A New Vision for School Leadership

A report from the Aspen Institute calls for “Rethinking the Role of the Principal.” If school systems are to meet the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the authors argue, “they must articulate a new, rich vision that imbues students with a sense of responsible citizenship, prepares them for the world of work, and helps them develop a healthy sense of self. This vision for schooling calls for a shift in what we ask of schools, and that shift starts in the principal’s office.” The report offers action steps that education leaders can take (e.g., lead learning and lead as a learner) and a separate set of action steps for school system leaders (e.g., invest in authentic principal preparation and learning experiences). Read the full report at bit.ly/3BVOU92.

Tackling Chronic Absenteeism

Since the beginning of the pandemic, chronic absenteeism “has escalated into a full-scale crisis,” according to a policy brief from Attendance Works. The number of students missing 10% or more of school days has doubled, and even tripled in many places, with historically disadvantaged groups the most affected. The brief, “Monitoring Who Is Missing Too Much School: A Review of State Policy and Practice in School Year 2021–22,” includes two sets of recommendations for states. The first set describes policies at the state level to ensure accurate and comparable data collection and publication. The second set provides suggestions for how states can use data when making decisions about where to invest resources (e.g., tutoring, mentoring, expanded learning, home visiting, and health services) for student engagement and recovery. Read the full report at bit.ly/3p2VXFf.

Worsening Educator Shortages

In a report titled “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” the American Federation of Teachers looks at what the country must do to attract and retain educators and school staff. Even before COVID-19, schools were facing staffing shortages. Since the pandemic, those shortages have increased even more, not just for teachers, but also for teaching assistants, custodians, and bus drivers. According to the report, “the most successful education systems in the world are able to recruit and retain teachers because the teaching profession is greatly valued by society; teachers are fairly compensated; the teaching career is transparent and clearly structured; teachers are given many opportunities—and encouragement—to learn; and they receive regular feedback on their teaching.” The report offers a sweeping set of recommendations designed to help the U.S. education system look more like those successful systems it describes. Read the full report at bit.ly/3PdoWRk.

An Eye-Opening Trip to D.C.

When Majalise Tolan came to Washington, D.C., last spring for the NASSP Advocacy Conference and walked by the National Museum of the American Indian, she thought about what a great experience it would be for Native students back in Lincoln County, OR, to have the opportunity to visit the museum as a way to wrap up their high school education. With help from federal Title VI Indian Education funds, which had gone unspent during COVID-19, Tolan, the director of secondary education for the Lincoln County School District, was able to put together a memorable trip for 16 graduating students. Felecia Howell, an Indian education specialist for the district who traveled with the group, sums up the experience: “This trip was more than visiting the beautiful museums. It gave students the chance to find themselves and realize how powerful they are and how important it is for them to empower each other and be proud of who they are and where they come from.”