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From DA

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.

These education-related nonprofits and companies have set up Web-based resource centers to provide information on the ARRA.


NONPROFITS


ASCD


Allows visitors to see funding allocations for each state by guiding their mouse over a map. www.ascd.org/public_policy/Education_Stimulus_Resources.aspx


National Education Foundation









Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine is helping to craft the Race to the Top program.


It’s easy to Miss Evander Childs High School in the north Bronx these days. Although the 100-year-old building fills an entire city block, its four floors are shrouded top-to-bottom in a dark mesh curtain covering the scaffolding from which workers are replacing the exterior brick by brick.

Joel L. Voytoski, veteran superintendent of the Evergreen School District 50 in Kalispell, Mont., has been named the state’s 2009 Superintendent of the Year for his success in morphing programs around student assessments.

In Fort Lauderdale in March, students and teachers were in shock following the news that a three-vehicle accident involving a semi-trailer truck had killed a Broward County Public Schools fourth-grade teacher, as well as injuring her four grandchildren and another teacher. Numerous parents, staff and students passed the scene of the accident, and rumors began flying.

At times such as this, administrators need to have procedures in place to stifle rumors and help the school community manage its grief. These tips can help.

For many schools, “Going Green” once meant turning out the lights after leaving the classroom, filling the recycle bins, and celebrating Earth Day. Not anymore. Although such activities remain staples of environmentally conscious school systems, that consciousness has exploded in an era of high energy prices, global warming threats, and multiplying concerns about the health of students in today’s school buildings.

If the schools in your district are like most in the United States, there is a good chance that today’s lunch features pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets or maybe hamburgers with processed cheese. Is serving these types of foods really in the best interest of our children’s health? Common sense says no, as do the statistics, which are startling.

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