Grant Opportunites

Bell Atlantic Foundation Grants

The Bell Atlantic Foundation reviews unsolicited proposals from the 13 northeastern states served by Bell Atlantic on a continuous calendar year basis from January through November. Education is one of the foundation’s top priorities for giving, and examples of technology projects that have been funded in the past can be found on its web site. The foundation recommends that you apply for grants online; guidelines are available on its web site as well.

(800) 360-7955

Education is Crucial

Crucial Technology, a division of Micron, has announced that it will donate up to $100,000 worth of server memory upgrades to Idaho public schools through the Education is Crucial program. The program is intended to help Idaho schools increase the performance level in their existing computer systems. Idaho schools received $87,000 in memory upgrades last year through the Education is Crucial program, now in its second year. Applications are being handled by the Idaho Department of Education. Schools need only complete an online survey to apply, with memory upgrading to be administered on a needs-first basis.

(800) 239-0337 edcrucial.htm

First for Education Grants

Carolina First Corp. has established the Carolina First for Education Foundation with a $12.6 million endowment. The foundation will provide education and community-based grants to teachers and public schools in South Carolina for projects that will help bring the state to the educational forefront, including grants for technology initiatives such as purchasing computers. All grants will be awarded based on evalu-

ation of a written application. For an application form, write to the Carolina First For Education Foundation, PO Box 1029, Greenville, SC 29602.

(864) 255-4780

Edmark eCarton Program

Educational software developer Edmark will donate up to $2 million in software to schools through a new program called eCarton. Under the program, schools that use special milk cartons distributed by Tetra Pak will receive credits toward the purchase of Edmark software titles. For every thousand milk cartons purchased, schools will earn $1 in credit. Edmark is a subsidiary of IBM. The special milk cartons are educational and will carry puzzles and different themes.

(800) 691-2986

Global Schoolhouse CD-ROMs

Global Schoolhouse members can receive eight new CD-ROMs free through the Global Schoolhouse web site. The CD-ROMs available during the summer portion of the giveaway include titles from Knowledge Adventure, Kaplan, and Hoyle Board Games. Schools pay only the $4.95 cost of shipping and handling; there are no limits on quantities. Becoming a member of the Global Schoolhouse is free.


Newslines–Anti-Defamation League helps kids avoid online hate

In an effort to protect children from online messages of hate, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is providing a list of guidelines for parents.

In “A Parent’s Guide to Hate on the Internet: Helping Your Child Safely Navigate the Information Superhighway,” the ADL urges parents to “become active participants in their children’s internet exploration” in order to keep kids from accessing potentially damaging information.

“Our goal is to empower parents and children with information,” said ADL leaders Howard P. Berkowitz, national chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, national director.

According to the ADL guidebook, “Searching for activity pages suitable for kids might land a child at a white supremacist site devoted to children, complete with coloring pages and crossword puzzles.”

One example of this type of misleading site is outlined in ADL’s report “Poisoning the Web.” The World Church of the Creator features a “Kids!” site, subtitled “Creativity for Children!,” which lures young web users to this hateful anti-Semitic and racist group.

Members of the World Church of the Creator have been linked to high-profile hate crimes, including a deadly shooting rampage in Illinois and Indiana in July by World Church member Benjamin Smith. Kids are encouraged to eMail the site so that World Church members can “answer any questions” they might have.

To receive a copy of the report, contact ADL’s Media Relations Department at (212) 885-7777.


Maine telephone overcharges to fund school computer network

In a near-unanimous decision, the Maine Public Utilities Commission has decided to use the $8 million in overcharges to telephone customers to fund the state’s school computer network for another two years, rather than refund the money to customers.

Committee members agreed that the Schools and Libraries Network had needs that surpassed those of individuals and their specific refunds. Steven Ward, Maine’s public advocate, protested the decision, saying, “Our primary obligation is to represent the ratepayers.” He added, “Here we have the opportunity to pass back to ratepayers some unspent dollars.”

Rep. Thomas Davidson, D-Brunswick, sponsored a bill during the last legislative session to add a half-percent surcharge on public utility bills in order to fund Maine’s school network, but the bill is not scheduled to take effect until 2001. The network was created in 1995 when ratepayers and NYNEX, now part of Bell Atlantic, agreed to dedicate a portion of a proposed rate reduction to pay for school and library internet access.

The state plans to expand the program to include maintenance and upgrades. Cheryl Oakes, a computer teacher at Wells Elementary School, was one of many who agreed that further work is needed in areas such as teacher training and integrating the internet with the curriculum.


Phone companies pay for use of school buildings

Financially challenged Utah schools are making deals with wireless phone companies to allow them to place antennas on top of the school buildings in exchange for up to $7,000 per school.

Though this is a mere drop in the bucket for a yearly school budget, every penny counts in the state that spends the least per student in the country. “If I were a local school principal, I’d love to have a building that made $6,000 a year,” remarked Robert Day, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services in the Jordan School District.

In exchange for paying the schools a fee, companies like Sprint, Voice Stream Wireless, and US West get to place their antennas in a central location to prevent reception gaps. “It’s a way for us to reach residential areas without having to put up a tower in the neighborhood. Aesthetically, it’s more pleasing,” said Michael Frandsen, US West spokesman. Some antennas can be disguised as flagpoles or stadium lights in order to blend in more, he said.

The money paid to schools for allowing transmitters on their property goes “into the total pot used to pay teachers, buy textbooks, and everything else,” said district business administrator Gary Harmer. School administrators also hope to use the extra cash to alleviate fund-raising pressure and buy computers.


Partnership aims to narrow the “digital divide

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and AT&T are combining resources to bridge the gap in internet access between white people and blacks and Hispanics. The two organizations have partnered to create technology centers in twenty cities that will provide computer training and internet courses.

“The technology segregation known as the ‘digital divide’ must be narrowed,” NAACP President Kweisi Mfume recently stated. In July, a Commerce Department report, “Falling through the Net,” said the gap in knowledge of computer technology between whites and certain minorities is growing.

The report found that while 47 percent of whites own computers, fewer than half as many blacks do. About 25.5 percent of Hispanics own computers, but 55 percent of Asians do. Asian families also have the highest rate of internet access, with 36 percent online.

The study also showed that a child from a low-income white household is three times more likely to have internet access than a comparable black child and four times more likely than a Hispanic child. However, income level is not the sole cause of the disparity, since in families earning between $15,000 to $35,000, more than 33 percent of whites had computers while only 17 percent of black families did.

NAACP spokeswoman Sheila Douglas estimated the technology center project will cost about $300,000. Several corporate sponsors also are contributing to the project. Ameritech Corp. and the National Urban League have committed $350,000 to building centers in Aurora, Ill., Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee. 3Com Corp. has pledged $1 million in donated equipment and training in ten additional cities.


Teachers Complete Week-Long Technology Boot Camp

MSNBC, Aug. 26, 1999

Two hundred teachers in Washington state participated in a week-long technology training retreat this summer.

The program, called Teach the Teachers, allowed the participants to become completely immersed in their training, without the distractions of home and work.

This so-called “residential” approach also had a distinct focus on integrating technology into the curriculum, with the program culminating in the development of curriculum projects that teachers will now bring back to their classrooms.

Teach the Teachers has support from local businesses, as well as big-name computer companies such as Compaq, Microsoft, and Lexmark. And the program doesn’t end with the week-long experience. Participants will get together again in the fall for an all-day workshop, then once more in the spring to share their experiences.

The program will be held again next summer.


Five Steps to Building Technology-Based Teams

The American School Board Journal, July 1999, p. 21

New technologies are making it easier than ever for professionals in different places to work together on so-called “virtual teams,” whether it’s across a district or across the country. Here are five things to remember when forming and participating in a virtual team:

1. Have an agenda. Identify the topics you will discuss when you meet and lay out a rough schedule for the proceedings. Set a time allotment for each item to be discussed, or risk spending too much time on some items and not enough on others.

2. Establish roles. No matter how big or how small the team, everyone should have a role to play. Roles should include team leader, observer, recorder, contributor, and coach.

3. “Whip” up enthusiasm. So-called “whip activities” should motivate the team and get everyone to focus on each other. Whip activities are a good warm-up for the meeting.

4. Study verbal and nonverbal cues. Analyzing the team’s behavior can improve communication among members.

5. Fishbowling. Out-of-the-box thinking can help teams identify areas that need more work. Fishbowling often occurs at the end of meeting, but can be practiced at any time the team thinks it needs it.


Eight Components of an Effective Professional Development Program

The American School Board Journal, July 1999, p. 16

All the computers in the world won’t make a difference if your teachers aren’t trained to use them effectively. Here are eight core components that your professional development program should address:

1. Stakeholder involvement and a shared vision. When planning and implementing a professional development program, input should come from everyone that has a stake in your schools, including teachers, administrators, board members, and parents.

2. Set attainable goals that fit your district. Professional development programs do not come in one-size-fits-all packages. Tailor your program based on the needs and goals of your district.

3. Strategic planning and budgeting. Your strategic plan should include all aspects of technology integration, and professional development is no exception. The U.S. Department of Education says 30 percent of your technology budget should go toward professional development.

4. Use all your resources. Find the money anywhere you can—state and local grants, corporate donations, etc.

5. Base your program on teacher needs and objectives. Let your teachers suggest and participate in the workshops of their choosing.

6. Model best practices. Modeling best practice behaviors in the classroom is an effective way to teach teachers how to integrate technology.

7. Support your teachers. Offer choices and flexible schedules.

8. Review, assess, and adjust. Review your professional development program regularly. Include assessments of student performance, which can be a direct indication of how well your teachers have been trained.


New Teachers Get Millions for Technology Training

San Jose Mercury News, Aug. 25, 1999 riley25.htm

The U.S. Department of Education has handed out grants totaling $135 million to help train new teachers to become comfortable with computers and learn how to use them in their classrooms. The grant awards were announced Aug. 24 by Education Secretary Richard Riley while visiting Logan High School in Union City, Calif.

The unique grant program will help train some 400,000 rookie teachers across the country to use technology effectively. While a few school districts will receive funding directly, most of the grants will go to colleges and universities, who will partner with local school districts and provide training to their new teachers.


Internet Subsidies for Parochial Schools Okay, U.S. District Court Rules

Cybertimes, June 30, 1999 30education.html

A federal judge in Wisconsin has ruled that a statewide subsidy of telecommunications services does not violate the Constitution by including parochial as well as public schools.

The program in question, called “Educational Telecommunications Access,” offers discounts on high-speed internet access and video data lines to public and private Wisconsin schools and colleges. The program is administered by the Technology for Education in Wisconsin Board, created as part of the 1997-99 state budget.

The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sued members of the board last November, claiming that parochial schools should not be allowed to receive the discounts because their participation constitutes an illegal state subsidy of religion.

Schools that take part in the subsidy program may request access to one data line or video link. The schools pay about $100 per month for internet access through a T-1 line, and the state pays the rest.

The program does not control the content of information transmitted by the links, which could be used by parochial schools to transmit religious information. But U.S. District Judge John Shabaz ruled June 23 that the subsidies provide a relatively small benefit to religious schools.

A key factor in the decision, Shabaz said, was the fact that the program sends money directly to the service providers, not to the schools themselves, so parochial schools can’t convert the subsidized telecommunications links into a direct economic benefit to be used for the advancement of their religious mission.

However, cash grants to assist schools that had set up internet access on their own before the program went into effect are not constitutional, Shabaz said, because they could have the effect of advancing religion. Cash grants could be used by parochial schools to purchase religious software, for example.