Schools face tough economic road ahead

New legislation could provide money to save education jobs.

New legislation could provide money to save education jobs.

While some economists point to signs that the nation’s economy is improving, others say the U.S. faces a much slower climb out of the recession–a scenario that will have a huge effect on public education in the coming years.

Though the Dow recently broke 10,000 to hit its highest level for the first time in a year, the national unemployment rate, at 10 percent, is the highest it has been since 1983.

States are still waiting to hit bottom and are not likely to do so for another year or two–and education will feel the financial impact for some time after that, said Richard Sims, the chief economist for the National Education Association (NEA), at the Software and Information Industry Association’s Ed-Tech Business Forum on Dec. 1.

At best, Sims said, current conditions will create the way for improvement, but it will be a “long stretch” of improvement until the economy has recovered fully.

If the economy’s rate of growth during recovery resembles its rate during previous economic recoveries and remains stable, the nation will not return to its pre-recession level of unemployment until December 2016, Sims predicted.

The nation is in a financial recession as opposed to an average recession, he said, and financial recessions are deeper and only recover at about half the rate of a normal recession.

Sims predicted that unemployment levels have not yet bottomed out and that the economy will see permanent effects from the recession.

“When you have a recession, you lose economic growth for a period of time, but when the recession’s over, you don’t get it back–[you have] lost incomes [and] lost investments,” Sims said.

“With education, we’ll see the same effect,” he added, pointing to per-pupil funding as one area that will continue to feel the recession’s impact.

Ed Muir, deputy director of research for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), agreed. “There is a chance that we’re not going to get back to [the previous unemployment level of] 4.5 percent,” said Muir. “Unemployment, at this moment, is a key factor in preventing the economic recovery from taking shape.”

And slashing the unemployment rate is a key step in beating the recession.

“We’re at a critical point right now as far as whether or not we can get the recovery off the ground and sustain the momentum,” Muir said.

State deficits continue to rise

A November 2009 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indicated that states’ fiscal problems are so great that states might have to make additional deep budget cuts and tax increases in 2010.

Most states’ fiscal years begin on July 1, meaning states are already taking steps to plan their FY 2011 budgets. If states aren’t aware of additional federal fiscal relief, the report says, they will begin implementing new budget cuts and tax increases in the near future, and by the summer at the latest.

States will take steps to eliminate deficits for the 2011 fiscal year that, according to the report, “will likely take nearly a full percentage point off the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That, in turn, could cost the economy 900,000 jobs next year.”

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s, recently warned that this kind of state budgetary action “will be a serious drag on the economy at just the wrong time.”


Nationwide Literacy Contest Underway

Contact: Pedro C. Moreno, Cell 202-378-8218

For Media Inquiries only: Patti Tripathi 703-371-2007

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The winning father and daughter team travels to DC to videotape its message to the world

(Virginia) December 19, 2009 –

summary of what message they would send to millions of underprivileged girls and their fathers

regarding the importance of education and literacy. THE CONTEST DEADLINE FOR


The selected Sister Envoy for Education and Development (SEED) will be flown to Washington

DC to deliver her speech at a special event with invited dignitaries and the media. The contest,

which is sponsored by Virginia-based charity The Father and Daughter Alliance (FADA), is

open to girls/young women, residents of the United States, between the ages of 13 to 23. Submit

your summary by e-mail to

Girls and young women are encouraged to submit a

First Prize is a trip to Washington, D.C. (approx. value of trip and accommodation $3,000) for

the SEED Envoy and her father or father figure; Second Prize is $2,000; and the Third Prize is

$1,000. The winning SEED Envoy, selected among 10 finalists, will travel to the nation’s capital

during spring break of 2010 and deliver her speech which may be videotaped, broadcast and

featured on FADA’s website and worldwide. So, get creative SEEDS and help the world


“I have a daughter, and when these girls in India and other countries are denied an education for

whatever reason, every girl’s potential in the world is greatly undermined,” said Pedro C.

Moreno, the Founder and President of the Father and Daughter Alliance. FADA is a grassroots

effort to connect fathers and daughters in the slums of New Delhi, India and enroll the girls into

schools. “Many are denied valuable education because they lack $20, or because the schools do

not have bathrooms, or simply because their fathers don’t allow them to do so, potentially

subjugating them to a life-time of exploitation.”

Girls reportedly account for more than half of the approximately 75 million children out of

school. Their fathers are for the most part the sole decision-makers about whether girls go to

school or not, in countries like India, Afghanistan, Benin, Guatemala and Yemen. FADA, which

is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, plans to expand the program from India to other countries to enable

fathers to enroll their daughters into schools.

For more information or to enter this contest e-mail Or visit


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Excel to Outlook Tool Allows De-duplicating Excel Contacts Easily

Madrid, Spain, December 18, 2009 – Microsoft Excel is widely used application list creation and maintenance. Many people make use of Excel to store their important contacts as this tool is easy to use. Many Outlook users, who store their contacts in Excel sheets, feel the need to convert their contacts saved in Excel to Outlook This is because manually feeding contacts in Outlook one-by-one is a tedious and time-consuming task. So, they look out for any software that can quickly convert Excel to Outlook contacts without any wastage of time, effort and energy. SysTools, acknowledging this need, developed a software tool for exporting Excel to Outlook contacts – SysTools Excel to Outlook software.


The Excel to Outlook software had been used by many users around the world. SysTools also keep updating its software tools and keeps bringing new advanced versions. SysTools Excel to Outlook latest updated software version is 3.0.


This is a very common occurrence that while putting the contacts in an Excel sheet; people tend to feed same contact more than once. When these contacts are converted from Excel to Outlook, users don’t really want duplication of any contact. So, acknowledging this need, a feature was added to SysTools Excel to Outlook software and i.e. de-duplicating of Excel contacts. This means that – if any user has a single contact entry appearing more than once in the Excel spreadsheet, then the software will import Excel spreadsheet to Outlook contacts without the duplication of any entry. It will show the entry that was duplicated only once in Outlook.


In the version 3.0 of the Excel to Outlook software, this feature of de-duplicating of Excel contacts has been more enhanced to rule out any chance of duplication at all. Users can import Excel file to Outlook contacts easily now and one entry will appear in Outlook only once.


Notes Contacts to Outlook Conversion More Trouble-free now

For making Lotus Notes contacts to Outlook conversion much more convenient for non-technical users, SysTools Notes Address Book Converter software interface has been made more interactive and self descriptive.

Madrid, Spain, December 18, 2009 – SysTools Notes Address Book Converter tool has been extensively used by many Lotus Notes users who have the need to convert their email contacts stored in Lotus Notes to Outlook. There are many software tools available for converting all the items including contacts from Notes NSF to Outlook PST, but they come for a hefty price. As a great option, SysTools Notes Address Book Converter software is available for only $99. This is why, users who need to convert only
< a href=""Lotus Notes contacts to Outlook – find this option easily obtainable. SysTools Notes Address Book Converter software supports to convert Lotus Notes contacts to Outlook PST; to MS Excel XLS file and also to vCard file.

Good news for the users of this Lotus Notes Address Book to Outlook software or those who wish to buy this tool; is that – using this software will now become much more convenient than before. The software interface in the updated version has been made more interactive and self-explanatory. This will help non-technical users a great deal. Now, even beginners and users with less software knowledge and those who are not well-versed with the computer system can also use this software confidently to convert Lotus Notes contacts to Outlook. This interactive, user-friendly, self-descriptive and so easily comprehensible Graphical User Interface (GUI) will be a boon for non-technical users looking for Address Book conversion.

The features existing previously in the older version before are all included in the updated version. There is another delightful that – even though the latest version is updated with much easier GUI, but the price of the tool has not been increased by the company. This means users can still import Lotus Notes contacts to Outlook using SysTools Notes Address Book Converter at the same price as before – $99 (Personal License). Users can now convert Lotus Notes names NSF with much more ease at same price as before! You can download the demo from here:


Win a grant to put toward the purchase a Vision6 Class Kit

Netop launched the Netop Get A Grant for Education (NGAGE) program to help educators struggling with shrinking budgets. Available through Dec. 31, 2009, this funding program provides financial support for schools to purchase an individual or site license for the Netop Vision6 Class Kit, the most popular classroom management software, proven to improve student achievement.
The Vision6 Class Kit is priced at $999, but with an NGAGE grant of $450, an educator would pay only $549 per lab. Schools can also receive grants of $1,600 for a site license, making Netop Vision6 more affordable.


Netop Get A Grant for Education (NGAGE) program


Get free books for Read Across America Day

The Literacy Empowerment Foundation (LEF) is inviting school or other literacy projects to apply for free books for Read Across America Day. During the past year, LEF has distributed over 3,000,000 books to schools all across the country for Read Across America Day and other literacy projects. Resources are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Orders must be received by Feb. 12th, 2010.


Reading Resource Project


For-profit colleges face mounting scrutiny

Commercial schools continue to see rising stock prices despite a rash of bad news.

Commercial schools continue to see rising stock prices despite a rash of bad news.

Officials at for-profit colleges and universities are facing a chorus of public criticism after accusations of shady student recruiter practices and a U.S. Department of Education (ED) report that showed twice as many students at for-profit schools have defaulted on their college loans as students attending nonprofit and public colleges and universities.

The mounting criticism comes as new research suggests for-profit colleges are gaining market share among online learners as the recession drives more people back to school.

Students who took out loans to pay for education at commercial institutions such as the University of Phoenix and DeVry University had a 21-percent default rate within three years, according to the Dec. 14 ED report, which used data from students who began loan repayment in fiscal year 2007.

For-profit schools’ default rate in fiscal 2006 was 18 percent.

Overall, American college students defaulted at a 12-percent rate, up from 9 percent the year before.

The rising default rates could affect commercial universities’ government funding. Starting in 2012, schools that have a 30-percent loan default rate won’t be eligible for federal student aid programs.

For-profits hovering close to or beyond that 30-percent default mark include seven Kaplan University schools and 22 Everest College campuses, according to the government analysis.

Among the nation’s largest institutions, the government data indicate a three-year default rate of 15.9 percent at University of Phoenix and 17.1 percent at DeVry University.

About 5 percent of colleges and universities evaluated in the ED report had loan default rates of 30 percent or more. Eight out of 10 of those schools were commercial colleges.

The data do not include private student loans, just government-backed loans.

Harris Miller, president and CEO of the Career College Association, an organization that represents for-profit colleges, said the jump in default rates is symptomatic of a severe economic recession.

For-profit schools, he added, often accept more low-income students than public and nonprofit universities.

“If you accept low-income students, you’re going to have high default rates,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press. “It has nothing to do with whether you’re for-profit or not.”

For-profit recruitment practices draw fire

A day after ED released its report, Apollo Group Inc.—the University of Phoenix’s parent company—agreed to a $78.5 million settlement after a six-year court battle that started when former university employees filed a lawsuit claiming recruiters were paid based on the number of students they enrolled, a practice that violates federal law.

Apollo Group denied the former plaintiffs’ allegations, dismissing them as disgruntled former employees and claiming the school’s recruiting practices were within federal guidelines.

“This agreement not only brings closure to a long-running dispute and enables the company to avoid the uncertainty and further expense associated with protracted litigation, it opens the door for a more constructive partnership with our lead regulator, the U.S. Department of Education,” Charles B. Edelstein, Apollo’s co-CEO, said in a statement.


SIIA names top education market products

The Software and Information Industry Association recently recognized their top 10 Innovation Incubators.

The Software and Information Industry Association recently recognized 10 promising new education technologies.

The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen and the Waterford Assessment of Core Skills (WACS) have been named the top products in the Software and Information Industry Association’s (SIIA’s) Innovation Incubator program, which connects developers of promising new education technologies with industry leaders and established organizations.

The Pulse Smartpen took top spot as the most innovative education product or service, and WACS won as the most likely to succeed in the education market.

The two winning technologies received the honors during SIIA’s annual Ed Tech Business Forum in New York. They were two of 10 participants in the organization’s Innovation Incubator program, which recognizes innovative start-up companies, nonprofit groups, research and development agencies, and academic institutions.

The 29 applicants were assessed based on key selection criteria, including alignment to SIIA’s Vision K‐20 Benchmarks: 21st century tools, anytime/anywhere access, differentiated learning, assessment tools, and enterprise support.

“We are truly impressed by this year’s line-up in Innovation Incubator participants, and by those organizations that received Innovation Incubator Awards,” said Karen Billings, vice president for SIIA’s Education Division. “The more than 270 industry executives who attended the Ed Tech Business Forum in person and online this year believe these organizations will help lead innovation in developing the technology-rich learning opportunities educators need.”

Livescribe’s Pulse Smartpen not only records handwriting using a special dotted paper and a tiny camera attached to the pen, but records audio as well, developers say. (See “Digital pens: Mightier than MSWord?“)

“The competition was tough, and there were many exciting new technologies presented,” said Holly De Leon, Livescribe’s vice president of K-12 sales. “[The Pulse Smartpen] is a low-cost way to put technology into the hands of every student and teacher in all subject areas. It will allow [students] to learn in their own unique way—we are just providing them with the tool to allow that learning to happen in a more efficient manner.”


Qwest announces $25,000 in school technology grants

On Dec. 17, ten North Dakota teachers each were awarded $2,500 to implement new technology programs or projects in their classroom, In-Forum reports. The grants are from the Qwest Foundation, which provides funding for technology-related educational programs or projects. Fargo South High School teacher Denese Odegaard received one of the grants, which she’ll use to supply new laptops and integrated software to improve music theory and performance. West Fargo Cheney Middle School teacher Chad Anderson also received a grant for implementing a nanoscience unit…

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