Teachers describe their collaboration as the unifying factor that drives the school’s improvement. Learn more...
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