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Though the Chicago Teachers Union approved a new contract in September, the aftermath of their eight-day strike has led to debate over the role of teacher unions in education reform; specifically, whether unions should be allowed expansive collective bargaining and striking rights under state law, or if these rights impede reform.

For the first time, administrators nationwide can access and compare state education and technology policies in one place. The State Education Policy Center (SEPC) is a unique database that provides up-to-date information on state education and technology policies and practices to inform school reform and improvement efforts. The database launched in October, and was curated by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), a national member association of educational technology leaders.

America’s dropout crisis is so severe that one in four students does not finish high school. Unless graduation rates increase, nearly 12 million students will likely drop out over the next decade, with an estimated national loss of $1.5 trillion in lost wages and increased social costs due to crime and health care, according to a 2012 report “Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic.”

Girl learns Chinese

Bibb County, Ga. is better known for being at the heart of confederacy than for its international interests—until now. This fall marked the beginning of a new curriculum for the school district, with Mandarin Chinese classes now required for all pre-K12 students. Haitian-born superintendent Romain Dallemand’s goal is to have all students become fully bilingual in English and Mandarin by high school graduation.


National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel announced a $500,000 challenge grant toward expanding a successful New Jersey Education Association program nationwide to help increase the number of certified science and math teachers in schools.

It’s a common situation: A school district in desperate need of additions or renovations and technology upgrades borrows money from investors, to be paid back with interest. But for the Poway Unified School District in San Diego County, Calif., there is a twist: They don’t need to make any payments on the $105 million they borrowed in 2011 until 2033, so the district’s debt will continue to grow as interest on the loan amasses. In the end, taxpayers will be charged $877 million in interest alone.

With the rapid growth of high-definition color video and multimedia images for instructional applications in classrooms and schools, comparing the delivery quality of projectors is of pivotal importance. While the 3LCD company has long maintained the superiority of its three-chip projector design to deliver clear and vibrant color, until recently, there were no standardized ways to measure and compare color performance. Although school buyers could compare projector ratings by “white light output,” or brightness, rating color quality was a different story.

Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman (center, in red) helps TCCS students celebrate the opening of the school's new location in September.

The Teachers College Community School (TCCS), a university-assisted public pre-K8 school, opened the doors of its new permanent home in West Harlem, N.Y. in September. The school, which initially opened in fall of 2011 in a different location, represents a unique collaboration between the Columbia University Teachers College and the New York City Department of Education to provide a strong public education for members of the community, as well as education training for university students.

New Hampshire’s Nashua School District stood up to a challenge of discrimination this year, allowing a transgender third grade student to attend a new elementary school as a female, despite her biological status as a male. “It’s our policy not to discriminate against any student, and that would include transgender students,” Superintendent Mark Conrad stated.

The second annual Follett Challenge encourages educators to align their curriculum to teach 21st century learning skills—and is offering double the prize money as last year to those who do. Educators from all departments in schools can enter to demonstrate how their programs develop critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration between students and among educators in a 21st century setting, no matter the resources available.