An Oregon middle school focused on teacher collaboration and parent engagement to improve literacy rates and close the achievement gap; now, students are thriving.
School Community Communication
By Otha Thornton, President, National PTA
In August, National PTA announced that 170 schools and PTAs from across the country have been recognized as 2014-2016 National PTA Schools of Excellence for building strong, effective family-school partnerships. Research shows that when families and schools work together, student achievement increases, schools improve and communities grow stronger. The efforts of these schools and PTAs to engage and involve families are making a substantial, positive impact on student success and well-being.
National PTA also released a report that summarizes outcomes for the 2014-2016 National PTA Schools of Excellence from their participation in the program. The outcomes, which were determined from family surveys administered at the beginning of the school year and then again at the end of the year, demonstrate improved family-school partnerships. ...
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 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: ...
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 ...
By Anne Foster, Executive Director, Parents for Public Schools (PPS)
This is the 46th year for the annual PDK/Gallup Poll, a survey that wants to know what the public thinks about their public schools. As usual, there is a lot to absorb from the responses to the questions, and the answers raise more questions that must be answered. Because the poll revisits questions asked in previous years, it is a window to changing opinions about public schools. This year’s poll suggests that Americans aren’t sure they like the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) or even that the federal government should be involved in public schools. Everyone interested in improving public schools, and especially those who consider themselves “reformers”, should pay close attention to this poll – because public education is not something that is “done” to people. The people speaking are the people who own and pay for public schools and whose children are being educated in them. What they think and what they want matter.
Among the 33% of Americans who favor CCSS, they do so because these standards will help children learn what they need to know regardless of their zip code. Common Core was initiated as a way to bring consistently high standards to public schools across the country and to make sure that the quality of a student’s education does not depend on zip code or state ...
By Anne Foster, Executive Director, Parents for Public Schools (PPS)
There is something almost magical about the beginning of a new school year. It is always full of hope and new possibilities. When my children were in elementary school, the school posted class lists a few days before school started. The lists were on the front window of the school. My husband and I would excitedly shepherd our two sons to see who their teacher and classmates would be that year. It was an anticipated and exciting moment for our family, because so many of our hopes for our children resided in their education. Our excitement transferred to them, and they couldn’t wait for that moment each year.
It’s time again for school bells to ring and backpacks to be stuffed. Schools across America are opening their doors again this month. Teachers are gearing up ...
By Shannon Sevier, Vice President for Advocacy, National PTA
National PTA recently released a video series on the Common Core to educate parents on the standards and empower them to support the implementation of the standards at school and home. The series was developed in partnership with The Hunt Institute as part of the association’s ongoing efforts to provide accurate information about the Common Core, ensure parents are knowledgeable about the standards and new assessments, and support parents every step of the way as states transition to the standards.
The series features 14 videos that highlight the importance of and need for clear, consistent and rigorous standards; dispel myths about the Common Core; and provide perspectives from educators, administrators, PTA leaders and others on the positive changes they’ve seen with the standards. The videos also spotlight the steps PTAs can take to effectively advocate for the standards in their communities. ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
On this website, educators, parents and policymakers from coast to coast are sharing what's already working in public schools--and sparking a national conversation about how to make it work for children in every school. Join the conversation!