You are here

From DA

The recent Supreme Court decision in the American Library Association case challenging the Children's Internet Protection Act has significant implications related to how filtering software is implemented in schools.

You might say that Mike Moses is a leader of Biblical proportions. He runs a really big school district--12th largest in the U.S.--oversees a super-sized $1.2 billion budget and makes $325,000 a year, by many accounts more than any other superintendent.

Located smack-dab between Dallas and Fort Worth, Irving Independent School District has experienced technology acceleration at its finest. Its ambitious technology upgrade plan has put Dell laptops into the hands of every student and sparked renewed interest in learning.

"I see teachers teaching kids, kids teaching other kids, and kids teaching their parents," says Jennifer Anderson, Irving's executive director of technology. "And now I see other school districts coming to Irving to find out how we're doing it."

We all know the first step to overcoming a problem is to admit there is a problem.

Consider school officials, and especially those leading some of the largest urban districts, to be on step one in their fight against dropouts.

A teacher recently forwarded to me a disturbing series of images that supposedly documented the Feb. 1 explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia. The message stated the pictures were taken by an Israeli satellite, and released by the U.S. Department of Justice to "hopefully give NASA a better idea of what happened." The e-mail was sent to more than 70 colleagues, who in turn likely forwarded it to countless others.

Whether you agree or disagree with the accountability called for in No Child Left Behind, one thing is starting to become clear--the standards and the Title I money attached to meeting those standards may depend a lot more on where you live than on how well you teach your students.

Use it or lose it. It's a cute saying, but it is particularly fitting for the brain-especially in small, developing brains. "During the first three years of life, there's an overabundance of activity in the brain," says Kenneth A. Wesson, education consultant at Neuroscience in San Jose. "If brain cells don't find a job, they will be eliminated. There is no welfare in the brain. These brain cells seek a job to do. They go dormant or are eliminated if kids don't have specific kinds of experiences and nothing to build on."

Seemingly eight or nine nights for the past several weeks my family and I were caught up in the American Idol phenomena. Thirty-eight million Americans joined us in watching the show's finale. I am encouraged that it is still possible to bring generations together around a wholesome event. In addition to being wildly entertaining, American Idol offers many lessons for educators.

The "Great White" fire in Rhode Island earlier this year was a horror--killing nearly 100 people when rock fans were trapped inside a burning building with too few fire exits. Science laboratory safety expert Jim Kaufman worries that a similar tragedy could befall a school science lab anywhere in the U.S.

Where in the World is Theodore Blaesing? It's the newest twist in educational games.

In Southern California's Lake Elsinore area, the area's namesake also happens to be the community's biggest headache. The town is divided by--you guessed it--a big lake. For those on the wrong side, often without transportation, access to county services used to seem impossible.

Music Programs Missing the Patriotic Beat

Students today are more likely to know the lyrics to pop chart toppers like "Oops! ... I Did it Again" from Britney Spears than "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or even "The Star Spangled Banner." So says a nationwide survey conducted by music educator Marilyn Ward, who completed the research for a doctoral dissertation in music at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Maine's Attempt to Be Exempt Axed

After the state Senate and House of Representatives in Maine passed a resolution requesting a waiver to exempt Maine from the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, the U.S. Department of Education rejected the plea.

"To opt out of the law basically would mean leaving behind the neediest kids," says Jo Ann Webb, department spokeswoman.