What Good K-12 Tech Leadership Looks Like

To be an effective K-12 technology leader, knowing your way around a server closet is no longer enough.

“I feel like one of my chief roles is being a translator,” said Phil Hintz, the director of technology for Illinois’ Gurnee School District 56. “I speak geek, but I also speak education.”

That sentiment was a recurring theme at the annual conference of the Consortium for School Networking, a professional organization for school tech leaders, held earlier this year in Portland, Ore. Technical expertise should be a given, leader after leader said. What truly separates the most valuable chief information and technology officers is everything else—from understanding classroom dynamics, to smart budgeting, to knowing how to say “no” and deliver bad news without making enemies.

Full story at edweek.org

Want Teachers to Motivate Their Students? Teach Them How to Do It

Most teachers intrinsically understand the need to motivate their students, experts say, but teaching on intuition alone can lead to missteps in student engagement.

A study released in May by the Mindset Scholars Network, a collaborative of researchers who study student motivation, found most teacher education programs nationwide do not include explicit training for teachers on the science of how to motivate students.

That’s why some teacher education programs are exploring ways to help teachers learn how to engage their students in deeper ways.

“Everyone has a gut sense of the importance of a student’s relationship with a teacher. … It’s not a scholarly understanding but a human understanding,” said Mayme Hostetter, the president of the Relay Graduate School of Education, one of the few programs nationwide with formal courses for teachers on student motivation.

Full story at edweek.org

What Researchers Wish They Knew About School Finance

From the business world to sports to education, analytics are all the rage, as rapidly evolving technology and data systems unleash a flood of new metrics that decision makers can use in developing strategies and making choices. But even with the smorgasbord of new information, some potentially important indicators remain unavailable.

That’s certainly true in the education finance arena, where policies are still driven, at least in part, by the unknown and by the lack of detailed data on key topics.

“[School] system leaders often seem unaware of the unintended consequences of long-standing spending practices,” Marguerite Roza, the director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, and Carrie Stewart, managing director of the Afton Partners consulting firm wrote in an article for AASA, the School Superintendents Association. They suggest that digging into school-level-spending data can help in better understanding these patterns.

Full story at Education Week

What Economists Think About Democrats’ New Education Proposals

Democratic presidential candidates have been watching a historic wave of teacher strikes and protests sweeping the nation — and they want to give teachers a raise.

Kamala Harris wants to spend $315 billion over 10 years to increase the annual salary of an average teacher by $13,500. Joe Biden wants to triple spending on a federal program for low-income schools and use much of those funds for “competitive salaries.” And Bernie Sanders wants to work with states to set a minimum $60,000 starting salary for the nation’s teachers.

But there’s something missing from these proposals, and it reveals a dramatic shift from a decade ago in how the Democratic Party wants to fix education.

Full story at npr.org

This Teen Planned A School Shooting. But Did He Break The Law?

It was sunny and cold on Feb. 13, 2018, when 18-year-old Jack Sawyer walked out of Dick’s Sporting Goods in Rutland, Vt., with a brand-new pump-action shotgun and four boxes of ammunition.

The next day, Valentine’s Day, Sawyer took his new gun out for target practice.

Around the same time, about 1,500 miles away in Parkland, Fla., a 19-year-old shot and killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Full story at npr.org

2020 Dems Go Big on Public Education

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT and 2020 contender Joe Biden stood alongside American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Tuesday evening in Houston and outlined the first major policy platform of his campaign – supercharging the federal investment in the country’s public schools in order to level the playing for poor students, students of color and those with disabilities and boost teacher pay, among many other things.

“It’s past time we treat and compensate our educators as the professionals they are, and that we make a commitment that no child’s future will be determined by zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability,” he said.

Biden is in good company with his grand gesture to K-12 education.

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Builds on “Rethink Higher Education” Agenda, Expands Opportunities for Students Through Innovative Experimental Sites

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today announced the launch of the first new higher education experimental site during her tenure and is inviting new participants to join another experiment already underway.

The new Federal Work-Study (FWS) Experiment will provide institutions with increased flexibilities that will enable students to earn work-study benefits while participating in apprenticeships, internships and work-based learning programs, as well as earn work-study wages while completing required clinical rotations, externships and student teaching.

“For decades, the Federal Work-Study program has allowed students to support themselves while earning a college degree, but for too long, the majority of the work options students have had access to have been irrelevant to their chosen field of study,” said Secretary DeVos. “That will change with this experimental site. We want all students to have access to relevant earn-and-learn experiences that will prepare them for future employment.”

Full story at ed.gov

Warren Pledges to Tap Public School Teacher as Education Secretary

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, the Massachusetts Democrat running for president, pledged that if elected, she would tap a public school teacher to be her secretary of education.

“In my administration, the Secretary of Education will be a former public school teacher who is committed to public education,” Warren, herself a former special education teacher, wrote in a campaign email blasted to supporters Monday.

“Let’s get a person with real teaching experience,” she wrote, taking direct aim at current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “A person who understands how low pay, tattered textbooks, and crumbling classrooms hurt students and educators. A person who understands the crushing burden of student debt on students and young professionals and who is committed to actually doing something about it.”

Full story at US News

Teachers in Florida Can Carry a Firearm in School

FLORIDA GOV. RON DeSantis, a Republican, signed into law Wednesday a measure that will allow teachers to carry a firearm in school.

The contentious move comes one day after a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Douglas County, Colorado, where one student died and eight others were injured. According to Education Week’s school shooting tracker, it was the 12th school shooting this year that resulted in a death or injury.

As it stands, Florida law already requires schools to have at least one armed person on site, which is often a school law enforcement officer. The measure signed by DeSantis expands the eligibility of a so-called guardian program put in place a month after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 17 students and staff were killed.

Full story at US News

The Solution to School Discipline: Undercover School Leaders

AS EDUCATION POLICY experts and politicians continue to clash over whether Obama-era discipline guidance meant to stem the school-to-prison pipeline creates better environments for students of color or makes classrooms more disruptive, one Republican congressman has an idea: school district leaders should go undercover into their schools to see for themselves.

Rep. Phil Roe, a Republican from Tennessee, pitched the idea Tuesday during a hearing at the House Education and Labor Committee, which was supposed to focus on school segregation 65 years after the landmark Supreme Court ruling Brown v Board of Education.

But the issue of the previous administration’s discipline guidance – and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ recent and contentious decision to rescind it – took center stage for most of the hearing. The guidance, which prodded schools to use methods of discipline other than suspensions to keep more kids in the classroom, has become a clarion call for civil rights advocates who see it as essential to address the disproportionate rate at which black students are disciplined. But others see the guidance as a federal overreach that pressures teachers and principals not to report disruptive students to the detriment of others.

Full story at US News