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While we live in a market-driven economy, where winning and wealth accumulation are desired outcomes, education advocates on all sides of the political aisle currently assert that public schools are failing our children, especially minorities and low-income students.  Education is a common good; it is the stepping-stone through which students can make something better of their futures. Therefore, we should not be setting up a system to create winners and losers. ...

By Sharon P. Robinson, Ed.D., President and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)

AACTE's recent report The Changing Teacher Preparation Profession: A Report From AACTE's Professional Education Data System (PEDS) tells of the rapidly shifting work of preparing U.S. teachers. The report finds the academic prowess of college students entering teacher preparation is strong, with programs attracting students with GPAs that exceed minimum entry requirements. We also see that preservice programs are designing alternative routes to licensure, integrating technology to meet the needs of distance learners, and working to incorporate capstone performance assessments such as edTPA.

The report's findings also indicate that more work is needed to make extended clinical experiences a central component of preparation. Although virtually all programs incorporate supervised field experiences, only 5 percent have a full-year residency program. One-year residency programs are required for eligibility for the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Grant Program and they are championed in recent reports, such as those from NCATE's Blue Ribbon Panel and the National Research Council, as well as in AACTE's PEDS report. Further, we know that candidates who engage more regularly in actual classroom activities are more likely to remain in the profession and have a more positive impact on student learning than ...

By Nora Howley, Manager of Programs, NEA Health Information Network

School safety is more than just having a plan. It’s a process that needs to involve the whole school community.

LaPorte Community School Corporation is a rural school district in northwest Indiana.  It’s also a great example of a district that has brought everyone to the table to help keep kids safe. 

I recently joined Donna Nielsen, a bus driver and NEA member, and Glade Montgomery, the superintendent, on a panel led by Roxanne Dove of NEA’s Education Support Professional Quality Department (ESPQ) at the National Forum on School Improvement. We were there to share what LaPorte is doing right and talk about what other districts can do to protect their students. ...

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

When I tell people I work with school counselors, they invariably say something like, "My school counselor did nothing for me. He told me not to bother trying to go to college." And yet, they got a college degree. When I ask how they got into college, who coordinated the transcripts, recommendation letters and other actions required from their school, they admit their school counselor did have something to do with it.

School counselors are certified, specially trained educators who help students succeed by removing the barriers to learning. They collaborate with teachers, administrators and parents not just to counsel but also to coordinate, consult, and to create strategies to help students achieve academically, grow personally and socially, and prepare for meaningful lives beyond graduation. Yet they are often the ...

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

The 30th anniversary of the landmark report, A Nation at Risk, occurs this month. We can bet that national and perhaps even local media will use this event to ask, “What has changed?”

And then they will ask the natural follow-up question, “Are our nation’s school still at risk?”

We must be proactive and anticipate how these questions will play out for your local communities. If we do not take the lead on this one, the education-bashing machine will again turn our schools, staff, and leadership into punching bags.

As NSPRA colleague Larry Ascough noted in his Texas daily newsletter:

Anyone who has set foot in a school of late already knows that education today is not anything like it was 30 years ago. It’s improved, and it continues to get better. Teachers and kids are doing things no one could even imagine in 1983. But ...

Learning the art of preparing effective teachers never ends for the teacher education community. Each day, we discover new ways to review, modify and apply the best methods that will ultimately address the learning needs of all students. But what are the core ideals and characteristics that serve as the foundation beneath this evolving knowledge? I asked Alison Hilsabeck, who leads a successful program at National Louis University, to answer the question, "What do we know about teaching teachers?" Her insightful response follows.

-Sharon P. Robinson, Ed.D., President and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)

The educational research community has devoted significant energies toward the goal of codifying the research on learning and teaching, and on translating that research into effective practice. Those efforts continue a legacy of scholarly practice extending back to Plato and Aristotle. Recently, there have also been a number of substantial reports (e.g. the National Research Council's Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education's Transforming Teacher Education through Clinical Practice: A National Strategy to Prepare Effective Teachers) that have informed the national dialogue about the mechanics and organizational arrangements of educating teachers. It would be presumptuous of me to even begin to summarize all of this work.

Instead, I write from the perspective of an education school dean, working to maintain a 126-year-old institutional mission to prepare teachers who actually know what to do on their first day as the teacher-of-record. At National Louis University (NLU), we are focusing much of our work on the preparation of effective and resilient teachers for low-performing schools. This has challenged us to rethink assumptions and build stronger and deeper field partnerships. Our experience suggests the importance of some key factors with ...

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

Years ago the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) offered a guidebook entitled Making and Marketing Your School as a School of Choice. This was even before the charter movement, open enrollment, vouchers, and the home schooling surge began nibbling at the enrollment of our public schools.

Even then, principals and superintendents saw the need to better identify and define the attributes of their schools. They realized that it was their job to make sure parents knew and understood the benefits and values that their schools could provide for their children and communities. They also realized it was their job to collaborate with parents groups and others to assess their strengths and weaknesses and then set an action plan to improve those areas that needed more attention. By coming together, they realized how their schools were working to improve and why the collaborative climate made their schools a school of choice in ...

The first step in creating a culture of change and innovation is stakeholder buy-in. In education, we often recognize the importance of teacher and student buy-in, but we forget about another critical stakeholder: The community, particularly parents.

What is the best way to get community buy-in for an education initiative? Communication. By communicating directly and honestly, educators can avoid community fears that can ultimately derail efforts to implement new teaching and learning practices.

I recently attended the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ (NASSP) annual conference, where I learned from many principals who have created cultures of innovation. I was particularly impressed by the 2013 NASSP Digital Principals – Dwight Carter (Gahanna Lincoln High School, Gahanna, OH), Ryan Imbriale* (Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts, Baltimore, MD), and Carrie Jackson (Timberview Middle School, Fort Worth, TX). ...

By Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators (AASA)

In July, the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) held its first national conference in nearly a decade to remind educators and community leaders of the dire circumstances faced by some of our nation's students. The conference challenged all leaders to “pursue justice for children with urgency and persistence.”

Although the challenges public education faces -- fiscally, economically, politically, and socially -- are complex, there are discrete solutions that we can leverage right now to transform learning.

  • Too many of our children are uninsured and, thus, lack access to healthcare.
  • Too many of our children lack access to nutritious foods.
  • Too many of our children are not college-ready.

Research has demonstrated clearly that health and learning are linked (see Charles Basch’s Healthier Students are Better Learners for incredible detail on the subject). Furthermore, we know that these issues are more acute in our most vulnerable populations: students living in low-income, urban, rural, or ...

By Steve Berlin, Senior Communications Manager of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE)

The American education system — inasmuch as it's actually a system — is not failing. For readers stunned by a phrase not often seen in print these days, I repeat: The U.S. education system is not failing. I know that's not a popular position these days, but it is the right one. There are indeed problems that need addressing, but there is significant cognitive dissonance in how the public views K-12 education.

So, why do I say our schools as a whole are succeeding? Well, why not start with what is meant by "failing?" The term is a relic that defines education policy and growth as all-or-nothing propositions. It can be easily traced to 1983's A Nation at Risk, which made "failing schools" a part of the American vernacular. But it was truly burned into headlines and our collective consciousness with the 2001 iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as No Child Left Behind — a law that uses all stick and no carrot as inducements for improvement, usually with the "failing" schools and districts that were struggling in the first place.

Worse, NCLB pointed to 2014 as the deadline for 100 percent proficiency. If schools, districts and states can't meet that deadline, well, they have failed. Doesn't matter that people are working hard to draft new policies and legislation, and devising new and ...

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