Have you recovered from your lost hour of sleep? In accordance with the new federal law, daylight-saving time started three weeks earlier this year. And though most of us welcome the extra overall daylight, some school administrators worry about children’s safety as they travel to school in the dark. Add to that the fact that testing times started this week for many districts—and students could use the extra sleep—and that hour will be missed even more sorely.
A new report by the New Hampshire State Afterschool Task Force evaluates the effectiveness of after-school programs in elementary and middle schools. The report provides evidence that academically focused after-school programs cause students to improve both academically and behaviorally. NAESP’s publication Leading After-School Learning Communities: What Principals Should Know and Be Able to Do, also provides evidence of the benefits of high-quality after-school programs, the importance of a seamless school day, and the roles that principals—and others who lead after-school programs—have in ensuring academically enriching environments for children. Ten case studies of high-quality after-school programs were featured in NAESP’s book, Making the Most of After-school Time.
In the March/April issue of Principal magazine (Can Public Education Survive?) Henry Braun, the Boisi Professor of Education and Public Policy at Boston College's Lynch School of Education, tackles the private schools vs. public schools debate. Braun applies a different assessment model for analyzing NAEP data for students in grades 4 and 8 and shares some surprising results.
This week, principals from around the country gathered in the Washington, D.C.area to attend NAESP’s Federal Relations Conference. On the first day of the conference the principals attended sessions on the budget process, coalition building, and balancing grass-roots advocacy with the demands of the principalship. They were then briefed by Sally McConnell, NAESP’s Associate Executive Director for Government Relations, about taking their message to Capitol Hill. On the second day of the conference the principals did just that—they met and talked with federal legislators about the ESEA Reauthorization and the federal education budget. Keep abreast of NAESP's recommendations for the ESEA reauthorization as well as how legislative issues affect our schools by visiting the Federal Legislation Action Center.
A new study conducted by researchers at Duke University and the University of California at Berkeley has concluded that sixth graders perform better at elementary schools than they do in middle schools. “Should Sixth Grade Be in Elementary or Middle School? An Analysis of Grade Configuration and Student Behavior” finds that sixth grade students who attend middle school are more likely to exhibit disciplinary problems, and that “the exposure to older peers and the relative freedom from supervision have deleterious consequences.” Read the full text of the study at http://www.pubpol.duke.edu/research/papers/SAN07-01.pdf.
What will schools look like in 2021? Will they exist as we know them today or will students be engaged in a new schooling environment of self-learning? And given the fact that the job of principals has changed tremendously within the last decade, what will the profession look like in 15 years? These are some of the questions that NAESP's Vision 2021 initiative is examining. NAESP, in partnership with the Institute for Alternative Futures and state affiliate organizations, is working toward engaging members, nonmembers, NAESP staff, and diverse stakeholder groups to understand how the future is changing for pre-K-8 principals; and envision strategies, models, structures, and relationships that will realign NAESP with the future. We invite you to engage in compelling conversations that will take us all on a journey into the leadership future. Some of the conversations will take place later this month during NAESP’s Annual Convention (March 29-April 2) in Seattle. In the upcoming months, we will also feature conversations about Vision 2021 and the future of the principalship right here on the Principals’ Office. Stay Tuned.Until then, be sure to visit http://www.vision2021.org/ to learn more about this exciting initiative.
Interesting program at San Francisco's Jean Parker Elementary School where fifth graders are enrolled in a course that teaches them the fundamentals of business. In the class, the students learn how to create a global marketing plan, learn words like "revenue" and "prototype," and meet with venture capitalists and executives. Advocates say programs like this help children think about entrepreneurship and finance, but critics call them "kiddie MBA" programs and say they are thinly veiled advertisements that undercut the nonprofit motive of public education.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) is collaborating with the social-networking site, MySpace.com, to help locate missing children. The new partnership means that AMBER Alerts—which NCMEC established in 2001 for child abduction cases—will now be distributed to localized MySpace.com users. When a local law enforcement agency issues an AMBER Alert, that message will be sent to all MySpace users within the zip code of the missing child. Users who have information about the missing child can contact authorities.
NAESP supported last year’s passing of the Virginia Missing Child Bill, which also helps NCMEC locate missing children. The two part procedure requires that 1). Local law enforcement notify the principal of the school where the missing child most recently attended so that that child’s records can me marked; and 2). If the marked child’s record is requested, the matter will be investigated by the Superintendent of State Police. The U.S. Justice Department says that an average of 2,185 children are reported missing each day, making it even more important for principals and schools to know their state and local procedures to assist in the missing children's recovery. NCMEC reports there are currently 27 states with statutes requiring public schools to flag records of missing children, although these policies are not always implemented.
In Friday’s New York Times, reporter Winnie Hu writes that traditional PTAs/PTOs “have evolved into sophisticated multitiered organizations bearing little resemblance to the mom-and-pop groups that ran bake sales a generation ago.” (“Spreadsheets and Power Plays: PTAs Go Way Beyond Cookies”). Hu says that PTAs/PTOs have become more high-powered because the membership is increasingly made up of former executives who are now stay-at-home parents and who sometimes have their own agenda, which she argues can cause a power struggle between them and the school principal.
Gail Connelly, NAESP’s chief operating officer, emphasizes principals’ support of PTAs, noting that school leaders rely more than ever on parent groups. “Many principals may view it as a mixed blessing,” said Connelly. “But the reality is they are willing to assume the added pressure because the PTA provides a wonderful forum for parent-principal partnerships to flourish—and that partnership brings tremendous resources to support the goals of the school community.”
What do you think about Hu’s take on the changing PTA? Have you experienced this in your school?
Yes, we know it’s a no-brainer, but you may find some interesting tidbits in the report “Why We Still Need Public Schools” that you can share with your staff and community members. The report highlights the history and importance of public education and examines six core missions of public schools, including the goal of providing an equal opportunity for millions of children. The Center on Education Policy’s report is a great way to share what’s right with our public schools and can be accessed at http://www.cep-dc.org/PublicSchoolFacts/why/.