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With the increasing popularity of social networking sites and the Internet as vehicles for communication (Twitter, Facebook, e-mail), what pitfalls should superintendents be aware of? What possible negative consequences could occur by using these tools? Should we be drawing parameters for how teachers, especially our younger (digital native) teachers, communicate with students?
Mike Ford, Superintendent of Schools,
Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District Clifton Springs, N.Y.

Dear Mike,


It's a salesperson's dream — having customers tell you it would be "almost irresponsible" not to buy your products.

Our public school system was founded for the purpose of ensuring that we have an educated citizenry and instilling in our young people the values of democracy. As a result, woven in among the reading, writing and arithmetic have been the lessons of democracy. As educators, we encourage students never to accept inequity, and we teach them that history lessons speak to the price of freedom, the importance of courage, and the necessity of compassion and forgiveness.

Online content is the future. Textbooks are finite; they have a beginning and an end. Online content is, for all practical purposes, infinite; learners can feed their interests to their hearts' content. Online content is current; textbooks can be years old. Online content is global; students can access content from the BBC, The Times of India, and, with a bit more effort, read the news from France, Sweden or Nigeria. How cool is that? Online content is, for the most part, platform-independent: desktops to smartphones, Apple OS to MeeGo—everyone can see and hear the same content.


Deer Park ISD, located outside of Houston, started 2008 with all its systems in place and no major implementations or changes on the horizon. But within a year, the district had three major new system installations underway.

Twitter. Twitter?

We know. Your first reaction is to stop reading because you think, "Another crazy who sings the praises of a silly cell phone service that enables you to tell the world what you had for breakfast in 140 characters or less. Who cares what you had for breakfast? And how can you say anything interesting in 140 characters, let alone less?"

Resist that impulse. Read on, please.

Sometimes boards serve in an appeal role for decisions made at other levels. The rules for appeals often focus on whether the lower board followed protocols, rather than whether it ruled correctly. How does an administrator exert appropriate leadership if board members seem inclined to rule on the correctness of the decision, with which they disagree, rather than the protocols followed?

William J. Cirone, Superintendent of Schools Santa Barbara County (Calif.), Office of Education

Dear William,

Stereotypes are harmful. However, a new study from researchers at Indiana University, entitled "Stereotype Threat Prevents Perceptual Learning," is taking this simple message to the next level: Negative stereotypes hinder learning in the present and could make it impossible in the future.


Third-grader Makenzie Melton's artistry will ensure that students in her Missouri school district will have access to scores of top-quality recertified computers from CDI.