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From DA

Two years ago, when times were flush for both school districts and the companies that sell them technology products, the big question was: When will all the technological wonders being created actually show up in classrooms?

Digital Divide: A Pass? Notion?

Most of the recent political talk about inequities in education has focused on the gap between high achieving schools and those that fail to meet education standards. What happened to the government's concern about the digital divide?

Wireless LANs

Access is just about everything in school. When suburban Kennett Consolidated School district in Pennsylvania went wireless two years ago, it opened worlds to students that would not normally be available.

READING: It's a Destination

Riverdeep-The Learning Company, www.riverdeep.net, Software, $20,000 (20 licenses per site)-$40,000 (unlimited licenses)

It seemed funny at the time. I was in junior high school, seventh-grade Spanish class, to be exact. It was raining outside, so I brought my squirt gun to class. I held it in my lap, hidden from the teacher's view, and strategically squirted the ceiling when she wasn't looking.

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.

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