Education Week - April 20, 2016 - (Page 20)

To the Editor: Commentary author Arnold Packer is well meaning, and some of his recent suggestions on citizenship and education are worthwhile ("Should Citizenship Be a Goal of Education?" March 16, 2016). However, in my opinion, he still overlooks the most obvious missing element. In the United States, we compel our young to attend authoritarian institutions in which they have limited rights and few choices about what they are supposed to do and learn for 13 years in order to earn a diploma. We give them no real opportunities to experience democracy-don't tell me about student councils-and then we malign them for not participating in elections when they are legally of age. It's no surprise, then, that these same young adults are uninterested in voting. The enactment of citizenship requires both values and skills. If we really wanted an active citizenry, we would give children and teens the opportunity to act as citizens in their schools, with regular engagement in democratic structures and processes in which the decisions reached by students actually mattered in their lives. The way you to learn to be a citizen is to be a citizen. It requires practice. David Marshak Bellingham, Wash. Students and Administrators Could Increase Parent Involvement by Working Together To the Editor: I write in regard to the recent article "ESSA May Offer Megaphone for Parent, Community Voice" (March 23, 2016). Too often, parental involvement is just a facade, giving the false impression of full engagement. Examples of this include parent councils that are used to "speak for" parents, or in some cases, school councils that are reserved for parents. The reality is that such councils cannot represent every parent because, like students, all parents are different. And each will have a different opinion. One way to increase true parental involvement is to have existing parent-empowerment councils survey parents within a school on a regular basis. These surveys, however, cannot be the typical general surveys that are designed to pacify parents. These must be open and honest surveys focusing on crucial issues important to the functioning of the school as a whole. There are several issues that are crucial to a quality parent survey: The survey must be short, with five or six questions relative to a specific issue. The survey must be preceded by sufficient information to allow parents to make quality decisions about their answers. And finally, the survey must be designed in the classroom with the full participation of students. In this way, surveys can be given to parents by their children as part of a classroom project to assure every parent has input. Survey results could then be compiled by students in cooperation with their school's parent-empowerment council. Then, not only would the information from the surveys be utilized, but administrators, through the parent-empowerment council, could demonstrate how the information is utilized, what decisions were made as a result of the surveys, and why those decisions were made. Of course, this is only one piece of the parent-empowerment puzzle. When we truly empower parents, then and only then will schools become a guiding light for the community. Teacher Evaluation CONTINUED FROM PAGE 24 or the district, or teach under a continuing contract. *Novice teachers should be evaluated each year on an instructional framework, supported by a mentor using the same framework. After roughly three years, a decision can be made regarding continuing contract status. Once teachers acquire this status, they are full members of the professional community, and their principal professional work consists of ongoing professional learning. *Experienced teachers in good standing should be eligible to apply for teacher-leadership positions, such as mentor, instructional coach, or team leader. These positions may carry enhanced compensation or have released time during the regular school day. *Teachers who serve in leadership roles must receive training in the skills specific to those roles, such as facilitating group work and conducting professional conversations with colleagues. *Career teachers should be assessed periodically to ensure they are still in good standing. Such a comprehensive approach to personnel policy would also impose demands on site administrators, central-office personnel, and union leaders. They must construct a differentiated system, including designing and supporting a mentoring program; selecting teacher leaders and determining their compensation, support, and supervision; and designing collaborative evaluation procedures for novice and experienced teachers and training for evaluators. Most important, it's essential that site administrators be able to establish a culture within the school conducive to professional learning, one that's supportive as well as challenging. Only then will schools truly be learning organizations. n Phyllis Gimbel Professor Educational Leadership Bridgewater State University Bridgewater, Mass. Reader Questions Usefulness of Sharing Classroom's Political Conversations To the Editor: The March 31, 2016, Education Week Teacher e-newsletter highlighted an opinion blog post on Donald Trump, which had no place in this professional publication ("The Challenges of Teaching Civics in the Age of Trump," Reaching All Students blog,, March 29, 2016). Selecting this blog post to appear in the e-newsletter imposes this teacher's personal political perceptions on others. It is not only the wrong forum for this type of content, it was also highly unprofessional and irresponsible for the editor to highlight it. It discredits the e-newsletter and causes the reader to perceive Education Week Teacher as an unreliable source for objective academic work and research. It is also quite alarming that a teacher cannot contain her personal opinion in the classroom, whether it be for a structured civics lesson or in this case, an informal conversation with students. The editor should consider the content for the e-newsletter more carefully for alignment of articles to the publication's mission and not squander any additional space to publish this type of political content. This space needs to be utilized for real issues in education. Eldon "Cap" Lee Education Consultant Burnsville, N.C. COMMENTARY Check out Education Week's collection of recent and archival Q&As, featuring interviews with Richard Allington, Chris Dede, Kelly Gallagher, Kevin Jennings, Sir Ken Robinson, Carol Ann Tomlinson, and many others. Teaching doesn't have to be fun to be gratifying, writes high school English teacher Patrick O'Connor in his recent Commentary. See what commenters had to say. Sherry Gibson Human Resource Specialist Department of Professional Development The School District of Palm Beach County West Palm Beach, Fla. COMMENTARY POLICY Education Week takes no editorial positions, but publishes opinion essays and letters from outside contributors in its Commentary section. For information about submitting an essay or letter for review, visit 20 | EDUCATION WEEK | April 20, 2016 | ONLINE Getty Schools Lack Opportunities for the Learning Of the True Importance of Citizenship To the Editor: Psychologist and school consultant Robert Evans, in his March 30, 2016 Commentary "Principals, Get Your Irish On," was right on target when he wrote that "if we truly wanted to attract, retain, and support the best and brightest principals, we would focus on making their jobs more doable." Indeed, a recent report, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation and penned by Paul Manna, a professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary, argued that "principals are bearing more and more weight as old responsibilities persist and as new ones become layered on top of them." Principals today are spending more and more of their time on teacher evaluations and on setting performance standards. As instructional leaders of their schools, principals are also responsible for daily operations, student discipline, teachers' professional development, budget management, work with families and the local community, and the building of a caring and inclusive school culture that has high expectations for teaching and learning. I vividly remember my own days as a school principal, including one in which prior to arriving at my office to begin work, I had already had been notified of a school bus that had broken down, a teacher whose son was so ill that she could not come to work and hadn't had time to find a substitute teacher, a flooded toilet, and a schoolwide Internet outage-as well as an irate parent who was waiting in my office to find out why her daughter was being punished for bullying another student. All this had to be handled before I could tackle our new reading program for middle school students, as well as the issue that the only days available for the required teacher training were a specific Friday and Saturday morning, in spite of the conflict this raised with the teachers' union and a previously scheduled upcoming school dance. As the principal, I had to fine solutions for every single problem. J.D. King for Education Week Principals Tackle Herculean Tasks Every Day. Their Jobs Must Become More Manageable LETTERS to the EDITOR TWITTER April is School Library Month-celebrate by sharing your photos using #ShowUsYourLibrary. Tweet @EdweekLibrary. library

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 20, 2016

Education Week - April 20, 2016
Charters Help Alums Stick With College
Cruz’s K-12 Agenda: Pro-School Choice, Anti-Common Core
National Count of Special Education Students Shows Uptick
New Online Tool Expands Access To School Climate Measurements
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Caution Urged on Measuring Social-Emotional Skills
Studies Affirm Role of Emotions In Students’ Transitions
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Needs for ‘Resourcefulness,’ Equity Probed in Maker Ed.
Digital Divide Evolves in Fla. Schools, Study Finds
Ind. Scholarship Law Aims to Entice Top Students Into Teaching
Blogs of the Week
Testing Issues Generate Heat in Legislatures
Sparks Fly as Congress Reviews ESSA Rulemaking Process
MATT GANDAL: Are We Serious About the Goal Of College and Career Readiness for All?
ADAM LAATS & HARVEY SIEGEL: Teaching Evolution Is Not About Changing Beliefs
Q&A With StoryCorps’ Dave Isay
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
CHARLOTTE DANIELSON: It’s Time to Rethink Teacher Evaluation

Education Week - April 20, 2016