Editorial: God bless taxes

"I have a bold suggestion of my own for how businesses can help improve education," writes Editor Dennis Pierce: "Pay their fair share of taxes."

Default Lines column, June 2011 edition of eSchool News—The Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has issued a new report calling for urgent action to improve U.S. math and science instruction.

Called “The Case for Being Bold: A New Agenda for Business in Improving STEM Education,” the report makes a series of common-sense recommendations that reformers have heard before: rethink teacher hiring and training practices, redesign schools for the 21st century, use technology to personalize instruction, create opportunities for local professionals to help teach students part time … and so on.

Those are laudable goals. But I have a bold suggestion of my own for how businesses can help improve education: Pay their fair share of taxes.

In lobbying for tax reform, the Chamber of Commerce and other members of the business community have long argued that the corporate tax rate in America is the highest in the world. Although that’s true of the top statutory rate, which is 35 percent, very few large corporations pay that much—and many pay far less.

A report issued in February from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that the average corporate tax rate—that is, the share of profits that U.S. companies actually pay in taxes—is about 13 percent. What’s more, “when measured as a share of the economy, U.S. corporate tax receipts are actually low compared to other developed countries,” the report said.

General Electric made headlines earlier this year when it was revealed the company earned $14.2 billion in profits in 2010 but didn’t pay a dime in U.S. taxes, thanks to crafty accounting practices that took advantage of existing—and perfectly legal—tax loopholes.

But GE is far from alone. As the tax filing deadline for 2011 approached, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont published a list of 10 hugely profitable corporations that have managed to avoid paying U.S. taxes. ExxonMobil topped the list, having made $19 billion in profits in 2009. ExxonMobil not only paid no federal income tax that year; it actually got a $156 million tax rebate from Uncle Sam, according to SEC filings.

These figures should prompt outrage at a time when state legislatures are taking away the right of educators to collectively bargain and other benefits, and when governments and local school systems are slashing educational programs—in the name of balancing budgets.

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eSchool News May 2011

Download this issue as an Adobe PDF
Highlights

24 eSN Special Feature
Which eReader is right for you?
Our handy guide might help.

28 Education in Focus
Handheld and visual technologies can help at-risk kids learn math.

What’s News

1 Feds to update student privacy law

1 Survey finds gaps in ed-tech support

1 ACLU to schools: Stop using anti-gay web filters

1 Next up for education: Teacher avatars?

3 Six technologies soon to affect schools

8 Judge rejects plans for Google digital library

10 Teachers want more technology, collaboration

12 ED sticks by controversial online-learning rule

13 Online Teacher of the Year shares strategies for success

14 Educators disappointed with Cisco’s camera flip

15 Obama: Too much testing makes education boring

16 Rural schools face uphill climb for funding

16 Program brings solar panels, curriculum to schools

17 What the U.S. can learn about boosting teacher quality

17 Students excel in STEM gaming challenge

18 How to lead change successfully in uncertain times

18 New products make IP telephony easier, more secure

19 FY11 budget deal eliminates ed-tech funding

20 Deal to combine AT&T, T-Mobile raises questions

22 $1.5M grant jump-starts teacher development

Departments

3 Online Update

6 Default Lines

6 Your Turn

21 eSchool of the Month

31 Security Checkpoint

32 Netwatch

33 Learning Leadership

34 Grants & Funding

35 Stakeholder & Community Relations

36 Online Calendar

36 Tech Buyer’s Marketplace

37 Advertisers’ Showcase

38 eSchool Partners



30 Reading and technology
A new online service from Capstone Digital applies the Netflix model to literacy to get kids interested in reading.
— Jenna Zwang

eSNOnline

eSNonComputer
Resources for this issue

15 Obama: Too much testing… For more news and opinion on education reform, see our online School Reform Center: www.eschoolnews.com/reform

19 FY11 budget deal… For the latest in school funding news, go to
www.eschoolnews.com/funding

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Short-throw projectors going ‘extreme’ in education

Panasonic's PT-ST10 is an extreme short-throw projector that needs less than two feet to operate.

Not every classroom is a vast lecture hall. There are many small rooms in schools and colleges that serve as meeting spaces—confined areas where projectors must be placed just a few feet away from a surface.

Casting a large, clear picture on a screen or wall is rarely a challenge in the most spacious of lecture halls; instructors can place their projector as far back into the room as needed to get a crisp image that supplements a class lesson.

For faculty members who don’t have the luxury of nearly unlimited space, however, there is a new generation of short-throw projectors that have adopted a new name: “ultra short throw” or “extreme short throw.”

These extreme versions of the short-throw projector can create images up to 80 inches diagonally across, sitting only two feet or less from a screen or wall—making the machines ideal for educators working in a tight space.

Having the projector so close to the wall also lets instructors roam the classroom or stand in front a whiteboard without casting shadows on the projection, experts say.

“This past year it’s been all about who puts the ‘short’ in short-throw projectors,” said Elizabeth Dourley, a researcher and writer for Projector Central, a website that tracks projector technology for entertainment and educational use. “Short throws are extremely popular for applications where space is tight, but they also prevent light hitting a presenter in the face or shadows obstructing the image.”

More news about presentation technology:

3D content for education on the rise

Projectors becoming more interactive

New AV systems offer sharp images, ‘green’ projection

Many extreme short-throw projectors require only about one foot to produce an image—a significant difference when compared to a standard projector used in education. Traditional projectors need at least eight feet to cast a clear image on a wall or screen, and many need several more feet to operate

Ultra short-throw projectors have developed a following both in K-12 schools and on college campuses, Dourley said. And she expects the educational fascination with short-throw projectors to continue in 2011.

“Short-throw projectors have always been favored by schools, because of space constraints and other issues,” she said.

The most extreme of the ‘extreme’ short-throw projectors

Many projector companies have unveiled their latest lines of ultra short-throw options in recent months, but few—if any—compare to the limited distance needed by the Dell S500wi projector, which hit the market in February.

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Struggle to learn mathematics, your child may have dyscalculia

Children who struggle to learn mathematics may have a neurocognitive disorder, called Dyscalculia, that inhibits the acquisition of basic numerical and arithmetic concepts, according to a new research study conducted by University of Minnesota and British researchers, reports the International Business Times. The disorder, which is also called developmental dyscalculia, affects the acquisition of arithmetic skills in an otherwise-normal child. The disorder affects roughly the same number of people as dyslexia but has received much less attention (and research funding)…

Click here for the full story

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Missouri tornado: Schools statewide get creative in helping Joplin

Schools throughout Missouri are going beyond traditional fundraisers to help victims of the E-F5 tornado in Joplin that took the lives of 125 at last count, reports the Huffington Post. Seventy miles east of Joplin, about half of the Springfield School District announced plans to offer aid, according to the News-Leader. Third-graders at the district’s Roundtree Elementary turned their photography exhibition, “Visual Media Promotes Social Change,” into an auction to raise money for tornado victims…

Click here for the full story

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Teachers give a gold star to a free-for-all education camp

For many teachers, the phrase professional development conjures up mandatory, snooze-inducing, school-sponsored lectures, says the Philadelphia Enquirer. EdCamp, an “unconference” for educators that was conceived in the Philadelphia region last year, was designed to be the exact opposite: the free events are participant-driven and attendance is strictly voluntary…

Click here for the full story

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Exam-obsessed Hong Kong makes celebrity tutors rich

Cut-throat competition for exam success in Hong Kong’s high-pressure education system has spawned a new breed of teacher–celebrity tutors with near cult-like status and millionaire lifestyles, reports the AFP. With their glamorous photographs showing megawatt grins and flashy attire splashed across billboards and buses, the star teachers claim to transform failing students into A-grade pupils–and earn up to $1.5 million a year…

Click here for the full story

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Ultrabook: Intel launches new class of thin, powerful laptops

Intel has revealed at Computex trade show it will direct its mobile computing efforts towards an entirely new category of laptops called Ultrabooks, reports Mashable. Intel’s vision of the Ultrabook consists of a thin, elegant machine, powered by the new 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, which costs under $1,000. The Ultrabook should bring all the benefits of tablets but with the performance and capabilities of today’s laptops – a marriage between the MacBook Air and the iPad, if you will…

Click here for the full story

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eSN readers candidly discuss mobile learning trends

Readers say iPads and "bring your own device" policies need careful thought.

Every few years, new technologies—and the policies that go with them—make a splash in schools, and this year, Apple’s iPad and “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies are all the rage in ed tech.

It’s no surprise, then, that recent stories about these two ed-tech trends—“Schools see rising scores with iPads” and “‘Bring your own device’ catching on in schools”—should be among our most widely read stories so far this year.

Readers expressed overwhelming support for BYOD as a strategy to get mobile learning tools into the hands of more students in a cost-effective way, although some raised questions that need to be considered as schools adopt BYOD policies of their own.

As for our story “Schools see rising scores with iPads,” which described the experience of a few California schools that have adopted iPads in the classroom, many readers said the iPad is a new way to engage students—but at the end of the day, it’s just another tool to help students learn … and perhaps some of the hype has gone too far.

“I completely agree that technology helps in productivity,” wrote a reader identified as wallace. “However, technology is just another means to get the information across to an audience. It is not the lesson. It is not a teacher who brings meaningful approaches to lessons being learned. The interaction is a necessity. Sure, questions can be eMailed, but there will most probably be a lag time in response for any number of reasons. Education will always have to go through surges of reinvention. It goes along, and parallels with, the nature of learning.”

For more on mobile learning, read:

Annual report pegs mobile learning, cloud computing as imminent

More schools piloting secure mobile devices

Survey highlights changing teacher opinions on ed tech

wallace continued, “I think the biggest challenge with advancing technology is the lack of maturity and responsibility with the users. Money, of course, is an inherent factor. Until the young generation learns that technology is not the only answer, there is still a lot more learning that comes with the application. Is there an app for that?”

Another reader, crschmiesing, wrote: “The iPads have been out for just over a year … and they are indeed ‘cool tools,’ but is it the iPad that is making a difference, or just the fact that [students] have access to this new technology? Didn’t we hear the same type of reports [before], which encouraged providing laptops for every student? Also, how much of these things actually reside on the device? In other words, if a student’s iPad is damaged, how will that impact their education? I am of the opinion that moving to a ‘cloud’ environment, where everything (from textbooks to homework assignments to apps) is readily available from the ‘net’ on practically any device (Apple, Android, Windows, etc.), would be critical to long-term success. Yes, the content must be engaging, as does the technology, but it should not be platform-specific.”

Some readers were a bit more blunt in their responses.

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