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District Administration, January 2017

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Features

Patricia Baltzley

Board chair, Gardiner School District (Mont.)

"The way high schools are currently designed—both with architecture and teaching and learning—needs to be revisioned in all high schools, not just those considered innovative. Instructional needs of the students are different and will continue to be different. We need to get out of the Industrial Age of schooling and move into a more progressive stage."

Jim Westrum

Executive director, finance and business, Wayzata Public Schools (Minn.)

As we face a new year with a new president, Newsletter Editor Ariana Fine looked back on 2016 to consider the biggest and most influential stories in K12 education. 

As Donald Trump settles into office, a pachyderm-size question now looms for educators: What will U.S. education policy look like under his Republican-led administration?

On the campaign trail, Trump discussed eliminating the Common Core, scaling back the influence of the U.S. Department of Education, and supporting school choice with vouchers and an increase in charter and magnet schools.

As in years past, this new year will bring all sorts of new technology to schools. The question for educators is: To what degree do these technologies enhance education?

Education faces no shortage of important challenges in the quest to improve our nation’s schools. Whether it’s the debate over testing, racial issues, learning standards or shrinking funding, 2017 promises to be a year of change—for better or worse.

Opinion

High-quality instruction in science, math, engineering and technology requires both teaching expertise and content knowledge. Yet, at the elementary school level, many teachers haven’t had specialized education or training in science.

Leticia Guzman Ingram, teacher at Basalt High School in Colorado and named 2016 Colorado State Teacher of the Year, shares her point of view of the education system in Finland.

Solutions

School superintendency is a family business for the Prusators. Todd Prusator leads Community Consolidated School District 231 in a small community 70 miles west of Chicago. His two brothers, Bob and Jeff, also are Illinois superintendents, all within about 30 miles of each other in the northwest corner of the state. 

Briefings

Principal DeMarcos Holland, of New Manchester High School in the Douglas County School System in Georgia, has replaced traditional class tardy bells with music, including compositions created by students and teachers. The friendlier sounds have lowered the average number of tardies from between 50 and 60 per day to less than 10.

School district leaders in the southern United States looking to tackle equity challenges have some help on the way.

More districts are adding seat belts to their bus fleets, following the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s 2015 recommendation that “every child on every school bus” needs a seat belt. 

Design Tech High School, or d.tech for short, opened in 2014 and is authorized by California’s San Mateo Union High School District. It commits to the concept of design thinking: Students learn to look for problems, understand the cause and empathize with people involved. Then they develop and test solutions, refine, try again, and share their findings.

With increased technological surveillance to protect and monitor students has come deep consequences for student privacy and equity, according to a new report from the National Association of State Boards of Education.

A new accountability and data collection system that the U.S. Department of Education proposed for teacher preparation programs last fall already faces challenges.

The suicide rate among 10- to 14-year-olds is on the rise. While the statistics are dire, a solution seems to be taking shape. Prevention may be in the hands of the students themselves.

Try to stay calm. Don’t start cursing. Keep your hands off the cops. But know that you have rights—like remaining silent and taking note of witnesses. Such knowledge can prevent police interactions from escalating out of control when teenagers get pulled over or otherwise encounter law enforcement.

With nearby manufacturing plants struggling to find skilled workers, Desert View High School in Tucson, Arizona, launched a precision manufacturing program in 2012. 

Students in districts across the nation have been harassed and intimidated based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexual identity in the wake of the presidential election, according to the nonprofit organization Southern Poverty Law Center.

Superintendents in states that passed referendums legalizing marijuana in November are pressing for more clear legal guidance on how to best address issues like drug possession. They also say more research is needed on the possible impacts of marijuana legalization on K12 academic achievement. 

Departments

Jody Spiro, the Wallace Foundation’s director of education leadership, talks about how the “Principal Pipeline” program identifies and develops qualified educators to take on the rigors of becoming a principal.

The ever-increasing pace and variety of technological developments continues to be a challenge for K12 assistive technology products.

Books on improving teachers, engaging science students, evaluating second languages and teaching media literacy education.