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From DA

1. If you want to use social networking for school work, don’t use Facebook. It’s more of a nonschool tool, and students won’t be thinking about learning or education. Instead, use such sites as Elgg, Ning or Saywire.

2. Update the acceptable use policy.

There are more mobile devices on the market than ever, and many of them have been used successfully in many districts around the country to foster student learning. Here is a guide to some of the many mobile devices to consider implementing in your district.

It was sweet redemption for Wanda Bamberg, superintendent of the Aldine (Texas) Independent School District.

After having been a finalist for the Broad Prize for Urban Education for four years and having made academic progress for a decade, the Aldine ISD finally received the top $1 million prize in scholarship money for graduating seniors.

After hearing the buzz this spring about the Common Core State Standards Initiative and knowing that in a relatively short time school districts in most states will be impacted in many ways, we decided that it was time for a progress report. We checked in with Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Dane Linn, director of the Education Division of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, who are heading up the initiative.


Healthier Lunches

Education funding cuts in this tough economy mean current students may once again tell their grandchildren, “When I was your age, I had to walk to school uphill—both ways.”

For example, a budget shortfall in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in Texas means that students living inside a two-mile radius of its 81 campuses will walk or carpool to school.

“We’re not cutting fat,” says Kelli Duram, Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District assistant superintendent for communication. “We’re cutting into bone marrow now.”

A student is illuminated by a prototype of a solar-powered school bus stop safety light in Taylor, Michigan.

For overworked guidance counselors, students seeking detailed and relevant information about colleges, and parents looking for advice on issues such as financial aid and standardized tests, virtual college fairs can help.

Guidance counselors in particular could use a little help. Despite the American School Counselor Association’s recommendation of a 250:1 student-to-counselor ratio, the national average for 2006-2007 was 475:1—and that was before the recession forced many districts to cut counselor positions or leave vacancies unfilled.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave the keynote address at the third annual Superintendents’ Symposium organized by testing agency ACT and school improvement solutions company America’s Choice, which had a theme of improving the college and career readiness of graduating high school seniors. National 2009 ACT scores released in August found just 23 percent of the record 1.5 million graduating seniors who took the test met all four college readiness benchmarks in English, math, reading and science, and just 70 percent took a core curriculum.

The stimulus bill charges newly appointed FCC chairman Julius Genachowski with creating a national broadband plan by February 2010.

John Long, superintendent of the Warren County R-III School District in Missouri, knew that one of the school campuses was badly in need of an upgrade.

Michael Smith admits he doesn’t talk much about his Web site or weekly blog with the staff, school board or community in his rural Oakland, Ill., district, because most folks probably don’t know what a blog is. That’s not a disrespectful dig, but reality: In his agricultural district 200 miles south of Chicago’s bustle—comprising only 300 students, 50 staff, two schools, and one principal—tending a Web site isn’t as high on anyone’s task list as teaching, farming the corn and soybean crops for which the region is known, or football.

Going back to school means something completely different to today’s IT administrators.