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Sep 2003

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Cover Story

Back-to-school time can be exciting, hectic and exhausting. Effective leaders take time to reflect and learn from others. Editor-at-Large Gary Stager has asked many of America's top education thinkers to share their advice for the year ahead.

Features

It's probably not surprising that a recent Pew report found that eight of 10 students from 10 to 17 use the Internet to help with their schoolwork. What is surprising is that these same students say their teachers do not use online resources in class, or create assignments that exploit the potential of the Web.

Even an inexperienced sleuth who happened upon the village of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., could easily do it. The challenge: uncover the total compensation of the school district's leader.

"What you see is what I get," says man-in-charge Sidney A. Freund.

Anaheim Union High School District had 1,200 classrooms to renovate, 200 new ones to build, and nearly $300 million to do it. Building classrooms that would house the evolution of education and technology over the next 30 years proved the hardest part of the district's mandate.

Decisions, decisions. Windows or Macintosh computers? Inkjet or laser printers? DLP or LCD projectors? While it's fairly simple to choose PCs and printers, the projector question can be a stumper. That's because there are advantages and disadvantages to both technologies.

Advanced Media Design

MediaPOINTE SystemOne

www.mediapointe.com, Hardware, $59,990

Back-to-school time can be exciting, hectic and exhausting. Effective leaders take time to reflect and learn from others. Editor-at-Large Gary Stager has asked many of America's top education thinkers to share their advice for the year ahead.

It's blind to race, sex and even acne. And it's a place where popular and unpopular, gifted and at-risk, wealthy and poor take courses together as well as share stories and relate to each other's woes and wonders.

It's distance education, and it's gaining momentum.

We called him "Swampy" Hayes, or the "Swamp Fox," after Frances Marion, the Revolutionary War hero whose spying tricks infuriated the British.

Opinion

Imagine having a fast and inexpensive way to reach many people with a great advertisement of what your district has accomplished. Obviously, that's the case with your school district's Web site.

Solutions

Located smack-dab between Dallas and Fort Worth, Irving Independent School District has experienced technology acceleration at its finest. Its ambitious technology upgrade plan has put Dell laptops into the hands of every student and sparked renewed interest in learning.

"I see teachers teaching kids, kids teaching other kids, and kids teaching their parents," says Jennifer Anderson, Irving's executive director of technology. "And now I see other school districts coming to Irving to find out how we're doing it."

Teaching quality is a hot topic these days because research shows that teachers have a greater influence on student academic growth than any other factor, including class size, ethnicity, location or poverty. Several researchers have reached this conclusion, including William Sanders. His value-added assessment studies in Tennessee show that the residual effects of teachers (for better or worse) can be measured at least four years after a student leaves the classroom, regardless of the effectiveness of subsequent teachers.

You might say that Mike Moses is a leader of Biblical proportions. He runs a really big school district--12th largest in the U.S.--oversees a super-sized $1.2 billion budget and makes $325,000 a year, by many accounts more than any other superintendent.

Briefings

Hear it in Court

Criticism just keeps coming for No Child Left Behind. The nation's largest professional employee organization, the National Education Association, is joining the malcontents nationwide, including governors, top school leaders and school boards. NEA plans to sue the federal government for allegedly forcing an unfunded mandate down state and local officials' throats, officials say.

Departments

We all know the first step to overcoming a problem is to admit there is a problem.

Consider school officials, and especially those leading some of the largest urban districts, to be on step one in their fight against dropouts.