January 31, 2008

Maryland Power Struggle

Democratic leaders in the Maryland General Assembly will likely introduce a bill early next week aimed at rescinding the recent reappointment of State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick.

The proposal would make it so that the four-year term of a superintendent would end two years into the tern of a new governor, thus allowing the governor to have input into the selection process. Additionally, the bill would give the governor the option of appointing an education adviser to his or her Cabinet. Currently the state superintendent is the only member of the Cabinet that does not serve at the pleasure of the Governor.

A senior aide in the office of Governor Martin O'Malley said, "The governor is not interested in exercising direct control over the appointment of the superintendent, but the current system doesn't make sense."

The board's decision in December to extend Grasmick's term drew sharp criticism from both the governor and democratic members of the state assembly.

The legislation would push back the end of Grasmick's term to December, when O'Malley appointees will have gained a majority on the State Board of Education.

State Senate President Miller commented, "If they look at her and say she's the best person for the job, then she should kepp the job, but this is a lady who is closely aligned with the enemy camp implementing your policy on something as important as education."

Read more here.

January 28, 2008

State of the Union Preview

Washington, DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee will one of the First Lady’s guests for tonight’s State of the Union address.


Highlights of the education issues to be featured by President Bush this evening:


·         A White House Summit on inner city children and faith-based schools will be held this spring in Washington, D.C.

·         $300 million for “Pell Grants for Kids,” K-12 scholarships for low-income students in low-performing schools

·         $800 million for scholarships to attend after-school and summer school programs

·         Praise for the Washington, DC voucher program.


Click here for more information about these initiatives.


High School the McDonald's Way

Would you like fries with that diploma?


January 24, 2008

Praise for Volunteer Board

Editorial praise for the Tennessee State Board of Education. “The state Board of Education's plan to make public schools harder is a good start,” writes the Knoxville News.

January 23, 2008

Everyday Mathematica

A sample page of the 3rd grade math textbook that is the subject of controversy in Texas.


Chicago To Translate State Asssessments

“Chicago Public School officials volunteered Thursday to pay at least $120,000 to translate the state math and science exams into Spanish, to help students who have limited-English language skills.

In years past, those children took the Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English in math and reading. Those exams are written in English but have fewer and easier questions than the regular state achievement exams.

But after a two-year battle with state officials, the U.S. Department of Education ruled that the IMAGE test -- initially created to measure language acquisition -- does not adequately assess math and reading skills.

Federal officials said that unless the state could come up with a better exam for these students, the children must take the grade school Illinois Standards Achievement Tests or the high school Prairie State Achievement Exam, or the state would risk losing federal money.

As a compromise, Chicago officials offered to create an audio translation for the major tests,” reports the Chicago Tribune.


Mayoral Appointments?

At least one elected member of the Nashville, Tennessee school board thinks the mayor should appoint all the members…including him.


Pay for Grades

“The Baltimore school system will pay high school students who improve their scores on the state graduation exams up to $110 each, a controversial plan that would be a first in Maryland.

The system will spend $935,622 on the student incentives, part of a $6.3 million plan to help students struggling to pass Maryland's High School Assessments that administrators presented to the school board last night.

State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick approved the plan last week. But in a letter to city schools chief Andres Alonso, she expressed concern about the "lack of ... research" supporting student incentives and required the system to closely track student results,” reports the Baltimore Sun.


Textbook Power Play

Another power play by the Texas State Board of Education over textbook adoption bemoans the Waco Tribune.

Four More Years?

“If college students can take more than four years to graduate, why not high school students?,” asks the Grand Rapids Press. “State educators are considering a proposal to raise the number of years before graduation for some Michigan high school students.

Ending Standars Redundancy in Mississippi

“Mississippi's [school] ratings - and performance accountability - predate federal requirements and are in many ways redundant. Having state and national standards has led to confusion over which tests are more accurate, or which criteria should be measured. Abolishing rankings for a year should help state leaders assess the issue,” says this Clarion Ledger editorial.


Backsliding in Mass?

Is Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s education reform proposals a retreat from the policies that made the state a model of K-12 success? Yes, says Joe Williams, who charges that “Patrick created an education task force to craft his blueprint for education policy, but the ‘vision statement’ that is guiding this task force barely mentions charters and leaves the door open to watering down MCAS,” in this Boston Globe op-ed.


MLK Honor for Ohio Member

Ohio State Board member Jennifer Stewart was honored this week at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast.


Eight! 8!


That is the number of children in the District of Columbia who have been shot in drive by shootings over the past two weeks. The latest were three high school students wounded yesterday after a gunman fired in what police believe to be a gang related incident outside Ballou High School with about two hundred children in the immediate vicinity.

January 14, 2008

Parenting Classes Required in Texas Schools

“A new state law requires that parenting and paternity awareness be included in the high school health curriculum by 2008-09. The [Texas} State Board of Education plans this week to adopt a curriculum developed by the Office of the Attorney General, an agency charged with, among other duties, cracking down on fathers who fail to support their children,” says the Houston Chronicle.

To Text or Not to Text?

“Beginning in August 2007, the N.C.A.A. banned Division I colleges from using text messaging to recruit athletes, citing complaints from students that the practice was driving up cellphone bills and intruding on personal time.

Now, in an unusual move, representatives from the N.C.A.A.’s Division I members are expected to revisit the issue Saturday at their annual convention after 34 of the 329 colleges asked for an override vote. To reverse the ban, at least five-eighths of the delegates in attendance would have to approve it,” reports the NY Times, which notes that “the issue has turned into an unlikely battle of the generations. In one corner are college coaches and athletic directors…In the other corner are college and high school students asking for a little more respect.”

To Grasmick's Defense

The Washington Post editorial page rises to the defense of Maryland State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick in her feud with Governor Martin O’Malley…sort of. As per usual with Washington Post editorials on education, it’s a mishmash of messages without a central point or consistent argument.

Arizona Budget Concerns

The state’s budget crisis should not derail Arizona’s education goals writes incoming state board president Vicki Balentine.

January 11, 2008

New Nutrition Policy In Moutaineer State

“Beginning July 1, the sale of caffeinated beverages will be banned in West Virginia public schools under a nutrition policy approved by the state Board of Education,” reports the Charleston Daily Mail.

January 8, 2008

Happy Birthday NCLB

Today marks the sixth birthday of No Child left Behind. President Bush and Secretary Spellings were in Chicago yesterday at Horace Greeley Elementary, the only Blue Ribbon school in the city, to celebrate. Read more about the visit here.

During the press gaggle aboard Air Force One in route to Chicago, Secretary Spellings made the following comments:

"I think the important thing as we reflect on the anniversary...is, you know, it's time for us to take stock, to embrace what has worked in No Child Left Behind, and improve the things that should be improved. That's why we have reauthorizations in the Congress, that is why every six years the Congress gives itself an opportunity to stop, look and listen, and correct things that may need improvement."

Perhaps more interestingly: "And so what the President is going to say is that we want the Congress to act. We hope they will. But if they don't, I'll take administrative steps at the Department, as I have in the last three years, to start to work on some of these matters."

Read more here.

January 7, 2008

Principal on Wheels

“Cheryl Pasteur, principal of Randallstown High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, is known as ‘The Principal on Wheels’ because she spends the entire school day in the hallways and classrooms, all the while pushing the cart that doubles as her office. On her cart, Pasteur carries key trappings of her office, including a travel mug of green tea, her BlackBerry, a walkie-talkie, a can of candy, a box of tissues and her planner. She brings a stack of paperwork but says she rarely gets to it until the end of the day.”

Ms. Pasteur exemplifies accessibility every day as she pushes her cart around the school, focusing primarily on what matters most- teaching and learning. She created avenues for teachers to voice opinions via a teachers’ council and encouraged the community to get involved. Kudos to “Miss P” for thinking outside the box and working diligently to get the job done.

NASBE is part of The Wallace Foundation’s Education Leadership Initiative to place quality leadership at the core of school reform. Read more about our work on educational leadership here.

Intriguing New NCLB Twist

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the lower court decision in Pontiac v. Spellings (whither NCLB is an unfunded mandate) and remanded the case for further proceedings.

January 3, 2008

What Does the Ohio State Board Do?

Ohio State Board member Jane Sonenshein answers that question in this guest column.

January 2, 2008

Evolution in SC

“The South Carolina Board of Education could end up debating evolution next month as it considers whether to endorse a high school biology textbook,” reports the Charlotte Observer.

A New Commish

The Boston Globe editorial page weighs in on the search for a new Massachusetts Commissioner of Education.

Federal Education Budget Signed

On December 26, President Bush signed into a law a bill that will increase federal education spending by 2.9 percent in fiscal 2008.

Funding for the Title I program for disadvantaged students increased 8.6 percent to $13.9 billion ($12.8 billion was appropriated for the program in fiscal 2007). The Reading First program however was cut significantly, dropping from $1 billion last year to $393 million in fiscal 2008.

In addition to the major increase for Title I and the cut to Reading First, the measure will appropriate:

• $10.9 billion for K-12 state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a nearly 1 percent increase over the fiscal 2007 level of $10.8 billion;

• $2.93 billion to help states improve the quality of their teachers, a 1.7 percent increase; and

• $1.2 billion for career and vocational education programs, a 0.5 percent decrease.

Read more here from Education Week.