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Lyle Rowland knows the name of each of the 238 students enrolled at Taneyville R-II School District, a K-8 district just east of Branson, Mo. What's more, he knows their parents, where they live and how some families earn their living.

Last month I shared my frank assessment on the health of school technology use. The following are some novel suggestions for getting more bang for your buck and enhancing the education of today's students.

02/2005

Education Budget Rises But Falls Short of Needs

The omnibus spending bill signed by President Bush in December gives the Department of Education $59.7 billion in FY 2005, an increase of $1.4 billion over FY 2004 but $300 million below the president's request.

Hamilton Central School (New York)

Did the Tail Wag the Dog?

The jury is still out as far as how much some state rule changes in accountability plans for No Child Left Behind affected schools' performances last year.

Q&A with Performance Poet Nile Stanley

Q: How do educators tend to respond when you say poetry helps children learn to read?

The frail, older woman began rolling up her sleeve, and 200 miles away, a classroom full of high school students leaned forward to watch her. As part of a history unit on the Holocaust, administrators and teachers in the Imperial County (Calif.) Office of Education arranged a videoconference with a survivor, who spoke from the Simon Weisenthal Center in Los Angeles. The Calexico High School students, who would have had to make a four-hour bus trip each way just to visit the museum, got to ask questions and hear the woman's stories without ever leaving their classroom.

First came the workshop. Then came a glimmer of an idea. Next came the goal, which changed everything.

It was Raymond Yeagley who set it all in motion. The Rochester (N.H.) Schools superintendent attended a Quality School Portfolio workshop a few years ago to learn about how the Web-based tool can help in collecting, analyzing and making sense of data. Using what he learned, he prepared a report on reading performance in Rochester's elementary schools.

Margaret Spellings/FAST FACTS

Date of birth: November 30, 1957

Education: University of Austin, bachelor's degree in political science and journalism

Last November, armed with only a computer, a microphone and free Audacity software, Will Richardson prepared his first online audio broadcast.

Have you ever had an idea so good that you know if you can just tell the right person, they'll agree and it will happen? That, more or less, was the script when the CEO of the School District of Philadelphia, Paul Vallas, met with Microsoft more than a year ago.

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