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Articles: Board of Education

Mary T. BarraSTEM AWARD

Mary T. Barra, General Motors’ senior vice president of global product development and an active supporter of STEM, will be the first woman to receive the 2013 Industry Leadership Award from the SAE Foundation, a global charity supporting STEM learning.

Hot Springs School District intermediate students share with Superintendent Joyce Littleton Craft their latest literacy projects using iPads.

As a girl growing up in a small community in the east Arkansas town of Cotton Plant, Joyce Littleton Craft calls it a “privilege” to have learned about work ethics and the ideal that “your word is your bond” as she and her siblings tended the family’s cotton crop in what’s called the Delta. “[My parents] stressed the importance of education and reaching your goals, even if that meant working twice as hard,” says Craft.

School board members and superintendents typically focus their safety planning and preparedness measures on school campuses, but they often overlook security and emergency planning for administration centers, board meeting sites and support facilities.

Today’s climate of economic uncertainty, school budget cuts and the growing politicization of education issues create a new level of risk for the adults running districts. Failure to take reasonable preparedness measures can lead to increased risks and the potential for greater liability.

Diane Allen Who’s the Bully?
After Stuart Chaifetz posted a videotape of teachers bullying his autistic son in a school in the North Bergan (N.J.) School District, N.J. State Sen. Diane Allen proposed a bill that would streamline the dismissal process for teachers found to be bullies. 
Texas State Board of Education, Cargill

The 2011-2012 school year marked the first time in decades that Texas school districts could purchase instructional materials without approval by the state board of education. Senate Bill 6, which was implemented Sept. 1, 2011, freed up $792 million for school districts to purchase materials. The intent behind the bill was twofold: to allow district textbook coordinators to spend more money on instructional technology, and to prevent the content of textbooks from being held hostage to the political opinions of the state board of education.

The Virginia Beach Landstown High School and Technology Academy administration confers with lead teachers on the five dozen professional development opportunities offered to its faculty this past February.

At some level, principals always have been instructional leaders—but never before has their role been more prominent.

First, the accountability movement—No Child Left Behind in particular—thrust principals into the spotlight on academic achievement. Then budget cuts peeled away capacity at both the district and school levels, thinning the ranks of assistant superintendents, curriculum specialists and assistant principals, who shouldered some or most of the load.

Search in spring and summer. John Leuenberger, board president for Lena-Winslow School District 202 (Ill.), advises districts to synchronize their superintendent search with the national job market for school executives, which peaks each spring and summer. Lena-Winslow’s first attempt at recruiting a superintendent, in the fall of 2010, garnered only 15 candidates. The same search process in July 2011 attracted more than 30 applicants.

When the Allendale (N.J.) School District approached Michael Osnato last year for assistance in finding a new superintendent, Osnato knew it could be a challenge. Although the search firm he founded and runs, Leadership Advantage, had completed 80 school executive searches in New Jersey, a governor-mandated pay cap on superintendent salaries, based on district enrollment, had shrunk candidate pools already affected by retiring baby boomers.

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan before the president delivers his back-to-school speech in Washington, D.C.

The start of a new year is A time of resolutions and renewal, but for many of us here in Washington, it seems we can’t get rid of old baggage.

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