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RACE TO THE TOP

Lillian Lowery, Delaware's secretary of education, helped lead the way for the state's Race to the Top application, which won the contest along with Tennessee. The application included proposals to reform low-performing schools.

A well-rounded education now includes environmental literacy, according to the Obama administration.

"A Blueprint for Reform," the administration's amended proposal for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), has for the first time carved out room in the budget for environmental education. The proposed bill, No Child Left Inside (NCLI ), is among the administration's signature competitive grants and if passed would provide $500 million over five years to states that develop superior environmental and outdoor education plans.

Broadband advocates spoke, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) listened. The highly anticipated—and long overdue—National Broadband Plan was at last released by the FCC on March 16. K12 education groups, including the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and the Education and Libraries Networks Coalition (EdLiNC), were pleased to see substantial improvements recommended for the E-rate program, which provides discounted telecommunications services for schools and libraries.

"It's 2010, and the world has changed," says Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education and former Apple executive. "Technology is going more mobile."

PROBLEM

Don Tylinski inherited a challenge when he became superintendent of the Seneca Valley (Pa.) School District in 2004. The 7,363-student K12 district located 30 miles north of Pittsburgh was under strain because of the arrival of large new industries in the area, including a new facility of global nuclear power plant builder Westinghouse. "The growth in student population had everyone in the district scrambling. We lost consistency in the curriculum," says Tylinski.

Frances Gallo, superintendent of Central Falls (R.I.) schools since March 2007, looks ahead to the next school year when the Central Falls High School is set to have a different face.

In early January, the Rhode Island commissioner of education identified six schools, including Central Falls High, as the state's "persistently lowest-achieving schools."

In October 2009, Mark Schumacker, a seventh-grade mathematics teacher at Ankeney Middle School of the Beavercreek City School District, a suburban district east of Dayton, Ohio, earned the EUREKA Educator of the Year Award from the Better Business Bureau of Ohio's Center for Character Ethics for his efforts to blend character education with instruction. Schumacker is the first recipient of this statewide honor that recognizes positive actions with regard to constructive character development.

A summer job for a 16-year-old typically involves serving coffee, scooping ice cream, or babysitting the neighborhood children. Some students at Miami-Dade County (Fla.) Public Schools, however, spent their summer vacation designing a children's Web site for the city of Miami Beach. An increasing number of students are finding themselves mingling among professionals with internships in local businesses—the culmination of a work-based learning curriculum.

 

Bringing School Reform to Scale: Five Award-Winning Urban Districts

Harvard Education Press, $29.95

Status of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Funding as of March 31, 2010

Source: U.S. Department of Education

1836:

Texas wins independence from Mexico, motivated in part by education issues.

1845:

United States annexes Texas as the 28th state.

1861:

Texas joins the Confederacy in the Civil War.

1876:

New state constitution abolishes Reconstruction-era appointed office of state superintendent and compulsory school attendance laws.

1884:

Office of state superintendent restored as an elective office.

1915:

State enacts compulsory school attendance law.

Tracking student progress toward state-mandated assessments and outcomes was a challenge for the Park Hill School District just outside of Kansas City, MO.

On March 15 President Obama presented to Congress his "Blueprint for Reform," which seeks to reform No Child Left Behind through four main areas of improvement.

Education professionals' response to the Blueprint ranges extensively—many disagree with the plan and largely top-down approach to reformation, while recognizing the need for change.

Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, says the Blueprint is "a vast improvement over the flawed No Child Left Behind program, which it would now replace."

At Madison Elementary School in Santa Ana, Calif., almost all of the 870 students are English language learners. Historically, students were performing significantly below grade-level on standardized tests, especially in math.

When the Michigan State Board of Education instituted a high school graduation requirement mandating two credits of a foreign language and one online learning course, it created an opportunity to tackle "21st Century Skill Sets" with 21st century technology.

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