March 20, 2019

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Kansas City Education News

Seven Of These Candidates For School Board Will Shape Kansas City Public’s Future

By ELLE MOXLEY, KCUR

The Kansas City Public Schools have made some big gains under the leadership of Superintendent Mark Bedell.

Now it’ll be up to the school board voters elect next month to sustain that progress.

  • “There’s a little bit of sadness about the old board leaving,” said incumbent member-at-large Jennifer Wolfsie.  The new board won’t bear much resemblance to the old board because state lawmakers dictated that a new map be drawn, taking the board down to seven seats from nine. Only Wolfsie and the other at-large member, Pattie Mansur, will definitely be back.

Superintendent Mark Bedell is credited with stabalizing the beleagured Kansas Public Schools. Now, he’ll have to work with a new school board.  RAY WEIKAL / KANSAS CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The Kansas City Public Schools have made some big gains under the leadership of Superintendent Mark Bedell.  Now it’ll be up to the school board voters elect next month to sustain that progress.  “There’s a little bit of sadness about the old board leaving,” said incumbent member-at-large Jennifer Wolfsie.  The new board won’t bear much resemblance to the old board because state lawmakers dictated that a new map be drawn, taking the board down to seven seats from nine. Only Wolfsie and the other at-large member, Pattie Mansur, will definitely be back.  Click here to view the new school board sub-district maps on the Kansas City Election Board website.

The Best Defense Against Cyberattacks, From a District CTO

By Sean Cavanagh, Education Week

 

As Melissa Tebbenkamp sees it, cybersecurity is as much about district behavior as it is about the damage any bad actor tries to inflict.  Tebbenkamp, the director of instructional technology for the Raytown Quality Schools, a 9,000-student school system outside Kansas City, is expected to run point in guarding against phishing scams, malware, and other forms of cyberattacks.  But she’s also counting on her colleagues, from top administrators to the district’s teachers, to make the right decisions when a suspicious e-mail lands in their basket and something doesn’t seem quite right.  So Tebbenkamp has put an emphasis on training staff to do their part to make the district’s system’s more secure. Her district also puts restrictions on the tech applications that staff can access online, to keep the chances of unwanted intrusions to a minimum.  “It’s about protecting where you have control—which is your house—first,” says Tebbenkamp. “We do have a growing concern about outside malicious attacks directly targeting us. But the biggest and most frequent [vulnerabilities are posed by] our staff.”  Tebbenkamp has served in her tech role in Raytown since 2006. She’s also sought to help other district officials by serving as co-chair of the Consortium for School Networking’s Student Data Privacy working group, and as a member of CoSN’s professional development and cybersecurity committees. She’s also served on CoSN’s national board since 2014.

 

National Education News

SPECIAL REPORT: K-12 CYBERSECURITY: BIG THREATS AND BEST PRACTICES

By Education Week

 

One of the biggest security threats school districts face isn’t posed by a physical intruder trying to come in through the front door, but by a faceless actor swarming them from cyberspace. Across the country, districts are scrambling to protect themselves from cyberattacks, coming in the form of phishing e-mails, malware, data breaches, and distributed denial-of-service attacks. Hackers may be interested in getting students’ personal information or employees’ financial documents, or worming their way into districts’ networks to launch attacks on another organization.  In this special report, Education Week delves into the nature of the threats facing K-12 systems and the steps they can take to protect themselves. The report includes a look at how districts in North Dakota—which are part of an online statewide network—are trying to protect themselves from cyberattacks; the results of an exclusive nationwide survey of K-12 districts’ cybersecurity protocols and weaknesses; a Q-and-A with a district tech leader that shows how her school system has trained its employees to recognize threats; and an examination of best practices for school systems to consider.

 

K-12 Cybersecurity Lessons Learned From ‘Constant Barrage of Attacks’

By Benjamin Herold, Education Week

 

When hackers struck one-third of North Dakota’s schools with a vicious malware attack last February, it highlighted the growing cyber threat facing America’s public-education sector—even in a state that’s ahead of the cybersecurity curve.  “It moved quickly, and it didn’t care what it hit,” said Sean Wiese, North Dakota’s chief information security officer. “Just like any corporate environment, we have a constant barrage of attacks at our front door.”  For this special report on K-12 cybersecurity challenges, Education Week spoke with state and local technology officials across North Dakota. We also surveyed the nation’s school technology leaders, in partnership with the Consortium for School Networking. The aim was to better understand both the nature of the cyber threats schools face, and the steps they are taking in response.  The results paint a mostly worrisome picture.  In North Dakota alone, for example, the state network used by K-12 schools, state universities, and other public agencies experiences 5.7 million known cyberattacks every month, officials said.  Nationwide, though, recognition of such dangers is still mostly low. There is some good news that ed-tech leaders are getting their heads out of the sand: More than half of K-12 CTOs now say phishing scams are a significant or very significant problem, up from 48 percent last year, according to the Education Week/CoSN survey.  But when it comes to ransomware attacks, data breaches, distributed denial-of-service attacks, and even the kind of malware that slammed North Dakota, 70 percent or more of the respondents don’t see a serious threat. In many cases, the percentage of school technology leaders perceiving such hazards as a serious problem has actually declined since 2017.

 

 

Are Principals Perfect? If You Ask Most of Them, the Answer Is Yes

By Denisa R. Superville, Education Week

 

Are principals really nearly perfect?  According to a recent RAND survey, the majority of principals think they are. The survey, which asked principals to rate themselves against an “ideal,” shows that the majority of respondents see themselves as performing highly when it comes to three key areas: outlining a clear vision for their schools, setting high standards for teaching, and making clear their expectations for meeting instructional goals to staff.  But Ellen Goldring, a professor of education policy and leadership at Vanderbilt University who has studied principal and teacher perceptions, is skeptical of the results, which were released by RAND Education and Labor late last week.  “What stands out to me is the ‘Lake Wobegon effect,’ ” Goldring said, referring to human’s natural predisposition to overestimate their performance, which is derived from the fictional town created by former public radio entertainer Garrison Keillor. “How is it possible that every principal thinks they are doing such a great job?”  “How is it possible that all of these leaders and all of these principals think things are so wonderful, and yet we know that teacher turnover is high—sometimes because of the lack of clear leadership—and that’s been shown in the literature?” Goldring said. “We know that districts are challenged to hire principals that are able to step into the role. We know that not all principals who are in the role are highly prepared and are able to lead effectively.” In the survey of The American Educator Panels, close to 100 percent of responding principals agreed that they were hitting the mark in the three areas highlighted: vision, high standards, and communicating goals.  The teachers surveyed—who were not in the same schools as the principals who responded—had a less rosy, though still positive, view of their principals’ leadership in the same three areas.

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