Terrific article in yesterday’s Shreveport Times about Principal Cathleen Johnson’s reflections on her tumultuous entry into the field of education. Johnson integrated Bossier Elementary in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1970 as the first African-American teacher and 37 years later she’s still there—but now she’s the principal. We can all find great inspiration in her story.
A large painting of an Afghan tribesman has hung for decades in the auditorium of a Massachusetts elementary school. The school system’s superintendent recently asked Sotheby’s, the famous auction house, to appraise the work, “Afghans,” by the Russian artist Alexandre Iacovlef. The school guessed the painting was worth about $1,000, but boy were they in for a big surprise. The painting is actually worth between $1 million to $2 million.
While the much higher price tag was good news, it also created a dilemma—how to insure the painting and protect it from thieves. The school says it cannot afford to keep the painting, even though that’s what the donor wanted when he gave it to the school.
Now that spring is fast approaching, it might be time to do some spring cleaning and a schoolwide inventory. You never know, you might have an old Picasso lying around.
Speaking of NCLB and "highly qualified", there are now 55,000 nationally board certified teachers, three times the amount there were five years ago. While there is no direct correlation between national board teacher certification and improved student achievement, principals welcome teachers who seek additional certification that can help them move towards becoming a “highly qualified teacher.”
For example, when Principal Jan Borelli took the helm of her school three years ago, the school had been on the state’s low performing list for five years and had one nationally board certified teacher (NBCT) at the time. The school is now off of that list and has two NBCT's and four candidates who will know their results next fall. Borelli says the school also has three more teachers who have already applied for next year.
“I am not sure if there is a correlation between test scores and NBCT,” says Borelli. “I do know, however, that they are excellent teachers who are constantly striving to improve.”
Does your school have any NBCT's? If so, what impact has it had on teacher quality or student achievement?
The Commission on No Child Left Behind, a bi-partisan group led by former Georgia Governor Roy E. Barnes, released a report this week with 75 recommendations for Congress as it prepares to reauthorize ESEA. The report, which some are calling an ambitious plan, provides recommendations that include the creation of a Highly Effective Principal category (which NAESP is opposed to); sanctions for teachers with poorly performing students; and the creation of new national standards and tests.
Click here to read NAESP’s response to the Commission report.
Principals discuss the conditions of their school buildings in a new report by the Ed Department’s National Center for Education Statistics. The report looks at nine environmental factors in school buildings (including physical condition, air quality, air conditioning, and lighting) and the extent to which principals believe those factors are interfering with the ability to deliver instruction to students. The report also looks at approaches for coping with overcrowding and the ways in which schools use portable buildings.
The bottom line? Between 63 percent and 92 percent of principals are satisfied with their permanent buildings (depending on the environmental factors). Although close to half of the principals also indicated that at least one or more of the environmental factors interfered with instruction to some extent.
With the upcoming ESEA reauthorization fresh on our minds, the $56 billion proposed in President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget proposal for federal education programs is highly disappointing. Though the President has proposed an increase in Title I funding by $1.2 billion, for example, he has proposed cutting many other federal education programs, including the School Leadership Program. Click here to read NAESP’s response to the President’s budget proposal.
Principals can be pretty creative when it comes to motivating their
students to learn. For 20 years, NAESP Board Member and Michigan principal Bill Rich has been visiting classrooms as “Zero the Hero” to inspire his K-1 students. When Zero the Hero is around, dates that end with a zero become very special days as the children become engaged in all types of counting activities.
“Like most schools, we have a big celebration for 100 Days, but it is important to celebrate each Zero Day to give the students a shorter time between celebrations,” says Rich. “As the students become excited about an upcoming Zero Day, the teachers can use that motivation for asking questions about numbers during the daily calendar times. On Day 47, for example, teachers can ask questions like: “How many days since we last saw Zero?” or “How many times has Zero visited us this year?”
“While I have never admitted to a parent or student that I dress as Zero, I can’t walk into our middle school or high school and not have students say, ‘There goes Zero the Hero,’” says Rich. “We all do some crazy things to participate in the education of our students. Hopefully we can leave students with some enjoyable memories.”
NAESP created the Read Aloud Award this year to recognize and support quality children’s books, develop a love of reading within students, and encourage principals to read to children. Principals from across the country voted for their favorite book from a list of nominated titles and (drum roll please)…NAESP’s inaugural Read Aloud Award goes to The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! (written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith), a memorable parody of the fairy tale, "The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf," told from the perspective of Alexander T. Wolf.
The presentation of the Read Aloud Award will be made during NAESP's Annual Convention and Exposition in Seattle on March 31 at 10 a.m.
What are you willing to do in the name of school spirit . . . and the Super Bowl? The Northwest Indiana Times reports that the principal and assistant principal of Churchill Elementary School in Homewood, Indiana will paint their faces and sing the Chicago Bears’ fight song at the scheduled Super Bowl pep rally if 95 percent of the students turn in 100 percent of their homework within the next week. Principal Cece Coffey says, "There's already so much excitement among our kids about the big game that we thought we'd try to channel some of that energy into their schoolwork." Stay tuned and have a wonderful weekend!
Vincent Ferrandino, NAESP’s executive director, and Sally McConnell, NAESP’s associate executive director for Government Relations, along with NASSP counterparts, met with Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings last week to discuss the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. You can read more about this visit on NAESP’s Federal Legislative Action Center.
Principals continue to share their thoughts about NCLB on the Principals’ Office. Pat Hould says that his school has been mostly impacted by the notion of sub group reporting and the thought of testing special education students at their grade level versus their ability level. “While I realize that this is somewhat a state by state issue, I struggle with the notion of testing students with, for example, a 5th grade reading level with an 8th grade test,” says Hould. “I fully accept the thought of being held accountable and having my students held accountable for what they know and should be able to do. However, I object to the thought of my school not reaching AYP because a member of a particular sub group, that has an identified learning disability, drives down our scores. These wonderful students, whose gifts are many and contributions to our school great, are placed in special education because of their ability. My wish list for change to NCLB would include: 1). Multiple assessment measures and 2). A model that compares children to their own abilities and their individual academic achievement growth.”
Hould provides some wonderful insights. Tell us what you think. How has NCLB impacted your school? What would you say to members of Congress about the reauthorization?