$4.8M to help with AP testing fees

Under the AP Test Fee program, the U.S. Department of Education awards grants to eligible state educational agencies to help them pay all or some of the AP test fees on behalf of eligible low-income students who are enrolled in an AP course and who plan to take an AP exam. The program is designed to increase the number of low-income students who take AP tests and receive scores for which college academic credit is awarded.

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Professional development for science, math, and technology education

The Space Foundation invites applications from any K-12 educators who have a desire to integrate space education into their classrooms. Teacher Liaisons will receive specialized training and instruction at Space Foundation and NASA workshops with optional graduate-level credit. Theyll also receive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professional development experiences with optional continuing-education credit and will attend space-oriented student programs.

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$25,000 for inspirational and outstanding teachers

Nominations for the 2005-2006 Teacher of the Year award are now being accepted. To nominate an educator, explain in 250 words or less why this teacher should be the Teacher of the Year. Nominees will be judged on their ability to motivate students, their special talents, and their contribution to their school, students, or educational community. In addition to a cash prize of $1,000 for each winning teacher, the schools that employ the winning teachers each will receive $500 to use for purchasing school supplies, equipment, or for enrichment programs. The eligible states are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

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$5M for projects that promote science, math, and technology learning

The ISE program invests in projects that develop and implement informal learning experiences designed to increase interest, engagement, and understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by individuals of all ages and backgrounds, as well as projects that advance knowledge and practice of informal science education. Projects may target either public audiences or professionals whose work directly affects informal STEM learning. ISE projects are expected to demonstrate strategic impact, innovation, and collaboration.

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West Virginia to use game to fight obesity

The San Francisco Gate reports that West Virginia state and school officials have struck a deal with Konami Digital Entertainment Inc., to use its Dance Dance Revolution video game in all of its 765 public schools. The popular game has built up a solid following among youth and adults who enjoy the sweat-inducing challenges. The game requires players to dance on a sensor-lined pad, and time their steps carefully to the music and on-screen prompts…

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$100,000 in wireless lab equipment and other technology

CDW-G and Discovery Education are holding their fourth annual “Win a Wireless Lab Sweepstakes” to give schools the chance to win technology for their classrooms. Two wireless computer labs, each worth more than $40,000, will be awarded as grand prizes. Each grand prize includes 20 HP or Lenovo Tablet PCs, a PolyVision Lightening RM Easiteach calibration-free interactive whiteboard, an HP or InFocus LCD projector, and an HP LaserJet printer. The wireless labs are installed on a Bretford wireless cart with three Netgear access points, enabling educators to transport the labs easily from one classroom to another. Additional prizes include Toshiba projectors, Lexmark printers, Adobe software, Brother printers, and $500 worth of multimedia resources from Discovery Education. Public and private school teachers, administrators, and technology specialists can enter by filling out an online form. Winners will be chosen at random and will be announced in July.

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ED mainly mum on Gulf relief

Nearly five months after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to the Gulf Coast and destroyed or damaged hundreds of schools and colleges, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) official responsible for Mississippi and Louisiana relief efforts could not say how much damage schools and colleges sustained in those states, could not say how much money will go to education recovery in the affected areas, and declined to comment about ED’s master recovery plan.

ED has developed a web site. Chad Colby, a spokesman for ED’s press office, said that Hurricane Help for Schools, an ED-run hurricane relief web page, would serve as the foundation for the department’s master recovery plan.

That web site offers a forum for schools to post what they need and for organizations to post free materials they are willing to give, such as computers, textbooks, and chairs. It also gives users a handful of links and resources for information on hurricane assistance funds and other information to help children deal with traumatic events.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has designated certain ED officials as contact persons for local education authorities in the affected states. But, as of press time, it appeared Spellings had not assigned a single department official to oversee and coordinate ED’s entire hurricane relief operations.

Henry L. Johnson, assistant secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, was assigned as the contact person for schools in Mississippi, and later Louisiana. In an interview with eSchool News, Johnson said he could talk in general terms about federal aid to hurricane-ravaged schools, but he refused to address questions about the extent of ED’s master recovery plan.

“We don’t know for sure how much money will ultimately go to each state, but Congress allocated $1.6 billion, and the expectation is that the money will go to those areas that need it,” Johnson said. He said the department could not yet estimate the total cost of all education-related hurricane recovery efforts.

Asst. ED Secretary Henry L. Johnson.

ED staff members are in daily contact with officials in the four states directly affected (Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Alabama), Johnson said. Those staff members are collecting data and gathering damage estimates for public and private schools, but do not have any final figures yet, he said.

Staff members in his Office of Elementary and Secondary Education are in charge of administering the aid, according to Johnson: “It’s my understanding that all federal agencies are involved in this in some way, but I don’t know the particulars of those.”

Johnson is scheduled to speak today as part of a $249-per-connection virtual roundtable discussion sponsored by the Heller Reports, an education research and reporting firm owned by Quality Education Data. During the for-fee audio program, Johnson reportedly will further outline what the affected schools in the Gulf Coast need and will describe his own initial impressions of the devastation. Before coming to ED last summer, Johnson was Mississippi’s State Superintendent for Education.

“I’ve heard, very loudly and very clearly, the need for dollars and the need for flexibility,” Johnson said. He added that schools still need curriculum materials, computers, software, hardware, textbooks, and–in some cases–chalk, paper, and pencils.

“One local superintendent’s friend came up to me, with tears in her eyes, and said, ‘We’ve got to get help for students and teachers, to get school going, and to bring normalcy into their lives,'” Johnson said of this first visit to Biloxi, Miss., about a week after Katrina hit.

“Teachers lost their homes, and they were thinking about how to get school back going,” he said.

As of late January, many affected school districts still do not have even damage and recovery cost estimates, let alone federal assistance for rebuilding. Even as schools are reopening and students are slowly returning to their homes, educators still are struggling to make ends meet, calling on the federal government to step up its hurricane relief efforts and provide more guidance for the long road ahead.

In early January, Spellings announced that $253 million from the Hurricane Education Recovery Act was immediately available to restart schools in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. By the end of the month, no federal funding could be confirmed to have reached individual schools.

Of the $1.6 billion that Congress allocated for hurricane relief for schools and colleges in the waning days of 2005, $750 million was intended for restart money, $645 million was to go to help those schools that are absorbing displaced students, and $200 million was intended for colleges and universities. Spellings later announced an additional $30 million would be available for higher-education institutions.

According to ED, storm-ravaged schools that received financial aid before Katrina, but did not use this aid, will be allowed to keep the funds, which reportedly total about $100 million.

Xavier University of New Orleans will be allowed to keep $11.7 million, it was reported; Southern University of New Orleans, more than $9 million; and Delgado Community College in Louisiana, more than $16 million.

Links:

U.S. Department of Education
http://www.ed.gov

Hurricane Help for Schools
http://www.hurricanehelpforschools.gov

Federal Emergency Management Agency
http://www.fema.gov

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$250,000 to build stronger community-library-museum relationships

The purpose of this grant program is to build and strengthen working relationships among libraries, museums, and public broadcasting licensees that enhance their roles within their communities. Each project should show how such collaboration and shared resources enable partners to meet clearly defined needs for one or more audience segments within their local communities. Eligible projects include collaborations between a public broadcasting licensee (radio or television) and a museum or library, or among all three types of organizations. Projects that involve all three types of organizations generally are considered more competitive for funding.

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$5,000 to support new or growing arts programs

Applications may be made for a grant of $1,000 to support a new or evolving program that integrates the arts into educational programming. The purpose is to aid and support teachers who wish to establish an effective learning tool using the arts in teaching children with learning disabilities and other special needs. The Moss Foundation encourages and rewards instructional collaboration among educators for the purpose of including the arts in classroom experiences as an essential ingredient in the education of all children.

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$50,000 for Abraham Lincoln fellowships

Horace Mann and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) in Springfield, Ill., have joined together to give teachers the opportunity to receive a $1,000 fellowship to study the life and legacy of the nations 16th president. The fellowships feature a five-day institute in June and July. Curriculum will be designed for fourth- through 12th-grade teachers. With this new partnership, Horace Mann and the ALPLM Foundation have agreed to offer 50 fellowships to educators to travel to Springfield to study Lincoln at his new presidential library and museum.

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