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From DA

RIO RANCHO PUBLIC SCHOOLS, established in 1994, is New Mexico’s newest school district. It is made up of 18 schools (with a second high school scheduled to open in 2009-2010), and it has approximately 16,100 students and some 1,200 teachers.


A recent Department of Education study found that the $1 billion Reading First program did not have statistically significant impacts on student reading comprehension test scores in grades 1-3. Also, an estimated 63 percent of prison inmates can’t read. See a pattern here? Quick, bring in the new e-book readers from Amazon and Sony. Don’t scoff so quickly—there is evidence that e-books are engaging to children.


eBeam Edge

Interactive Whiteboard System

Hardware, $899.95

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14.2 million computers were in schools across the country in 2005-2006, a ratio of one for every four students and more than 20 times the number in schools in 1984-1985. Along with the tremendous opportunities for student learning afforded by this trend comes the risk of distraction and inappropriate use of computers and the Internet by students. Classroom management software was developed to address these concerns and to help teachers maximize the instructive capabilities of classroom computers.

It was June 1979 when I became a reporter for my hometown newspaper in Alabama. From the time I was a kid following my grandfather around cotton fields and talking politics with the farmers, it was all I had wanted to be.

As we at DA sorted out what to title this month’s special section, it was time to really understand the difference between the terms “green” and “sustainable,” two of the more popular buzzwords these days. I found the best explanation on, a unique blog based on social media and green living: Green is a “microconcept” measured on a scale from dirty to clean, or toxic to nontoxic. One person’s green can be another person’s not green.


Going to K.C. Achievement Gap

Broad Superintendents Academy graduate John Covington will be the next superintendent of the Kansas City (Mo.) School District, its 26th leader since 1969. Since 2006 he has been superintendent of Pueblo (Colo.) City Schools.

The release of The Nation’s Report Card: Trends in Academic Progress in Reading and Mathematics 2008 was greeted by education advocates with joy for its demonstration of higher achievement among most groups tested, but also with disappointment for its clear evidence that achievement gaps persist and that scores for 17-year-olds have remained stagnant since the 1970s.

The broadband technology opportunities program, administered by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, has $4.7 billion in grants through the federal stimulus package to give for expanding broadband coverage in underserved areas. A similar program from the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service will distribute $2.5 billion in grants and loans. Schools and districts are among the organizations that can apply for these funds.

Even with stimulus dollars flowing nationwide, districts are still facing large budget deficits and are looking for ways to save money. Some are investigating free and open source software (FOSS ) as a result.

FOSS applications are the work of communities of developers, usually volunteers, who keep the source code open and allow the software to be distributed for free. Any user can customize it, add to it, and fix its bugs. Although FOSS has been around for decades and used in many industries, school districts have generally been slow to embrace it.

Based on percentage of funding increase, the big winner in President Obama’s proposed 2010 education budget is Striving Readers, which is slated to go from $35 million to $370 million.

This program was designed to reach students in grades 4-12 whose literacy skills were significantly below grade level. Such students were not eligible for Reading First, a Department of Education program for students in grades K-3.

DA recently conducted a “virtual roundtable” in which we asked a group of administrators about the effects of the stimulus package on their districts. Participants included Randall Collins, superintendent, Waterford (Conn.) Public Schools, and president, American Association of School Administrators; Bart Banfield, superintendent, Stidham (Okla.) Public Schools; James Jewell, business and finance director, Harford County (Md.) Public Schools; and Christopher Lyons, director, Office of Career and Technical Education, Office of the State (D.C.) Superintendent of Education.