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For the past 15 years, zero-tolerance policies for violence in schools have been the driving force behind many—80 to 95 percent by some estimates—of school discipline policies around the country.

Every school day, 430 high school students travel from all over Chicago to the city’s rough West Side and to North Lawndale College Prep charter high school, where they enter without passing through metal detectors.

Many district administrators are finding that they can save money on computers by buying preowned ones instead of new ones. The practice has other benefits as well: It allows districts to give more computers to more students who need them, and it also promotes good environmental practices by keeping the machines out of landfills, where they otherwise might wind up.

Secondhand computers are not the only preowned learning tools that districts are buying to save money. Many also are buying refurbished textbooks. In Arizona, state lawmakers are looking to cut $133 million from K12 public schools this month, while already facing a huge shortfall in the current state budget, according to Public News Service.

With the ringing in of the New Year, we felt it would be a good opportunity to reflect on our editorial coverage of 2009. We’re always working to improve our content, and we periodically take a bird’s-eye view to be sure that we’re in sync with what our readers look to us for.

On July 8, 2008 I testified at a congressional hearing on school safety and bullying prevention. There I met Sirdeaner L. Walker, the mother of eleven-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover, who had recently died by suicide. Walker described in her testimony the bullying that Carl received at school and that he was repeatedly called gay. She described herself as an involved parent who tried to do everything right, and stated that she had informed school administrators about the bullying her son was subjected to at school.

Teacher quality is the most crucial component in promoting student learning. For all the controversy about No Child Left Behind, one underlying emphasis of the federal law that is irrefutable is the importance placed on teacher quality. Therefore, a school organization committed to excellence must recruit and select outstanding teachers. The Obama administration also recognizes the importance of teacher quality. Teacher excellence is a foundation of the Race to the Top funds, competitive grants available to states as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Like other districts with schools that are not meeting adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals for five consecutive years, Hawaii is restructuring its low performing schools as required by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Unlike most other districts, however, Hawaii, a single statewide district, has been doing it for five years with the support of three independent education consulting firms working directly with administrators and teachers in the failing schools.

If you haven’t read the new MacArthur foundation report Living and Learning with new Media (http:// bit.ly/SooSe), which discusses how our kids are using social networks and tools to connect, you might want to consider it sooner rather than later. In a nutshell, the study found that kids are using online social technologies in impressive numbers to stay connected to the people they already know and, more importantly for us, to connect to other people around the globe they don’t know but with whom they share a passion or an interest.

<b>What exactly is the "New PE," and how can technology help districts embrace it? </b>

<b>Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida</b>

At Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Polar heart rate monitors have introduced a “wow factor” to physical education that has motivated students to take on personal ownership of their fitness achievements.

If you're shopping for a new computer, what do you look for? A unit that's reliable, that can handle all your software applications and that is backed by an iron-clad warranty.

There's no reason to restrict your search to new computers. Recertfied computers can meet all of those requirements, too — at about a third to one-half the cost of new equipment.

For the most part, K12 is just beginning to realize the potential of mobile technology. A 2009 study of 25 mobile learning initiatives worldwide by the Joan Ganz Conney Foundation Center chose them as having the greatest potential to revolutionize teaching and learning methods. But this technology has already arrived in some districts, whose leaders cite its ability not only to be more mobile than laptops, but more affordable, more reliable, and just as powerful. DA columnists Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris inspired us this month to create a full Mobile Learning Guide.

Shifting Roles: A Positive Trend


I enjoyed the 9th Annual Salary Survey article (“Administrator Roles Shift with the Times,” September 2009). The story spotlighted certain positions. It was reassuring to see that our salaries in Greenville County were for the most part in line with the survey data.








 

RAISING THE BAR


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