Education technology

Principals: What Are You Bringing to 2015–16 that’s “New”?

Guest post by Daisy Dyer Duerr, a 2014 NASSP Digital Principal and Ignite ’16 Speaker

I hear a gentle rumbling…it’s the sound of school buses starting and retailers unpacking school supplies. It’s back-to-school time! Most of our country’s schools will be in session within the next month.

Students will enter our schools for 2015–16 with many “new” ideas, perspectives, dreams, clothes, friends, and supplies. As principals and assistant principals you, too, should bring something “new” to your schools this year.

What’s the newest addition to your leadership toolkit this year? Maybe it’s a new digital tool you have mastered or a new way of communicating with parents. It could be something as simple as a concept from a great book or article you read over the summer. Or maybe you have changed your leadership structure and mantra completely. As a leader, you need to be evolving each year. Great principals want to continuously get better! (more…)

Senate Passes ESEA Reauthorization Bill, Sets Stage for Conference Committee

Less than two weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives moved to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by passing the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), the Senate followed suit by passing the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) by a vote of 81 to 17.

This historic achievement comes seven years after No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was due for reauthorization. The bill was opposed by 14 Republicans who felt the bill did not go far enough to restore local control in education and three Democrats because of concerns over missing civil rights provisions.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued the following statement after the bill passed the Senate:

“Last week, Newsweek Magazine called this the ‘law that everyone wants to fix’—and today the Senate’s shown that not only is there broad consensus on the need to fix this law—remarkably, there’s also broad consensus on how to fix it.”

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How Are You Recharging This Summer?

Guest post by Dr. Bill Ziegler, a 2015 NASSP Digital Principal who presented at the Ignite ’15 conference and will attend Ignite ’16.

Summer is a great time for principals to reflect on the past year and prepare for the upcoming school year. Consider grouping your summer break so that you can take advantage of opportunities to vacate, relate, innovate, and invigorate.

Vacate—as in vacation. Summer is the perfect time to refresh and reenergize for the new school year. When you go on vacation, be sure to leave the school cell phone and laptop in the hotel room or, even better yet, at home. Taking a break from school will make you stronger in the long run.

Relate—I use the summer to build my relationships with principals, teachers, friends, and most importantly, my family. I really enjoy having lunch with different principals to learn what other school leaders are doing and how they are working to improve their school. (more…)

Senate Education Committee Unanimously Approves Bipartisan ESEA Bill

After two days of debate and consideration of nearly 90 amendments, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved its bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in a historic, 22-0, vote on April 16. The Every Child Achieves Act was the end result of weeks of bipartisan negotiations between Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), and their leadership was evident throughout the cordial committee debate.

NASSP was pleased that the first amendment approved by committee would authorize a competitive grant for states and districts to audit their assessment systems, including the number of tests and the time spent on test-taking, in order to reduce redundant or unnecessary state and district assessments. The amendment was based on the SMART Act (S. 907) and introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) who also sponsored the bill. (more…)

NASSP Urges the FCC to Increase Funding for E-Rate Program

In an effort to ensure that more schools have access to high-speed broadband and wireless connections, NASSP has submitted comments in response to a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the E-Rate program that was issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on July 23. NASSP also signed on to comments submitted by the Education and Libraries Network Coalition (EdLiNC), a group comprised of the leading public and private education associations and the American Library Association that was formed to promote and improve the E-Rate program to fulfill its mission of accelerating the deployment of advanced telecommunications and information services in schools and libraries. (more…)

Summer FCC Actions Will Help Schools Increase Broadband and Wi-Fi Capacity

To fulfill President Obama’s goal under the ConnectED initiative to connect 99% of the nation’s students to the Internet through high-speed broadband and wireless in four years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved an E-Rate modernization order on July 11, 2014, that directs at least $1 billion in support for Wi-Fi for FY 2015 and FY 2016. The order also begins a multi-year transition of all program funding to broadband by gradually phasing down support for non-broadband services. The order also seeks to maximize E-Rate spending by incentivizing consortia and bulk purchasing and streamlining the application process. The new E-Rate rules will be in place in time to support Wi-Fi upgrades beginning in the 2015−2016 school year. (more…)

NASSP Statement on the Administration’s FY 2015 Budget Proposal

NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti issued the following statement on the FY 2015 budget proposal:

President Obama’s proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget offers plenty to celebrate, but also renews some ongoing disappointment. Secretary Duncan got our attention when he declared teacher and leader effectiveness the #2 education priority—quite appropriately, behind equity and opportunity for all students. The Secretary’s language reflects a consistent recognition from ED of the importance of leadership in school success. Unfortunately, that recognition did not translate to budget support. Dedicated leadership-development funds under the School Leadership Program received just a modest $9 million increase to $35 million. Yes, the option of leadership development is woven throughout other programs under Title II, but history tells us that states and districts rarely use  those funds for professional development for principals. And our nation’s school leaders need that training and support more than ever as they strive to implement new college and career-ready standards and teacher evaluation system sunder new accountability requirements. (more…)

ED Releases Guidance on Ed Tech PD $

NASSP has been a big propoent of the ConnectED initiative to promote digital learning in the classroom, but most of the conversation has been focused on high-speed broadband and modernization of the E-Rate program. We all know, however, that connectivity is only the one part of the equation: school leaders and teachers must be trained on how to use the technology and integrate it into their instruction to ensure student success.

To address that issue, the US Department of Education released a Dear Colleague letter on February 5 that provides guidance to states, districts and schools on how they can leverage current federal funding “to support innovative technology-based strategies.” (more…)

Schools to Receive Additional $ for Broadband, PD and devices

NASSP Communications Director Bob Farrace was lucky enough to be at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, MD, yesterday where President Obama announced a major private sector investment of nearly $750 million for schools to improve digital learning. The additional funding for education technology is a major win in the administration’s ConnectED initiative to connect 99% of students to “next-generation connectivity” in 5 years.

Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Verizon and AT&T have pledged to provide their products, mobile and wireless services, and professional development for educators at a  reduced cost, or for free to certain low-income schools. According to a White House fact sheet, these commitments will “help make the most of the government investment in broadband infrastructure by ensuring it is put the best educational use.” (more…)

NASSP Opposes New Private School Voucher Proposals

As part of National School Choice Week in late-January, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) have introduced two bills to greatly increase federal funding for private school vouchers at the expense of our nation’s public schools.

“NASSP have long stated its opposition to private school vouchers, which drain money away from public schools, reduce accountability in the education system, and ultimately harm public schools where the vast majority of our nation’s youth receive their education,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “We are especially dismayed that the proposals would eliminate federal education programs that we know are important to school leaders, such as literacy education and career and technical education, and would redirect funding for special education programs and services away from public schools.” (more…)