The Public School Insights Blog
By Rocío Inclán, Director of the Human and Civil Rights Department of the National Education Association
October is Bullying Prevention month, and this year we see signs of progress in the national effort to stop bullying in our schools.
For example, the recently released 2011 National School Climate Survey from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) shows for the first time decreased levels of victimization based on sexual orientation. It also found increased levels of student access to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) school resources and support.
This is excellent news. LGBT students have been a major target of bullying in schools. But the fact that 8 out of 10 LGBT students still experienced harassment in the past year because of their sexual orientation reminds us we have a long way to go.
Here is another encouraging sign: Bullying prevention resources are far more widely available today than in the past. Google “bullying prevention,” and a plethora of resources will open up to you. Indeed, there is so much anti-bullying material out there, it is hard to ...
The civic mission of schools has a tendency to get lost in the din of other debates surrounding our nation’s education system. Beyond the uproar over teacher evaluations, standardized testing and the role of government, we must keep in mind the fundamental purposes of public education, the heart and soul of a public system.
This civic purpose of public education seeks to empower our nation’s children, and future leaders, with a deep seated understanding of citizenship, civic duty and societal needs. It aims to provide the very tools needed for future generations to participate in the debates surrounding not just education policy, but other critical issues we as a nation – and member of the global community – face in the twenty first century. Education is more than just factual knowledge, and civic engagement and participation depend on a deeper understanding of our culture, society and history. ...
The purple shaded area in a Venn diagram of two overlapping circles – one blue and one red – is the sometimes uneasy but always necessary connection between traditional public schools and the business community. The extent to which healthy public-private partnerships develop depends entirely on how those partnerships are ultimately managed by those at the local level.
It’s not surprising that public schools and businesses may have an inherent distrust of each other. After all, their missions are very different; public schools exist to provide every child a quality education and businesses exist to make a profit. But the economic recession is forcing schools to do more with less, which is in turn pushing more districts to look at ways to finance their operations, including by forming partnerships with businesses and other community stakeholders that may not have existed in the past. ...
It seems everyone has an opinion about the teacher strike currently taking place in Chicago. I do too, but it’s not about who’s to blame. There’s plenty of that to go around. What I do know is that regardless of how this strike ends, nobody will have won—
- Students will have missed valuable learning time
- Teachers and their union will be vilified for selfishness
- The mayor and school board’s judgment will be suspect
- Parents will be disappointed and frazzled with child care challenges
- The President’s “reform” agenda will be questioned
- The citizens of Chicago will be embarrassed and dismayed for their city
While I have followed the events as they’ve unfolded in Chicago between the mayor, the school board he appointed, and the teachers’ union, the facts I’m able to glean from public sources only raise questions in my mind as to what’s really going on. I do know that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are under-resourced and that ...
Leadership matters. Principals set the tone of a school and can inspire students and teachers alike to reach new heights. They are second only to teachers among the in-school influences on student success.
Yet we don’t hear much about how to measure a principal’s performance. And the little research that exists on principal evaluation suggests that current systems do not accurately judge performance, do not provide information that is useful for professional growth, and often aren’t even used.
The federal government has begun to take note, making changes to principal evaluations a condition of Race to the Top funds, School Improvement Grants, and waivers to some of the requirements of No Child Left Behind. Unfortunately, they are often requiring that the evaluations be based in significant part on student performance on standardized assessments. As we all know, test scores represent a very narrow definition of ...
Did you know that each year more than three million students are suspended from school?
While some of these suspensions are the result of violent or other extreme behavior, others are the result of relatively minor infractions – dress code violations, being late for school and so on.
Should we really be putting students through suspension for a minor infraction? Out-of-school suspension does not benefit schools in terms of test scores or graduation rates. And it can have a very negative impact on individual children. In addition to immediate academic consequences stemming from time out of the classroom (we all know the phrase, “you can’t teach to an empty desk”), suspension is a leading indicator of whether a child will drop out of school. It is also related to risk for future incarceration, part of the school-to-prison pipeline that we often hear about.
And these impacts are not spread equally throughout the student population. A recent report from the Civil Rights Project found that Black, Latino and Native American students are much more likely than their White and Asian American peers to be suspended. Seventeen percent of Black students – that is one out of every six enrolled in K-12 education – were suspended at least once in ...
The Democratic National Convention is currently taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina and the Republican National Convention just wrapped in Tampa last week. It’s a presidential election year and the majority of dialogue, consequently, revolves around the national political scene – from the implications of veep picks and endorsements to super PAC contributions and the influence of political ads. Certainly, inside the Beltway, organizations and entities are caught up in a fierce dialogue around two competing visions for the country. Local contests, school board elections for instance, are just one casualty of the national hype, yet they are crucial to the vitality of our democracy.
We know that only a very small percent of registered voters typically participate in local school board elections. Lack of information is a significant explanatory factor for low voter participation in school board elections. First, what do school boards do? Who can be elected? And when are elections? (You might not be able to vote for your school board at the same time as you vote for President.) It’s not unusual, according to ...
In the August 19, 2012, edition of my home town paper The Washington Post, the Opinion page featured a column by James C. Roumell, founder of Roumell Asset Management, LLC, titled “What I built with government help.”
In his column, Roumell described growing up in a working class family in Detroit with a single mother who supported them with a unionized job with decent pay made possible by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. Roumell subsequently went to college with the help of Pell Grants and government loans made possible by the Higher Education Act of 1965. His now successful business was made possible by the Investment Company Act of 1940 and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. ...
If you’re hungry, chances are that you won’t be focused on your meeting, paying attention to a seminar or truly engaged in anything you’re trying to do. The same happens for children in school. Being hungry affects their capacity to focus in the classroom (as noted by, for example, the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for American Progress).
There are numerous reasons students may come to school hungry: Tight family budgets, limited morning time to prepare a nutritious meal, or a child being physically incapable of eating immediately after waking up. Research shows that school breakfast programs can address these circumstances. And through innovative programs such as Breakfast in the Classroom, schools and districts are ensuring that no child slips through the crack and has to spend the school day hungry. ...
By Nora L. Howley, Manager of Programs, NEA Health Information Network
We’ve all heard it said, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But too many children in the United States are starting school each day without breakfast. As NEA President Dennis Van Roekel pointed out last week on the Huffington Post: “If we're honest with ourselves, the faces of hunger are everywhere -- in every area, every city and every demographic. The 2012 edition of the 'Kids Count' report, one of the most widely quoted surveys on the condition of children in the U.S., indicates that child poverty is mounting. This is not just an issue of an extra donut or bagel. This is chronic hunger affecting millions of children every day, and the consequences are staggering.” Hungry children cannot learn, they cannot concentrate, and they certainly can’t achieve at the levels they would otherwise.
Educators everywhere know this problem all too well. A new poll from Share Our Strength found that three out of five educators report students coming to school hungry and the majority of those say that the problem is getting worse.
Expanding participation in school breakfast is one of the most important and ...
Click here to browse dozens of Public School Insights interviews with extraordinary education advocates, including:
- 2013 Digital Principal Ryan Imbriale
- Best Selling Author Dan Ariely
- Family Engagement Expert Dr. Maria C. Paredes
The views expressed in this website's interviews do not necessarily represent those of the Learning First Alliance or its members.
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