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September 2011

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Cover Story

On June 8, News Corp., a media company owned by Rupert Murdoch, snatched two leading school district administrators to head its new education division. Peter Gorman, former superintendent of the Charlotte- Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools, is the unit's new senior vice president, and Kristen Kane, the former chief operating officer of the New York City Department of Education, is its COO. Late last year, Joel Klein, former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, made the decision as well to join News Corp. as senior advisor to Murdoch.

Features

In a major address on educational policy last March, President Barack Obama underscored his priorities for the pending reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. "We will end what has become a race to the bottom in our schools, and instead spur a race to the top by encouraging better standards and assessments," he promised. "This is an area where we're being outpaced by other nations. They are preparing their students not only for high school or college, but for a career. We are not."

Synergy Charter Academy, which is one of three charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District operated by the husband-wife team of Meg and Randy Palisoc, spent its first six years (2004-2010) in a cramped church space in south LA. Equipment and supplies had to be packed up on a daily basis because the church needed to use the same space. The Palisocs, both former LAUSD teachers, opened the school there because they could not find another space in the heavily industrial community without incurring millions of dollars in environmental remediation costs.

In the spring of 1999,12 students and a teacher were killed by two gun-toting teenage boys at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., making school safety and security an overnight priority in communities across the nation. Eight years later, a second and even more deadly incident on the campus of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where a student shot and killed 32 people, brought a renewed wave of concern and attention to security. But these two largest U.S.

As a 20-something, Anthony "Tony" Smith had fulfilled one dream: playing professional football for the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers. Next up, he thought, was law school. But a former mentor who had worked with him and other student-athletes at his alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, intervened. "She said, 'I don't know why you don't this see, Tony. You're a teacher,'" recalls Smith, who used to help his Cal teammates with schoolwork.

On June 8, News Corp., a media company owned by Rupert Murdoch, snatched two leading school district administrators to head its new education division. Peter Gorman, former superintendent of the Charlotte- Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools, is the unit's new senior vice president, and Kristen Kane, the former chief operating officer of the New York City Department of Education, is its COO. Late last year, Joel Klein, former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, made the decision as well to join News Corp. as senior advisor to Murdoch.

Opinion

The tornado struck the small southern town three weeks before schools were to end for the year. Eighteen people were killed, and the damage to property was extensive. All three schools were affected, and the high school was nearly destroyed. Numerous staff members at the high school lost their homes and needed time to put their lives back in order. School leaders initially considered ending the year early for the high school. Would that have been the best decision for students?

In 2008 for the first time, laptops outsold desktops. In 2010 for the first time, smartphones outsold laptops.

"Yeah, but I don't have enough time."

"Yeah, but I can't do that and cover my content."

"Yeah, but what if it doesn't work?"

"Yeah, but that's not how it was when I went to school."

What do you hear when people say, "Yeah, but?" Resistance? If you listen differently, you can hear opportunity.

September is an incredible time to be a school counselor. The month seems to fly by as we work at a frenetic pace to review and adjust students' academic programs, assist students who are transitioning into a new school, and support students and families as they acclimate to a new school year. For high school counselors, we have the added responsibilities related to college admissions planning for incoming seniors.

Solutions

In Central Alabama at the junction of the coastal plains and the Piedmont Plateau, lies the swiftly growing, geographically diverse city of Auburn. Auburn boasts a nationally recognized school system that's as much a draw as the unique terrain and the anchoring presence of historic Auburn University.

First Lady Michelle Obama launched her "Let's Move" campaign to end childhood obesity last year, and pointed to Somerville, Mass., as a model city where civic and educational leaders are creating a culture of healthy living for young residents. In particular, Somerville Public Schools' (SPS) wide-ranging efforts to improve lunch and breakfast programs exemplify a core goal of Let's Move— a goal also at the center of the federal Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010.

Most educators are at least superficially familiar with the term "Response-to-Intervention," or "RTI." Since the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), which prohibits states from requiring school districts to use IQ-achievement discrepancy criteria in the identification of students with specific learning disabilities and encourages the use of Response-to-Intervention, a scientific, research-based approach (Mandlawitz, 2007), "doing RTI" has become a veritable catchphrase in schools and classrooms throughout the country.

Briefings

The Deerfield Township School in New Jersey has been working on improving literacy across all grade levels of this PreK-8 school. To encourage curiosity in reading among students, Superintendent Edythe Austermuhl personally mingles with students in their classrooms and libraries to hold informal book talks and find new readings. The school librarians have noted that if they label a book as a "Recommendation by Dr. Austermuhl," the book often has a waiting list.

School lunch programs have been under a fierce attack since the wellness wave hit the nation with First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign, says Dennis Barrett, director of food services at Los Angeles Unified School District. But according to Barrett, the U.S. Department of Agriculture put stricter guidelines on food, such as reduced sodium and increased portion sizes of fruits and vegetables, over five years ago.

An estimated 8,000 people made the trip to Capitol Hill on July 29-31 for the Save Our Schools March. The rally, which was reportedly supposed to draw about 1 million supporters, was held to elevate issues such as putting an end to high stakes testing, provide equitable funding for all public schools, increase family and community leadership in forming public education policies, and increase local control of curriculum.

 

Work With No Pay

The salaries of regional superintendents in Illinois were removed from the state budget, although they have continued to work with no pay—for now. Gov. Pat Quinn has said the state's 44 regional superintendents are elected locally and should be paid by local funds.

Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport heard arguments in August in Lobato v. state of Colorado, the first-ever "adequacy case" in Colorado's history. The basis of the case is the state's setting of high standards of achievement for students and schools without having provided adequate funding to meet those demands. According to some witnesses for the plaintiff, computers, broadband for Internet access, and professional development are among the resources that have been lacking in Colorado schools for years, violating two clauses in the state's constitution.

Sep. 24 to Oct. 1 is Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read and create awareness to protect access to books, says Barbara Jones, Director of American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, the group behind Banned Books Week. Local communities across the country celebrate Banned Books Week to emphasize the importance of our First Amendment rights and give kids the opportunity to read barred stories.

Ten years may have passed, but the memory of Sep. 11 remains vivid in the minds of those who lived through it. Although students may have been very young or not yet born, when the World Trade Center was attacked, educators have found ways to memorialize at their schools and in their curriculum. Building fragments, particularly, have made their way around New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. A steel beam from the North Tower was delivered to Barnegat Township (N.J.) School District and will be displayed at the district's high school.

By the fall of 2012, the Next Generation of Science Standards will be available for states to adopt. Part 1 of the process, the Framework for K12 Science Education, was released July 19 by the National Research Council (NRC), an arm of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Traditionally, states have developed their own individual standards by extracting components from science benchmarks set forth by organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Since 2006, Lisa Gatti and her staff at Pal-O-mine have reached out to schools across Long Island, N.Y. to help at-risk students through their Equine Assisted Learning (EA L) program. Gatti, a former teacher for at-risk students and lifelong equestrian, saw early on the benefits of EAL for students who can't succeed in a nontraditional setting. Pal-O-Mine, a nonprofit organization, was originally founded in 1995 and is affiliated with EAGALA, the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association.

In August, as the back-to-school clothing and supplies were hitting the stores, Miami-Dade County (Fla.) Public Schools launched its own new "product line of services" to its student clientele, including additional magnet schools, a conservatory for the arts, salad bars, and new technology and online digital tools for students. This "ritual of reinvention" is a signature program of Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, as he's unveiled similar plans each year since joining the district in fall 2008.

Departments

Welcome to our Annual Salary Survey section, an 11-year-old tradition! The article that accompanies the 10 charts comparing school administrators' salaries, written by Associate Editor Marion Herbert, defends the salary levels of superintendents, comparing them to corporate CEOs' salaries, and addresses recent proposals by some governors to cap superintendents' salaries.

Social Media's Dyke

Ron Schachter's article "The Social Media Dilemma" (July/August 2011) provides great insight into the struggles schools face when deciding how to use, and attempt to control the use of, social media. It's easy to fi nd reasons to block access to social networking sites, but ultimately, those efforts will fail like a boy with his finger in a dyke. It is important to experience social media and then develop policies that set appropriate guidelines.

William Mayes is in his seventh year as the executive director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators and the president of the Association of State Executives (ASE ). He is a former superintendent of North Huron Schools, a consolidated district of two communities—Kinde and Port Austin—and of the Huron Intermediate School District, a service agency. We spoke with him after a July ASE meeting in Mystic, Conn.

While tablet computers like the iPad get more attention, eBook readers—comparatively simpler devices designed specifically for reading electronic versions of books, magazines and newspapers—are currently selling in greater numbers and at a faster rate than tablets. E-book readers also hold much appeal for education, and for the same reasons they are increasing in popularity with consumers: ever-improving features and growing capabilities for displaying a variety of content, for a fraction of the price of most full-featured tablet PCs.

According to a recent study, 43 percent of students feel unprepared to use technology in college and work life. SOURCE: e Education Development Center and Nellie Mae Education Foundation