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Articles: Business & Finance

Anoka-Hennepin district students in the seventh-grade technology education class.

In suburban Minneapolis, seventh graders will soon start building skills for local technical jobs that may be open to them when they finish school.

Before moving to Atlanta Public Schools, Meria Carstarphen superintendent of the Austin ISD.

Atlanta superintendent chosen

Meria Carstarphen was named superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. She has served as superintendent of the Austin ISD in Texas since 2009, and helped raise graduation rates to an all-time high of nearly 83 percent in 2012. She will start the Atlanta job in July.

An AT&T employee volunteer, above left, helps a student in the Boys & Girls Clubs navigate a creative obstacle course to help motivate youth to be ready for successful transition into the upcoming school year.

Some of the world’s most powerful companies are increasing their influence in K12 education by funding programs that blend workforce development with public service. Corporate initiatives range from retail giant Target’s $1 billion plan to fund literacy programs to IBM’s high school STEM programs that aim to prepare the workers the company needs to fill its ranks.

Global defense company Raytheon has invested $100 million in education initiatives since 2005


The Aetna Foundation will provide more than $1.2 million in grants to provide health and wellness technology to disenfranchised and minority populations, including those in schools. Efforts include a K12 digital health curriculum that teaches diet and nutrition, exercise and disease prevention. Students can collaborate on projects using social media and access the curriculum digitally.

2nd floor hallway
After: The school’s second-floor hallway walls were taped off and painted with a color chosen by students during the School Makeover event.
Before: A classroom
After: The School Makeover participants painted the walls of the entire classroom, hand-painted and installed new locker doors and created art-inspired ceiling tiles.
Before: Gym
After: It took over 100 people to paint all of the high walls of the gymnasium to give it a new look and feel during the School Makeover event.
Before: Outside activity wall
After: Volunteers built a new activity wall in an open space on the playground to encourage outdoor play.
Before: Peace garden
After: The School Makeover team planted different types of flowers and trees, and built a new trellis to update a peace garden that students can visit during lunch or recess.

Students at Frazier International Magnet School of Chicago Public Schools were treated to a fresh-painted gymnasium, classrooms and hallways thanks to an event from School Makeover, a national charity team-building program for corporations and large organizations to make a difference in the communities where they do business. The program is organized by a corporate team-building company called Team Worx.

International students and their U.S. classmates from Newcomb Central School District in New York go for a hike in the nearby Adirondack Mountains.

Districts hurting financially are recruiting tuition-paying foreign students to increase enrollment and diversity.

The number of international high school students coming to the United States with an F-1 education visa increased to nearly 65,500 in 2012, up from 6,500 in 2007, according to federal data.

Gary Shattuck is the director of technology and media services for the Newton County School System in Covington, Ga.

When planning the implementation of a huge technology initiative, where audio enhancement and camera technologies would be placed in 552 classrooms over the summer of 2013, I knew that the key to success was rethinking how we deliver professional learning.

My experience with the traditional professional learning model of training-the-trainer has not been pleasant or successful. The problems I experienced were three-fold.

Test scores and graduation rates have risen steadily since Alberto Carvalho became Miami-Dade's superintendent in 2008.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was named 2014 National Superintendent of the Year by the School Superintendents Association. Since he took the job in 2008, the district’s test scores and graduation rates have risen steadily. The district has also won awards for marked improvement in AP participation and performance.

The authors of "Hire Better Teachers Now" say district leaders can hire more effectively by focusing on the individual needs of schools and districts.

Hire Better Teachers Now: Using the Science of Selection to Find the Best Teachers for Your School

Harvard Education Press

Robert Nelson, superintendent of Chawanakee Unified SD, oversees students working on refurbished Apple MacBooks, saving the district thousands of dollars. (Photo: Will Drosche)

Just five years ago, Chawanakee USD, a small rural district nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in northern California, and the North Kansas City School District, a suburban district located just north of Kansas City, Mo., were at the starting lines of the digital revolution.

Tracey Green is substitute teacher for second graders at Bryan Elementary School in the Jefferson County School System in Birmingham.

The substitute teacher just became more valuable.

Economic struggles and new federal education guidelines over the past five years have changed the environment for substitute teachers. When economic difficulties led to staff cutbacks in almost every industry, many laid-off workers signed up to be substitutes, allowing districts to be more selective.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires employers to offer health insurance to 95 percent of employees who work more than 30 hours per week. In some districts, that may include substitute teachers, who may teach from eight to 35 hours per week.

“Substitute teachers are right on the margin between full-time and part-time,” says Geoffrey Smith, director of STEDI, the substitute teaching institute based at Utah State University. “Districts traditionally haven’t offered health care for substitutes, but that may change for some of them.”

Scott Kinney is senior vice president of education partnerships at Discovery Education.

School district leaders must keep a diverse audience of teachers, principals, parents, local community leaders and other stakeholders informed of important district activities and learning initiatives.

Sometimes it can be a challenge for administrators to convey to a broad audience how a school district is transforming teaching and learning with educational technologies and digital content.

Paul Finch is the superintendent of the Red Hook Central School District in Red Hook, N.Y.

What happened? This is what we at the Red Hook Central School District had to ask when we looked at our student achievement data.

In some cases, there was a mismatch between our beliefs about certain teachers and actual performance, as measured by student achievement data. Ultimately, our personal biases were exposed and this led us to rethink our hiring practices.

Teacher-turned-activist Sabrina Stevens is executive director of Integrity In Education.

In mid-January a new organization called Integrity In Education was launched with the goal of “exposing the corporate and profit-motivated influences working to control public education across the country.”