Notification System Needs Recognition
I read the Problem/Solution story ("Calling Home in Any Language," June 2008) and am extremely dismayed that the story did not mention the country's foremost school-to-parent communications system, Connect-ED Blackboard/NTI), which is used by more schools and school districts than any of those identified in your article. Blackboard/NTI serves over 14,000 client sites nationally and enjoys the highest level of satisfaction among users, with more than nine in 10 of those who use the system saying they were very satisfied with the product.
Your magazine's omission of Connect-ED as the premier parent notification system is a disservice to your readers. I have used two of the systems you cite in your article and I can tell you, they don't hold a candle to what I've experienced since signing on with Connect-ED last fall. Please have your writers/reporters do a better job of research when compiling stories. It will serve you and your readers better.
Rick J. Kaufman, executive director of community relations, Bloomington (Minn.) Public Schools
Supporting Small Schools
Dan Kinnaman's editorials in District Administration ("500,000 Schools," May 2008, and "Small Schools, Big Benefits," November 2007) have been right on track and very helpful to the cause of small schools in South Dakota. I have been waging this otherwise lonely war for nine years. The legislation you refer to-closing schools with less than 100 students-is just one example. Of course, the magic minimum school size number was much higher to begin with.
A group from Rutland went to the capitol in Pierre recently to oppose the higher number and I guess we "won," though it was a hollow victory at best because one of the schools was forced to close. I felt like they got sold down the river. Another story in the Aberdeen American News, from October 2007, revealed the post-high school data of how graduates of small schools fare compared to graduates of larger schools in the state. This data paints an absolutely stunning picture of the need to maintain support for small schools, yet this data, and other things that I have put out, has largely been ignored.
Carl Fahrenwald, superintendent, Rutland (S.D.) School District 39-4
Tech Skills Still Lag
In response to Zach Miners' blog on www.DistrictAdministration.com ("How Do You Define 21st Century Skills?" May 15, 2008), I have to say that, sadly, many schools are a couple of centuries behind. I just entered a school system that just got district e-mail in January. The reason there is this push for these skills is because so many educators would see the skills you were talking about as jobs that the "computer teacher" is in charge of.
Also, the unfortunate reality is that the high stakes testing that most states mandate is not aligned with the 21st century skills that most of us know need to be stressed. I would like to add skills that involve all forms of digital citizenship, like cyberbullying prevention and audience awareness. Thanks for this post. I am referencing it on my blog.
Brandi Caldwell, educator and blogger
I am writing to comment on a recent article by Carl Vogel ("Algebra: Changing the Equation," May 2008). I thoroughly enjoyed the article and totally agree with the author. I would like to make one recommendation about resources. The HOSTS (Helping One Student To Succeed) Learning company, www.hosts.com, applies the principles and points of view for teaching and reaching children in the area of math that were expressed in the article.
I have been on our district's school board for 12 years and have used the HOSTS program to teach math to students in summer camp for eight years. (Professionally, I'm a pharmacist who loves math and I want to pass on this passion to our community students.)
Thank you for the article and for making a difference in children's lives.
Marsha Ingram Craddick, school board member, Hinton (Okla.) Public Schools
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