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Nearly 50 years ago, the U.S. faced a hot scare in the cold war. The Soviet Union launched in 1957 the first satellite, Sputnik, into space, sending the U.S. into a tizzy of fear. So the government poured billions of dollars into the space program as well as better math and science programs in American schools.
Now, the nation's schools are facing an economic scare in part due to countries like China and India taking on more American jobs.
At Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Ore., blog posts and e-mails have replaced paper notes stuffed in teachers' mailboxes. Staff meetings, now devoid of the exchange of routine information, are done in half the time and focus solely on best practices and curriculum. Planning for the staff holiday party? Done online. So too are the principal's advisories to staff, including recommended magazine articles, notice of cancelled meetings and even notes and minutes from various staff meetings.
Surveys show that most teachers, students and parents positively perceive laptop initiatives, but few controlled studies have examined the relationship between various laptop programs and student achievement. As district officials weigh options for investing limited technology dollars, they may wish to consider what the research can (and can't) tell us.
Tutoring Concerns Lurk
Only about 12 percent of American students eligible for Supplemental Educational Services under the No Child Left Behind law are actually receiving the services. SES gives low-income parents real options to get free tutoring for their children.
While the 2004-05 school year numbers are unavailable, the U.S. Department of Education says that in 2003-04 year, 226,000 students received tutoring and 32,000 students transferred to other schools.