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The Public School Insights Blog

By Brian Lewis, CEO, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

When it comes to meeting the needs of students, educators have aspirational goals. They passionately maintain a positive vision for what each student can become. Educators and school leaders know one size does not fit all. As such, many of them have a number of different learning and teaching strategies to reach every child. The same cannot typically be said for the delivery of professional learning for educators.

As Congress takes steps to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (more recently referred to as No Child Left Behind), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is calling upon leaders to include the Enhancing Education Through Technology Act of 2015 (EETT15) in the final bill.

When it comes to professional learning for educators, the approach too often adheres to the “sage-on-the-stage” method. Educators are expected to sit through one-time workshops or lengthened faculty meetings for passive professional development ...

By Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, AASA: The School Superintendents Association

Editor’s note: This post was compiled from a series written during Domenech’s participation in the 2015 Lifetouch Memory Mission in Constanza, Dominican Republic.

Building a School in the Mountains of the Dominican Republic

For several years, Lifetouch, one of AASA’s major corporate sponsors, has organized Memory Missions. These are opportunities for people to travel to areas in need of assistance in underdeveloped countries.

For four years, the Memory Mission has focused on helping the mountain community of Constanza build a school. AASA members and staff have participated in all of them. This year, I am joined by David Pennington, the president of AASA, and Noelle Ellerson, AASA’s associate executive director, policy and advocacy. We are laying down bricks to help finish the school. It is intense manual labor but the work is being done side by side with superintendents, principals, teachers and PTA members—all taking part in the Memory Mission.

The reward comes from seeing the joy in the eyes of the students and the gratefulness on the part of parents as they see the school being constructed for them. It is instant gratification for all. That’s something that educators don’t get much of these days ...

By Kwok-Sze Wong, Ed.D., Executive Director, American School Counselor Association (ASCA) 

When she said, “My husband has set a goal that America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world,” the audience erupted in applause. Her husband is President Barack Obama, so “she” is, of course, First Lady Michelle Obama. She was speaking in the East Room of the White House at a ceremony honoring the 2015 School Counselor of the Year, Cory Notestine, of Alamosa High School in Alamosa, CO, and the award finalists and semifinalists.

The American School Counselor Association and other organizations have been working with Mrs. Obama for more than a year to develop her Reach Higher initiative to help students compete their education beyond high school. “The more that I learned about our school counselors, the more I realized that often America’s school counselors are truly the deciding factor in whether our young people attend college or not,” she said.

She reiterated a fact that educators know well, that post-secondary education is essential for good jobs with good wages. But she also described a bigger impact ...

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

Last week was National School Choice Week, self-described as "an unprecedented opportunity to shine a spotlight on the need for effective education options for all children."

Ironically, "opportunity" for America's schoolchildren is what National School Choice Week places at risk. The further irony is "choice" can mean public tax dollars siphoned away from community schools to subsidize for-profit ventures. Vouchers, tuition tax credits and charter schools not governed by local school boards create a secondary, profit-driven system of education that strains limited resources and risks re-segregating schools, economically and socially, by admitting only certain, top-performing students.

Our nation's grassroots democracy was founded on the principle that all children, regardless of ZIP code, deserve access to a world-class education. Nine out of 10 school-age children today are enrolled in public schools, which are their gateway to the future. Choice absent accountability can hurt vulnerable students when the choice turns out to be a bad one ...

The business community has been a proponent of the Common Core State Standards Initiative from the beginning. Recognizing the need for high standards that prepare America's students to compete in a global community and the potential benefits of the standards for both the workforce and the economy, companies (and individual CEOs) continue to voice their support for the Common Core as the standards have faced political pushback, testifying in state legislatures, writing op-eds and more.

As those of us in the education community continue the hard work of Common Core implementation while at the same time trying to build public support for the effort, we should ask ourselves: Are we using all the resources at our disposal? Are we working effectively with the business community in support of a common goal?

To explore this issue, on January 29, we at the Learning First Alliance teamed up with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to host #CCSSBiz, a Twitter Town Hall on Common Core and the business community ...

By Rich Bagin, APR, Executive Director, National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA)

People often say, “Numbers don’t lie,” when they paint a negative picture of the U.S. education system in international comparisons. But numbers also “tell the truth” when you look at some other startling international indicators that compare factors of social stress and economic equity of U.S. students and families with eight other major countries studied in the report, School Performance in Context: The Iceberg Effect.

Jointly published by the Horace Mann League of the U.S.A. and the National Superintendents Roundtable, this research report gives school leaders new insight to better explain the big picture of international comparisons. For the full report, a summary, and an electronic news release, go to http://www.hmleague.org/ or http://www.superintendentsforum.org/. NSPRA’s main mission is to build more support for education and is helping both organizations tell this story so that policymakers can better understand where our community support is most needed.

International assessment results are generally presented as scores, ratings or rankings, creating what might be called a scoreboard mentality. But thoughtful private and public leaders know instinctively that a range of social, economic and cultural conditions affect those numbers. For example, a country with the highest average GDP per person might also have an extraordinarily high level of economic inequity and social stresses that have profound implications for students and their achievement in school ...

Listen to Dr. Dorie Combs, professor in the School of Clinical Educator Preparation at Eastern Kentucky University, share her perspective on preparing future educators for understanding and teaching to the Common Core.

Download as MP3 ...

Note: This post was written in reflection of the 2015 CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) Senior Delegation to Singapore.

Singapore’s public education system is viewed as one of the best in the world based on its students’ continued high performance on the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) PISA test (Program for International Student Assessment). The CoSN delegation’s visit to the National Institute of Education (NIE) provided a chance for us to learn the strategy Singapore has used to push its student achievement close to the #1 spot on the international test. The NIE is charged with selecting candidates and providing preparation and ongoing support to the country’s teaching force to ensure that teacher quality is the highest possible.

Step one in this development approach is a rigorous process for selecting candidates for the teacher preparation program. Potential teachers must have scored in the top tier of the British style tests administered to secondary school students and are then subject to extensive interviews with the admissions committee to ascertain their aptitude for working with young people and ...

This post was written by the National Coalition for Public Education (AASA serves as co-chair of this coalition)

Jan. 25 – 31 is “National School Choice” week. This annual event presents private school voucher proponents with the opportunity to tout the supposed benefits of “school choice,” an innocuous-sounding moniker that includes not only vouchers but also public school choice like charter and magnet schools. 

But the public school options are mere window dressing. Pull back the curtain and you see that the real focus of this event is a push for private school vouchers. This reckless scheme threatens public education and doesn’t offer quality school choice.

First, private school vouchers do not provide students and parents with real and meaningful choice. Under private school voucher schemes, the ultimate choice rests with the school, not with the students and their families. Voucher programs usually allow participating private schools to reject students based on numerous factors, including economic status, gender, religion, academic achievement, sexual orientation, and even disability. Public schools, on the other hand, are required to accept all students.

Some students have even less choice than others. Students with disabilities often aren’t guaranteed the same services in the voucher school that they would ordinarily receive in a public school and can find few voucher schools that offer them the services they need ...

By Terry Pickeral, Project UNIFY Senior Education Consultant

I recently co-facilitated a webinar sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) titled Social Inclusion: An Opportunity for Principal Leadership.

My co-facilitators included Steven Bebee, principal Cactus Shadows High School (AZ), Bill Schreiber, principal Granite Falls Middle School (NC) and Barbara Oswald, Special Olympics South Carolina.

It was a privilege to share and learn from these local and national leaders on how principals lead their schools to integrate and sustain social inclusion.

While US schools understand physical inclusion (ensuring all students have equitable access to facilities, services and activities) and academic inclusion (engaging diverse students in the teaching-learning process of the general education classroom) there is less familiarity with social inclusion ...

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