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Articles: Business & Finance

Gary Shattuck is the director of technology and media services for the Newton County School System in Covington, Ga.

When planning the implementation of a huge technology initiative, where audio enhancement and camera technologies would be placed in 552 classrooms over the summer of 2013, I knew that the key to success was rethinking how we deliver professional learning.

My experience with the traditional professional learning model of training-the-trainer has not been pleasant or successful. The problems I experienced were three-fold.

Test scores and graduation rates have risen steadily since Alberto Carvalho became Miami-Dade's superintendent in 2008.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was named 2014 National Superintendent of the Year by the School Superintendents Association. Since he took the job in 2008, the district’s test scores and graduation rates have risen steadily. The district has also won awards for marked improvement in AP participation and performance.

The authors of "Hire Better Teachers Now" say district leaders can hire more effectively by focusing on the individual needs of schools and districts.

Hire Better Teachers Now: Using the Science of Selection to Find the Best Teachers for Your School

Harvard Education Press

Robert Nelson, superintendent of Chawanakee Unified SD, oversees students working on refurbished Apple MacBooks, saving the district thousands of dollars. (Photo: Will Drosche)

Just five years ago, Chawanakee USD, a small rural district nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in northern California, and the North Kansas City School District, a suburban district located just north of Kansas City, Mo., were at the starting lines of the digital revolution.

Tracey Green is substitute teacher for second graders at Bryan Elementary School in the Jefferson County School System in Birmingham.

The substitute teacher just became more valuable.

Economic struggles and new federal education guidelines over the past five years have changed the environment for substitute teachers. When economic difficulties led to staff cutbacks in almost every industry, many laid-off workers signed up to be substitutes, allowing districts to be more selective.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires employers to offer health insurance to 95 percent of employees who work more than 30 hours per week. In some districts, that may include substitute teachers, who may teach from eight to 35 hours per week.

“Substitute teachers are right on the margin between full-time and part-time,” says Geoffrey Smith, director of STEDI, the substitute teaching institute based at Utah State University. “Districts traditionally haven’t offered health care for substitutes, but that may change for some of them.”

Scott Kinney is senior vice president of education partnerships at Discovery Education.

School district leaders must keep a diverse audience of teachers, principals, parents, local community leaders and other stakeholders informed of important district activities and learning initiatives.

Sometimes it can be a challenge for administrators to convey to a broad audience how a school district is transforming teaching and learning with educational technologies and digital content.

Paul Finch is the superintendent of the Red Hook Central School District in Red Hook, N.Y.

What happened? This is what we at the Red Hook Central School District had to ask when we looked at our student achievement data.

In some cases, there was a mismatch between our beliefs about certain teachers and actual performance, as measured by student achievement data. Ultimately, our personal biases were exposed and this led us to rethink our hiring practices.

Teacher-turned-activist Sabrina Stevens is executive director of Integrity In Education.

In mid-January a new organization called Integrity In Education was launched with the goal of “exposing the corporate and profit-motivated influences working to control public education across the country.”

is Van Roekel speaks at a recent conference, sponsored by the Education Writers Association and held at the University of Chicago, about teacher evaluations. Next to him, from his left are:

Changing state laws and the rise of evaluations have given administrators more flexibility in removing tenured teachers, a task that had long been nearly impossible. More states are tying student achievement to teacher evaluations and renegotiating contracts.

The National Education Association (NEA) has taken the position that teachers should be held accountable for providing high-quality classroom instruction. To avoid drawn-out legal battles, districts also should have a cost-effective, efficient system in place if someone has to be dismissed, the group states.

Former principal and superintendent Carmen Fariña is the new chancellor of New York City Public Schools.

Former principal and superintendent Carmen Fariña is the new chancellor of New York City Public Schools, appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in December. Fariña helped develop de Blasio’s education platform to include proposals for universal pre-K and more after-school programs for middle schoolers.

Richmond administrator

Dana T. Bedden became superintendent of Richmond Public Schools in Virginia in January. As former superintendent of Irving ISD in Texas, Bedden earned recognition from the state for financial management, academic progress and expanded AP course offerings.

Today’s education system is facing a debilitating threat in the form of a “trust deficit” that is undermining school and district leadership. As trust in our education leaders declines, so does student learning due to delayed education reform, decreased student achievement and fractured communities.

Baldwin County School District in Alabama spends $9 million per year on its Digital Renaissance program, which funds MacBook Air laptops for middle and high school students, and iPads for K2 students.

Before 4,450 MacBook Airs were distributed to students, before teachers were equipped and trained on their own devices, before test scores increased and the dropout rate decreased, the Mooresville Graded School District’s digital conversion started with a hard look at finances—one result of which was the elimination of more than 35 teaching positions.

Don Brann visits an elementary school in the Inglewood district—and listens to staff needs.

Donald Brann, state trustee of Inglewood USD, has only been on the job six months, but already teachers and administrators are seeing that things are different from what they used to be.

After the state takeover of the financially-struggling district, administrators say just having direct access and being able to communicate with him and receive quick answers to their questions is a change of pace. They had never seen the chief administrator visit their schools before.

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