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From the Editor

Associate Editor Marion Herbert and I had the pleasure of attending the National School Boards Association's (NSBA) 70th Annual Conference held April 10-12 in Chicago. What was most evident was how the commitment to student success among the attendees is unwavering even with the increasing challenges they face in these tough economic times, including more federal mandates, charter schools and a lack of alignment with community expectations.

There is no question that the country is focusing on the childhood obesity epidemic. First Lady Michelle Obama's ambitious "Let's Move" campaign to curb childhood obesity in one generation intends to address the problem from both a physical activity standpoint and a nutritional standpoint inside as well as outside schools. As schools across the nation continue to face pressure over standardized testing in math and reading, many have understandably found it a struggle to include physical activity among their priorities.

In the late fall of 2008, DA had a heck of a time catching up with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and, at the time, also of the United Federation of Teachers, its New York City affiliate, for a January 2009 interview. The AFT 's political operation in the 2008 elections was unprecedented, with Weingarten, who at the time was rumored as a contender for education secretary, traveling through 18 states to campaign for Barack Obama.

With the ringing in of the New Year, we felt it would be a good opportunity to reflect on our editorial coverage of 2009. We’re always working to improve our content, and we periodically take a bird’s-eye view to be sure that we’re in sync with what our readers look to us for.

For the most part, K12 is just beginning to realize the potential of mobile technology. A 2009 study of 25 mobile learning initiatives worldwide by the Joan Ganz Conney Foundation Center chose them as having the greatest potential to revolutionize teaching and learning methods. But this technology has already arrived in some districts, whose leaders cite its ability not only to be more mobile than laptops, but more affordable, more reliable, and just as powerful. DA columnists Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris inspired us this month to create a full Mobile Learning Guide.

After hearing the buzz this spring about the Common Core State Standards Initiative and knowing that in a relatively short time school districts in most states will be impacted in many ways, we decided that it was time for a progress report. We checked in with Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Dane Linn, director of the Education Division of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, who are heading up the initiative.

Welcome to our “Ninth Annual Salary Survey,” always one of our readers’ most popular features. Along with graphs illustrating the 2008-2009 salary numbers for various administrative positions, in “Administrator Roles Shift with the Times” we feature new, specialized positions that are indicators of key changes going on within districts. As the DA editors know well from speaking with readers on a regular basis, a title in one school district can mean something completely different in another district.

It’s August—time to regroup before the school year begins. Yet more than other summers there are many changes to adapt to, with more on the horizon. Decreased funds have resulted in the nationwide elimination of essential programs, as well as personnel layoffs, administrative salary freezes, and higher benefit costs. Governors are being reprimanded as they consider using stimulus monies to plug major budget holes, while at the same time they are trying to find ways to participate in the Race to the Top fund’s $4.35 billion money game.

As we at DA sorted out what to title this month’s special section, it was time to really understand the difference between the terms “green” and “sustainable,” two of the more popular buzzwords these days. I found the best explanation on, a unique blog based on social media and green living: Green is a “microconcept” measured on a scale from dirty to clean, or toxic to nontoxic. One person’s green can be another person’s not green.