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Marion Canedo is on the line, wanting to explain her school district's budget cuts, and she will, as soon as she answers the other phone that's ringing in her office. It's an accountant, calling to get figures for that night's school board presentation.

Special education needs are important to every district. This leader knows about these needs first hand and cherishes the chance to achieve fairness for all children

The hardware's faster, the software's better, the Internet's more in tune with education, and there's still nothing better than a good book. Welcome to the best products of the year.

When President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, he committed millions of federal funds to support wise use of technology in our nation's K-12 schools. The money comes with a few strings, of course. But more districts than ever can expect to receive grant funds for technology under the flexibility provided by NCLB.

This is good news because schools continue to buy computers, peripherals and a variety of related hardware at robust rates.

First of all, CD-ROMs are so last century, and the World Wide Web is in. Second, a slow economy has left districts frugal or at least bracing for tight software budgets this coming year.

And lastly, big company mergers are making some administrators gnaw their nails, wondering if mergers will mean they'll have to spend more for software.

These are a few trends that school administrators and the Software and Information Industry Association saw this past school year.

Reading instruction and achievement have gotten almost as much attention this year from President Bush as Sept. 11 and the War on Terror. A major part of the new No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is a 300 percent increase in federal funding for the Reading First initiative-from $300 million in fiscal year 2001 to $900-plus million in 2002 (and, if the president's budget request is granted, $1 billion in 2003).

You wouldn't think growing up on a dairy farm is particularly great training for a superintendent. But think about it. You're an advocate/caregiver; the hours are grueling, the demands are 24/7; the bottom line-test scores/milk production-is all that counts to outsiders; and you don't get a lot of thanks because cows can't talk and fourth-graders don't know who you are, let alone what you do.

Hooky players in Kentucky's Walton-Verona Independent School District don't stand a chance. If students log more than two unexcused absences in a row, they're guaranteed a visit from a two-man district team charged with keeping kids in school. Maybe administrator Larry Davis will knock on their door. Or perhaps Boone County Sheriff's Deputy Jan Wuchner will show up, asking for an explanation of why they're missing school.

One of the best ways to spend the summer is curled up with a good book. The following are nominees for books that will inspire, provoke or entertain educators. Professional development for you and your staff is only a bookstore away. Why not stay connected with your colleagues this summer by starting a book club? You can find all of these books and more at www.stager.org/books.

Summer Reading

The Book of Learning and Forgetting by Frank Smith

Principal: I don't know what I am going to do with some of my teachers. They are so resistant to using technology and stuck in their ways. I move heaven and earth to bring the best computer infrastructure to the school, and they just let it sit there.

It's a common question, but a good one. Our administrator profiles usually include the title of the book our featured superintendent is reading. The answer can reveal more about the subject than any quote from a school board chairman.

Habits of Highly Ineffective Educators

Sometimes being reminded of what not to do is an effective way of getting educators on track. Enter Chicago-based Wavelength, which creates theatrical performances, videos and workshops using humor to elucidate issues in public education. After watching the Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Educators presentation, a group from two schools in Newburgh (N.Y.) Enlarged City School District came up with reflective questions for teachers and administrators.

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