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From DA

The overwhelming thought I had as I attended numerous EduComm sessions at the magazine's show in Orlando last month-and walked the massive InfoComm floor-is that the future is now.

Reacting to MySpace

I JUST READ [Gary Stager's] article ("Guess Why They Call It MySpace," May 2006, page 78). While I agree with him in principle, we have blocked the site and others like it at our district. Why? Because we had one student threaten to kill another student using MySpace.

The "problem" the Internet has created is that there are no more rumors. If you hear something you can quickly see if it is true or not simply by accessing the Internet and the site(s) where it originated.

Problem: When a Syracuse (N.Y.) City School District faculty member was going to be absent, he or she would call the principal and start a chain reaction. The principal would then call the superintendent's office and two office staffers would spend four hours a day finding substitutes.

Solution: Using Sub-IT software, from central xchange, the district has reduced the number of people involved in finding subs and cut in half the amount of time the office staff has to be directly involved.

Tableau Software

Tableau 2.0

Software, starts at $499/license (with 50% academic discount)

Teachers College Press

Technology on a Shoestring: A Survival Guide for Educators and Other Professionals, $21.95

Barr Security

BARRicade Visitor Management System, Basic System, $5,995;

Additional Software Licenses, $205; Self-serving stand-alone kiosk $9,995

If he were a character in a Perry Mason episode, John Q. Porter would be the protagonist. Pacing methodically across his art-deco office, impeccably dressed in pinstripes-spats, even-his department's assistant Diane Watts would shadow behind, scribing ideas that churn from his brain about his latest dilemma.

Any which way you slice it, the graduation rate among American high school students is just not cutting it, even given the latest report that claims higher rates than what had been reported.

Two separate reports recently released give varied graduation figures: One claims only half of minority students ever make it out of school with a diploma, which has been reported before, while another one says slightly more than seven in 10 minorities get diplomas.

Going wireless offers a panoply of attractive benefits to school districts. Because you don't have to run cables to every classroom, it's cheaper to deploy a wireless network than an old-fashioned wired network. Wireless makes it more convenient for administrators, teachers and students to connect.

But there's a perilous downside: A wireless network is easier for hackers to break into. Without the proper security measures, going wireless means opening a gaping hole in your computer systems' defenses.

School administrators and teachers now have a choice of smartphone operating systems from Palm, Inc. The new Palm Treo 700p smartphone includes hardware and software innovations centered around usability, connectivity, multimedia and compatibility.

More districts are offering algebra to 8th graders to spur enrollment in higher level math courses during high school. But accelerating the math curriculum represents a complex equation and success hinges on multiple variables.

You'd be hard pressed to find a school district that leaves improving test scores, budgeting for new technology or developing the curriculum to chance. But too many schools do exactly that with parental and community involvement, arguably as important to student success as any of those above activities. It takes work, though, to get past the once-a-year bake sale and some fundraising calls to local businesses.

When Dr. Jim Phares joined Marion County Schools in 2003 as superintendent, he was a bit disappointed that most of the district's administrators, principals and teachers were hardly using any technology to streamline their daily tasks.