These core beliefs are critical to the success of U.S. public schools

‘Perhaps the solution is not the proliferation of charters, but rather the elimination of the rules and regulations that allow charters exempt from them to thrive.’

“Learning Leadership” column, April 2012 edition of eSchool News—The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) is one of the oldest education associations in the country. Founded in 1865, its mission is to advocate for the highest quality public education for all students and to develop and support school system leaders.

Our members are the educational leaders in every community in America. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that our job is to represent the interests of local school systems in our nation’s capital. We often find ourselves at odds with a federal government that pushes to become more and more involved in local affairs and with state governments that often will highjack federal funding before it trickles down to the local level.

Our positions come directly from our membership, and we take advantage of today’s technology to survey our members frequently and get real-time responses to what is affecting students in their schools and communities. Indeed, our members often feel that they have direct input into the policy making here in Washington, D.C. Our surveys on the impact of the economy on our schools have become as popular here inside the Beltway as the polls on presidential contenders. We actually think that our surveys better serve the public.…Read More

eSchool Media honors 10 of the nation’s tech-savvy superintendents

Sponsored by GlobalScholar and JDL Horizons, the 12th annual Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards from eSchool Media recognized 10 senior school district executives from around the nation who demonstrate outstanding leadership and vision in using technology to advance their district’s goals.

The winners were honored at a special awards ceremony Feb. 18. The ceremony—which featured a keynote speech from noted ed-tech consultant Alan November—was held in conjunction with the Century Club 100’s annual meeting during the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education in Houston.

Watch the full awards ceremony here:…Read More

Schools anticipate continued budget cuts

An end to emergency federal funding and the threat of mid-year cuts could disrupt economic recovery.

School districts, already operating in their fourth consecutive year of budget cuts, do not anticipate returning to pre-recession funding levels for several years. In a new survey from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), school leaders report continued erosion of fiscal resources as the worst recession in recent history continues to impact state and local budgets.

The study, “Weathering the Storm: How the Economic Recession Continues to Impact Schools,” is the twelfth in a series of AASA studies examining the impact of the economic recession on schools. The study is based on a survey of 528 school administrators from 48 states in February 2012.

Respondents project new budget cuts in the 2013-14 school year, though the projected cuts might not be as deep as in the earlier years of the recession. Twenty-nine states are projecting budget shortfalls of $44 billion for FY 2013.…Read More

Author: Only community can save public education

Fewer than 20 percent of U.S. taxpayers have children in public schools, says author Jamie Vollmer—and that shows a need for school leaders to be proactive in reaching out to the community.

Think of it this way: Would you support a presidential candidate you knew nothing about? What does this candidate think about taxes? How is this candidate helping those around him? What does this candidate believe in, and heck, what’s his favorite food? Well, said Jamie Vollmer, a businessman, author, and supporter of public education, wouldn’t people like to know how their local schools worked, too?

Vollmer, president of Vollmer Inc., author of Schools Cannot Do It Alone, and opening keynote speaker at the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education, argued that both education leaders and U.S. citizens understand that it’s about educating the whole child and that there needs to be reform.

However, the people’s perception is that reform should come through the firing of school leaders and teachers, because that’s the rhetoric being peddled. Yet, school leaders and teachers know that reform needs to occur by changing an antiquated system that’s still focused on mass rote learning for testing and a one-size-fits-all-approach to learning.…Read More

AASA keynote: Focus on children, or risk nation’s status

We need to rethink our priorities as a nation, Canada said.
We need to rethink our priorities as a nation, Canada said.

Referring to the significant challenges facing public education today as a crisis that threatens the nation’s status as a global leader, educational trailblazer Geoffrey Canada urged school leaders to push for more funding and do “whatever it takes” to make sure all students succeed.

“I am convinced that if our country continues to treat its children the way it has, we will no longer remain a world superpower,” Canada said in a Feb. 12 keynote speech at the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education in Phoenix. “In fact, we won’t even be in the top 10.”

Canada is president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a project that the New York Times described as “one of the most ambitious social-service experiments of our time.”…Read More

Duncan offers ‘guiding principles’ for rewriting NCLB

“We should be tight on standards … but loose about how to get there,” Duncan said.
“We should be tight on standards … but loose about how to get there,” Duncan said.

Calling No Child Left Behind a “blunt instrument” that placed more emphasis on defining failure than encouraging success, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Feb. 12 outlined the Obama administration’s vision for rewriting the nation’s education law.

Speaking to school superintendents during the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education, Duncan identified three principles that will guide the administration’s approach toward rewriting NCLB: (1) higher standards, (2) rewarding excellence, and (3) a “smarter, tighter federal role” in ensuring that all students succeed.

“I’ll always give credit to NCLB for exposing achievement gaps and advancing standards-based reform. But better than anyone, you know [the law’s] shortcomings,” Duncan told the assembled education leaders. “NCLB allows, even encourages, states to lower their standards. In too many classrooms, it encourages teachers to narrow the curriculum. It relies too much on bubble tests in a couple of subjects. It mislabels schools, even when they are showing progress on important measures.”…Read More

Duncan: Superintendent prep programs must change

Even more than theory, superintendents need hands-on vocational training, Sec. Duncan said.
Superintendents need hands-on vocational training, Sec. Duncan said.

States and school systems, with the help of the federal government, must work harder to improve the way superintendents are trained and prepared to lead the nation’s schools, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told attendees of the American Association of School Administrators’ annual conference Feb. 12.

Duncan, himself a former superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools, said policy makers should question whether the requirements in superintendent certification programs accurately reflect what we know about effective school district leadership.

“Successful superintendents don’t just need a Ph.D. in educational administration,” Duncan said. “Even more than educational theory, superintendents need hands-on vocational training. Superintendents require business skills, expertise in dealing with the media, the ability to negotiate with a variety of stakeholders, and a command of budgeting. Those skills are hard to acquire in a classroom.”…Read More

Superintendents say they need resources, flexibility to transform schools

Superintendents hope the federal government will make resources available to districts while also allowing for improvement programs developed within the district.
Finalists for the National Superintendent of the Year have a message for federal leaders: Give us the flexibility to make our own improvements.

School administrators aiming to transform the nation’s schools hope the federal government will make resources available to districts while also giving them the flexibility to implement their own improvement programs, said finalists in the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Superintendent of the Year competition.

The four finalists held a panel discussion Jan. 12 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to examine what they think school leaders and the Obama administration can do to bring about change in public schools.

“We have the ability to transform ourselves,” said Washington County, Md., Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Molina Morgan. “I think the administration should give school systems tools, support, and guidance so they can transform themselves from the inside out. [The administration] should avoid having more federal oversight.”…Read More