In October, the Principals' Office wrote about a campaign to encourage more principals to blog. Scott McLeod, from the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education, launched the project “100 principal blogs in 100 days” to increase the number of principals in the blogosphere. Although McLeod hasn’t reached the 100-day goal yet, 54 principals have asked him to set up blogs. One of the participants reported that updating a blog was easier than updating the school’s Web site and very similar to writing an e-mail message. (Believe it or not, it really is that simple.) Before McLeod started the project, which ends January 31, he found only 12 principals among 125,000 U.S. schools who were using blogs to post information, calendars, pictures and their own personal observations online. McLeod believes more principals will sign on once they see the value of blogging.
Some principals never stop giving to their students. Dalia Jimenez, a retired principal in Tampa, FL donated $54,000 to help fund a covered play court for her former school Anderson Elementary. The Tampa Tribune reported that Jimenez, who was principal of Anderson for 20 years, raised the money by selling Publix stock. Her donation will be supplemented by PTA contributions and matching funds from the school district in order to fully fund the project that may cost upwards of $150,000. Jimenez’s motivation for such exceptional generosity was to provide a play area for the students that shielded them from the brutal sun. “I’m spending my children’s inheritance, but I wanted to do something for the school,” says Jimenez.
NAESP is a proud founding member of a coalition of organizations that started No Name-Calling Week, an initiative that seeks to focus attention on name-calling in schools and provide students and educators with the tools to launch an ongoing dialogue about ways to eliminate this problem in their communities. (We hope you’re reading Rosie and Donald.)
This year, lesson plans were created as an additional resource to use during the week (and even after the week is over) to provide elementary school students an opportunity to engage in activities that teach them about tolerance, respect, and understanding. The lesson plans can be downloaded for free at www.naesp.org/client_files/NNCWElementaryLessonPlans.pdf.
We continue today with reflections from principals about how NCLB is impacting their schools. Principal Olaf Jorgenson moved from public to private school leadership in large part because he disagreed with NCLB, especially as it was administered in Arizona. “My current school does not accept a penny of federal funding, or any federal grants, even though we are on a shoestring each year and are able to operate only based on our tuition (which covers about 70% of our costs), our ability to attract groups to use our facilities during vacations and summers for revenue, and our (my) ability to fundraise,” said Jorgenson. “But I see my fellow principals in my former district really struggling with NCLB as it impacts children and teachers.” Jorgenson said that if he could speak to members of Congress about NCLB he would tell them: “If we must rely on test scores so heavily, then I'm a huge proponent of gauging a teacher's success (a school's success) based on how much a child grows in an academic year. If the teacher gets 100% of kids to progress at least one academic year, that's impressive.”
Yesterday, Principal Jan Borelli shared how NCLB has impacted her school. Borelli says that if she could speak to members of Congress about NCLB, she would tell them: “I think if anyone really looks at what makes a great class, it’s all about what the teacher can bring out of his or her students. I think if anyone really looks at what makes a great school, it’s all about what the principal can bring out of his or her teachers. I would like to see more support for the training and continuing development of principals.”
Jorgenson and Borelli offer some profound thoughts on NCLB. Tell us what you think. How has NCLB impacted your school? What would you say to members of Congress about NCLB?
“A New Day for Learning,” a report released today by the Time, Learning, and Afterschool Task Force (TLA), calls for immediate action to design a comprehensive learning system throughout the day, early to late, and year round. The TLA Task Force was chaired by NAESP’s executive director, Vincent L. Ferrandino, who says that, “All stakeholders involved with the development of children—whether it is educational, emotional, physical, or creative—need to tear down the barriers we’ve imposed on ourselves and partner more effectively to create a new learning day for children.”
With the reauthorization looming, we asked some principals how NCLB has impacted their schools. Principal Dean M. Warrenfeltz commented that he was present in Washington, D.C. for the ceremonial signing of the NCLB legislation and very excited to see the bi-partisanship backing of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the promised support for public schools. “However, the punitive nature of NCLB implementation and the lack of funding have not lived up to the promise," said Warrenfeltz. "The current legislation’s tone does not promote teaching as a profession or recognize the efforts put forth by educators. (You can read the rest of Warrenfeltz’s comment under the excerpt “All Eyes on Congress for NCLB reauth.”) When Principal Jan Borelli took the helm of her elementary school three years ago, the school had been on the state’s low performing list for five continuous years and was in danger of being reorganized or closed. “The pressure was unrelenting,” said Borelli. “After my first year there, we came off the low performing list by the hair of our chin. This year we performed very respectably in the top 10% of the 68 elementary schools in our district in over half of the tested grades. NCLB has really brought accountability (or at least a ‘feel’ of it) to our school since we had not provided evidence of progress until the last couple of years. It’s very demoralizing to work under such pressure and negativity; however, we decided to focus on the positive aspects (i.e., using data to tell us what we need to teach). It required (and enabled) us to professionalize our practice so that we no longer taught to the middle (couldn’t afford to) but actually began differentiating our curriculum so all children would make progress. By using best practices and research-driven practices, we began to find the way to teach so that our 99% free/reduced lunch and 68% ELL population could learn to read and develop language competencies more quickly. I have not liked being under the gun, but I have loved the constant data that flows my way and the ability to evaluate our practice as we go along instead of a stamp of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at the end of the year.”
Join us tomorrow for more reflections on the impact of NCLB. We hope that you will also take the time to share your thoughts on the Principals' Office about how NCLB has impacted your school.
While President Bush met with congressional leaders this week about the upcoming reauthorization, there was some rumbling in education circles about an article written by Michael Petrilli, a former U.S. Department of Education official who helped promote NCLB. Petrilli wrote "I've gradually and reluctantly come to the conclusion that NCLB as enacted is fundamentally flawed and probably beyond repair. The positive part about NCLB, he explained, is that it has changed the conversation in education. “But let's face it: It doesn't help the dedicated principal who is pulling her hair out because of the law's nonsensical provisions," he says. Read the rest of Petrilli’s article at http://www.edexcellence.net/FOUNDATION/gadfly/index.cfm#3177.
The suspense to the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has been building for several months and many eyes are on the new Congress to see what action they will take. But what’s this in Monday’s Christian Science Monitor in which reporter Amanda Paulson writes, “While the conversation is heated, the likelihood that NLCB will be reauthorized this year may be small.” Paulson cites an informal poll of Washington insiders that was conducted by the Fordham Foundation. In the poll, the majority of respondents believe the reauthorization will be delayed until after the 2008 presidential election.
This past Saturday was a beautiful spring day in many northeastern cities. In fact the 71 degrees in Albany, NY, 69 degrees in Boston, and a record breaking 72 degrees in New York City felt more like April than January temperatures. It’s safe to say that the northeast is having an unusually warm winter. One of the effects of this warm weather trend is a delay in the way that we winterize our bodies. For example, peak flu season is usually December thru March—but the warm weather in many regions of the country has delayed the “get flu shot” alarm in many households. Health officials are concerned that the mild winter will pacify people and they will in turn be caught off-guard when flu season hits, as it inevitably will.
In other regions of the country, influenza has already struck. The Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) reports that regional or widespread flu activity has already affected Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina in the southeast region. The good news is that the flu season doesn’t peak until February and the CDC says it’s not too late to get a flu shot. The CDC includes up-to-date resources for schools at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/school/qa.htm.
New Yorkers—and the rest of the nation—are celebrating the heroics of subway Samaritan Wesley Autrey. If you haven’t heard of Autrey, he’s the man who saved the life of a teenager who suffered a seizure and fell off a New York subway platform this past Tuesday. Autrey bravely jumped onto the tracks and shielded the student as the subway car rolled over both of them. A true act of courage. The Principals’ Office is also celebrating the heroism of Maryland vice principal Sue DelaCruz who recently helped save a woman and her child from their SUV, which had run off the road into a lake. The SUV was almost completed submerged in the water when DelaCruz, waded into the lake, which is nearly seven feet deep, to save them.
We love to read stories like these, especially since they don’t include the names “Hilton,” “Lohan” or “Brangelina” for a change. Have a terrific weekend!
Tune into the Principals’ Office next week for some thoughts on No Child Left Behind.
The Principals’ Office will be taking a temporary hiatus next week. We wish everyone a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year. We would also like to take a moment to thank our nation’s principals for the awesome job that they do and for their continued commitment to their students and teachers. See you in January!