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The Principals' Office Blog

Happy Anniversary!

The Principals’ Office turns 1 today. During the past year we have covered topics like the reauthorization of ESEA, the future of schools and education, and educating the whole child—which have garnered close to 30,000 visitors and many insightful comments. In the year ahead, you can look forward to more engaging posts that connect you with your colleagues.

Since its debut, the Principals’ Office has been joined by NAESP state affiliate blogs from Texas, North Dakota, and Washington. Here’s to another year in the blogosphere.

Power to the Principal

New Orleans joins a handful of cities whose districts give autonomy to public school principals. Following the lead of school districts in New York City, San Francisco, and Oakland, California, Recovery District superintendent Paul Vallas aims to give principals authority to hire their staff, as well as control over their budgets, according to The Times-Picayune.

Following a charter school model, principals in the state-run New Orleans schools will have the independence to recruit and hire their own teachers and academic support staff, and control the use of federal Title I grant money, beginning next school year. In the latest issue of Principal magazine, authors Steven Adamowski and Michael J. Petrilli weigh in on the issue of bridging the autonomy gap.

Simply the Best!

NAESP, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education, held its annual National Distinguished Principals program last Thursday and Friday and it was a great success. Sixty-one outstanding elementary and middle school principals from schools across the nation and abroad were honored at the Capitol Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.

During the program, principals described how receiving the award has positively impacted them in their communities. It was such a treat to hear them discuss their commitment to their schools and communities and it’s great for them to receive the recognition they deserve. Several principals were interviewed during the program by their local TV news affiliates and many others have been featured in their local newspapers. (Some of the articles can be read on the NAESP Web site at http://www.naesp.org/ContentLoad.do?contentId=1724.)

A black-tie awards banquet on Friday capped the two-day event. Gail Connelly, NAESP’s executive director, and Ray Simon, the deputy secretary for the Department of Education, thanked the principals for their tremendous dedication to their schools and communities. Congrats to the 2007 Class of National Distinguished Principals. Simply the best!

Veto Override Vote

You know better than most that the basic health and wellness of your students is vital to their learning successfully in school. The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill, H.R. 976, was vetoed by President Bush last week. On Thursday, Oct. 18, the U.S. House will try to override his veto, requiring a 2/3s majority of the present members voting in favor of the override. Contact your legislators today and ask that they vote in favor of the veto override! Go to the Federal Legislative Action center at http://capwiz.com/naesp/issues/alert/?alertid=10418706&PROCESS=Take+Action and scroll down to e-mail your representative.

Boomers in the Classroom

As the famed baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, many states are taking advantage of this population as a pool for school volunteers. Read about a former state-government employee who is spending her retirement years as a volunteer in a Baltimore elementary school in “States turn to seniors for help in classrooms”.

Environmental Education: What Is Our Responsibility?

The author of the Speaking Out article in the November/December 2007 issue of Principal magazine has “a renewed sense of urgency” about environmental education and believes that it’s the responsibility of school leaders to integrate it into the curriculum. In her article, Kendra Kecker asks, “If we are in an environmental crisis—which is becoming harder and harder to refute—doesn’t it make sense ... to start educating children at a young age and instilling behaviors we’re currently trying to change in adults?”

Do you think it’s necessary to incorporate an environmental education program at your school? What kind of environmental projects and activities do your students do? Is it even a school’s responsibility to teach students about how to care for the environment?

Proud to be a Principal

As we mentioned earlier this week, NAESP is running a Proud to be a Principal campaign through November 15. But we want to hear from you. Tell us, and your colleagues, why you’re proud to be in a profession that impacts millions of students, thousands of teachers, and hundreds of communities.

Trumpet your successes and your role as a school leader and share your proud to be a principal moment here on the Principals’ Office. If you want to learn more about the campaign or listen to a Proud to be a Principal sound byte, featuring NAESP's executive director Gail Connelly, visit www.naesp.org.

Where Are the Male Teachers?

The value of a racially diverse staff is a recurrent subject, but gender diversity is just as important. Stereotyping, low pay, and few mentors are among the reasons that the percentage of male teachers is at a forty-year low, according to Newsweek. This dearth is especially alarming given the evidence, however controversial, that teachers’ gender affects student learning. Whatever your take on Thomas Dee’s findings that “learning from a teacher of the opposite gender has a detrimental effect on students’ academic progress,” it is undisputable that children need strong male and female role models from an early age. In elementary schools, the problem is even more distinct, as male teachers number only nine percent.

Proud to be a Principal

NAESP invites you to let everyone know that you’re PROUD TO BE A PRINCIPAL! From October 1—November 15, 2007, we encourage you to trumpet your successes and your role as a school leader. You play an important role in your community and the lives of the children you serve. Now is your time to shine! To get you started, below is a copy of the Principals’ Creed. So stand tall, say the Principals’ Creed aloud, and let everyone know how proud you are to be a principal.

Principals’ Creed  We are dedicated to ensuring that every child in Americareceives a quality education.
We care about our country by caring deeply about its children.
We believe that no barrier should separate a child
from the best education a school can offer...
that neither race nor sex nor ethnic heritage nor geography nor social or economic statusmay be used to deny a child the opportunity to acquirea solid foundation in reading, writing, and mathematics...in critical thinking...and in the values of friendship, compassion, honesty, and self-esteem,We accept the challenge of the research showing thatquality education in every school depends on the expertise, dedication, and leadership of the principal of that school.

Take a Stand on Behalf of Your Students

Jonathan Kozol, the award-winning author of The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, is once again making quite the statement. He has been on a hunger strike of sorts since early July. The 71-year-old has lost about 29 pounds, bringing the 5-foot-9 inch education activist to a mere 132 pounds—all for the sake of America’s schoolchildren. Kozol is protesting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is up for renewal this year. According to the Boston Globe, Kozol said he will continue his partial fast until Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy (a sponsor of the original bill) agrees to overhaul what Kozol called a punitive law that relegates urban schoolchildren to an inferior, stripped-down education and demoralizes teachers, who he believes are forced to teach to the test.

NAESP’s reauthorization recommendations detail what the Association believes should be changed to make ESEA more effective and less punitive on the nation’s schools. Learn how you can make your own statement by visiting NAESP’s Federal Legislative Action Center. Lawmakers need to know how ESEA affects principals and their schools, so what better way is there other than to hear from principals themselves?

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