NAESP Before the Bell
Oct. 1, 2010

George W. Bush Institute plans school principal program
CBS News
For its first initiative, the George W. Bush Institute will focus on improving the performance of school principals. Former first lady Laura Bush was to announce the institute's formation of the Alliance to Reform Education Leadership. The alliance will consist of a network of school districts, universities and foundations offering educational programs to current and future school leaders. "If we do our job right, these graduates will be in very high demand," said James W. Guthrie, senior fellow and director of education policy studies at the institute. Guthrie said that the entities participating must meet certain criteria by, for instance, offering classes in areas including business and ethics and guaranteeing participants will spend time in schools.More

State campaigns draw unions' money, muscle
Education Week
Unions have voiced concerns about some aspects of the Obama administration's national education agenda over the past two years. Yet at the state level, Democrats are receiving considerable support from the political arms of the 3.2 million-member National Education Association and the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers, as they have in past campaigns, heading into the final push before the Nov. 2, general elections. Thirty-seven governors' races and seven state superintendents' contests are still up for grabs this year, as are more than 6,000 state legislative seats.More

Middle school STEM gets $12 million National Science Foundation infusion
THE Journal
Middle schools in Northern California will be the beneficiaries of a $12 million infusion in STEM education and may serve as a model for a national program designed to encourage underserved students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math in higher education and in their careers. Through an $11.96 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Math and Science Partnership program, researchers at California State University, East Bay will work with the Alameda County Office of Education, along with several other partners, to create and implement the San Francisco Bay-Integrated Middle School Science Project, which will target middle schools serving large populations of students from low-income families and students from traditionally underrepresented ethnic groups, including schools in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, and Santa Clara.More

The case for social media in schools
Mashable
A year after seventh grade teacher Elizabeth Delmatoff started a pilot social media program in her Portland, Oregon classroom, 20 percent of students school-wide were completing extra assignments for no credit, grades had gone up more than 50 percent, and chronic absenteeism was reduced by more than a third. For the first time in its history, the school met its adequate yearly progress goal for absenteeism.More

Education Nation: Innovation must be allowed to spread
NBC San Diego
America must find ways to let teaching innovation spread across the country, a pioneering leader of education reform said on a special MSNBC TV show. "We're in a crisis," Geoffrey Canada, president and chief executive officer for Harlem Children's Zone said. Canada was part of a panel convened to discuss the movie "Waiting for Superman," a documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth"), who also discussed education progress with hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski in a one-hour live broadcast. The show was part of NBC News "Education Nation." "How do we let every kid win?" asked Guggenheim, whose film that opened Friday focuses on public school system erosion and spotlights the success of Canada has creating programs at Harlem Children Zone.More

Connecticut school uses game technology to makes fitness fun
WALB-TV
A Connecticut middle school has come up with a high-tech way to make fitness fun. North End Middle School is placing "exer-game technology" at the heart of a new fitness room. From "Dance Dance Revolution" to a virtual duel with a martial arts legend, the cutting edge center in Waterbury seeks to get students turned on to fitness.More

Survey: Kids with food allergies get bullied at school
TIME
More than 30 percent of children with food allergies report being bullied or teased — often repeatedly — because of their eating restrictions, according to survey results published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. For instance, a fifth-grade Pennsylvania boy was taunted at the peanut-free table in the cafeteria, when a classmate waved a granola bar in his face. The boy had experienced allergic reactions in the past as a result of simply touching peanuts or breathing peanut particles, CNN reports. In the majority of allergy-related bullying cases, the new survey found, the abuse is verbal, but at least 40 percent of the time, children are actually touched or threatened with a potentially deadly allergen. More

Mississippi middle schoolers pick up anti-bullying tips
The Associated Press via WAPT-TV
Middle school students in Mississippi are learning ways to deal with the age-old problem of bullying. About 300 students from across the state attended a conference in Jackson. They got advice on how to recognize when their classmates are picking on others — and how to help the victims. One of the first lessons: Don't laugh when someone's being bullied, even if it seems not to bother the person. The victim might just be putting on a brave face. The teens and preteens will become peer counselors in their schools.More

Kids' science kits may take hit from safety ruling
The Associated Press via Yahoo! News
One of the tools that teachers use to get kids jazzed about science — hands-on science kits — could face an uncertain future amid a debate on safety. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has been mired for weeks in deliberation as it writes guidelines on what makes a product a "children's product" — and consequently which products would have to undergo more stringent safety testing as part of a 2008 law. Caught up in the debate are the classroom science kits and some of the items they contain, such as paper clips to show kids how magnets work. Science kit makers asked for a testing exemption for the paper clips and other materials. The commission declined to grant them a blanket waiver as part of the guidance the agency approved on a 3-2 vote.More

Federal grant to provide teacher merit pay
The Associated Press via KSWT-TV
Millions in federal education grant money will soon be flowing into six school districts in Maricopa County in Arizona. The Arizona Republic reports the nearly $52 million Teacher Incentive Fund grant will provide high needs school districts with merit pay rewards. The U.S. Department of Education awarded the grant to the Maricopa County Education Service Agency to create and implement a performance pay program for teachers and principals.More

In Louisville, Ky., a new turn in school integration
USA Today
Elementary schools in white neighborhoods here are whiter now, and those in the black neighborhoods are blacker. Under an integration plan the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2007, the Jefferson County School District required every school across greater Louisville, Ky., to have an enrollment that was 15 percent to 50 percent African-American. The goal was to make schools in the district, where the student population is about two-thirds white and one-third black, racially diverse throughout. The Supreme Court's decision ended that.More

More Iowa schools considering merging districts
The Associated Press via Education Week
Iowa will have 100 fewer school districts next year than it did in 1965 as districts merge to try to save money and achieve financial security. Twelve school districts in parts of western and northern Iowa will become six districts next year after voters approved mergers. Other school districts are considering combining too. The Des Moines Register reported that the number of Iowa school districts will be 353 next year, down from 458 in 1965. That's when the state Legislature required all areas of Iowa to become part of a school district with a high school. At one point the state had more than 1,500 districts.More

Death of California youth puts focus on rise in antigay bullying
Christian Science Monitor
The death of 13-year-old Seth Walsh in California is one of at least three youth suicide cases nationwide this month that are prompting renewed attention to antigay bullying. "It appears that what has always been a crisis is that much more severe right now," says Daryl Presgraves, spokesman for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. In the five years that Mr. Presgraves has been tracking media reports of such cases, this past year has included the largest spike he's seen, including the suicides of four students in Minnesota's Anoka-Hennepin School District who were reportedly discriminated against because they were gay or were perceived as gay.More

Washington DC schools may face new shortfall
The Washington Post
The Washington D.C. public school system, which laid off more than 200 teachers last October to close what Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee said was a budget gap, is facing potential new financial problems in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, because of a projected $30 million in overspending on special education. Rhee said in a statement that the estimate, part of an analysis by Washington D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi that places the citywide budget gap at $175 million for fiscal 2011, is "premature." But she also said she was prepared "to take any actions necessary to offset any potential pressures to balance the fiscal year 2011 budget, as we have in past years." More

Nationally known educators and researchers convene on Early Childhood Task Force
NAESP
NAESP Foundation's National Early Childhood Task Force held its first meeting on Sept. 20, in Washington, D.C. The Task Force endeavors to enhance educational achievement and opportunities for children in grades pre-K-3 and make recommendations for a nationwide call to action that could influence education policy decisions that most affect these students. The National Task Force brings together early childhood experts and practitioners to engage in thoughtful dialogue and cooperative efforts to increase the school readiness of young children, and ultimately improve their academic achievement through their secondary educational experiences and beyond. More

Get to know Barbara Chester
NAESP
This past summer, Barbara Chester became president of the NAESP Board of Directors, a group of practicing principals and key instruction leaders actively involved in shaping the long-term impact of school improvement efforts. She recently sat down with NAESP staff members to discuss her career as an educator and her vision for the Association.More