Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Congress vs. Social Networking

As people find new ways to communicate, Congress attempts to ban access to social networking sites in public libraries.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Remembering Randy Pausch

A great read and a great video on life. Rest in peace Randy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NEA's Call for a New Federal Role in Education

Here are the major areas of the new NEA "white paper" on what we believe should be the role of our federal government in education.

We propose that the federal government set a goal that every student has a great public school by the year 2020. Achieving this requires collaboration, and the federal government should embrace its role as a supporter---nor a micromanager---of state and district responsibilities. To reach the goal we propose that the federal government start with a five-year initiative for public school improvement. This Transforming America's Public Schools Initiative asks Congress to address six points:

1. Support the profession of teaching as a desired and complex field of study and practice.

2. Federal guarantee for the sustained funding of Title I and IDEA and for special needs populations.

3. Equal access to educational services and supports.

4. Support state-led public school tranformation through authentic accountability that is publicly transparent.

5. Establish high-quality educational research and development as essential to educational improvement.

6. Support innovation and best practices to accelerate state-based improvement efforts and improve student learning base on proven teaching strategies and programs grounded in sound teaching and learning research.

NEA Commitment

NEA believes the federal government has a vital role to play in advancing the quality of the nation’s public schools. Federal leaders can help forge a new partnership with state and local authorities, parents and civic organizations, social service agencies and businesses, and NEA and our affiliates. Collectively, we can shape a type of American Renaissance in our public schools that will prepare our students to succeed as democratic citizens in a global economy.

NEA commits to:

*supporting a White House Summit on Education

*creating models for state-based educational improvement

*developing a new framework for accountability systems that support authentic student learning

*clearly representing our members’ insights and views to advance policy that works in the classroom and school,

*and fostering a constructive relationship with U.S. Department of Education leadership.

In a world of promise and uncertainty, students should develop a deep appreciation of our liberties and acquire the wide range of skills it will take to realize the American Dream. NEA and our affiliates already have begun work to transform our public schools. We are ready to contribute ideas, give aggressive support, and help unleash the creative energies that will create great public schools for every student in America.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

6 Important Reasons to Change NCLB

Here is a list of 6 reasons, which includes public support for changes, in why NCLB needs to be overhauled by the Congress and the next president.

The No Child Left Behind Act Needs To Be Fundamentally Overhauled

In the six years since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which is the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), its many policy flaws, false assumptions, unintended consequences, and botched implementation have become all too apparent. The Congress needs to make fundamental changes to the law as articulated in NEA's principles for ESEA reauthorization.

1)NCLB has failed in its own fundamental purpose - to raise student test scores and close achievement gaps.

Reading and math test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) demonstrate that there was a faster rate of improvement in student achievement before NCLB than since its enactment.

According to a July 2007 article in the Educational Researcher, "progress in raising test scores was stronger before No Child Left Behind was approved in 2002, compared with the four years following enactment of the law."

A new book by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, Holding NCLB Accountable, finds that "the No Child Left Behind Act's current accountability system provides insufficient evidence that the law has succeeded in raising student achievement levels or closing the nation's racial achievement gap.…"

2)NCLB is narrowing the curriculum.

According to a July 2007 Center on Education Policy report, 44 percent of school districts reported cutting time from one or more other subjects or activities (social studies, science, art and music, physical education, lunch and/or recess) at the elementary level to devote more time to reading and math.

3)NCLB is too focused on standardized tests.

Schools are measured and held accountable solely on the results of the statewide reading and math tests. New research by a University of Maryland professor finds that NCLB's focus on high-stakes testing "has actually undermined the quality of teaching in reading and math." The research further found, "There were declines in teaching higher-order thinking, in the amount of time spent on complex assignments, and in the actual amount of high cognitive content in the curriculum. We believe these declines are related to the pressure teachers were feeling to 'teach to the test.'"

4)NCLB is a severely underfunded mandate that is shortchanging our students and public schools.

In the seven years of funding provided for NCLB (Fiscal Years 2002-2008), the cumulative funding gap between actual funding and the amounts authorized in the law has grown to a staggering $70.9 billion. President Bush's proposed FY 09 budget would increase that gap to $85.7 billion.

In terms of the single largest NCLB program, Title I, for example, in the current school year, 59 percent of all Title I school districts will receive less funding than they did the previous year.
With districts and states denied federal funding and support for schools to follow the mandates of NCLB, NEA filed suit over the issue. In January of this year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Secretary of Education's interpretation of the law violates the Spending Clause of the Constitution.

5)NCLB will eventually result in almost all schools failing.

Independent studies by highly qualified researchers in 11 states conclude that under NCLB's label-and-punish structure, most schools will fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) by 2014, based on the law's requirement that 100 percent of students achieve proficiency in both reading and math.

There is a growing chorus of voices calling for fundamental changes to the law." There are now 142 national organizations that have signed the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB that calls for significant reforms to the law.

6)The American public and educators agree with the need for changes.

According to an August 2007 PDK/Gallup poll, 7 in 10 Americans believe the current emphasis on testing encourages teachers to teach to the test. Of those that believe this, 8 in 10 feel that teaching to the test is a bad thing. In addition, "One in two Americans believes that NCLB's focus on reading and math has reduced instructional time on other subjects."

Educators hold similar views. A June 2006 poll of NEA members found that 69 percent disapprove of NCLB and 85 percent believe there is too much reliance on standardized testing.

Monday, July 14, 2008

School Funding Research


New report calls for stronger link between school finance formulas and research on student achievement.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (July 14, 2008) – School funding formulas that determine how to spend the more than half a trillion dollars we invest in K-12 public education each year are often arbitrary and not reflective of reliable research findings on student achievement according to a new policy brief released by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

In Strengthening the Link Between Effective School Expenditures and State Funding, author Anthony Rolle of Texas A&M University explains that improving school finance formulas in accordance with up-to-date research on the most effective teaching and learning methods can advance student achievement.

The brief examines which spending categories improve academic quality and identifies obstacles that prevent the adoption, into state funding formulas, of research-based spending guidelines. It then recommends ways to strengthen the link between funding formulas, expense components and desired academic outcomes.

The brief also addresses issues of equity and of the effective use of spending. Rolle outlines the standard approach to funding schools and observes that, to achieve equity, state legislatures typically adjust district-level financing to account for such circumstances as the cost of living, special education needs and the presence of at-risk students. However, state funding formulas are slow to include many of the adjustments that research as shown to be effective.

According to Rolle, “Failure to formulate financial policy in light of research findings is failure to maximize chances for school success. Such failure is likely to reduce educational opportunities for students and to increase the probability of poor educational (and perhaps economic) outcomes for students.”

Find Anthony Rolle’s policy brief on the web at: http://www.greatlakescenter.org.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Remembering Bobby Murcer

One day, when I was a junior in high school, I was at my sister's elementary school carnival and Bobby Murcer was there too with his family. I introduced myself and talked with him for a few minutes before getting his autograph. Mr. Murcer was extremely polite and patient with me; especially considering he was there with his kids. I'll never forget the kindness he showed me. He was definitely a gentleman.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Test Your Knowledge

Take a shot at the new Global Literacy Quiz by Newsweek and see how much you know about the world around us.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

2009 Teacher of the Year Finalists

Yesterday, State Superintendent Sandy Garrett announced the 2009 Teacher of the Year Finalists. Congratulations to these 12 outstanding teachers:

- Sherilynn Admire of Midwest City Public Schools. Admire teaches severe to profoundly disabled special education students at Soldier Creek Elementary and has 31 years experience in education.

- Debbie L. Flowers of Meeker Public Schools. Flowers teaches first grade at Meeker Elementary and has 22 years experience in education.

- Betsy Ellen Glad of Union Public Schools. Flowers teaches third grade at Cedar Ridge Elementary and has 26 years experience in education.

- Matthew Holtzen of Enid Public Schools. Holtzen teaches U.S. History and political science at Enid High School and has 10 years experience in education.

- Valorie Ann Lewis of Stigler Public Schools. Lewis teaches third grade at Stigler Grade School and has 14 and a half years experience in education.

- Cheryl McCord of Jenks Public Schools. McCord teaches Spanish at Jenks High School and has 31 years experience in education.

- John Daniel “Dan” Nolan of Norman Public Schools. Nolan teaches Current Issues, International Problems and Advanced Placement European History. He also teaches GED classes for ages 16 to 70 and has 16 years experience in education.

- Denise Radcliff of Claremore Public Schools. Radcliff teaches Anatomy and Physiology, Pre-Advanced Placement and AP Biology, and the Principles of Biomedical Sciences at Claremore High School. She has 10 years experience in education.

- Mandy Rowley of Woodward Public Schools. Rowley teaches first grade at Cedar Heights Elementary and has 11 years experience in education.

- Phillip R. Scott of McAlester Public Schools. Scott teaches Biology I, Astronomy, Conceptual Physics and Advanced Placement Physics, and has 12 years experience in education.

- Heather Sparks of Oklahoma City Public Schools. Sparks teaches Algebra I and Pre-Algebra at Taft Middle School and has 15 years experience in

- Nolan Watson of Cache Public Schools. Watson teaches 6th grade social studies at Cache Middle School and has 11 years experience in education.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Books to Read Before You Die

This is a list created to help enhance your reading before death. While I've enjoyed some of the books, I don't know if they're ones needing to be that high on your reading list.

Reading habits are so different it would be hard for me to come up with a list like the aol one. I'm going to have to give it some thought.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Final Day of the '08 RA

The last day included a great deal of work and an opportunity to say good-bye to outgoing President Reg Weaver.

A special video was put together about Reg and we all enjoyed watching him at work. Reg stayed around for pictures with delegates at the conclusion of the meeting.

Also during the day, we heard from the national teacher of the year, Michael Geisen from Oregon. Michael delivered a humorous and moving speech and education. Based on what I heard, he sounds like a great teacher.

When the RA ended, OEA's NEA Director, Greg Johnson, announced he will be running for a spot on the executive committee. There will be two openings and the election will occur next July in San Diego.

Day 3 @ the RA-July 5th

After about one hour of work on new business items, the delegates to the RA were addressed by Senator Barrack Obama. Yesterday delegates were asked to vote on whether the NEA should recommend the candidacy of Senator Obama to its members. The yes vote was nearly 80 percent.

Senator Obama received the recommendation after a long process that started over a year ago. Candidates were asked to fill out a questionnaire, interview with President Weaver, and appear at the 2007 RA in Philadelphia. All viable Republican and Democratic candidates were contacted. All eight of the Democrats followed through, but sadly, only 1 Republican, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee made the effort.

The delegates look forward to a presidential candidate who supports teachers, kids, and schools and is willing to address the areas of concern NEA members have with NCLB.

On Day 2, we also elected a new Secretary-Treasurer to, Becky Pringle, from Pennsylvania to fill out the leadership team of President-elect Dennis Van Roekel and Vice-President-elect Lily Eskelsen.

To fill out the executive committee, two members were elected, Princess Moss of Virginia, and Len Paolillo of Massachusetts.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Birthday America-Day 2 at the RA

Independence Day at the RA is always something special. In the middle of the business session, the NEA Choir, made up of educators from all of the state affiliates presented a medley of patriotic songs. AT one point in the program, NEA Executive Director John Wilson called all teachers of the year and national board certified teachers to come down from their seats and join him on stage during the singing of a special song tribute to them about heroes.

After the meeting today, many of our delegates will venture out to various areas in the District to see the Independence Day fireworks.

Have a great evening.

Day 1 at the 2008 RA

The 2008 RA started on Thursday with a 7pm caucus meeting for our delegates. While the caucus got under way early, it was an even earlier start for members of the New Business committees as their day started at 6am. The members of the committee discuss issues and take positions on them before bringing them to the entire delegation to debate.The caucus ended at 9am and we all boarded the buses and headed to the convention center.

The highlight of the day was President Reg Weaver's final keynote address. As usual, his words were uplifting and motivational.

We also had the opportunity to hear from Governor Mike Easley of North Carolina who talked about the great commitment his state has made to education. Governor Easley received the first America's Greatest Education Governor Award.

Human & Civil Rights

Members of the Oklahoma Education Association were in attendance at the 2008 NEA Human and Civil Rights Awards Ceremony as community champions from across the country were being honored for their efforts to preserve human and civil rights. Twelve NEA Human and Civil Rights Awards were given to educators, community activists and students who have advanced the cause of equal opportunity for all, improved relationships between diverse groups in public schools, and expanded educational opportunities for minority students and educators.

Among the highlights was the Presidential Award selected by Reg Weaver. The winner this year was Chris Gardner whose inspirational story was told in the movie Pursuit of Happyness.
And a special surprise presentation went to Reg for his commitment to human and civil rights too.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Oklahoma Night Out 2008

The start of activities for the Oklahoma delegates to the Representative Assembly started yesterday with a dinner and evening tour of the monuments. As the sun went down, the lights on the monuments came on and we got to view them in a different way. Two of Putnam City's delegates, Katherine Bishop and Eric Winkle, are standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Monument in the background. Oklahoma will be represented by 113 members from across the state.