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Consultant Jeff Marshall is the former risk manager for the School District of Philadelphia.

Education in crisis. To you, the phrase may evoke financial crisis, perhaps high dropout rates or maybe issues involving falling tests scores. But I am a risk manager. To me, when a school cannot open for a day, for a week, for a month or longer—no matter the reason—that is the essence of a real educational crisis.

New Jersey middle schoolers next year may be assigned to tweet and post Facebook updates as part of new classes on social media and internet use.

In January, the state became the first in the nation to pass a law requiring students in grades six through eight to take a class that will teach the appropriate use of various social media sites. The curriculum also will cover cyberbullying, cyber safety and ethics.

Former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue is leading a new digital education nonprofit called the Digital Learning Institute.


Former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue is leading a new digital education nonprofit called the Digital Learning Institute, which aims to expand technology use in the classroom and increase instructional opportunities for teachers. Perdue, who was a teacher before entering politics, received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Districts interested in implementing blended learning sometimes turn to teachers rather than outside providers to create online curriculum to integrate with in-class instruction. This method may save costs, but requires continuous professional development and access to devices for all students. Here are two districts just beginning to create blended learning solutions with teachers at the helm.

Students take control of learning

Energy specialists for the Tulsa Public Schools inspect an air-cooled chiller during one of their daily energy audits of facilities throughout the district.

Focusing on energy management can bring large savings to a district. From using special software to enlisting the help of outside advising firms, district leaders can leverage tools and best practices to manage their energy consumption and thereby reduce costs.

Here are nine tips and tricks from district leaders and energy experts for controlling energy costs in your district:

Baldwin County School District in Alabama spends $9 million per year on its Digital Renaissance program, which funds MacBook Air laptops for middle and high school students, and iPads for K2 students.

Before 4,450 MacBook Airs were distributed to students, before teachers were equipped and trained on their own devices, before test scores increased and the dropout rate decreased, the Mooresville Graded School District’s digital conversion started with a hard look at finances—one result of which was the elimination of more than 35 teaching positions.

Don Brann visits an elementary school in the Inglewood district—and listens to staff needs.

Donald Brann, state trustee of Inglewood USD, has only been on the job six months, but already teachers and administrators are seeing that things are different from what they used to be.

After the state takeover of the financially-struggling district, administrators say just having direct access and being able to communicate with him and receive quick answers to their questions is a change of pace. They had never seen the chief administrator visit their schools before.

Students at Lewis and Clark High School in the Vancouver, Wash., work in small groups as part of their typical school day. 

School administrators overwhelmed by the idea of blended learning need not fear: many districts have successfully implemented one of four models now widely accepted in K12 education. Even more encouraging, some of these schools are seeing increased achievement, lower dropout rates, and other positive results.

Education expert Will Richardson says schools must teach students to be successful learners in a world of information.

In his new book, Will Richardson says schools aren't keeping up the tech that drives today's students.

SWOT students writing out code on paper. Thanks to a fundraiser this past fall, students will be using computers instead.

Students enrolled at the Scholars Working Overtime (SWOT) program in Las Vegas have been learning how to write computer programming code in an unusual way—without computers. Throughout the fall, coding was practiced on pen and paper until the funds were raised to bring a computer lab to the program.