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Since it opened in 2006, the Chicago Virtual charter School has become an educational lifeline for students who were not thriving in traditional schools.

CK-12 Foundation (ck12.org) has created a tool for producing and distributing textbooks online and is at the forefront of an "open source" movement to issue K12 textbooks for free. Currently this nonprofit organization has more than a dozen titles, including six available through California's new Digital Textbook Initiative.

Harrisburg School District Superintendent Gerald Kohn believes technology can help his students compete in the world.

With more than 9,000 employees and 63,000 students, the Mobile County, Alabama, public school district has extensive needs for communications, both internally and externally. Increasingly, administrators in the district turn to video as the best medium for sharing information among teachers, students and parents.

Sometimes credit recovery programs, like the students they are designed to help, need help themselves. That’s the case in the New York City schools where, according to The New York Times, students in some schools have eased through programs apparently without making any academic progress.

Welcome to our “Ninth Annual Salary Survey,” always one of our readers’ most popular features. Along with graphs illustrating the 2008-2009 salary numbers for various administrative positions, in “Administrator Roles Shift with the Times” we feature new, specialized positions that are indicators of key changes going on within districts. As the DA editors know well from speaking with readers on a regular basis, a title in one school district can mean something completely different in another district.

09/2009

Eating Up School Lunch

I loved the recent article about districts serving healthier and more environmentally friendly meals (“The New School Lunch,” June/July 2009). As a rural school district in Colorado, Garfield Re-2 is leading the way in our state, with many similar initiatives. In fact, Andrea Martin, a New York-based chef, will be in our schools this year working with our kitchen managers and kitchen staff, training them on safety and nutrition, and working on new recipes. We will also have salad bars in all of our schools for the first time this year.

 

NEW COMMISSIONER

The New York State Board of Regents has chosen David Steiner, dean of the Hunter College School of Education at the City University of New York and a leader in teacher preparation, as the state’s new education commissioner.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino have recently reversed their positions on charter school expansion. In July, Menino introduced state legislation that would allow officials to transform low-performing schools into in-district charter schools. This represents a significant departure for Menino, who during his 16 years as mayor has consistently expressed the view that charter schools drain funds from traditional schools.

Even Janet Napolitano, shown here speaking at the National Governors Association meeting in July, is concerned about the spread of swine flu in schools.

 

While districts across the country have been working during the summer on their disease prevention and emergency preparedness plans, the Fort Worth (Texas) Independent School District’s updated plans are the result of a real-life test.

A movement to spread scientific learning in a casual environment that started in Britain in the late 1990s has gotten a foothold in the United States. At science cafés, adults gather at a restaurant, bar or other nonacademic spot to listen to a presentation on a scientific topic while enjoying their favorite beverage.

The next U.S. census is right around the corner, and as part of a national campaign to encourage participation, the 2010 U.S. Census in Schools, a division of the Census Bureau, has created a K12 educational program called It’s About Us. In May, the department sent an introductory letter to every principal in the country describing the vital importance of census participation and in August sent the same principals census instructional kits containing wall maps and lesson guides for their teachers. Additional teaching materials are available free online.

With an education budget slashed to help close an enormous state deficit, one would expect California to be first in line when Race to the Top applications are available later this year. At $4.35 million, the fund represents the largest pool of discretionary money ever distributed by the Department of Education.

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