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From DA

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has released the Milestones for Improving Learning and Education (MILE ) Guide, a new tool for K12 leaders to assess where their district falls in providing their students with critical 21st century skills.

The MILE Guide is the most recent release from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, an organization that promotes the integration of these critical skills into core academic subjects.

Seventy-seven percent of high school students nationwide are missing the core benchmarks necessary to prepare them for their first year in college, according to a new study conducted by the research and policy arm of ACT, which conducts curriculum based college entrance exams similar to the SAT.

An organization comprised of September 11th victims’ family members, rescue workers, survivors and educators called the September 11th Education Trust has released a curriculum for grades 6-12 on the terrorist attacks and their aftermath. The September 11th Education Program includes comprehensive lesson plans with 70 video interviews and transcripts, primary source materials, handouts and questions for research and discussion.

Amid the war between parents and popular music, a compromise has been drawn in schools across the country as rap music makes its debut in classrooms. The Flocabulary program, an educational hip hop music series, has been introduced as a means of learning facts and rote memorization. Its founders, Alex Rappaport and Blake Harrison, created their company in the belief that difficult material could be mastered if introduced in an engaging way.

It’s not only the treatments of viruses that can have side effects. The H1N1 epidemic itself has created a variety of “side effects” around the country, as well as in nearly every school district. Among them have been opportunities for companies to cash in with new products and services. Not all are legitimate.

Online learning providers have long touted a variety of advantages of their solutions. But the H1N1 epidemic has given new reasons for schools to invest in such technology.

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.

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