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From DA

In December, President-elect Barack Obama selected Chicago’s Dodge Renaissance Academy, a 400-student pre-K8 school, as the backdrop for choosing Arne Duncan, the Chicago Public Schools’ CEO, as the nation’s new secretary of education. Touted as a “turnaround school,” Dodge represented the idea that if change could come to a high-poverty, failing school with low test scores and most students on free or reduced-price lunches, then there was hope for all schools.

Districts wanting to turn around schools without hiring an outside organization are being drawn to the University of Virginia School Turnaround Specialist Program, which equips principals and other administrators with the skills needed to bring about deep change in low-performing schools and provides them with ongoing support.

Last year, fifth-graders at the Herricks Union Free School District in New Hyde Park, N.Y., studied the U.S. presidential primaries while following elections in Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Kenya. At South Brunswick High School in Southport, N.C., history students discuss battles of the Civil War via live teleconferences with counterparts in Denmark. Meanwhile the Mathis (Texas) Independent School District, a rural district of nearly 1,800 students, just hired a Chinese language teacher for the first time.

Jane, a high school principal, decides that it is time to change the daily schedule of classes for the next school year. Her goal is to maximize instructional time. Many staff members like the current schedule. It rewards the most senior teachers with the best sequence of classes. Other teachers are ambivalent, as they have accepted the status quo. In proposing a major change like this, a leader will often face intense opposition from those with the most to lose, while those with the most to gain will sit on the fence.

It’s been a busy time for new education technology, with not only many new releases at two large conferences—InfoComm and NECC, both in June—but also updated or entirely new products announced in anticipation of district purchasing decisions for the new school year. But the past few months have also been unique because of the federal funds available to schools from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Over the past decade, online learning has risen to become one of the fastest growing sectors in education and certainly one of the most intriguing. Today, more and more students at all levels of education—elementary to postsecondary—are opting to take courses online. It is a testament to the effectiveness of this model of education.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough (Alaska) School District is located just north of Anchorage and covers approximately 25,000 square miles. It includes 43 schools, with close to 16,500 students.

 

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During his presentation on “Effective Leadership in an Era of Disruptive Innovation” at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Washington, D.C., in June, Scott McLeod of Iowa State University (and blogger at dangerouslyirrelevant.org) made a statement that was quickly captured in Tweets by many of those in attendance. “We’re facing a disruptive innovation,” Scott said. “But it’s not online learning; it’s personalized learning.”

Salary Trends Reveal Positive Increase

Top administrator positions and school spokespeople see large gains over the past decade.

Over the past decade, superintendents, deputy or associate superintendents, and public information officers in public school districts nationwide have seen at least a 40 percent increase in salary, a positive jump compared to many other district-level positions, according to the 2008-2009 salary survey by Educational Research Service.

Like districts across the country, Hamilton County School District in northern Florida has moved rapidly to apply twenty-first century technology to teaching and learning. But until three years ago, and despite the growing use of classroom technology in the rural district, one key instructional function—the writing of lesson plans—was still being done the old fashioned way: with pen and paper.

Dear Educator,

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