NASBE Update to the BESE

As the MA delegate to NASBE's annual conference last month, Chair Sagan has asked me to provide an update to the Board at today's regular Board meeting. I've blogged about some of the sessions I attended during the conference, beginning with the visit to the Halstead Academy; links to those posts may be found in the sidebar at right (they're near the bottom of the page, in "October", and all have "NASBE" in the title; some are embedded links below). At today's meeting I'll be sharing, more or less, from here:

Overall, NASBE put on an impressive conference. Excellent presenters and featured speakers led high quality sessions on key issues before us, including:
  • Re-thinking the achievement gap
  • ESEA reauthorization
  • Student data privacy
  • Changing demographics and their impact on education and the workforce
  • Teacher equity plans (what's next, now that they've been filed)
  • Social-emotional learning
  • Engaging students in deeper learning
  • Strengthening state policies for high-quality early childhood education
  • Focusing on career and civic competencies (not only on college competencies)
As is common at such conferences, there were many networking opportunities with partners and colleagues in member states, as well as an awards luncheon to recognize outstanding contributions of education and elected leaders.

Business of the conference included the election of a new executive committee and board members, updating of the association's bylaws, and votes on new association positions. I was honored to be elected by colleagues in the Northeast member states to NASBE's Board of Directors as the Northeast Area Director. The term is for two years beginning January 1, 2016. The Northeast Area includes the six New England states, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. It will be my role to liaise to these states, participate in monthly conference calls, and attend Board meetings in Alexandria, VA four times a year.

Some take-aways from the conference:

  • DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE: Change is coming to schools and the workforce. From the 2000 to 2010 Census:
    • Hispanic population grew by 43%
    • Asian-American population grew by 42.9%
    • White population grew by 1.2%
    • an aging population is retiring and living longer
States need to be actively thinking about and planning for these changes.

  • ALL MEANS ALL: The society of children about to enter the education system will be very different, including:
    • very many more children who will not have English as a first/primary language --> it's impact on reading for all children
    • many children being raised by grandparents and in other non-traditional family configurations, which has an impact on the history that gets taught (i.e., Rethinking Columbus and History UnErased)
    • more importance to be placed on cultural competency and non-cognitive learning
Education is important but insufficient; also need to include non-cognitive aspects.

  • TECHNOLOGY: How, where, and when students learn is changing much more dramatically. Technology is changing faster than states can decide what to do.
State Boards of Education (SBEs) can provide guardrails.
  • FEDERAL LEGISLATION: Issues around student data privacy are challenging because they are trying to fit into a law from 1974 (FERPA). ESEA is critical and is 14 years out of date. 
Current compromise legislation doesn't do everything we all might want, but it's important so that all of our diverse students can achieve at high levels.
  • NAVIGATING CHANGE: The work of SBEs is going to get a lot harder. NASBE has our back with policy experts, excellent publications, resources.

Announced NASBE Dates:
2016 Legislative Conference: April 4-5, at the Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, Washington DC to which I hope BESE members will consider joining me in attending.
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