Friday, January 26, 2007

Statement Regarding NCLB and the State of the Union Address

January 24, 2007

American Association of School Administrators Statement on State of the Union Address

ARLINGTON, Va. – The American Association of School Administrators, the professional organization for school superintendents and other school system leaders nationwide, today issued the following statement on President Bush’s State of the Union address:

“We are disappointed in President Bush’s plans for education, which he mentioned in his State of the Union message last night. The President reiterated his plans to ‘stay the course’ with his badly flawed program created by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. He claims the program has been successful, when teachers, parents and children know that its main success has been in diverting attention and energy away from real learning and a comprehensive curriculum. While the President acknowledged that changes needed to be made to the law and flexibility would be required, his overall approach failed to consider the destructive elements of his policy and how they might be addressed differently in the future.

“The President holds fast to the idea that ‘accountability’ must be pursued by a coercive process of federal oversight built upon a few rewards and a great deal of punishment, and his unbending belief that student achievement is the equivalent of a single test given to every child every year. It should be noted that other countries that are economic competitors have found ways of shaping accountability to be a process of continuous improvement carried out in a collaborative manner.

“The President, like most Americans, is concerned with our ability to stay internationally competitive. However, his unbending support of a law that that narrows and minimizes the educational experience undercuts the very creativity and innovation necessary to be competitive in the international environment.

“The President’s ideas for privatizing education under the cloak of parental choice has actually weakened the very skills and children his program purports to help by siphoning off higher achieving children and resources to private and more privileged schools. His proposal to create two new voucher programs will not ensure increased student achievement; it will simply divert federal tax dollars from public schools to private schools that are not held to the same standards the President espouses.

“During the five years NCLB has been in place, several of its underlying assumptions have inhibited students’ progress. For example, the law has failed to take into account the individual learning needs of students in special education and students with limited English proficiency. Under NCLB, students are judged on a single test score, rather than multiple measures that more accurately reflect students’ individual growth and learning during the school year. In addition, the law’s focus on reading and math test results has led to a narrowing of the curriculum, which limits schools’ ability to offer children the broad education they need to succeed in life.
“There is a better way to proceed to close the achievement gap and increase student achievement. We support a fundamental transformation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to restore the law’s original intent to provide equitable educational opportunities for all children. We ask the Congress to join us in an effort to transform the current version of ESEA. Specifically, we ask that the Congress enact and the President support:

-A law and regulations based on trust and an assumption that teachers and principals are trying their best to improve the achievement of all students, including low-income students;
-Continued improvement of how student achievement is measured and data is used to assess group scores and individual progress;
-Selecting a goal for progress in student achievement that is attainable;
-Focusing the federal government’s role in education on providing support and developing capacity for improvement, rather than emphasizing sanctions; and
-Engaging parents of low-income students as regular participants and partners in their children’s achievement.”

About AASA The American Association of School Administrators, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders across America and in many other countries. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. AASA’s major focus is standing up for public education. For more information about this press release, please contact Amy Vogt, communications and media relations manager, at or 703-875-0723.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Blog-o-sphere in the 21st Century

Educating Each Student to be a Thriving Citizen.

January 19, 2007

Dear Colleagues,

Last week I sent an e-mail that discussed some of the comments from Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat. Many of you wrote back with great comments and feedback.

Well, I am going to take the plunge and move into the 21st Century by converting my weekly letter to a blog. As I understand it a blog is an on-line conversation where a community of users (in this case employees of the Bend-La Pine Schools) can weigh-in on a topic and provide comments and feedback. The comments I received last week were thoughtful and provocative and inspired me to set up my very first Blog. You can check it out at Just click on the link. You will see my original letter and 7 of the responses I received are included in a link. I asked each if I could share their comments with all staff.

I hope that we will be able to have some great dialogue in this format. Please feel free to post comments, raise questions and share information that you believe will be of interest to our colleagues. Have patience with me as I am a neophyte in the “blog-o-sphere” – if there is such a word.

As we move more into the technological world in which our students are so involved, I feel it is incumbent on us and especially on as me as a leader to use the technologies and provide an example. Mine may not be a good example, but I am trying.Have a great week. Give the blog a try.

Students First * Success Focus
Data Driven * Positive Relationships

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Public Education in the Flat World

Educating Each Student to be a Thriving Citizen.

January 13, 2007

Dear Colleagues,

I recently completed The World is Flat – A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times. In sum he traces the tremendous changes that have and are occurring – leading up to and during the first few years of this new century.

Clearly, technological changes have had significant impact on how the flattening of the world and how people all over the world access information and how business is conducted in a far different manner than in recent times. I won’t go into the details of the book and encourage you all to read it – actually I listened to it.

Of significance to us as educators are the challenges and opportunities that our “flattening world” provide for us. Our students will live in a far different world than today. No longer can we assume that we will dominate the world economy and that our current approaches in all endeavors will lead the way. Students in many other countries (India and China for example) no longer are lagging us but in some ways are gaining advantages in key professions such as engineering. If our nation is to maintain its leadership role we have to step up to some challenges and of course, some of those challenges are in education. While we may not be in a crisis, Friedman quotes another writer by saying: “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

Part of the book addressed what Friedman calls “compassionate flatism” of which there are five components. One of those components is parenting. In his discourse on parenting two passages struck me. The first is the role of parents:

Helping individuals adapt to a flat world is not only the job of governments and companies. It is the job of parents. They too need to know in what world their kids are growing up and what it will take for them to thrive. Put simply, we need a new generation of parents ready to administer tough love: There comes a time when you’ve got to put away the Game Boys, turn off the television set, put away the iPod, and get your kids down to work. . . . The sense of entitlement, the sense that because we once dominated global commence and geopolitics . . . we always will . . . the sense that our kids have to be swaddled in cotton wool so nothing bad or disappointing or stressful happens to them at school is, quite simply a growing cancer on American society.

However, he addresses an important concept, the role of public education.

David Baltimore, the Nobel Prize-winning president of Caltech, knows what it takes to get your child ready to compete against the cream of the global crop. He told me that he is struck by the fact that almost all the students who make it to Caltech, one of the best scientific universities in the world, come from public schools, not from private schools that sometimes nurture a sense of just because you are there, you are special and entitled. . . . Baltimore said: “I give parents enormous credit for this, because these kids are all coming from public schools that people are calling failures. Public education is producing these remarkable students – so it can be done.

We know it can be done because we are doing it every day in our schools.

I welcome any responses. Hope you have a great week.


Students First * Success Focus
Data Driven * Positive Relationships