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The gulf drilling explosion on the Deepwater Horizon caused an unprecedented disaster that left experts scrambling to discover the elusive solution that will halt the unceasing flow of pollutants. The question remains: How do we prevent this kind of disaster from happening again? The most sustainable and forward-thinking answer may lie in education. It is within the academic realm of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), often touted as the Achilles' heel of the U.S. educational system, that the foundations for future disaster-aversion could be built.

A new partnership between Dell and Moodlerooms brings cloud computing, software and open source technology together in the classroom. The result is an online learning application— currently being used in 200-250 districts nationwide—that allows teachers to focus on the individual needs of students, incorporate collaborative and engaging tools and provide a platform for professional development.

According to a new report from Blackboard Inc. and Project Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preparing students to become tomorrow's leaders, "Learning in the 21st Century: 2010 Trends Update," 27 percent of high school students and 21 percent of middle school students took at least one online class in 2009, nearly doubling the 2008 numbers of 14 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

A small pilot study to test the effectiveness of a new type of virtual learning that some K12 districts are using has found that student motivation is the best indicator of success.

Pavel Samsonov, an associate professor of educational technology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, conducted the study using Skype, a free, Internet phone service that allows users to see the people with whom they are communicating—or in this case, the classroom and whiteboards. The study used three longterm homebound students in the Saint Mary Parish Schools in Centerville, La.

In a first-of-its-kind move, three school districts in Illinois have bonded together to be in the business of wind power. Their joint project not only could benefit the environment but could save millions of dollars.

The Obama administration's mounting pressure for states to review their policies for evaluating teacher effectiveness has been met with backlash from education veterans nationwide. A new study released from the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, however, has just scored one point for advocates of merit pay and reforming teacher tenure. Its findings reveal that teacher effectiveness is not only unrelated to the college the teacher attended, but also that teacher effectiveness peaks after 10 years.

The Center on Education Policy released three studies in June summarizing the achievement of minority students since the implementation of No Child Left Behind in 2002. Each of the three studies—analyzing the performances of African-American, Asian, and Latino students, and named Student Achievement Policy Briefs 1, 2 and 3 respectively— used official data from all 50 states from 2002 to the present.

In June 2010 DA magazine asked our advisory panel of administrators what their districts are doing for professional development as they face tighter budgets.

Professional development funding has taken a cut overall. According to DA's survey, 31 percent of administrators reported a decrease in professional development funding, and 38 percent said professional development was only available because of federal grants.

Text messaging while driving in Lee County (Fla.) Public Schools is prohibited. It is the first district in Florida— and possibly the nation—to keep its policies caught up with the technology.

In March 2010, the Lee County Board of Education amended the district vehicle policy to prohibit employees from text messaging while driving a district vehicle or while driving a personally-owned vehicle on district business. The district has 12,000 employees and a fleet of over 650 school buses.

Roughly 540 public schools in the United States offer single-sex classrooms. Vermilion Parish (La.) Public School District wants to add to that number— but it won’t happen without a fight from the American Civil Liberties Union.