NAESP Before the Bell
Jan. 7, 2011

Obama quiet on STEM education bill approved by Congress
Education Week
At a press conference in December, President Obama ticked off a series of legislative accomplishments during Congress' lame-duck session that he deemed noteworthy, from the tax compromise and the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy to the passage of a food safety bill and the ratification of a new START treaty. But he made no mention of one piece of legislation that touches on a topic that by most accounts is near and dear to his heart: STEM education.More

New law labels interns 'highly qualified teachers'
The Associated Press via Bloomberg Businessweek
Civil rights advocates are blasting new federal legislation that allows states to classify teaching interns as "highly qualified" teachers and regularly assign them to schools with mostly poor, minority students. The measure, which remains in effect until the end of the 2012-13 school year, was signed Dec. 22 by President Barack Obama as part of an unrelated federal spending bill. The legislation nullifies a Sept. 27 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that California illegally classified thousands of teachers in training as "highly qualified" in violation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. More

Why Congress should end reliance on standardized testing
The Washington Post (commentary)
Education Secretary Arne Duncan admits that No Child Left Behind and its reliance on standardized, fill-in-the-bubble, multiple guess tests both dumbs down and narrows instruction. The secretary promises that new consortiums working on assessments will produce "a new test" he claims will "measure what children know across the full range of college and career-ready standards, and measures other skills, such as critical-thinking ability." Expressing doubt, people are hoping he doesn't define "new test" as "one test" because that will never accomplish what he claims he wants: An assessment that measures a broad spectrum of students abilities. Further, unless these new tests are uncoupled from the high stakes they currently invoke — such as punishments for schools and teachers — they will be just another standardized, easily scored exam that tell us little about what is really going on in our classrooms.More

Math that moves: Schools embrace the iPad
The New York Times
Technological fads have come and gone in schools, and other experiments meant to rev up the educational experience for children raised on video games and YouTube have had mixed results. Educators, for instance, are still divided over whether initiatives to give every student a laptop have made a difference academically. At a time when school districts are trying to get their budgets approved so they do not have to lay off teachers or cut programs, spending money on tablet computers may seem like an extravagance. And some parents and scholars have raised concerns that schools are rushing to invest in them before their educational value has been proved by research. More

How technology will and won't change schools by 2020
The Washington Post (commentary)
Whatever your guesses are for next year or for 2020, the questions that need answers are not about the rapid expiration dates of the next newest device — including the "revolutionary" iPad — nor to what degree technology will be ubiquitous in home and school nor even how new technologies will be used by the next generation of teachers and students.More

Richardson, Texas, schools open gifted-enrichment model to all students
The Dallas Morning News
In Richardson, Texas, Skyview is one of two elementaries piloting a move to a "schoolwide enrichment model" of teaching, in which every student gets the benefit of instructional strategies that had been mostly used for designated talented and gifted students. The theory is straightforward: Students who are engaged, who are interested in what they're doing, are more likely to learn. What Richardson ISD is trying to do is combine new technology and increased classroom flexibility to better hook the kids — without adding too much extra work on already busy teachers.More

Study finds special educators get less mentoring
Education Week
While teacher mentoring has become nearly ubiquitous as an education reform, new research suggests state and district mentoring policies may leave gaps in support for special education teachers. Mentoring, in which a new or struggling teacher is matched with an expert instructor for support and training, has won broad support from union leaders to governors; federal school improvement grants even recommend it as an intervention for improving low-performing schools. Nearly all states have a teacher mentoring program of some sort — most as part of induction for new teachers — but some, such as Alabama and Virginia, for any teacher who isn't meeting state teaching standards.More

Congress passing a new 'No Child Left Behind' is a no brainer
U.S.News & World Report (commentary)
Education Secretary Arne Duncan kicked off the new year calling for a bipartisan commitment to education reform. The Secretary wants Congress to pass a new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, accurately noting that "few areas are more suited for bipartisan action than education reform." Indeed, the administration's legislative blueprint in this area runs right down the political center and would likely be supported broadly by voters. And yet, conventional wisdom in education circles is that political forces will prevent Congressional action.More

Battle over education funding on docket in New Jersey
The Wall Street Journal
One of the most controversial cases in the New Jersey Supreme Court's history will be back before justices, as an advocate for urban-school funding challenges Gov. Chris Christie's education budget cuts. The landmark school-funding case, Abbott v. Burke, reemerges at a time when the court is in the midst of a political crisis. Mr. Christie, citing rulings such as Abbott, is remaking a court he believes has overextended its power by dictating how the state spends money. The Education Law Center argues that Christie's education cuts last year — of more than $1 billion, depending on what is included — violated the Supreme Court's order to fully fund education for three years to evaluate a new formula being used to pay for schools.More

Policy, fiscal challenges confront state officials
Education Week
Despite bleak fiscal conditions that could thwart some of their priorities, governors and state lawmakers — bolstered in some cases by new Republican majorities — are expected to press forward this year with ambitious education proposals that could include changing teacher job protections and expanding school choice. Newly elected and returning officeholders go to work this month as states struggle to climb out of the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, with many warning that K-12 education — historically insulated from the budget ax — is likely to face severe cuts.More

States having problems with common core standards
eSchool News
As states move forward in their adoption of the Common Core State Standards, a new survey reveals that thorough implementation of these standards is still years away, and many states are forgetting a key piece of the common standards movement: linking to postsecondary education. In a survey released, titled "States' Progress and Challenges in Implementing Common Core State Standards," by the Center on Education Policy, states were asked whether they planned to make certain changes in their policies and practices for elementary and secondary education as part of their approach to implementing the common standards, and how soon these changes would be fully implemented.More

In Massachusetts nearly all schools file anti-bullying proposals
The Boston Globe
Ninety-nine percent of Massachusetts school districts filed bullying-prevention plans with the state by the Dec. 31 deadline — a marked turnaround from nearly two weeks ago when just 60 percent had complied with the mandate. Only six schools — two public, one charter, and three private special education schools — failed to file plans with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as required by the new law that seeks to protect students from bullying in schools and beyond.More

It's unclear if slight rise in Texas class size would hurt learning
The Dallas Morning News
Many Texas educators complain about state legislators' recent recommendations to scrap the cap on elementary school classes. "With this smaller group you can touch students more," said Mary Ann Weaver, a math teacher from Allen's Vaughan Elementary School in Allen, Texas. The most comprehensive assessment dates back just as far as the Texas law, to a four-year study that tracked more than 7,000 Tennessee students from kindergarten through third grade. The study found classes with 13 to 17 students performed better than classes with 22 to 25 students, even when the larger classes had a teacher's aide. A follow-up showed students from the smaller classes succeeding more later in life.More

Principal Magazine recognized for Association Excellence
NAESP
The September/October 2010 issue of Principal magazine has been honored with a Gold Award in the TRENDS 2010 All-Media Contest, which recognizes the national association community's top media products of 2010. Principal was judged by a panel of industry experts on creativity in both artistic as well as substantive content in the category of annual or quarterly publication. The issue focused on school management and included articles on the numerous day-to-day duties principals must manage in addition to instructional leadership. It also included a special section that speaks to issues of importance to new principals. More