NAESP Before the Bell
Nov. 5, 2010

What a GOP majority might mean for education policy
Before Tuesday's midterm elections, Democrats led the House with a majority of seats — 255, to be exact. When the new Congress convenes in January, the new Republican majority will lead with at least 239 seats (as of today, 11 races haven't been called definitively). Republican candidates picked up 60 seats in the House by running on a nearly universal message of anti-incumbency and reform, particularly in regards to federal spending.Meanwhile in the Senate, Republicans closed the narrow Democratic majority to 51-46 (with three races in a toss-up) without taking control. As a more deliberative and compromising body than the House, this will make passage of politically challenging bills more difficult, but might encourage the two parties to collaborate. What Does It All Mean?More

The Institute for Education Sciences sets priorities for
education research

Education Week
The Institute for Education Sciences officially set a new research agenda for the U.S. Department of Education, as its advisory board approved the first revised priorities in five years. The institute's topics of study won't change much under the new priorities. They include educational processes, instructional innovations, and teacher recruiting, retention, training, and effectiveness. The latter is in line with the federal economic-stimulus law's focus on "teacher effectiveness" over the older "teacher quality." But the new priorities put greater emphasis on putting federally supported education research findings into context "to identify education policies, programs, and practices that improve education outcomes, and to determine how, why, for whom, and under what conditions they are effective." More

Elementary school to integrate diversity education
Syracuse University Professor of Inclusive Education Mara Sapon-Shevin, PhD, told about 400 parents at Birch School in Merrick, N.Y., that teaching their children about diversity is essential to ensure fulfillment during their school years and to prepare them for modern adulthood. Her presentation served as a public introduction of the Merrick School District's emerging Diversity Education Program, which the district began developing last year. Superintendent Ranier Melucci said the program's goal is to integrate diversity issues into existing classes from kindergarten through sixth grade.More

Project-based elementary school steers away from
standardized testing

The Children's School in Berwyn, Ill., was established in the fall of 2004 in Oak Park with 13 children. The school follows the principles of John Dewey, who established the University of Chicago Laboratory School in 1896. Dewey focused on learning through doing. Almost everywhere else, elementary education has gotten "serious" over the past 20 years, due to forces ranging from rising parental expectations to the No Child Left Behind Act. But the Children's School takes a progressive route and steers away from standardized testing and data collecting and focuses on project-based learning.More

Elementary students 'Do The Right Thing'
Freeport Journal-Standard
"Do the Right Thing" is a program designed to recognize students for behavior or academic achievement improvements; showing an improved attitude toward school and other students; going out of the way to assist others; or performing a positive act that impacts the community or individuals. Twelve total candidates were chosen this quarter by a "Do the Right Thing" board comprised of District 145 staff, firemen, police officers, and community members. Board members then chose the top three candidates for the quarter. The police chief, fire chief and another member, either a police or fireman, selected the top winner.More

What other countries are really doing in education
The Washington Post (commentary)
As the education reform debate continues — and is fueled by educational documentaries, educational forums and manifestos — let's take a moment to look at what these countries that we are propping up on a pedestal actually do. For a while now we have been told that the United States is falling behind and that we must catch-up. As Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, "Today, there are many different approaches to strengthening the teaching profession — both here in America and in countries that are outperforming us such as Finland and Singapore. Our competitors in other parts of the world recognize that the roles of teachers are changing. Today, they are expected to prepare knowledge workers, not factory workers, and to help every child succeed, not just the [ones who are] easy to teach."More

High-calorie drinks still widely sold in US elementary schools
HealthDay News via Bloomberg Businessweek
Despite the setting of national guidelines that discourage the sale of high-calorie, sugary beverages to kids in elementary schools, a new U.S. study finds that many young children are still able to get those types of drinks while at school. Under the voluntary recommendations, drawn up in 2007 by the U.S. Institute of Medicine, it is recommended that grade-schoolers only have access to water, 100 percent juice and nonfat or 1 percent flavored or unflavored milk outside the actual lunch program, said Dr. Lindsey Turner, a clinical assistant professor of nutrition and kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her findings on how well schools — public and private — are limiting student access to high-calorie, high-sugar beverages is published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.More

School leaders can search students cell phones?
The Tennessean
Can school officials or principals look through a student's cell phone and use images or messages there? Her answer is maybe, Terry Maroney said, because the law on that is not settled. If school officials have reasonable suspicion, for example, that a nude photo is on a cell phone, "they probably do have a right to look at your phone," she said. Maroney repeatedly warned that, even if police are stationed in a school, they must operate within the rules for police. That means they cannot search without probable cause or your consent. They cannot use statements given to a school official in a court.More

NAESP provides members with access to Capitol Hill
The 2010 election season is over, but the efforts of the NAESP Advocacy and Government Relations team are ongoing. NAESP is committed to championing the interests of elementary and middle-level principals. That is why we provide our members with access to their federal representatives through the NAESP Legislative Action Center. This members-only benefit allows NAESP members to contact their members of Congress from their home or work computers. It can also be used to locate and contact media outlets throughout the country. To learn more about this valuable member benefit, please watch this six-minute video tutorial. More

Arne Duncan: Education can be bipartisan
Despite waking up to a political landscape now dominated by Republicans, Duncan — one of a handful of Obama administration cabinet members who actively campaigned for several Democrats — believes that education reform can be the great bipartisan issue, uniting the two feuding parties. "Am I hopeful? Absolutely," he told POLITICO. "Am I optimistic? Yes. Do I think it's the right thing to do for children, for the country? Absolutely." Overhauling the nation's public education system, including adjusting the law known as No Child Left Behind, is a "golden opportunity" to improve the quality of life for everyday Americans, he said. More

Diane Ravitch says, 'Waiting for "Superman,"' demonizing public education
Education Week (commentary)
The movie, "Waiting for 'Superman,'" Diane Ravitch writes, was one-sided and very contemptuous of public education. Notably, the film portrayed not a single successful regular public school, and its heroic institutions were all charter schools. There are many inaccuracies in the movie. The one that sticks out the most is Davis Guggenheim's claim that 70 percent of 8th grade students read "below grade level." Guggenheim has a graphic where state after state is shown to have only a small proportion of students reading "on grade level" or "proficient." The numbers are based on data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. But Guggenheim is wrong. NAEP doesn't report grade levels. It reports achievement levels, and these do not correspond to grade levels.More

Obama could push education reform in effort to work with
a divided Congress

The Washington Post
If President Obama is seeking common ground with Republicans in the next Congress, one major domestic issue seems ripe for deal-making: Education. Obama aides say the administration plans early next year to accelerate its push for a rewrite of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law. That effort will face plenty of obstacles from both sides of the aisle in a divided Congress. But key Republican lawmakers appear receptive to the president's overtures on education reform in part because Obama backs teacher performance pay, charter schools and other innovations that challenge union orthodoxy. More

Will John Boehner be good for education?
TIME (commentary)
What did the Nov. 2 election results mean for education reform? Kentucky's Rand Paul is among the newly elected candidates who want to dismantle the Department of Education. That won't happen, but what lies ahead for our students and teachers? Right now all eyes are on John Boehner, the Ohio Republican expected to become Speaker of the House when the new Congress convenes in January. A seasoned negotiator who in the past has succeeded in passing education laws, he could hold sway over policymaking in Washington. But in many ways, his views about education matter less than the question of what he can accomplish given the fractious caucus he will be leading. First, the good news: Boehner cares deeply about education — and not just when he's stumping on campaign trails.More

Introducing the new governors around the nation
The Associated Press via The Boston Globe
A look at the newest faces in the nation's governorships: Republican state Rep. Robert Bentley, a retired Tuscaloosa dermatologist, wasn't supposed to be on the general election ballot for governor of Alabama. The 67-year-old Bentley entered the Republican primary regarded as an also-ran making his first statewide race. But he mortgaged his home and drew from his retirement to put $1.9 million of his own money into the race, and he caught voters' attention with a promise not to take a salary as governor until Alabama's near-record unemployment returned to normal levels. He finished second but narrowly made the GOP runoff, then won it with the help of the state teachers' organization. More

Parents form group to fight for art education in Massachusetts
The Boston Globe
In Milton, Mass., parents are fighting to get more art education into the public schools have a new organization — the Milton Visual Arts Alliance — and plan to make their case before the School Committee. The group's logo features Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" with the word "restore" printed across her face. "Art matters in Milton" the group says in its mission statement. More

NAESP president discusses bullying prevention
NAESP President Barbara Chester recently appeared on Lifetime TV's "The Balancing Act" to offer tips on how principals and teachers can combat bullying. (Watch the show)More