Education Week - April 19, 2017 - 23
from within the district learn that the view from the top
within the local context is different.
The board, staff, and community are left out of the discussion of problems and solutions when superintendents arrive
with all the answers. These already-baked plans are a problem and may well pit the board or the community against the
Solution: New superintendents should arrive and spend 30
to 90 days on a listening tour of the district and the community.
During this time, they can find good information on the real condition of the district, not the propaganda on the website or the
bashing in the newspaper. The superintendent can also educate
the board and the community on the tough choices ahead.
5. Lack of continuous training and facilitation to help
with the rough patches.
Most boards aren't clear on their job duties. Boards tend to behave in the way the prior board behaved. In addition, many superintendents are not prepared to properly involve school boards
in the work for the district. Because the roles and responsibilities
are not mutually agreed upon, conflict arises when expectations
aren't met. Missteps and confused expectations create tension,
frustration, and anger.
Solution: Savvy superintendents and board presidents see
that a neutral training partner can be a bit of a buffer, clarifier,
tough-message deliverer, and confidant that helps the governance
team get through the bumpy first year. A regular training program with dates set a year in advance gives the governance team
a place to reach mutual understanding and safely air concerns.
The constant churn of superintendents in a district has a significant negative impact on the district. Everything from student
achievement to staff stability is affected. It is true that turnover
is sometimes unavoidable, but many times a savvy school boardsuperintendent team can create an environment for longer tenures for superintendents. It is both important and possible. Just
like maintaining an effective governance team, slowing down
superintendent turnover is a partnership activity. n
Trump Budget Puts
America's Students Last
are not prepared
to properly involve
school boards in
the work for the
By Margaret McKenna
CATHY MINCBERG is the president and CEO for the Center for Reform
of School Systems, which provides training to school boards and
superintendents across the country. Formerly, she served as a Houston
school board member; the chief operating officer for the Houston and
Portland, Ore., school districts; and a biology teacher.
nition of homelessness and that the rights
of homeless students are guaranteed.
* Meaningful relationships. Teachers should foster meaningful relationships
with students to affirm that students' wellbeing matters.
* Targeting the most vulnerable
populations. African-American youths are
overrepresented in the foster-care system,
the special education system, and the penal
system. African-Americans' distrust for institutions is warranted, and it needs to be
considered when identifying and supporting African-American youths experiencing
homelessness. The school is responsible for
establishing trust with both the student and
his or her guardians.
While housing insecurity is a societal issue
well beyond the scope of public schools, educators have an obligation to ensure that all
students receive a high-quality education.
The first step to providing educational equity
for homeless students is to identify who they
are, what they need, and what resources can
be made available to them. n
EARL J. EDWARDS is a doctoral student in the
Graduate School of Education and Information
Studies at the University of California, Los
Angeles, and a former classroom teacher.
tion suggests that three to four consecutive summers of high-quality learning
resident Donald Trump's beginning in pre-K can get underserved
"America First" federal- students reading at grade level by 3rd
budget blueprint, re- grade, making them four times more
leased last month, stands likely to graduate from high school.
to undermine one of the
Ironically, the president's proposed budnation's most successful get states that the administration favors
K-12 learning programs. "improving student achievement and
The president's suggested access to opportunity in elementary, secfunding cuts would take away resources ondary, and postsecondary education." By
that are critical to the academic success eliminating funding for the 21st Century
and healthy development of our most vul- Community Learning Centers program,
however, the budget proposal grossly
The Trump administration
misses its own mark, reinhas proposed eliminating
forcing that summer will
the 21st Century Comremain a time of great
inequity for students.
Did the administrathe only source of
tion ask for input
from the 85 peran annual $1.1
cent of parents
billion, for afternationwide who
school and sumsupport public
funding for sumSince the 1990s,
mer learning prothe program has
grams, or the 88
funded nearly 9,600
percent of teachers
who say such promost located in schools
grams are important
in high-poverty communifor student success? Key
ties. This measure would affect
constituents who know what
the more than 1 million children now
children need to be successful strongly
enrolled in federally financed programs favor these kinds of investments.
across the country.
Trump's proposal also ignores that the
In rationalizing the proposed cut, Mick quality of after-school and summer learnMulvaney, the White House budget ing programs has vastly improved over
chief, claimed there is "no demonstrable the last few decades because of the U.S.
evidence" that after-school programs, Department of Education's funding. The
designed to help low-income children do extra money has allowed schools to build
better in school, are successful. Whether professional-development programs for
administration officials are consciously providers and staff and to continually asrejecting evidence or just alarmingly un- sess program quality. Though most centers
informed, they are completely wrong.
funded by the 21st Century Community
On the contrary, after-school and sum- Learning Centers program partner with
mer learning programs are a highly ef- multiple community organizations, partfective and cost-efficient way to maintain ners raised more than $1 billion in afterthe educational progress students make school and summer funding between 2006
during the school year. A 2008 study by and 2010, according to a February report
the Harvard Family Research Project by the Washington-based advocacy orgaconfirmed that participation in after- nization Afterschool Alliance. This doesn't
school programs was associated with a come close to federal funding levels.
host of positive outcomes: better attitudes
Over the course of a nearly 40-year catoward school; higher school attendance; reer in education, I have seen millions of
lower dropout rates; better test scores dollars wasted on untested and expenand grades; and improved homework sive ideas to help the nation's children
improve. When I was the president of the
Summer and after-school learning also Walmart Foundation, I prioritized giving
allows students to dive deeply into sub- to education and to after-school and sumjects of personal interest, explore poten- mer learning initiatives because I believe
tial career opportunities, or hone literacy in the necessity of closing the achievement
skills. Teachers can deepen relationships gaps that exist in too many of our school
with students and teach subjects with systems.
more depth and fewer restrictions.
In the coming weeks, Congress will
In contrast, every summer without begin the process for creating the new
academic engagement increases disad- federal budget, which goes into effect
vantages for low-income students. While Oct. 1. It's my sincere hope that lawmakmiddle- and upper-class students tend to ers will recognize the imprudence of the
have access to a variety of summer activi- president's proposal for after-school learnties from camp to travel, which can spark ing and rectify its funding in the budget
excitement and new interests, low-income that passes-for the good of our students
students normally do not have the same and for the betterment and future of our
opportunities outside of the school year. country. n
Summer learning loss explains why, by
the end of 5th grade, low-income students MARGARET McKENNA is the chairman of the
have fallen behind their more affluent board of the National Summer Learning Association.
peers in reading by almost three grade She served as the president of Lesley University
from 1985 to 2007 and is also a former president
But evidence from the RAND Corpora- of the Walmart Foundation.
EDUCATION WEEK | April 19, 2017 | www.edweek.org | 23