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The Principals' Office Blog

State of the Union Previews Bush’s Education Budget

On Monday, President Bush gave his seventh and final State of the Union address to Congress and the nation, providing a sneak peek at some key initiatives from his budget request that will be released next week. Here are some of the issues that affect public school education.   “Pell Grants for Kids”President Bush called on Congress to adopt another federal voucher program called “Pell Grants for Kids.” The important distinction between traditional recipients of Pell Grants and K-12 students is that public schools are free and compulsory, while Pell Grants help students pay for college that is not free and is voluntary.

NAESP will strongly oppose the President’s proposal and attempt to redirect the $300 million he’s earmarked for the voucher program to a public education priority, like Title I.

ESEA ReauthorizationPresident Bush instructed Congress to reauthorize No Child Left Behind before he leaves office, stating “today, no one can deny [the] results” of the law. NAESP does not expect to see a final reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as NCLB, before 2009 but we will continue to share NAESP’s recommendations for the ESEA reauthorization with Congress.

In the meantime, visit the newly designed Leading Educators’ Advocacy Dashboard (LEAD) to find out updates on the progress toward ESEA’s reauthorization. 

The Principals Have Decided …

The winner of NAESP’s second annual Principal’s Read Aloud Award is Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin). Over 900 principals from across the country voted for Click, Clack, Moo, a charming tale about Farmer Brown and his barn full of literate cows.

The Principal's Read Aloud Award program recognizes quality children’s books and encourages principals to read aloud to their students. The presentation of the Read Aloud Award will be made during NAESP’s Annual Convention and Exposition in Nashville on Monday, April 7 at 10 a.m.

To begin the selection process for the 2009 award, NAESP is asking members to nominate a favorite title. If you have a book that you have enjoyed reading to children, please submit the title, author/illustrator, and publisher along with your name to childrensbookaward@naesp.org. We are looking for books that are currently in print and therefore readily available to our members. We look forward to honoring great children’s books and appreciat e your participation in the process.

Pittsburgh Superintendent Focuses on Instructional Leadership

Pittsburgh Superintendent Mark Roosevelt has a plan for his principals—to transform them from building managers to instructional leaders, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. During the past two school years, Roosevelt told principals about their new role, started the Pittsburgh Leadership Academy to help them adjust, and created a “School Plan for Excellence” for each school in the district.

NAESP believes that it is incumbent upon school principals to continue their professional growth in order to improve instructional leadership and model lifelong learning. What do you think about Roosevelt's plan?

Who Controls the School E-mail List?

Healthy communication between schools and parents allows both to collaborate in providing the best possible learning experience for students. Many schools find that using an e-mail list keeps parents in the loop. But The Washington Post reports that maintaining a school e-mail list can become problematic. Often maintained by a school’s PTA, conflict can arise over ownership if the list manager decides to leave the PTA or if there are stringent rules about who can post, for example. “As PTA Groups Move Online, So Does Dissension” describes some of the pitfalls of PTA managed e-mail lists. School administrators and PTA groups should work together when introducing an e-mail list. Establish ground rules and have people abide by them.

Help for Principals Seeking Grants

The lead article of the January 2008 issue of Communicator focused on how principals can find and apply for grants that will benefit their school. Here are a few sites that can help get you started on finding the right grant for your school. Let us know your experiences with finding and applying for funding.

www.grantsalert.comThis site is dedicated entirely to education funding and features a Grant Writers’ Directory—searchable by state or key word—that lists individuals and organizations experienced with writing winning proposals.

www.fundsnetservices.com/educ01.htmThis site provides links to companies and foundations whose funding interests include education. Both large (e.g., Pfizer, Motorola) and smaller, lesser-known (e.g., Bowling Foundation, Frey Foundation) organizations are listed.

www.ed.gov/fund/grant/find/edlite-forecast.htmlThis site lists virtually all programs and competitions under which the U.S. Department of Education has invited or expects to invite applications for new awards for fiscal year 2008, and provides actual or estimated deadline dates for the submission of applications under these programs.

www.naesp.org/ContentLoad.do?contentId=917The NAESP Web site lists several more resources to help principals obtain funding for their school.

Cheers to the New Year!

The Principals’ Office will be taking a break for the next two weeks. Check back in with us in January for continued discussions of the complexities of the principalship and engaging posts that connect you with your colleagues.

We wish you a wonderful holiday season and all the best for the new year!

Should Zeros Be Permitted?

The January/February 2008 Speaking Out article addresses whether or not to give students a zero grade for an incomplete or missing assignment. The author of the current article believes that students should never receive zeros because it results in loss of learning, lower motivation, and, ultimately, failure. As such, she helped implement a school program in which students are given after-school opportunities to complete missing assignments, requiring them to earn a grade on all their schoolwork.

Do you agree that zeros should be eliminated from grading scales? What methods have you found effective in decreasing student failure while maintaining integrity of student grades and learning? Speak out and let us know what you think!

NAESP’s Position on “Highly Qualified” Principals

Over the last few weeks, there have been a number of articles published on the issue of “highly qualified” or “highly effective” principals, including a December 12 article (“Policy Focus Turning to Principal Quality”) in Education Week. NAESP opposes the establishment of a federal definition of a “highly qualified” or “highly effective” principal (or any similar definition). Listing criteria in federal law would, we believe, lead to judging principal quality fully or in large part on the basis of test scores. The best way for the federal government to help create and maintain excellent principals is to require states and districts to provide principals with high-quality ongoing professional development, beginning with mentoring in the early years and lasting throughout a principal’s career, and to provide funds to help states in that work.

NAESP supports the authorization of funds for an independently designed and implemented program of voluntary national certification for principals. We believe the model of the board certification program for teachers established by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is an excellent one, and would like for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to create and implement it.

NAESP’s ESEA reauthorization recommendations detail what the Association believes should be changed to make ESEA more effective and less punitive on the nation’s schools, including ensuring that schools are well-staffed by well-qualified professionals.

Practice Vocabulary; Help Combat World Hunger

FreeRice.com donates 20 grains of rice to the U.N. World Food Program every time a player selects the right definition for a particular word. This vocabulary quiz site, which debuted in October, has generated interest from children and adults alike, to the tune of more than 8.2 billion grains of rice to date. The rice is paid for by advertiser income.

The site was created by a computer programmer seeking to help his son prepare for the SAT’s verbal section. Teachers of all grade levels have encouraged their students to take a stab at this “game,” which includes words ranging from “solve” and “quickly” to “ebullient” and “spelunker.”

States Allowed to Use Growth Model for NCLB

On Friday, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced that all eligible states are welcome to adopt the “growth model” for assessing student progress under NCLB. Educators have complained that the current method of measuring progress unfairly lumps the scores of students together, without taking into account gains by individual students. The growth model allows states to track the progress of individual students over a period of time, and requires states to have a system to track students’ scores and to protect their privacy.

North Carolina, Tennessee, Delaware, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Alaska, and Arizona are using the growth model, but the Department of Education will have to approve additional states that want to use it.

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