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The National Education Alliance (NEA) has lost 234,000 members, or 8 percent of its membership, since 2010-2011, due to political and economic forces. Over 200,000 of those lost are classroom teachers, said NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle during the organization’s 2013 Representative Assembly, which was held in July.

The role of high school is shifting, in part given President Obama’s recent push to redesign the education system to ensure that American students are enrolling in college and keeping up with the skills that a global economy demands.

Schools feeling an increasing need to provide student mental health services are partnering with nonprofits to open on-campus clinics as budget cuts have left many districts with fewer psychologists, counselors, and social workers.

A human-like robot that can mimic emotions and play interactive games can help students with autism develop social skills.

Aldebaran Robotics’ “ASK NAO” robot, which is about two feet tall, mimics an emotion with gestures and sounds, and waits for children to recognize the emotion. It may then ask children the last time they experienced such an emotion. It also can teach autistic children time, taking turns, basic conversation, and other communication skills.

Many teachers will spend this summer learning classroom strategies to best align with upcoming Common Core standards.

Common Core is the topic teachers have requested most for summer professional development, says Karen Beerer, Discovery Education’s vice president of professional development for Common Core State Standards. “Contrary to popular belief, the standards are not one size fits all,” she says.

Native American students face a dropout rate of over 12 percent—more than double that of their white peers and higher than that for black and Asian students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

High teacher turnover rates and few native teachers in the classroom are part of the problem, says David Thomas, a U.S. Department of Education spokesperson. The Indian Education Professional Development Grant seeks to change that by providing Native Americans a chance to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree and become teachers or administrators.

Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District will no longer face suspension for minor acts like not coming to class prepared or refusing to remove a hat.

EMERGING LEADER

Shelley Holt, Los Angeles USD instructional director for secondary schools, was named one of ASCD’s 2013 Emerging Leaders for her work helping principals use data to develop plans for monitoring instructional outcomes.

The total unfunded liability of U.S. teacher pensions is currently anywhere from $390 billion to $1 trillion, according to recent estimates. In an effort to bolster depleting pension funds, some states are enacting laws that cut benefits and require more contributions from employees, according to a June report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, “The Big Squeeze: Retirement Costs and School District Budgets.”

In the aftermath of the nation’s largest standardized test cheating scandal, 35 Atlanta Public Schools educators, including former Superintendent Beverly Hall, were criminally indicted for changing student answers on high-stakes state tests.

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