NAESP Before the Bell
Sept. 10, 2010

Most Race to the Top winners plan to improve online learning
Education Week
While public education experts have debated which priorities weighed most heavily in the second round of the federal Race to the Top grant competition applications, a review by an online education organization shows most of the 10 winning states submitted strong online learning proposals. Susan D. Patrick, president of the Vienna, Va.-based International Association for K-12 Online Learning, or iNACOL, said a wiki document released by the organization highlighting the virtual learning components in all 19 finalists' applications shows the winning states were ready to use Race to the Top funds to offer more online opportunities and make needed state policy revisions.More

New York Gov. David Paterson signs Anti-Bullying Act
Gothamist
New York Gov. David Paterson signed the Dignity for All Students bill into law. The law requires school districts to make their environments harassment — and discrimination — free (by way of codes of conduct and policies) as well as reporting instances of bullying to the New York state Department of Education. Paterson said, "Bullying and harassment have disrupted the education of too many young people, and we in government have a responsibility to do our part to create learning environments that help our children prosper. I am proud to sign this bill into law as it will help ensure that students are protected from harassment, discrimination and bullying at school grounds and at school functions."More

'Virtual' teachers take over world language instruction in several
Morris County, NJ schools

Daily Record
The new Spanish teachers in the K-8 school district are informed and personable but available only on DVD. After losing all three elementary school Spanish teachers due to budget cuts last spring, officials turned to "distance learning" to fulfill the world languages curriculum requirement. The Spanish DVDs did not require additional money in the 2010-2011 budget. Assistant Superintendent Deborah Grefe said the DVDs were already included in the district's subsciption to Discovery Education.More

Report: Well-funded preschool programs reduce crime
Contra Costa Times
As California and federal elected officials deliberate about how much money to spend on preschools, local police chiefs and legislators in Concord, Calif., said more early-education funding could cut down on crime and save millions later. They urged Congress to approve preschool funding as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and said the state should also protect or increase preschool funding. "Children who attended preschool were 43 percent less likely to need special education services," said Pleasant Hill Police Chief Pete Dunbar.More

Kids' study habit myths debunked
CBS News
As 68.5 million students start their studies this year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, scientists now say that the common wisdom on information-retention may not be the most successful. "Early Show" Contributor Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, a child and adolescent psychologist, discussed common myths about effective studying — and offered some helpful hints for students hoping to ace their next exam.More

Opinion: Experts weigh in on assessing teacher's value
The New York Times
With students everywhere being tested annually for academic progress, it may not be a surprise that the data would eventually be used to evaluate the effectiveness of their teachers. Michelle A. Rhee, the schools chancellor in Washington, fired about 25 teachers this summer based in part on their poor ratings from a "value-added" analysis of scores — an increasingly popular and controversial method of rating teacher performance. The Los Angeles Times recently published value-added ratings for 6,000 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers based on students' English and math test scores over seven years. The analysis looks at individual students' past test performance and projects how they should do the next year. The difference between the child's actual and projected results is the estimated "value" that the teacher added during the year.More

Financial crisis panel tells Nevada leaders to be bold
The Associated Press via Google News
From mortgage problems to education and budget issues, Nevada leaders delivered a sobering assessment of the state's future as a result of the Great Recession during seven hours of testimony before a federal panel investigating the country's financial meltdown. And while the bipartisan Federal Crisis Inquiry Commission isn't expected to deliver its formal report to Congress and President Barack Obama until Dec. 15, commissioners told Nevada leaders they need to be bold in fixing widespread problems. "It is a very bleak picture that you paint," said Commissioner John Thompson, board chairman of Symantec Corp. More

Montgomery County, Md., schools posting calorie counts in cafeterias
The Washington Post
Brianna Lattanzio wound her way through the bustling cafeteria line at her Silver Spring middle school in Maryland one morning, weighing her options. Nutritional information was listed for each of the choices: an Asian-inspired chicken and rice dish (352 calories), vegetarian chicken nuggets (190 calories), a steak-and-cheese sub (420 calories) and macaroni and cheese (481 calories). The student opted for the macaroni. Brianna said that she picked the dish because it looked the best but that she appreciated having the calorie information. More

New Jersey clings to agenda despite Race to Top loss
Education Week
Even as New Jersey staggers through the wreckage from its failed Race to the Top application, Gov. Chris Christie and state lawmakers are vowing to press ahead with an ambitious education agenda that reflects some of the key priorities in the state's losing bid for federal funds. Some of the proposals put forward legislatively and administratively, such as measures to support charter schools and improve struggling school districts, explicitly mirror the goals of the state's unsuccessful $400 million proposal for a share of the $4 billion in economic-stimulus money. More

North Texas district fifth-graders produce daily TV newscasts
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Each of the Grapevine-Colleyville district's 11 elementary schools in Texas offers a student-produced morning news telecast at least a few days a week. Fifth-graders fill the roles of anchors, reporters, editors, photographers and technicians, replacing old-style faculty announcements with style and energy. "It promotes leadership, makes them poised and articulate in public speaking, and when they write out their cue cards, they have to be grammatically correct," said Heritage Principal Stacey Voigt, who brought the idea with her 10 years ago from Timberline Elementary in Grapevine, Texas.More

Teacher dropouts in Hawaii
Honolulu Star-Advertiser
More than half of Hawaii's public school teachers leave within five years of being hired, a sobering statistic the state is scrambling to address at a time when experienced teachers are needed to help turn around struggling schools, meet federal requirements for "highly qualified" teachers and reach ambitious school reform goals. At the same time, the state is bracing for a wave of retiring baby boomer teachers and principals. And while seeking to retain teachers, the Department of Education is also asking more of them, boosting learning expectations for Hawaii kids and moving to hold educators more accountable for student growth.More

Teachers union proposes evaluation system
Charleston Daily Mail
A national teachers union leader urged the West Virginia Board of Education members to implement an evaluation system that would hold educators, administrators, students and parents accountable for schools' success. Randi Weingarten, president of the national American Federation of Teachers, said the evaluations would ideally include "fair, meaningful, comprehensive" teacher evaluations, a contentious issue in West Virginia. Gov. Joe Manchin and the West Virginia Education Department officials have previously suggested a comprehensive teacher evaluation system tied to student performance, but haven't had much luck convincing the teacher-dominated House of Delegates to back the plan.More

Challenge to Florida class size amendment in court
The Associated Press via The Miami Herald
A lawyer for Florida's statewide teachers union asked a judge to block the counting of votes cast on the Legislature's proposed state constitutional amendment to loosen class size limits. It's too late to remove the measure from the Nov. 2 ballot because it already has gone to the printers. Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis said he hoped to rule by the end of the week after hearing arguments from Florida Education Association attorney Ron Meyer and the state's lawyer, Jonathan Glogau. Regardless how Francis rules, the case will wind up before the Florida Supreme Court, Meyer said.More

NAESP president talks parent engagement on Lifetime TV
NAESP
Watch NAESP President Barbara Chester's appearance on Lifetime TV's "The Balancing Act," providing tips on how parents can get engaged with their child's school.
(Watch the show)More

Gsell Institute to hold Early Childhood Leadership Conference
NAESP
The Gsell Institute of Human Development is organizing a one-day Early Childhood Leadership Conference in New Haven, Conn. on Oct. 15. The conference will highlight the important role of childhood development in education, learning, and long-term school success. (Read more)More