A School Board Vision for Public Education

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1 A School Board Vision for Public Education Our nation s public schools will ensure that each child is prepared to reach his or her potential in life, contribute to society, and achieve a standard living that is the American dream. Beyond offering an academic program that is rigorous, comprehensive, and relevant, public education will continue to be the backbone of our nation s unity, common culture, and commitment to equal opportunity. It will provide the foundation for social and merit based mobility that is so essential for a vibrant democracy and leading world economy. Accordingly, our nation s free, high quality, and universally available public schools remain the greatest investment that can be made in our country s most important asset, its human capital. In recognition of the value of public education, the American people will be committed to great public schools wherever students live and whatever their background. In a dynamic world rapidly being transformed by knowledge, technology, and globalization, every school district and public school will focus on designing and holding itself accountable for provid- Great public schools advance America s future. 1

2 ing high quality programs for future success not perfecting what was needed in the past. Each student will have a strong educational foundation to thrive in college or in a meaningful career, as well as to compete successfully in the local and international marketplaces. For schools and students to succeed academically, public schools will be committed to several outcomes. First, students and schools must be held accountable for achieving high expectations in all core subjects, including the sciences and mathematics, as well as for developing the skills students need to communicate effectively, use technology as a tool for learning, and produce work that develops creative, higher order thinking, and problem-solving abilities. Second, in meeting high expectations for excellence in an increasingly diverse society, public schools will effectively address the educational needs and civil rights of all children and eliminate the achievement gap for those facing the challenges related to poverty, limited English speaking ability, inadequate education in their country of origin, or disability. Third, teachers and school leaders will inspire students to succeed and graduate from high school prepared for college or a meaningful career through increased individualized instruction as well as provide a range of high quality course offerings and methods of instruction. Start the Conversation NSBA is printing 5,000 pocket-size laminate cards for distribution at state association meetings and events. For copies, contact Linda Embrey at For public schools and students to succeed they must have the resources to provide an education that is not just adequate but appropriate for the times and needs of each student. For example, teachers and principals will have the pre-service and in-service preparation to meet the high expectations and unique needs of their students. Further, schools and school districts will have access to best practices and advances in curriculum, instruction, and technology to strengthen, broaden, enrich, and individualize student learning and interests. Parents, business people, civic leaders, and the public generally will be actively engaged in their local schools to ensure that the values, priorities, and expectations that they have for their children are being met and supported by the community. The state and federal levels will financially and programmatically support school districts, including providing leadership in areas where their broader financial and information base can help school districts improve student outcomes and modernize their education program. Hence, while schools and school districts deliver education, a world class education will be ELEVATOR SPEECH National School Boards Association A School Board Vision for Public Education As locally elected school board members, it is our vision that the nation s public schools will prepare each child to reach his or her potential in life. All students will have the knowledge, and skills to compete and ensure that America remains strong as a democracy and in the global market place. Public schools will achieve the following results: Holding themselves accountable for the success of each child, leading to a high school graduation with a world class education Closing the achievement gap Continuously meeting high expectations for student achievement and community satisfaction Providing a safe learning environment that focuses on individualized instruction and protecting the civil rights of all students National School Boards Association To achieve our vision, public schools will have the following resources: The capacity to provide effective teachers, technology, and other resources The necessary funding, research, and technical assistance for improvement and meeting the educational demands of a dynamic world The active participation by parents, business people, civic leaders and the public at large Locally elected school boards who will work with their community and local educators to achieve success State and federal lawmakers who are committed to public education and the goals of the local schools they serve To help you advocate for public education see 2

3 a shared responsibility for families, various sectors of the community at large, and each level of government to contribute what it does best. To ensure that public education flourishes as a locally based, locally represented, and community controlled institution, local school boards must be leaders for student achievement. They will work with parents and the community at large to establish a vision and goals for success, ensure the resources are in place, and hold school personnel and themselves accountable for reaching their goals and making the improvements that are needed. They will work with the media and with state and federal policymakers to ensure that they understand their district s plans, successes, and needs and are committed to support public education and value locally represented governance of the schools. Through the continuous efforts of school boards and local educators public education will be the key to America s future. Contact Us Lisa A. Bushey Associate Executive Director Public Advocacy & Communications Phone: Guiding Principles for Implementation NSBA has established a vision for how public education will serve the needs of each child and move America forward in the decades ahead. The following guiding principles were developed to support that vision and to provide a foundation for the specific advocacy positions and priorities that NSBA will pursue to bring that vision into reality. These mutually reinforcing and guiding principles address why and how the nation must support: Public Education Local School Board Governance Equity and Excellence in Public Education Public Education Our nation s neighborhood public schools are the principal means by which America educates its young and are crucial to the nation s success as an economy and democracy. Public schools exist in virtually all communities, are open to all children, are tuition free, guarantee the civil rights and educational opportunity of all children, and are subject to high standards of performance, public scrutiny, and provide the oversight and direction as public-policy making bodies chosen by the people. Accordingly, to preserve and advance the critical role of public education, NSBA supports the following principles: 3

4 Public education must be supported by all levels of government, the media, and the general public in a manner to 1) provide all students with the opportunity for a high quality education for future success, 2) foster the principles of democracy and citizenship, 3) provide for the common culture and social mobility of our nation and 4) ensure America s economic competitiveness on the world stage. Public schools must belong to the public through governance by locally elected or appointed school boards and through the active engagement of their community. Local self-governance means that local school officials working with parents, local businesses, civic organizations, the media, and taxpayers must be able to establish their community s own vision and expectations for student learning and provide accountability through the role of school boards and the ongoing participation by the community in school activities and at the ballot box. Publicly financed alternatives to neighborhood public schools must be rejected if they 1) are not governed or authorized by local school boards, 2) do not serve or represent the broader public interest, or 3) divert support for or weaken neighborhood public schools. Local School Board Governance Although the state is ultimately responsible for education and the federal government has a national interest in the education of our nation s youth, it is at the local level that education actually takes places to meet the unique needs, conditions, and interests across 13,500 school districts and 90,000 schools. To be effective, the public schools must be governed locally with the least intrusion as possible from the state and federal levels. School boards must have the authority and flexibility to set the policies of the school system and ensure that school district operations meet local conditions and what the public wants. The strength and vitality of public education is also largely derived through community self-governance of the schools. Accordingly, parents and the general public must have a say in how their children are educated and the overall school environment by electing people from the community to serve on local school boards. To ensure local governance is protected, NSBA supports the following principles: Local school boards must have the governance authority to establish the education programs, curriculum, and priorities that will meet the needs of the schoolchildren in their school district and reflect the aspirations, values and type of school community that parents, local businesses and the general public want for their children. Local school boards must be the local public body to govern the schools as they are singularly responsible and focused on the educational interest of students, parents, and the community at large and are the unit of governance that is closest to the schoolhouse. The federal and state levels of government and the courts, in performing their vital roles in public education, must give deference to local decision-making in the governance and operation of the schools by refraining from imposing unnecessary mandates, conditions on funding, unfunded mandates, or orders that substitute 4

5 their judgment or priorities for that of locally representative school boards. In performing their role in education, state and federal policymakers must first communicate with local school boards to ensure their initiatives 1) are responsive to the needs of their local communities, 2) are educationally, administratively, and financially viable at the local level, and 3) support and properly accommodate the plans and goals of local school systems. Equity and Excellence in Education In order for public education to achieve its core mission, every child must have the opportunity to receive a high quality education that meets his or her needs. Each level of government has a vital role to play through the policies, priorities, and programs they establish to ensure that local school districts have the capacity to implement the following principles to support equity and excellence in public education: All children from birth must be provided the foundation they will need to enter public schools ready to learn and meet the standards for a high quality education. Each public school child must have a well rounded education including a strong foundation of knowledge and skills in core academic subjects, the opportunity to develop extracurricular interests, and the opportunity to develop the personal traits, habits, and other skills needed for success in college, the workplace, and their personal lives. All schools must have the teachers, curriculum, course materials, education technology, and other resources that their students need to meet local and state standards and provide an all around world-class education. Students with disabilities or who have additional educational requirements arising from factors such as poverty or limited knowledge of English must have the programs and services they need to achieve academic standards and graduate from high school. State and local school districts must establish high academic standards in all subjects, adopt rigorous assessments that fully measure the knowledge and skills students are expected to achieve, and hold schools accountable for student performance, including implementing locally developed plans to ensure performance is raised in schools, programs, or for subgroups of students that fail to achieve at the standards required. Funding to and within school districts must be allocated in a manner that supports equal educational opportunities for all children. Schools must be safe environments that are conducive to learning and free from 1) discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or family background and 2) bullying or harassment. The federal and state levels must provide school districts with the funding, research, and technical assistance they need to support equity and excellence in education for all students. 5

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