The Public School Insights Blog
“In a country where we expect free WiFi with our coffee, why shouldn't we have it in our schools?”
So asked President Barack Obama last week in announcing ConnectED, his plan for connecting all schools to the digital age. Acknowledging that success – for individual students, communities and the nation as a whole – in the 21st century is being driven by new technologies, the initiative aims to connect 99% of America’s students to high-speed internet within the next five years.
To meet this goal, President Obama is calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “modernize and leverage its existing E-Rate program.” E-rate, created by Congress in 1996 and funded through a surcharge on telephone bills, provides discounts to assist schools and libraries in obtaining communications services, including Internet access. Currently, demand for the program much exceeds money available ...
I recently attended an event showcasing state initiatives that focus on the goal of ensuring all third grade students read on grade level – a lofty and perfectly reasonable goal. The participants in the program included three governors as well as a panel of state superintendents of education. One of the governors kept mentioning that in her state too much attention has been paid to the adults in the system to the detriment of the students. Her belief in this root cause of the disappointing literacy rate of her state’s third grade students struck a cord and reminded me of another event hosted by Learning Forward and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) last month. That event, Advancing the Common Core: State Strategies for Transforming Professional Learning, showcased a set of resources to improve teacher practice developed under the leadership of Learning Forward with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Sandler Foundation, and the MetLife Foundation. It included a panel of education leaders at the state and local level who have participated and contributed to the project.
One panel member, Cynthia Cash-Greene, superintendent of the Orangeburg (SC) Consolidated School District #3, was especially impressive, and her message resonated with me. She said district leaders need to be bold and know what they stand for. She has focused on ...
By Brian Lewis, CEO, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
More than three decades since the first computers began to appear in schools around the country, we still seem to be engaged in a national conversation about whether or not they belong there – whether the investments that our communities have made in education technology can be linked to improved student outcomes.
Our collective truth is that today’s students were born into a world where technology has been a part of their lives from the very beginning. As preschoolers, they pick up their parents’ smartphones and seem to intuitively know how to play a game. Ask a first-grader who is a baseball fan to find information on when his favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, will be playing next, and there is every possibility he will tell you to go to www.Cubs.com. Ask a high school freshman if there should be technology in schools and you will likely get that look that only a 15-year-old can give, telling you that you are “clueless.”
These same students are graduating into a world where they are competing for jobs on a global level – not only on a local, state, or national level. The days of the reading, writing, and arithmetic being alone at the core of schoolwork are far in the past. As the new Common Core State Standards recognize, students need to master the ...
The Learning First Alliance has sent an open letter to education stakeholders recommending a transition period in Common Core implementation. Fifteen of our member organizations joined together to suggest that for at least one year after the original deadline, the results from assessments of the Common Core State Standards be used only to guide instruction and attention to curriculum development, technology infrastructure, professional learning and other resources needed to ensure that schools have the supports needed to help all students achieve under the Common Core.
By removing high-stakes consequences from these assessments during the transition to them, educators will have adequate time to adjust their instruction, students can focus on learning, and parents and communities can focus on supporting children.
Download the letter, or read it below.
June 6, 2013
OPEN LETTER TO EDUCATION STAKEHOLDERS:
Fifteen members of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of national education organizations representing more than ten million parents, educators and policymakers, have agreed on the following statement:
The Learning First Alliance believes that the Common Core State Standards have the potential to transform teaching and learning and provide all children with knowledge and skills necessary for success in the global community.
To meet this potential, teachers, administrators, parents and communities are working together to align the standards with curriculum, instruction and assessment. Their work – which includes ...
Technology is an integral part of life in Washington’s Vancouver Public Schools (VPS), located just north of Portland, Oregon – and it has been for quite some time. They are the only district to host three NSBA Technology Leadership Network (TLN) site visits, the first in 1993, the second in 1999 and now 2013, which I was able to attend.
VPS serves 22,744 students in K-12 and it has 21 elementary schools, six middle schools and five high schools, as well as a school of the arts and Vancouver ITech Preparatory. The district is committed to providing an innovative learning environment for all students and helping them develop knowledge and essential skills so that they will be competent, responsible and compassionate citizens. During our visit to VPS, it was immediately apparent that the teachers, administrators and leaders are determined to serve each child. And while the commitment to the effective use of technology in classrooms is priority, the district also provides extensive supports for students and families. ...
By Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association (NEA)
For weeks now, teachers, parents and community leaders have been protesting Chicago Public Schools' plan to close 50 schools in what will be the largest single wave of school closures in U.S. history.
The media coverage has been dramatic, but what you see in the eyes of educators who are so adamantly opposed to this plan is the same thing you see in the eyes of educators all across this nation -- the innate instinct to protect the children we care about.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to shutter 50 (yes, 50) schools won't be good for Chicago's children, especially children of color. The New York Times reports that "in the 100 schools that have closed in Chicago since 2001, 88 percent of the students affected were black."
Not only is there evidence that all class sizes in the city will increase -- some by as much as 40 percent -- but recent studies have concluded that only a very small minority of students will be placed into substantially better school environments. And worse: children will have to leave their neighborhoods and ...
By Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators (AASA)
AASA has released a set of proposals intended to offer an alternative to the current, federally-mandated due process system by which parents and school personnel handle disputes about special education services.
The due process system as it exists today is expensive, unwieldy and inequitable. It was designed to provide access to education services for students with disabilities, but instead it causes deep divisions between schools and parents and often little else. Now we have the opportunity to begin a dialogue among all the people involved so that, as we approach the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), we can craft more effective options to use when parents and school administrators disagree.
Our report, Rethinking Special Education Due Process, recommends four dispute resolution processes, including a consultancy model similar to a voluntary dispute resolution system piloted in Massachusetts since 2009 called SpedEx. This model has shown promise in reducing the use of the due process hearing system. ...
By Francisco M. Negrón, Jr., General Counsel/Associate Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA)
The one common thread from the many perspectives on school bullying is that advocates on all sides care deeply about kids. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is determined to protect students' Constitutional rights and their rights to an education in a safe school environment. But those rights hold an inherent tension that at times collides.
So how can we find a middle ground?
We're encouraged by a set of guidelines that show ways public school students can safely share their views and engage in discussions about religious and political differences in environments that prohibit discrimination, bullying, and ...
By Nora L. Howley, Manager of Programs, NEA Health Information Network
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Moore, Oklahoma, and the surrounding area.
We mourn the tragic loss of lives and homes and livelihoods, even as we wonder at the acts of heroism by educators and members of the community who worked to protect and rescue hundreds of students and neighbors.
The tragedy in Oklahoma reminds us that bad things can happen. Keeping our children safe in school is all of our responsibility. Everyone in a school community needs to be at the table in planning since there is a role for everyone in a crisis.
Because no two events will ever be the same, it is essential for school communities to create an emergency preparedness plan that has the flexibility to meet different needs. Certainly, a plan should address steps to prevent crises, but prevention is not enough. Comprehensive emergency preparedness plans incorporate prevention, response, and recovery. In other words, the plan should represent a process that carries a community from anticipating possible crises to managing them.
Emergency preparedness plans recognize that: ...
By Kwok-Sze Wong, Ed.D., Executive Director of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
One of my former classmates, who is now a superintendent of a small school district in Pennsylvania, once told me whenever he hires a new teacher, he starts the interview with the same question: “Do you believe in your students?” It seems like a simple question, one that has an obvious answer for educators. But if we look deep enough, I think we’d find that many adults who work with our children on a daily basis don’t truly believe in them.
Numerous studies have shown that there are wide discrepancies between what students believe and what adults believe. A majority of students believe they’ll graduate from high school and go to college, yet many teachers and parents believe their students will not graduate and will not go to college. And this belief drives their actions. Some of my own children’s teachers have made me want to ...
Click here to browse dozens of Public School Insights interviews with extraordinary education advocates, including:
- Actress/Mathematician Danica McKellar on girls and math
- Best Selling Author Kenneth C. Davis on engaging with history
- Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Danielson on providing health care at school
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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