School Board Mischief in Charleston

Check out Link below.  More school board mischief.  This time in Charleston, SC.  We have got to figure out a way to intervene nationally on the behaviors of so many school board members.  Far too many disrupting the work with their political fanaticism.  It is a crisis we fail to accept. Our Firm works with a number of highly functioning board-superintendent governance teams.  Highly functioning governance teams are becoming a “rare species”.

Link is:

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20141116/PC1002/141119480?ref=email

Salient paragraph in the piece compares corporate boards–a good lesson for elected school boards:

Private-sector boards do not micromanage their CEOs. Companies carefully select board members to support the CEO and C-suite to ensure the company meets its performance goals and financial obligations to shareholders. They are accountable to shareholders to ensure the company grows and its brand image is protected.

JW

Letter to Randi Weingarten Didn’t go FAR ENOUGH!

Interesting letter to AFT Union leader Randi Weingarten was published in EdWeek on Nov. 5.  I’d suggest a read of Peter Cunningham’s open letter to Weingarten.  Link is:

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/11/05/11cunningham.h34.html

If you watch Weingarten’s actions, you’ll find she spends more or more time trying to be a talking head–on MSNBC and other venues.  She appears to be attempting to use her position to catapult into the next gig of fame.  Randi accuses corporations and foundations of pilfering on our profession.  Seems she should stick to her day job, and do the job.  That way AFT can return to position of respected agent of reform for kids–just like Adam Urbanski and others who paved the way for her rise to fame espoused. She is bringing a selfish tact, and her followers, and our students deserve better from her.  Hope she reads Peter’s letter.

Making a Difference: HS Dropout Re-engagement

I continue to be amazed by the work we’re doing in our Acceleration Academies. Recently, actor Donnell Turner visited our Bethel Acceleration Academy to share his inspirational story with our graduation candidates. His is a great example of why the work we’re doing is so critical. Click on the link below to hear Mr. Turner’s story – and to see why we do what we do!

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Bethel Acceleration Academy graduation candidates – Madison Merritt, Samantha Cooper, and Mary Aguilar – with actor Donnell Turner.

http://www.bethelsd.org/pages/bsd403/Bethel_SD_News/News_Archives/Hollywood_comes_to_Bethel

Language Development: Quality AND Quantity

See link below for a recap of an important new study on language (word) development with youngsters. This adds to a hefty pile of similar research. What we know is that it is quality AND quantity of words spoken to children from birth and beyond that (combined) make the most positive difference. Link is below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/17/us/quality-of-words-not-quantity-is-crucial-to-language-skills-study-finds.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-

JW

A Message to Teachers’ Unions

Excellent commentary from Hanna Skandera and Kevin Huffman. In calling out the destructive behavior of teachers’ unions, they’re standing behind what is best for our kids.

JW

http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2014/aug/03/the-destructive-behavior-of-teachers-un/?page=2

A Unique Approach to Teaching Common Core

Here’s an outside-the-box approach to teaching Common Core standards. Two teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have founded Hip Hop University, “an upbeat approach” designed to help at-risk students grasp Common Core concepts. The HHU team uses positive hip-hop culture as a motivator and helps students put lessons to lyrics. HHU is part of the Philip O. Berry Academy of Technology. Using information gathered, in part, from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the academy focuses on two issues in particular: dropout and imprisonment.

http://www.thecharlottepost.com/news/2014/07/09/local/students-put-their-lessons-to-lyrics/

Continuing to Watch Colorado

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Colorado’s Education reform policies are the strongest nationally. The state is headed in the right direction with an increased on-time graduation rate of 1.5 percentage point increase. What’s more, they’re beginning to close the race/ethnicity graduation gap. Great progress for sure, but the Colorado DOE cautions, “more needs to be done.”

Take a look at the interesting infographic the Colorado DOE created to show graduation rate trends.

http://www.cde.state.co.us/sites/default/files/GraduationInfoGraphic_to_update_%202013v5.pdf

Teachers Lying about their Teaching?!

WOW. This new article in the Atlantic is a must read: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/07/why-teachers-lie-about-their-classrooms/375099/

Last paragraph is most pertinent. “It’s no easy task for teachers. But I think we owe it, to ourselves if to no one else, to tell the most honest stories that we can. I’ll only advance as a teacher, and offer something of value to those around me, if I’m able to say what I do.”

Our role as instructional leaders is to make it easy and psychologically safe for teachers to be honest about their practice. Like all other professionals, teachers deserve the best in coaching, supports, and of course real mentoring if they are to not only be held to high performance standards, but seen as champions. I wonder how much we as leaders cause teachers to “lie about their teaching”.

Here’s a possible playbook:

School Principals and other Education Leaders: Up your supervision and teacher coaching game.
Members of the print and broadcast Media: Up your reporting game to shine a balanced light teaching in America, and recommit to respecting the profession.
Superintendents and School Board Members: Up your governance and policy game to ensure a REAL balance between rigorous teacher evaluation and coaching.
Lawmakers: Up your level of honesty about funding, standards, and societal standing your lawmaking places on teachers and teaching.
Parents: Up your use of power. Hold those mentioned above accountable. Vote. And, coach your kids to respect and embrace their teachers’ teaching
Teacher Unions: Rethink your advocacy away from so many current positions that do more to protect ineffectual teachers and less for upholding top teachers

Superintendents as Instructional Leaders

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 5.43.44 PMIn my work, I am finding it more and more rare that school superintendents are actually engaged in instructional leadership. Here is a SHINING positive example. Dr. Michael Bregy, newly appointed superintendent of the North Shore school district 112 in IL, has been a long-time client and friend. Now that he is on his second gig as superintendent, he has “sharpened his saw” even more. Today, in a session we facilitated, Michael provided this list of ESSENTIALS to his team. I thought you might want to take a look. This school district, already high performing in a sense, will greatly accelerate its work as I see many predictors in place. Congratulations to Michael and his team for an outstanding 2-day work out. Also thanks to Atlantic colleagues David Sundstrom, and Dr. Rob Tomback for your valuable- and wise-counsel in the work.

JW

HS Drop-out Re-engagement in Bethel WA

Today we opened our first Acceleration Academy in Bethel, WA as a partnership with the progressive Bethel School District, and their superintendent Tom Seigel. By the end of this week, this Acceleration Academy will have enrolled more than 50 former drop-outs into meaningful high school diploma-seeking work. Check more of this work out at: http://www.atlanticeducation.org and find the cool pictures of the (almost fully) built-out site at Atlantic Education Partners Facebook page. Link is: https://www.facebook.com/diplomasmatter

You probably already know the degree to which the high school drop out issue is reaching epidemic proportions in our Nation. Find more about the issues, the solutions and the opportunity before us to fix this challenge at our new blog: http://www.atlanticeducation.org/diplomas-matter/

Congratulations to my Atlantic colleagues, including Dr. Jim Hager, Adrienne Leonard, Mark Graves, Lila Bradley, David Sundstrom, Ryan Graves, Mark Sundstrom, Alex Morgan, Amy Mims, and others. These colleagues are truly invested in what’s right with education, and armed with the courage to tackle the hard problems. To Tom Seigel and your progressive school board and team, thank you! We look forward to helping your district get to the top of your game in high school graduation rates and helping you achieve even more success stories with your team, students, and families.

JW

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