NAESP Before the Bell
Sept. 13, 2011

NAESP president invited to White House for jobs speech, supports legislation
NAESP President Rob Monson attended President Barack Obama's Sept. 12 White House speech on the American Jobs Act, which proposes to prevent hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs and modernize schools. The Obama administration requested that Monson attend the invitation-only event in support of the legislation. NAESP applauds the president's call on Congress to strengthen education as a vital component of economic recovery.More

Jobs plan would help modernize schools
eSchool News
Schools and teachers stand to benefit from an ambitious, $450 billion plan to boost jobs and put cash in the pockets of dispirited Americans, as President Barack Obama responded to an economy in peril by unveiling his larger-than-expected jobs plan before a joint session of Congress. Obama said his new plan would put thousands of teachers in every state back to work, and repair and modernize tens of thousands of schools. The president said it's not fair to American students that, while places such as South Korea are adding teachers, in the U.S. they're being laid off. "This has to stop," he said.More

Teaching students to ask their own questions
Harvard Education Letter
Students in Hayley Dupuy's sixth-grade science class at the Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto, Calif., are beginning a unit on plate tectonics. In small groups, they are producing their own questions, quickly, one after another: What are plate tectonics? How fast do plates move? Why do plates move? Do plates affect temperature? What animals can sense the plates moving? They raise questions "that we never would have thought of if we started to answer the first question we asked," says one of the students. More

Report: US history textbooks show anti-labor bias
Education Week
It's not hard to find complaints about textbooks, especially in the social studies. They get criticized all the time. But these days the attacks tend to come mainly from those with a conservative political bent. Not so with a report released. The study — by the Albert Shanker Institute, a think tank named for the former head of the American Federation of Teachers — argues that several popular U.S. history textbooks often present labor in an unfairly negative light. More

The geo-literacy coalition tackles Americans' geographic preparation
Directions Magazine
Building on 25 years of work focused on bolstering geographic education in K-12 classrooms, the National Geographic Society recognized two important issues in its efforts to improve the nation's geo-literacy: the fact that one concerned group cannot make this kind of change alone, and the need to reach beyond the world of the school and classroom to involve the general citizenry, business and industry as well.More

Study: Kids miss more school when parents smoke
Reuters Health
Children whose parents smoke tend to miss more school than their classmates with non-smoking parents — possibly because of a higher rate of respiratory infections, a new study suggests. Researchers found that among nearly 3,100 families in a national survey, children who lived with smokers missed an extra day out of the school year, on average. They also tended to have more ear infections and "chest colds" than their peers did, and that seemed to partly explain the link between household smoking and missed school days.More

Schools seeing shift on bullying
The Boston Globe
School bullies, beware: Your prey is more likely than ever to report your bad behavior to a teacher or principal this year. Student culture is changing, administrators say. Spurred by increased programming after the suicide of two Massachusetts students in the last few years and the anti-bullying law that followed, students are more aware of the damage bullying can do. Victims are less stigmatized, and witnesses are more comfortable speaking to authority figures.More

5 characteristics of an effective 21st century educator
eSchool News
Today's educators are constantly evaluating the skills students need to compete in the global economy. But what are the characteristics or skills needed to be an effective 21st century educator? Readers say key skills include foresight, lifelong learning and the ability to evaluate new technologies.More

Middle-class schools miss the mark
The Wall Street Journal
Middle-class public schools educate the majority of U.S. students but pay lower teacher salaries, have larger class sizes and spend less per pupil than low-income and wealthy schools, according to a report. The report, "Incomplete: How Middle-Class Schools Aren't Making the Grade," also found middle-class schools are underachieving. It pointed to their national and international test scores and noted that 28 percent of their graduates earn a college degree by age 26, compared to 17 percent for lower-income students and 47 percent for upper-income students.More

E-rate goes mobile
District Administration
Mobile learning is on the rise, and consequently, so is the need for mobile connectivity. According to a 2010 survey of E-rate consumers, including public schools and libraries, conducted by the Federal Communications Commission, 50 percent of respondents said they plan to implement or expand the use of digital textbooks and other wireless devices. In an effort to modernize the E-rate program, which traditionally has provided discounts to schools and libraries for affordable on-campus Internet access, the FCC has launched a pilot program, "Learning On-the-Go."More

New federal school-meals rules could lead to rising lunch prices
Education Week
More than 80 percent of the students in Leah Schmidt’s school district on the southeast side of Kansas City, Mo., live in poverty. Among the others, many students come from families whose household income is just a few hundred dollars too high for them to qualify for federally subsidized free or reduced-price lunches. But Schmidt, the director of nutrition services in the Hickman Mills C-1 district, raised the price of a school lunch this year by a dime to comply with new U.S. Department of Agriculture rules about meal prices. The rules, created under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed in 2010, are intended to help keep the federal contribution for free and reduced-price meals from subsidizing lunches and breakfasts eaten by students from families well off enough to pay full price.More

Assessing Obama's jobs plan, K-12 style
National Journal (commentary)
Part of the $447 billion jobs plan that President Barack Obama unveiled is devoted to elementary and secondary education. The president proposed $30 billion to prevent 280,000 teacher layoffs that White House economists predict will occur this year from state budget shortfalls. That money could be directed at any part of school employees' compensation packages, either to prevent layoffs or to rehire teachers who have lost their jobs. Obama also is seeking $25 billion to modernize 35,000 public schools in need of repair.More

Education secretary praises Toledo, Ohio's, teacher peer review
The Toledo Blade
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised a teacher peer-review system pioneered in Toledo, Ohio, calling the program an innovative system for evaluating teachers. Duncan appeared at the Toledo Federation of Teachers' headquarters as part of a Midwest bus tour highlighting education reforms and labor-management collaborations. He expressed support for a program called the Toledo Plan, the first teacher peer-review system in the nation, over the traditional teacher evaluation system.More

Retired teachers return to classroom in Wisconsin
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Teacher retirements may have doubled statewide in this year of Wisconsin budget wars, but some school districts are lessening the drain on classroom experience by bringing back teachers who left the classroom at the beginning of the summer. Peter Hirt, superintendent of the North Lake School District, said his district has hired two teachers who announced their retirement in March. Though the two are being paid at about the rate they would have been paid had they stayed on, Hirt said, the district is still saving money on their compensation — and would be even if the alternative was to hire replacements right out of college — because the district doesn't have to pay for their health insurance or contribute any more to their retirement fund.More

NAESP president discusses online resources on Lifetime Network
NAESP President Rob Monson appears on "The Balancing Act" on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 7 a.m. EDT to discuss online education resources.More

Celebrate Family Day 2011
Family Day, a movement to reinforce the importance of family meals, is only a month away. Start spreading the word in your school community with brochures, kits and conversation starters from the Family Day website. Plus check out NAESP's latest Report to Parents, "The Power of Family Dinners."More