$250 for aerospace education programs

The Air Force Association Educator Grant Program is designed to promote aerospace education activities and encourage use of innovative aerospace activities within the prescribed curriculum. Each school year, the association awards grants to worthy projects that significantly influence student learning. The program also encourages establishing an active relationship between the school and the local Air Force Association organization.

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Complete classroom A/V system

The Extron Classroom A/V System Grant Program provides increased visibility to K-12 educational technology projects by supplying selected pilot classrooms with advanced audio/video solutions. This grant program aims to boost students’ interest and achievement in the classroom, as well as help prepare them for the workplace. The goal of the pilot classroom is to demonstrate the ease-of-use and benefits of Extron classroom A/V technology to students, teachers and administrators.

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Recognition for extraordinary science educators

The National Science Teachers Association Distinguished Fellow Award recognizes NSTA members who have made extraordinary contributions to science education through personal commitment to education, specifically science teaching or science; educational endeavors and original work that position recipients as exemplary leaders in their field; or significant contributions to the profession that reflect dedication to NSTA as well as the entire educational community.

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Awards for schools committed to character

The National Schools of Character Awards program has a twofold purpose: To identify exemplary schools and districts to serve as models for others; and to help schools and districts improve their efforts in effective character education.

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Seven proven ways to save on school budgets

As with personal shopping, it might be best to hold off on purchases until either a sale comes along, or some extra cash is freed.

As with personal shopping, it might be best to hold off on purchases until either a sale comes along, or some extra cash is freed.

Despite some small signs of an economic recovery, states continue to struggle with their budgets—and districts are still finding it necessary to cut costs wherever possible. But such drastic measures as laying off staff and cutting valuable programs are not always needed, especially if you’re savvy enough to know of some often-overlooked ways to save.

In this article, you’ll find seven helpful suggestions from superintendents, technology directors, and teachers, explaining how their schools have managed to save money—because if there’s one thing this tough economy has shown, it’s that money matters.

1. Become more energy-efficient.

According to Kathleen M. Airhart, director of schools for Putnam County, Tenn., the last two fiscal years have been difficult for her school system. Month after month, state and local revenues have declined as a result of lower-than-anticipated sales tax growth.

“The school board and administration have been forced to make extremely difficult decisions in reducing expenditures and operations for our system, [cutting programs] that had been standard practice for many years. With an anticipated sales tax loss of near a million dollars for 2008-09, I … was constantly seeking solutions that would not directly impact teaching and the classroom,” Airhart explained.

She decided to look at how the school system could save money by reducing its energy consumption, but added: “The energy savings … would have to be found by reducing energy consumption with what equipment we currently had available, and not by spending thousands of dollars to change out operational systems. I have always considered myself to be somewhat of an environmentalist … but how could I convince my system of 19 schools, 1,100 employees, and 10,000 students to do the same?”

Airhart decided the best way to get buy-in among stakeholders was to conduct a contest among the county’s schools to see which school could save the most energy.

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New tool shows how arts education boosts 21st century skills

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Working with national arts organizations, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) has developed a first-of-its-kind Arts skills map that clearly defines how arts education promotes key 21st-century skills. The map, the fifth in a series of core content maps from P21 (others include Geography, Science, Social Studies, and English), gives examples how critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation (P21’s “four Cs”) can be fused within arts curricula (including dance, music, theater, and visual and media arts). The map comes at a critical time for arts education in schools, which often are the first programs to be cut when budgets are tight. Having an outline of how arts education can reinforce skills that are viewed as critical for success in the new global economy could help keep arts programs in schools. “We think that this map will work as a motivator for administrators, as well as funders, when considering art programs in today’s schools,” said Michael Blakeslee, senior deputy executive director of the National Association for Music Education. For each skill, the map cites specific student outcomes and provides examples of projects for grades four, eight, and 12. Each example is marked with a symbol, allowing readers to know whether the example is for visual arts, dance, music, or theater. http://www.p21.org/documents/P21_arts_map_final.pdf

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Momentum building for federal online privacy rules

Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., plans to introduce an online privacy bill that would create standards for how consumer information is collected and used for marketing, reports the Washington Post. The bill also would give users more control over how their internet activity and profiles are accessed by advertisers and web sites. Kerry’s bill, announced in a July 27 news release during a hearing on online privacy held by the Senate commerce committee, follows two privacy bills introduced in the House in recent months aimed at protecting sensitive information such as health and financial data. Kerry said he hopes his bill will be passed at the beginning of the next Congress. The legislative proposals add momentum to a push by consumer groups to create stronger federal rules for how companies such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon.com, and Google can track user activity and place ads based on that information. Facebook faced criticism for creating complex changes to its privacy polices last year that made some data more publicly available. Apple and AT&T were criticized for a data breach that revealed the network identities of iPad users, while Google said it accidentally snooped on residential Wi-Fi networks as it collected information for location-based applications. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz, meanwhile, noted during the hearing that web sites and advertisers have been working to come up with their own rules for how to collect and use information in a way that doesn’t violate privacy rights…

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Second lawsuit filed over Lower Merion webcam snooping

A second lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a student whose laptop web camera was secretly and remotely activated by a Pennsylvania school district, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The letter from Lower Merion school administrators delivered the news three weeks ago–her son had been secretly monitored by the webcam on his school-issued laptop. But only when Fatima Hasan saw the evidence did the scope of the spying on her son Jalil become apparent. There were more than 1,000 images surreptitiously captured by the computer: 469 webcam photographs and 543 screen shots. All were evidence in the case against the Lower Merion School District and its now-abandoned electronic monitoring policy. “I was really shocked. I didn’t know what I was walking into,” Fatima Hasan said July 27 after her son, now 18, filed a civil lawsuit for invasion of privacy against the Lower Merion district and others. “They were all pictures of Jalil, and all web shots from his laptop, and that’s not an easy feeling.” The suit joins one filed in February by Blake Robbins, a student at Harriton High School, and for the first time draws in Lower Merion High School, where Jalil Hasan was a senior. For the high-achieving school district, the second civil suit raises the stakes in an already-costly legal fight. The cases are similar in their broad outlines. The electronic monitoring began after school-issued computers were reported missing. In both cases, the system was simply left on long after the laptops were recovered. Hundreds of photos and screen shots were captured on a predetermined schedule. According to the most recent estimates, the combined legal bills and other case-related expenses from Robbins’ suit alone have reached about $1.2 million already…

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New Titanic expedition will create 3D map of wreck

A team of scientists will launch an expedition to the Titanic next month to assess the deteriorating condition of the world’s most famous shipwreck and create a detailed three-dimensional map that will “virtually raise the Titanic” for the public, reports the Associated Press. The expedition to the site two-and-a-half miles beneath the North Atlantic is billed as the most advanced scientific mission to the Titanic wreck since its discovery 25 years ago. The 20-day expedition is to leave St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Aug. 18 under a partnership between RMS Titanic Inc., which has exclusive salvage rights to the wreck, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. The expedition will not collect artifacts but will probe a 2-by-3-mile debris field where hundreds of thousands of artifacts remain scattered. Some of the world’s most frequent visitors to the site will be part of the expedition, along with a who’s who of underwater scientists and organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Organizers say the new scientific data and images ultimately will be accessible to the public. “For the first time, we’re really going to treat it as an archaeological site with two things in mind,” said David Gallo, an expedition leader and Woods Hole scientist. “One is to preserve the legacy of the ship by enhancing the story of the Titanic itself. The second part is to really understand what the state of the ship is.”

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