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Table of Contents

Jun 2009

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Cover Story

For many schools, “Going Green” once meant turning out the lights after leaving the classroom, filling the recycle bins, and celebrating Earth Day. Not anymore. Although such activities remain staples of environmentally conscious school systems, that consciousness has exploded in an era of high energy prices, global warming threats, and multiplying concerns about the health of students in today’s school buildings.

Features

For many schools, “Going Green” once meant turning out the lights after leaving the classroom, filling the recycle bins, and celebrating Earth Day. Not anymore. Although such activities remain staples of environmentally conscious school systems, that consciousness has exploded in an era of high energy prices, global warming threats, and multiplying concerns about the health of students in today’s school buildings.

If the schools in your district are like most in the United States, there is a good chance that today’s lunch features pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets or maybe hamburgers with processed cheese. Is serving these types of foods really in the best interest of our children’s health? Common sense says no, as do the statistics, which are startling.

Northern California native Jim Rowan is passionate about food. A self-taught chef, Rowan had his own catering business, cooked in resorts and hotels, and was a private chef before becoming culinary director at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. But in July 2008, Rowan made the switch from higher ed to K12. He is now the food service director at Astoria (Ore.) School District and Naselle-Grays River Valley (Wash.) School District, which use Chartwells as their food service provider.

Pitsco’s green projects and products, Lexmark’s paper program, and Lutron Electronics’ Greenovation program are just a few curricular ideas that K12 classrooms are using to help districts save energy and teach students to help save the environment.

The development of the first personal computer in 1971 began a process that has led to a computer reduced in size, weight and cost, which makes it increasingly popular in education—the netbook. Initially caught flat-footed by the concept, major manufacturers are scrambling to produce their own models, sometimes working with district leaders to test them.

In early March, as he addressed the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., President Obama spoke at great length of the reforms he believes will give Americans “a complete and competitive education, from the cradle up through a career.” The proposals he laid out for improving early childhood education, K12 standards and assessments, graduation rates, teacher quality and college funding will be debated for months to come by thousands of school administrators, teachers, parents and politicians.

Opinion

In Fort Lauderdale in March, students and teachers were in shock following the news that a three-vehicle accident involving a semi-trailer truck had killed a Broward County Public Schools fourth-grade teacher, as well as injuring her four grandchildren and another teacher. Numerous parents, staff and students passed the scene of the accident, and rumors began flying.

At times such as this, administrators need to have procedures in place to stifle rumors and help the school community manage its grief. These tips can help.

I’ve often wondered what the response would be if we asked the kids in our schools to reflect on how their teachers learn. Not on how much they know or how creative they might be, but on how they learn—what their process is,what their passions are. My guess is that few if any of those teachers have made their own learning transparent to their students to any great degree.

Solutions

It’s easy to Miss Evander Childs High School in the north Bronx these days. Although the 100-year-old building fills an entire city block, its four floors are shrouded top-to-bottom in a dark mesh curtain covering the scaffolding from which workers are replacing the exterior brick by brick.

Joel L. Voytoski, veteran superintendent of the Evergreen School District 50 in Kalispell, Mont., has been named the state’s 2009 Superintendent of the Year for his success in morphing programs around student assessments.

Briefings

 

Going to K.C. Achievement Gap

Broad Superintendents Academy graduate John Covington will be the next superintendent of the Kansas City (Mo.) School District, its 26th leader since 1969. Since 2006 he has been superintendent of Pueblo (Colo.) City Schools.

The release of The Nation’s Report Card: Trends in Academic Progress in Reading and Mathematics 2008 was greeted by education advocates with joy for its demonstration of higher achievement among most groups tested, but also with disappointment for its clear evidence that achievement gaps persist and that scores for 17-year-olds have remained stagnant since the 1970s.

The broadband technology opportunities program, administered by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, has $4.7 billion in grants through the federal stimulus package to give for expanding broadband coverage in underserved areas. A similar program from the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service will distribute $2.5 billion in grants and loans. Schools and districts are among the organizations that can apply for these funds.

Even with stimulus dollars flowing nationwide, districts are still facing large budget deficits and are looking for ways to save money. Some are investigating free and open source software (FOSS ) as a result.

FOSS applications are the work of communities of developers, usually volunteers, who keep the source code open and allow the software to be distributed for free. Any user can customize it, add to it, and fix its bugs. Although FOSS has been around for decades and used in many industries, school districts have generally been slow to embrace it.

Based on percentage of funding increase, the big winner in President Obama’s proposed 2010 education budget is Striving Readers, which is slated to go from $35 million to $370 million.

This program was designed to reach students in grades 4-12 whose literacy skills were significantly below grade level. Such students were not eligible for Reading First, a Department of Education program for students in grades K-3.

Departments

As we at DA sorted out what to title this month’s special section, it was time to really understand the difference between the terms “green” and “sustainable,” two of the more popular buzzwords these days. I found the best explanation on www.maxgladwell.com, a unique blog based on social media and green living: Green is a “microconcept” measured on a scale from dirty to clean, or toxic to nontoxic. One person’s green can be another person’s not green.







 

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