NAESP Before the Bell
Nov. 19, 2010

Arne Duncan: Districts need to rethink class size, salary structure
Education Week (commentary)
The dismal economic climate may well be represent "new normal" for schools, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said at a forum sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, a free market think tank. That means schools are going to have to make hard choices, Duncan said. And he's hoping they'll use the opportunity fundamentally rethink long-held ideas, such as the need for students to have a certain amount of "seat time" in each particular class, class size, and teacher pay scales that reward educators for getting advanced degrees.More

'Rock Stars of Science' pairs rockers, Nobel Prize winners to entice kids
USA Today
Big name scientists are on the bill with headlining rock 'n' rollers in new ads aimed at getting kids and their parents jazzed about science. Premiering in December's GQ magazine, the "2010 Rock Stars of Science" campaign pairs musicians such as Blondie's Debbie Harry, Poison's Bret Michaels and Timbaland, with scientists, including Nobel Prize winners. "All these people are doing great things," says Harry, who took part in the campaign amid preparations for overseas shows. "We have to get the word out." Rock stars are household names, but ResearchAmerica! polls suggest half the public can't name a living scientist. A 2005 National Academies of Science report complained parents aren't turning their kids on to science anymore.More

Schools integrate dance into core academics
Education Week
Photosynthesis may be an unlikely topic to inspire an opera or ballet, but in a second-grade classroom here recently, the children were asked to use dance to help them learn about that process. At Fort Garrison Elementary School in Maryland small groups of pupils in this class brainstormed to come up with dance movements to convey elements of photosynthesis, including water, sunlight, carbon dioxide, and chlorophyll. They leaned, they reached, they flowed, sometimes with surprising grace. The idea of integrating the arts, including dance, into the broader curriculum is not new, but it appears to be gaining a stronger foothold in public schools, proponents say, though national data are not available.More

Middle school students sharing thoughts on their blogs
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Poised at a keyboard in the upstairs computer lab, Elizabeth Pusateri was ready to share her thoughts about volcanoes. The sixth-grader and the rest of her class at Hillcrest Intermediate School at the Norwin School District in Pennsylvania had just learned about geological disasters in science. Now, they were writing about what they had learned on their class blog. As children spend more time online at home, schools are realizing the educational potential of social media., an Australia-based company that provides blogging software for schools, now hosts 600,000 student and teacher blogs around the world. Internet safety and etiquette are integral to the lessons, Donna Duncan said. The students, whose blogs can be seen by anyone, are cautioned to use only their screen names and never their real names online. Parents sign permission forms, and a teacher reviews blog entries and comments before they go live.More

Flip, Skype and iPad find everyday usage at Indiana elementary school
Evansville Courier & Press
The iPads have about 100 children's applications on them, from interactive Dr. Seuss books that read aloud to students to Alphabet Magnets, an activity known more for its place on refrigerators. Despite all of the technology, Lisa Boeglin said, she is still using activities of yesteryear — students read softcover books, practice their handwriting and keep journals, not the electronic version. Boeglin said whether she uses old or new methods, her goal is to exceed the grade-level standards. But by integrating technology, students are more engaged, and it gives them an early exposure, Boeglin said.More

Using music in the classroom to inspire creative expression
Music tells so many stories. It's quite a gift to be able to write the musical story that matches the passion and energy of the actors all while enhancing the themes and the feelings of the scene. Just amazing. You want the students to use their mind's eye so you reverse the roles. Instead of writing music to the story, you want the students to write a story, a thought, a scene, or a list to the music.More

How smart is your school cafeteria? 12 difference-making changes
The Post-Standard
Improving school nutrition isn't about banning junk food. "The ideal lunchroom isn't one that eliminates the cookies. The ideal lunchroom is the one that gets children to choose an apple instead of a cookie, but to think it's their own choice," says Brian Wansink, whose Center for Behavioral Economics and Childhood Nutrition at Cornell University received a $1 million grant in October from the Department of Agriculture. The center aims to provide schools with research-based solutions to encourage healthier eating in the lunchroom, while maintaining participation and revenue for the school lunch program. Its "smarter lunchroom initiative" shows how measures as simple as spotlighting healthy food and moving unhealthy choices into dim lights can help cafeterias sell more healthy food.More

Education Secretary Arne Duncan backs plan to transform
teacher education

Within five years of beginning their careers, 50 percent of teachers leave the field. Teachers in urban schools can last as little as 18 months. A new teacher-education plan aims to stop that. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education released a new teacher education plan at a panel discussion. Education Secretary Arne Duncan endorsed the plan, saying it is time to "turn teacher-preparation programs upside down." He said holes in the teacher-education system have caused the U.S. education system to fall to 24th among 30 industrialized countries.More

Connecticut looks at raising age for kids to start kindergarten
Danbury News Times
As many as 10,000 Connecticut children could be affected by a proposal to adjust the age they can enter kindergarten. Instead of children becoming eligible to enter kindergarten if they celebrate their fifth birthday by Dec. 31, they would have to turn 5 by Sept. 1. State education Commissioner Mark McQuillan has proposed the change and the Connecticut Board of Education may make it part of its legislative package in December that would be sent to the General Assembly. State educators said they believe ages and maturity levels of children in the same classroom vary widely and is at times incompatible with the work they must learn in kindergarten.More

Schools eye savings in light of South Dakota budget uncertainty
The Associated Press via KCAU-TV
School districts across South Dakota are saving more money in their general fund balances because they expect the state to cut education funding next year. Almost one-quarter of school districts in the state ended the last school year with more money in their general funds than ever before. South Dakota legislators have targeted school districts before for keeping too much general fund money while also bringing in state aid checks.More

Teachers union sues Florida school district over proposed social
media policy

Many Florida school districts are proposing guidelines, even policy, limiting a teacher or school staff's contact with students on the Internet, including social media websites. Some districts go as far as restricting what district employees can post on their personal sites. "It's our position the code of ethics applies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," says Scott Martin, attorney for the Manatee School District in Flordia. The union says the draft policy is unconstitutional because it infringes on teachers' right to free speech. "Public employees have the same right as any taxpayer to express their feelings about the school district as an entity," said the president of the Manatee Education Association.More

Tennessee Department of Education: No tolerance for
bullying or harassment

Business Clarksville Magazine
Bullying is a form of harassment and intimidation used to exercise power or control over another. This behavior is not new to human society, however recent news reports have shown that there is an unhealthy upswing in its presence in our public education system. Students have been tormented and harassed to extremely tragic ends. Suicides have resulted from instances of unchecked teen abuse against other teens. This conduct cannot be condoned nor sanctioned by anyone in our public school systems. Administrators, faculty, staff, other students, family and the general community should be on watch for signs of this destructive behavior and speak out against at every turn. It shouldn't take the tragedy of a suicide to make us mindful of the precarious minefield that is life for the young people in our education institutions.More

NAESP President to appear on Lifetime TV
On Tuesday, Nov. 23, NAESP President Barbara Chester will once again appear on Lifetime TV's The Balancing Act. She will discuss how principals and teachers can help students improve their reading skills. Watch a trailer for the show here. More

Legislative Action Center provides members access to Capitol Hill
The 2010 election season is over, but the efforts of NAESP's advocacy and government relations team are ongoing. NAESP is committed to championing the interests of elementary and middle-level principals by maintaining dialogue with members of Congress and the U.S. Department of Education. We are also committed to providing members with access to their federal representatives. That is why we have created the NAESP Legislative Action Center, a members-only benefit that allows you to learn about your members of Congress and contact them via e-mail or letter.More