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The Public School Insights Blog

By Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association (NSBA)

A poll released by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the American Heart Association last month concluded that a majority of parents agree with strong federal nutrition standards for school breakfasts and lunches.

These parents are in favor of sound nutrition for their children. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) agrees with them. All school board members -- and nearly 40 percent are parents of school-age children -- understand the critical importance of student health.

That is why NSBA supports flexibility that would allow communities to feed their students healthy food that also reflects school districts' unique needs, resources, and circumstances. Using sound nutrition as a base and their communities as partners, districts can serve healthy food that students will eat ...

Kevin Dalton, President of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, explains how TFT worked in partnership with Toledo Public Schools to develop curriculum alignment maps and teacher-led professional development to implement college and career ready standards. He is joined by Amy Whaley, a teacher at Beverly Elementary School in Toledo, Ohio. Ms. Whaley shares how the standards provide a framework that helps facilitate deeper learning among her students.

Download as MP3 ...

By Aimee Rogstad Guidera, Founder and Executive Director, Data Quality Campaign

This article will also appear on The Huffington Post.

“My child is not a number!”

In the era of so-called big data in education, you’re likely to hear this refrain. Education data are, after all, mostly numbers. (I would argue that more anecdotal information—such as classroom observations—should also be considered part of a full picture of student “data,” but that’s a whole blog post in itself.) No child’s experiences can be reduced to a set of numbers on a spreadsheet, and no data policy should be about limiting a student’s options or reducing her experience. On the contrary: effective data use should expand a child’s horizons by providing more information about individual students to help guide the people making decisions about their learning—parents and educators. ...

While the ‘digital divide’ is well documented, studies show mixed results when trying to document technology’s influence on learning for at-risk students. In part, this is because the digital learning ecosystem is so complex. The academic realities for at-risk children, many of whom live in poverty, are also well known. More than half of all students enrolled in public schools today meet this designation. They are more likely to start school less academically prepared than their peers, fall behind throughout the summer due to learning loss and less likely to have access to technology, including computers, at home. ...

By Jill Cook, Assistant Director, American School Counselor Association

Most parents think their children are exceptional. My oldest daughter, Kate, is doubly so.

Considered intellectually gifted, she also has ADHD, anxiety and bipolar disorder, a triple whammy that has impeded her ability to reach her full academic potential and has left her vulnerable to severe depression as well as intense periods of mania.

Throughout Kate’s school career, my husband and I have sought to be her biggest advocate and source of support. With each transition – grade to grade, elementary to middle to high school – we have communicated with her teachers, school counselors and other student support staff about the academic and emotional challenges she faces. ...

The Learning First Alliance's Get It Right campaign spotlights states and communities working hard to get Common Core implementation right. Recently, we did a deeper dive into California's efforts to roll out the standards and are featuring educators' experiences with the process.

As part of this effort, we are pleased to highlight the perspective of Steve Seal. Seal has been teaching at Eshelman Avenue School in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for the past 14 years. Most of that time he has taught 5th grade, where he brings science and history to life with projects and a focus on deeper learning. He has been involved in history education through grant work and lesson development and he served as a facilitator for a group of teachers in Colonial Williamsburg one summer.

Seal is also involved with ocean education through connections with a variety of organizations, notably the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) West (the west coast hub for the National Science Foundation-supported National COSEE) and the EARTH workshop with the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). He is also engaged with his local union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), as a member of the Board of Directors; the California Teachers Association (CTA) as the Vice Chair of the Assessment and Testing Committee; and the National Education Association (NEA) as a delegate and teacher ambassador.

Q: When did you first learn about the Common Core State Standards?

Seal: It has been a few years now. I think I first heard about them when they were rolled out in some states in around 2011. When CA adopted them there was a slow roll out up until this year in my district. Now it has been rolled out fully, and it is causing some stress among teachers who are now being asked to not just roll out one or two things but a whole slew of things – basically changing the way we have been teaching. ...

By Amber Chandler, American Federation of Teachers member and 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts Teacher at Frontier Middle School in Hamburg, NY

About two years ago I decided that I knew the perfect way to get rich.  I’d create a lesson planning platform that had a dropdown menu of Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).  It would only be a matter of time before I could hit the road schilling this amazing product and making money hand over fist.  Unfortunately, I had no idea how to do this.  And before I could get a new college degree, create an amazing product, and begin my worldwide tour, some other people thought of it! CommonCurriculum.com (my favorite, and the one I still use) LessonPlanner.com, Planboard.com, and many others beat me to it.  I guess they already had their degrees. ...

"The most obvious benefit so far has been student engagement. As students take more of an active role in their own learning, they stay engaged and motivated. As we expect them to talk about their ideas and questions, they begin to control and use academic language, which enables them to read more complex text as well as express themselves in writing."

- California Educator Kathy Harris, on how students in her school are benefiting from changes in instructional practice made thanks to the Common Core ...

By Bethe Almeras, Assistant Executive Director, NEA-Health Information Network

Summer has come and gone as have all the Back-to-School ads on TV and essentially everywhere you look.

It’s back. We’re back. The time is now, and the new school year is in full-gear with no signs of letting up for quite a while. Deep breath.

OK then, let’s stop and take a moment to do a self-check-in. Yes us, the adults. Most of us get so focused on everyone else that we forget that taking care of ourselves is vital for providing a great school year for the students. Whether you work inside or outside the classroom or are a parent – or both! – you and your health and wellness are key ingredients for the school and student success recipe.

To that end, NEAHIN is challenging all of us to take the Healthy Me, Better Year Pledge! Yes, our staff is taking it too! It’s a simple pledge to say,

“Hey, I value myself and my health and happiness. I am going to do X, Y and/or Z to help ensure I am bringing my best self to the school community each day.” ...

This post highlights the work of Chiquita Jones, who was instrumental in the formation of Parents for Public Schools’ latest chapter in Philadelphia, Mississippi  

By Richelle Putnam, Editor/Publisher, Southern Roots magazine

The way Becky Glover, the Parents for Public Schools (PPS) East Mississippi Director, tells it, Chiquita Jones is the modern day Fannie Lou Hamer of education in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

“In the 2011 Parent Leadership Institute, which was the first class in East Mississippi, two people attended from the Philadelphia school district,” said Becky. That started something. The next year, Chiquita went through the PPS training and was the only person from that school district. “She went back and has been able to accomplish and start a variety of things all related to quality public education in Philadelphia.” ...

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