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From DA

The overwhelming thought I had as I attended numerous EduComm sessions at the magazine's show in Orlando last month-and walked the massive InfoComm floor-is that the future is now.

Reacting to MySpace

I JUST READ [Gary Stager's] article ("Guess Why They Call It MySpace," May 2006, page 78). While I agree with him in principle, we have blocked the site and others like it at our district. Why? Because we had one student threaten to kill another student using MySpace.

The "problem" the Internet has created is that there are no more rumors. If you hear something you can quickly see if it is true or not simply by accessing the Internet and the site(s) where it originated.

Problem: When a Syracuse (N.Y.) City School District faculty member was going to be absent, he or she would call the principal and start a chain reaction. The principal would then call the superintendent's office and two office staffers would spend four hours a day finding substitutes.

Solution: Using Sub-IT software, from central xchange, the district has reduced the number of people involved in finding subs and cut in half the amount of time the office staff has to be directly involved.

Tableau Software

Tableau 2.0

Software, starts at $499/license (with 50% academic discount)

Nothing that involves dispersing money seems to come out fair-and still school systems manage to attract budget directors who gear up for the challenge on an annual basis.

WITH A PROCLAMATION by President George W. Bush and a series of visits by federal education officials, charter schools enjoyed a week of national attention in May, celebrating their supporters' claim that they can be more effective than other public schools in boosting student achievement.

In Okemos, Mich., Paula Pulter's first grade class at the Cornell Elementary School has covered units on American history, the Revolutionary War, U.S. presidents, weather and recycling. At the Thorn Apple Elementary School in Grand Rapids, Nancy Lass had led her second graders through a six-week unit reading and writing about microscopic animals.

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, boys and girls in sixth grade in Osseo Area Schools, Minn., learned the term masturbation. All fourth-graders learned about anatomy in mixed-gender classes and the definition of sexual intercourse. And junior high students learned methods to avoid the risk of HIV infection.

It was a comprehensive family life curriculum, considered a prime model of a comprehensive human sexuality and family life education, according to B.J. Anderson, then the curriculum and instruction specialist for the district.

When Philip Brody arrived at Clark County (Nev.) School District in September of 1998, he was charged with upgrading the district's computer network so schools could become competitive in the newly dawned Internet age.

Any which way you slice it, the graduation rate among American high school students is just not cutting it, even given the latest report that claims higher rates than what had been reported.

Two separate reports recently released give varied graduation figures: One claims only half of minority students ever make it out of school with a diploma, which has been reported before, while another one says slightly more than seven in 10 minorities get diplomas.

Going wireless offers a panoply of attractive benefits to school districts. Because you don't have to run cables to every classroom, it's cheaper to deploy a wireless network than an old-fashioned wired network. Wireless makes it more convenient for administrators, teachers and students to connect.

But there's a perilous downside: A wireless network is easier for hackers to break into. Without the proper security measures, going wireless means opening a gaping hole in your computer systems' defenses.

School administrators and teachers now have a choice of smartphone operating systems from Palm, Inc. The new Palm Treo 700p smartphone includes hardware and software innovations centered around usability, connectivity, multimedia and compatibility.

More districts are offering algebra to 8th graders to spur enrollment in higher level math courses during high school. But accelerating the math curriculum represents a complex equation and success hinges on multiple variables.