The Public School Insights Blog
The young woman sitting across from me had just finished eight weeks of student teaching, and she was anxious to have her own elementary school classroom in one of America’s major cities. She gushed with the kind of enthusiasm that you want to see in beginning professionals. All hope and energy and belief.
I can’t wait to talk to her at Thanksgiving.
Eight weeks of student teaching. At the end of the school year. Under the watchful eye of a veteran teacher. Rarely left on her own. Like me, you are probably seeing all kinds of ways her experience can go wrong. And, like me, you have probably had this same conversation dozens, maybe hundreds, of times.
Encounters like these are just one reason why Ron Thorpe’s proposal for a teacher residency modeled after medical residency makes so much sense. (See “Residency: Can it transform teaching the way it did medicine?” from the September issue of the Phi Delta Kappan.) Sending a teacher into a classroom after just a few weeks of fulltime student teaching is tantamount to supporting malpractice. Does the profession believe there is a link between the quality of teaching and the quality of student learning? If so, then we must closely examine all of our practices to ensure that we are doing everything we can to ensure a high quality of teaching in every classroom. ...
By Gwen Camp, Director, FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division
School bells are ringing across the country as students, faculty and staff begin a new year of learning and educational achievements. Leading up to the first day of school, teachers have prepared their classrooms to receive their students, while parents have devoted time to filling backpacks with school supplies. But preparing students with the tools they need to succeed extends far beyond just notebooks, pens, and paper. Help ensure your students, their families, and your staff are truly prepared for this school year by talking with them about disasters and emergencies that could affect your area and what they can do to be ready. ...
By Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association
Regardless of where you come down on the issue of USDA’s new school meal regulations, it is highly likely that hunger and poverty are felt in your schools. Healthy school breakfasts and lunches are important safeguards against both hunger and childhood obesity.
A new report entitled Health and Academic Achievement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that hunger and nutrition deficiency are associated with lower grades and higher rates of absenteeism. Many educators stress the importance of eating breakfast before a big test. Why not encourage that year-round so that students are better equipped to take on the day every day? ...
By Wendy Drexler, Chief Innovation Officer, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
The recent release of the 46th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools reveals a high level of public engagement in the issues surrounding public education. Americans are demonstrating greater levels of immersion and increased awareness of efforts to transform learning and teaching, such as Common Core, charter schools and assessment. However, a glaring omission from the national conversation in the poll is any reference to how teachers are leveraging the power of technology to motivate and engage students.
If we were to tour schools across the country, we would see technology in many schools and classrooms. We’d see some students using mobile devices, laptops, interactive whiteboards and tablets to learn in new ways. We’d see many more students using devices to do what they’ve always done, such as take notes and search for information. The push to digital learning started decades ago, so why, when we talk about education, do we want to separate learning and technology? ...
By Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association (NSBA)
Who should govern America's public schools? Should public education be led by the president and Congress? State authorities? Or should local school boards -- with access to the local context and community -- be responsible for the quality of public education?
According to the 46th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll of Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, 56 percent of the adults surveyed say that local school boards should have the greatest influence in deciding what is taught in the public schools. Only 15 percent -- less than 1/7 of adult respondents -- support federal government assumption of this role.
This year's PDK/Gallup poll elicited Americans' opinions on a wide array of education topics, including Common Core State Standards, student standardized testing, international comparisons, school choice, and school governance issues.
Despite active debate among lawmakers, policymakers, and education leaders, the public's attitudes on federal involvement are clear: ...
This piece was co-authored with Dean Vogel, President of the California Teachers Association. It first appeared in the Sacramento Bee. View the original here.
The new school year brings one of the biggest transitions our state’s elementary and secondary education system has ever experienced. As students settle into new classrooms, our teachers are adjusting their instruction to help students meet expectations of the new Common Core state standards. It’s our job – as parents, business leaders, students, community members and educators – to look beyond both the hype and hysteria to ensure that students benefit from thoughtful, locally driven implementation.
Part of the challenge we’re facing is a lack of clear information about what the standards are and aren’t. They emphasize critical thinking, problem solving and inquiry-based learning – what students need to thrive in college and in today’s global economy. Far from prescribing what should be taught or how, the new standards outline what students should know while giving teachers the flexibility to decide how to help each student get there. Under Common Core, there are actually fewer standards, allowing teachers to slow down and students to explore each topic in depth. ...
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 ...
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.
Inspiring Students to Do Their Best
At Fox C-6 School District in Missouri, an emphasis on a character initiative is helping students thrive. District performance outranks the state in math and ELA in grades 3 through 8, and graduation rates are over 90 percent. Learn more...
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