April 29, 2008

Oregon Science Teacher To Be Named National Teacher of the Year

Michael Geisen, a science teacher at Crook County Middle School in Prineville, Oregon, will be named 2008 National Teacher of the Year by President George W. Bush at a White House ceremony tomorrow, in an event with all of the 2008 state teachers of the year.


Geisen was born in Seattle, Washington, on April 27, 1973, and graduated in 1991 from Kentridge High School in Kent, Washington.

He received his bachelor’s degree in Forest Resource Management from the University of Washington in 1996, graduating magna cum laude. He began his professional career as a forester but while this was satisfying work for a while, eventually he missed the direct connection with people. Geisen earned a Master of Arts in Teaching, with a science endorsement, from Southern Oregon University in 2001 and began teaching that fall at Crook County Middle School. He is married to Jennifer Geisen and they have two children ages eight and five.


Geisen is the 58th National Teacher of the Year. He will begin a year as a full-time national and international spokesperson for education on June 1, 2008. The other 2008 National Teacher of the Year finalists are Lewis Chappelear, an engineering and design teacher at James Monroe High School in North Hills, California; June Teisan, a science teacher at Harper Woods Secondary School in Harper Woods, Michigan; and Thomas R. Smigiel, Jr., a teen leadership and science teacher at Norview High School in Norfolk, Virginia.


The current National Teacher of the Year is Andrea Peterson, an elementary school and board certified music teacher from Granite Falls, Washington. Additional information on the National Teacher of the Year Program can be accessed at http://www.ccsso.org/ntoy.


Teaching Students to be Students

"Schools assume that a student will come in, and just know what to do," school psychologist Steve Franklin said. "At Webster, teaching a student how to be a student is really important. We don't expect them to already know how to read, to do math or write. So why aren't we teaching these things, too?"

A worthwhile read, this story about Webster School in San Diego, talks about how a homegrown program that explicitly teaches scholarly behaviors, transformed their school.

"Top achievers, [teachers] found, had mastered a behavioral code that equaled school success. They spoke up in class. They balanced when to speak and when to listen. They turned toward the speaker. Those behaviors -- not their brightness -- separated them from their lower-achieving peers and enabled them to absorb information. If the school explicitly taught students those behaviors, [principal Jennifer] White reasoned, wouldn't they do better?"

April 28, 2008

Grad Requirements being opposed by local boards in PA

The Pennsylvania State Board of Education’s attempt to standardize the state’s graduation requirements is running into opposition from local school boards.


“The Board of Education passed the rules, as part of the governor's quest to make high school diplomas more meaningful. The regulations are now undergoing a lengthy regulatory process, but if approved will go into effect starting with the class of 2014 — today's sixth-graders…[but] school boards from more than 100 of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts have passed resolutions opposing the adoption of the 10 “high stakes” exams in English, math, social studies and science,” reports phillyburbs.com.

Mississippi State Board Chair Claude Hartley is generally pleased with the education initiatives passed by the state legislature this year.


Not So Plain Dealing

The Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial page chimes in on Ohio Governor Ted Strickland’s attacks on school’s chief Susan Zelman with a predictably muddled suggestion that “ compromise seems in order, and the state board should meet the governor halfway,” a compromise which the PD later clarifies as a dignified departure for Zelman.


That’s a compromise?

April 22, 2008

Crew Ready to Leave Miami?

Dr. Rudy Crew, NASBE’s recent Legislative Conference Keynoter and 2008 National Superintendent of the Year “told Education Daily® on Mon­day that he is frustrated with the politics of the [Miami-Dade] system and that “the day is coming” when he may leave.


‘I am running tired of dealing with some members of my board,” Crew said. “They have been disrespectful of the work and almost everything we’ve done.’”

April 21, 2008

Florida State Board Interview

An interview with Florida State Board member Phoebe Raulerson.

April 14, 2008

A Jukebox Hero

There are rock stars (Elvis, Bono), then came rock star CEOs (Lee Iacocca, Bill Gates), and rock star lawyers (F. Lee Bailey, Johnny Cochrane). At one time, there was even rock star stock analysts (Henry Blodget).


Now comes, of course, rock star school superintendents. “Fewer qualified candidates, rising expectations, and a near-impossible job description are creating a new breed of superintendents: Call them central office rock stars. These candidates say that, for the right price, they're willing to do an unpopular job that can take a heavy personal and professional toll to whip underperforming districts into shape,” explains the article.


One superstar supe they identify is Dr. Rudy Crew, Miami-Dade’s superintendent and the 2008 National Superintendent of the Year. He was also the keynote speaker at NASBE’s recent Legislative Conference. And he was received like…..well, a rock star.


(Thanks to Tom Brewster.)

April 8, 2008

Senate Support for Vermont State Board

Bill Doyle, Vermont’s Senate Minority Leader and vice-chairman of the Senate Education Committee, writes in defense of the Vermont State Board of Education (indeed, all state boards of education) in the state’s largest paper amid legislative efforts to dismantle the state board.

“The state Board of Education and the commissioner of education have taken a leading role in framing the conversation about transforming the state's education system and preparing Vermont's children for the world that awaits them,” says Doyle. “The board and the commissioner have been involved in numerous conversations with various constituent groups -- students, parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, legislators, school board members and business leaders. The Board of Education and the commissioner have plans for transforming the state's education system and creating a 21st Century learning environment.”

“It has been the right conversation to have. Vermont has an excellent education system with a lengthy history of accomplishments over many years. In a number of key categories, Vermont student have compared very well with their national peers, but the Vermont state board understands, as do state boards of education through the country, the status quo can never be sufficient in the arena of public education.”


Click here for the full article.

One of my favorite education bloggers gets a longer form piece published in Slate magazine this week – on Senator Barack Obama’s school reform record.

April 3, 2008

This Illinois columnist offers a cynical summary of education governance in the Land of Lincoln over the past 15 years. As per usual, a lot of it has to do with money.


April 1, 2008

Chronicle Profiles Berlanga

The state’s English standards policy is personal for Texas State Board Member Mary Helen Berlanga, now in her 26th year on the State Board of Education.

Students Get a Voice

The Pennsylvania State Board of Education's student representation committee is expected to recommend in May that the board's bylaws be amended so two students can participate. In Maine, the state board will soon appoint two student board members. Both states were part of NASBE's Student Leadership Initiative, supported by MetLife Foundation, to help strengthen education and to encourage leadership development among young people.

Having a student at the table is critical ... when you talk about things like high-stakes testing or graduation requirements," said project director Lori Meyer. "These students are living it every day."

Read more about student leadership on state boards of education here.

Idaho Board under Attack

"The Idaho Senate Education Committee wants Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to strip some power from the State Board of Education and give it to the Department of Education, according to a letter made public Friday."

The recommendations include giving the governor more power to fire the president of the state board.

Read more here.

A "Bad Idea"

“It's up to the Florida House of Representatives now to protect the state's schools from the bad idea to elect a commissioner of education,” declares an Orlando Sentinel editorial about pending governance changes in Florida.

March 26, 2008

Achievement Gap Club

"Every other Wednesday morning at T.R. Smedberg Middle School in south Sacramento, about 30 seventh- and eighth-grade students meet to talk about something that confounds educators: the achievement gap."

It makes sense, but yet it's revolutionary- ask the students who make up the statistics what can be done lessen the achievement gap.

At the first meeting more than two years ago the school principal Keven MacDonald came in with six binders of research and threw them on the floor, and said to the students, "These experts don't have the answers. The gap has existed for 50 years. Why don't you tell me what we need to do?"

Read more about the club here.

March 24, 2008

Legislative Test

The Washington Post editorial page urges Maryland legislatures not to water down the state’s high school exit exam requirement, noting that “Maryland lawmakers historically have left education policy to the state board.” The situation is a reminder of what happens when high standards meet political realities, and suggests that legislators are the biggest impediment to education reform, or, at the very least, strong accountability.

Making the Law Work

“Once again, Margaret Spellings is doing the right thing for schools by bending, if not actually breaking, the law. The No Child Left Behind Act was so poorly conceived that occasionally the secretary of Education has to disobey it to make it work,” writes the LA Times editorial page in response to the Secretary’s new differentiated accountability proposal.