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Table of Contents

Aug 2009

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It’s no surprise that school districts are as vulnerable to fraud as the private sector or any other segment of government. Crimes in districts include collusion with outside vendors who provide kickbacks to employees, misuse of district-issued credit cards, embezzlement of district funds, and theft of district property.

As a student at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School in North Plymouth, Minn., Grant couldn’t decide which he liked better, OxyContin or cocaine, so he took a lot of each. “My mom always told me I was a brilliant scholar when I was sober, but most of the school days I was pretty much up in the clouds,” he recalls.

Notification systems—which use the Internet to enable school administrators to make and send thousands of automated phone calls, text messages and e-mails in minutes—are expanding in popularity in school districts across the country.

Dozens of notification systems are on the market. Here are some of the fully hosted online services designed specifically for K12 education.



It was June 1979 when I became a reporter for my hometown newspaper in Alabama. From the time I was a kid following my grandfather around cotton fields and talking politics with the farmers, it was all I had wanted to be.


The 100-square-mile rural and suburban DeForest Area School District, located minutes from Madison, Wis., has an unlikely contributor to its work: the DeForest community at large, which through a series of well-planned conventions has been as active as any board member could be in shaping the district’s future goals.

In just four years, Arthur W. Stellar has helped Taunton Public Schools become first in English language arts and second in math among the 22 urban districts in Massachusetts. It is one of only two urban districts to make AYP for three years in a row. The dropout rate has gone from 6.8 percent to 4.2 percent. The fourth grade at one elementary school—with 80 percent low-income students—finished third highest in math among the state’s 1,176 elementary schools. Another elementary school is eligible for state nomination for National Blue Ribbon status.



Crossing the Bay

Anthony Smith has been named the new superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District. He already resides in Oakland, having most recently served as deputy superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

Is a longer school day and school year a ticket to higher achievement? Recent reports on 26 schools throughout Massachusetts and 39 schools in Miami-Dade (Fla.) County Public Schools provide widely different answers.

The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) has released the results of its 2009 survey measuring current levels of technology adoption in schools against the organization’s “Vision K20” goals of ideal levels attainable in the next three to five years. The survey found measurable progress in 17 of 20 areas over 2008 but an overall increase of just 1 percent, to 62 percent of the SIIA’s Vision K20 benchmark.

Each year, the Virginia-based Character Education Partnership names about 10 schools and one district as “National Schools of Character.” Of the four districts so honored since 2006, three are from Missouri.

Coincidence? Hardly. Missouri has become a national leader in school-based character education.

The 21st Century Skills Maps for Science and Geography, which were released in late June, reveal how integrating the skills of problem solving, communicating and critical thinking into science and geography classes supports teaching and prepares students to become effective and productive citizens.


It’s August—time to regroup before the school year begins. Yet more than other summers there are many changes to adapt to, with more on the horizon. Decreased funds have resulted in the nationwide elimination of essential programs, as well as personnel layoffs, administrative salary freezes, and higher benefit costs. Governors are being reprimanded as they consider using stimulus monies to plug major budget holes, while at the same time they are trying to find ways to participate in the Race to the Top fund’s $4.35 billion money game.

Fascinating Health Care Concepts


eBeam Edge

Interactive Whiteboard System

Hardware, $899.95

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14.2 million computers were in schools across the country in 2005-2006, a ratio of one for every four students and more than 20 times the number in schools in 1984-1985. Along with the tremendous opportunities for student learning afforded by this trend comes the risk of distraction and inappropriate use of computers and the Internet by students. Classroom management software was developed to address these concerns and to help teachers maximize the instructive capabilities of classroom computers.