NAESP Before the Bell
Sept. 14, 2010

First lady Michelle Obama asks Congress to join childhood obesity fight
The New York Times
Declaring the beginning of the "next phase" of a program to combat childhood obesity, the first lady, Michelle Obama, called on Congress to pass legislation that would make many of the program's initiatives possible. In a speech at an elementary school, Mrs. Obama ticked off the main points of her "Let's Move!" campaign: Encouraging children to exercise, providing more free and reduced-price school meals and making the food in schools more nutritious. Explicitly tying school nutrition to academic performance, she pledged to expand the program on all these points.More

Where's the smart money in a Great Recession?
Education Week (commentary)
America's schools are getting hammered by the Great Recession. Declining budgets have pushed district leaders to lay off teachers, shorten school years, and cancel summer programs. Their cost-cutting gymnastics have increased K-3 class sizes, closed libraries, and deferred maintenance. And while a leaky roof might not affect student performance overall, curricular and instructional losses cut at the heart of the educational enterprise. The source of all this trouble is no mystery. With recession-driven sales- and income-tax revenues down, states have been hard pressed to meet their obligations. The National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers recently reported an approximate 7 percent drop in fiscal 2010 state expenditures nationwide. More

Engaging girls in science, technology, engineering and math
THE Journal
In a recent study on Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math from Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of Colorado at Boulder, researchers found that in the United States, two-thirds of young children (boys and girls alike) said they like science. The numbers began to diverge in middle school and became more obvious in high school, where "many girls who take advanced science courses in middle school do not continue to study science in high school," according to the report. More

Principals voice enthusiasm for social networking, though concerns remain
THE Journal
Research has shown that most school principals in the United States use Web 2.0 technologies and belong to at least one social network. And according to a new report released, most also indicated they think social networking has value for education — for staff and, potentially, for students alike. So why did most also say their schools ban the use of social networking on campus? The reasons are many and varied, according to the new report. But not surprisingly based on past research, privacy and appropriate use of the tools were among the concerns voiced.More

School on the mend
The Boston Globe
The wiry third-grader thrust his arm into the air, eager to ask a question of Blackstone Elementary School's new principal on the first day of classes yesterday. "What is metamorphosis?" asked the boy, who proudly called himself a budding scientist. The question could not have been more appropriate or timely, as the principal, Stephen Zrike, and his staff embark on a three-year effort to dramatically turn around this low-achieving school in Boston's South End and avert a state takeover. "Metamorphosis in my mind means change," Zrike answered during an unannounced visit to the class. "I'd say this school has gone through a metamorphosis this summer."More

Jobs money flowing, but not smoothly
Education Week
Federal money from the $10 billion Education Jobs Fund is headed to state coffers—but not without what appear to be some initial implementation wrinkles and controversies. Charter school advocates, for example, have voiced dismay that some charters may have a tough time tapping into the fund passed by Congress this summer and meant to help prevent the layoff of teachers and other education workers. Texas, meanwhile, had its application for $830 million in school jobs money rejected by the U.S. Department of Education — potentially slowing down disbursement of the money — after state officials balked at a provision in the federal law that requires Texas to make additional assurances about how its schools will be funded for the next three years. More

Obama's education policy lacks scientific support
The Washington Post (commentary)
"We will restore science to its rightful place . . ." So said President Obama in his inaugural address. Although he was not referring to education policy in particular, he made it clear in his first major speech on that subject that he planned to take scientific evidence seriously when formulating education policy, saying "Secretary Duncan will use only one test when deciding what ideas to support with your precious tax dollars: It's not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works." His actions contradict this claim. The relationship between scientific knowledge and the application of that knowledge is complex and has many dimensions.More

California public schools face lawsuit over fees
The New York Times
Public schools across the nation, many facing budget shortfalls, have been charging students fees to use textbooks or to take required tests or courses. Now a civil liberties group is suing California over those proliferating fees, arguing that the state has failed to protect the right to a free public education. Experts said it was the first case of its kind, and could tempt parents in other states to file similar suits. More

Washington, DC releases details of teacher bonuses
The Associated Press via Washington Examiner
Washington, D.C. school officials have released details of how teachers can qualify for performance-based pay raises that could make them among the best-paid public school teachers in the country. The increases will go toward teachers who get the best evaluations. Those ranked highly effective may be eligible for a one-time bonus of up to $25,000. And those who maintain that ranking for two straight years could see their base pay rise by as much as $26,000 a year. Sixteen percent of D.C. teachers were ranked highly effective during the last school year. The bonuses come on the heels of a contract signed in June that raised average teacher pay to $81,000 a year.More

Police, school officials take on cyberbullying
Las Vegas Sun
Police and school officials are urging parents to "break that code of silence" with their children and discuss cyberbullying — a form of schoolyard tormenting now considered criminal. Las Vegas Metro Police Lt. Ray Steiber announced a new Nevada law aimed at curbing cyberbullying, a growing trend nationwide where students use technology — text messages, social networking sites, e-mail — to intentionally hurt others.More

Los Angeles unveils teacher evaluation plan
LA News Daily
Los Angeles Unified officials released a detailed proposal for overhauling the district's teacher evaluation system, including the broader use of student test data and establishing incentive pay programs. The documents represent the district's initial bargaining position with unions, which are wary of potential changes they fear may be unfair to teachers. Under the proposal, employee attendance, classroom observations and student test scores would be among the measures used to evaluate teachers and administrators. The system would also include a self-assessment from every educator. The proposal also would mandate that teachers work longer than two years before becoming permanent employees and that evaluations be used to guide all hiring and firing decisions. More

NAESP Radio: Secretary Duncan on leadership
NAESP
NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly recently sat down with the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to discuss the role of principals in education reform for the latest installment of NAESP Radio.More

NAESP Foundation announces 2011 Schools Across America Calendar
NAESP
The 2011 Schools Across America Calendar showcases the beauty and uniqueness of some of the nation's oldest and newest schools as seen through the lenses of Lifetouch National School Studios field photographers. The photos are suitable for framing and the calendar highlights holidays and other important school dates throughout the school year. Pre-order yours today. More