NAESP Before the Bell
Aug. 27, 2010

Race to Top winners rejoice, losers parse scores
Education Week
Nine states and the District of Columbia were chosen to receive a combined $3.4 billion in the second round of the federal Race to the Top grant competition, a cash infusion that is intended to support bold new plans to turn around struggling schools, revamp teacher evaluation, and implement common academic standards, among other efforts. The second-round winners, selected from a group of 19 finalists, were Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island, in addition to the nation's capital. They will receive from $75 million to $700 million through the competition. More

Education chief Arne Duncan calls on schools to share more data
The Washington Post
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, stoking a national debate over a Los Angeles Times series that examines how much individual teachers have raised test scores, urged public schools Wednesday to give educators more data on student achievement and parents a full report on teacher effectiveness. "In other fields, we talk about success constantly, with statistics and other measures to demonstrate it," Duncan said in the Arkansas capital. "Why, in education, are we scared to talk about what success looks like? What is there to hide?" More

Chicago pilot program to extend school day with online classes
The Chicago Tribune
In an effort to extend what is one of the nation's shortest school days, Chicago Public Schools plans to add 90 minutes to the schedules of 15 elementary schools using online courses and nonteachers, sources said. By employing nonteachers at a minimal cost to oversee the students, the district can save money and get around the teachers' contracts, which limits the length of the school day. More

iTunes Texas education channel launched
The Associated Press via Yahoo! News
Texas students can now download podcasts, videos and other multimedia lessons directly from iTunes through a new online program aimed at providing free, supplementary coursework that can be accessed anywhere, state officials announced. The Texas Education iTunes U channel allows teachers to upload material from their classes to help students understand new concepts or do more research in a specific subject area. Students and parents can access the material through home or school computers, and those with iPods can download the information to the handheld devices. More

The pros and cons of K-8 schools replacing middle schools
Kindergarten through eighth grade schools or kindergarten through fifth grade and then middle schools for the next three grades, or some other division of schools have much to do with enrollment. Some schools, in more highly populated areas, do not have room for all elementary grades to be housed together. That is a good argument for middle schools, and probably was the reason for their implementation.More

Why some school districts are lengthening the school day
There is a good reason why school districts around the country are extending — or in the process of extending — the length of the school day: there's a lot of public support for it. Politicians, including President Barack Obama and educations secretary Arne Duncan are calling for this measure; community leaders and parents have expressed support; and some educational leaders such as teachers, administrators, and school board members believe there are benefits for it.More

Giving students a better school lunch
The Los Angeles Times
Cafeteria workers in Santa Barbara County schools go to boot camp to learn how to serve nutritious lunches on a budget. No chicken nuggets allowed. In Santa Maria, Calif., the people making lunch in big commercial kitchen are pros; some of them serve thousands of diners a day. But they're not all comfortable using a knife to peel a butternut squash or chop fresh parsley. They work in school cafeterias, "lunch ladies" who are not all women and who would like to be seen more as lunch teachers contributing to the overall education of the children who eat their food. They have been trained in food safety but not always in cooking. Too often, they say, their job has been to heat frozen chicken nuggets or packaged burritos, or to distribute canned fruit, sometimes to the children of people growing and picking fresh produce.More

Eastern states dominate in winning school grants
The New York Times
When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the latest states to win the Race to the Top competition — and a share of $3.4 billion in federal financing — he said they were chosen because they outlined the boldest plans for shaking up their public school systems.But others noted another common denominator: geography. More

Fewer Americans back Obama's education programs
Education Week
Support for President Barack Obama's education agenda is slipping among Americans, according to a poll of the public's attitude toward public schooling. The survey, conducted by Phi Delta Kappa International and the Gallup Organization, reports that just 34 percent of those polled would give the president an A or B when grading his performance on education during his first 17 months in office, compared with 45 percent in last year's poll, which covered the president's first six months in office. More

As Washington D.C. students head back to school, nearly a quarter face new principals
The Associated Press via Education Week
Thousands of students in the District of Columbia went back to school Monday, and nearly a quarter found new principals waiting to greet them. Of the 125 schools in the District of Columbia public school system, 30 had new principals when school opened. The principals are on one-year contracts, and the number of new heads is a result of both retirements and teachers who were not asked back. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has been aggressive about firing employees, however, and more than 200 teachers and employees rated "ineffective" under an evaluation system were let go at the end of last year.More

Massachusetts officials set anti-bullying guidelines
The Associated Press via The Boston Herald
School principals would be required to to report any instances of bullying to the parents of the students involved under new guidelines from state education officials. The guidelines released by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education were required under an anti-bullying law Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed in May. The proposed rules also would require principals to notify law enforcement officials of bullying, if necessary.More

Massachusetts offers schools some help to combat bullying
The Boston Globe
The Massachusetts Education Department released a model antibullying plan to help local schools develop their own policies to protect students from being picked on. The 14-page plan is meant as a template for local schools, which under the state's new law against bullying must create bullying prevention plans by year's end.More

A school fight over chocolate milk
The New York Times
By the time they are 11, children drink more soda than milk. The amount of milk consumed in America over all has fallen to about 20 gallons a year per capita, from 25 gallons in the early 1990s. It's even on shaky ground in the one place it has long seemed at home, the school lunchroom. To appease parents whose children can't or won't drink milk, a quarter of the nation's largest school districts now offer rice or soy milk and almost 17 percent of all school districts offer lactose-free milk. More

The business of education
Connecticut Business News Journal
When terms such as "layoffs," "closures" and "belt-tightening" are tossed around, the education industry may not be the first that comes to mind. That was true until this year, anyway. In July, 82 Wallingford, Conn., teachers learned they'd keep their jobs after months of job threats. Only 19 were actually laid off. In March, 54 West Haven, Conn., teachers were handed pink slips and Milford, Conn., schools laid off 21 non-tenured teachers. When reduced to its most fundamental elements, public education is cold, hard business.More

New York Ponders How to Spend $700 Million in Federal Money for Schools
NBC- New York
New York has just won nearly $700 million for schools — from the federal "Race to the Top" funds. But before we break out the champagne and celebrate, let's consider some of the questions raised by this generous gift from Washington. It is by no means certain how the money will be spent. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and education officials prodded the State Legislature to make certain education policy changes to qualify for the funds. Among the tweaks: increasing the number of charter schools and evaluation of teachers based on standardized test scores. More

Mentor training program starts up in September
Novice school principals face the same issues as seasoned administrators, but who can they count on for support and guidance? Perhaps it's you. Effective mentoring and coaching of new administrators is critical for school districts, and well-trained and highly skilled mentors are essential in helping them achieve school improvement. NAESP's unique program is designed to meet that challenge.More

Deadline extended for Sharing the Dream grants
Principals now have until Aug. 31 to submit an application for a $5,000 grant to go toward a family and community involvement project. NAESP and MetLife Foundation will award 25 elementary and middle school principals with funding for projects that engage the local community to build greater ownership for the work of the school; encourage parents to become meaningfully involved in schools and their children's learning; and include a global-engagement component.More