Report: Latinos hitting a ‘blue collar ceiling’ from education gap

A study released Thursday shows that many Chicago area Latinos are facing a “blue-collar ceiling” and are likely to be stuck in low-paying jobs for the rest of their lives due to persistent educational gaps, the Huffington Post reports. The report, by the New Journalism on Latino Children project through DePaul University, was based on 2010 census data and claims that though the Chicago area has seen a boom in its Latino population over the past decade, that population could face dwindling job prospects unless they receive better education and more job skills than their parents’ generation, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“These kids need special attention,” said John Koval, the author of the report and a senior research fellow at DePaul University, according to the Tribune. “They’re coming from communities where going on to college, even graduating from high school, is not commonplace. … We’re not talking about social justice, social work. We’re talking about a pragmatic need in our country. These kids need to be educated and well-trained because this economy needs them so badly.”

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Why strong afterschool programs matter

The National School Boards Association recently released a report comparing the time U.S. students spend in school to the time spent in school in other countries—questioning the trendy notion that our schools would improve if we merely added time to the school day, says Jodi Grant, executive director of the nonprofit Afterschool Alliance, for the Washington Post. As executive director of the Afterschool Alliance, I’ve spent the past two years fighting efforts to divert federal support for already underfunded afterschool programs to instead provide a small number of failing schools with money to add an hour or two to their school day. This would not only add to the 15 million children currently unsupervised each afternoon, but could deny more than a million children the engaged learning and building blocks of healthy development provided by afterschool programs.  Like many experts, I’m fearful that simply adding more time to our least successful schools is not the right answer…

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Fight against SOPA intensifies surrounding house debate

The House Judiciary Committee met to debate changes to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) on Thursday as the public debate between players with deep pockets on both sides reached new heights, Mashable reports. If the bill at issue, SOPA, were to become law, it would create a “blacklist” of websites that infringe on copyrights. Private companies who allege that a site is unlawfully publishing their copyrighted content could, with a judge’s signature, demand that ad networks and companies such as PayPal and Visa stop doing business with such sites. Internet service providers would need to prevent Americans from visiting them…

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The 10 biggest ed-tech stories of 2011

Here's what we think are the 10 most significant educational technology stories of 2011.

Teachers use video podcasts to turn learning “upside down” … New web-search formulas have important implications for students and society … “Bring Your Own Device” emerges as a top strategy for integrating technology into instruction: These are among the many key ed-tech developments affecting schools in the past year.

In this special retrospective, the editors of eSchool News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant educational technology stories of 2011. To find out how these stories will continue to affect school stakeholders in 2012 and beyond, read on.

What do you think of our list? What other ed-tech stories do you think are worthy of mentioning? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

10. Research bolsters the case for 3D learning.

Two years ago, the first projectors and glasses for delivering stereoscopic 3D images in the classroom emerged, and last year saw a sharp rise in the amount of 3D content available for schools. This year, 3D learning took another step forward with a pair of new developments.

In June, Colorado’s Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), an early adopter of 3D technology, released the results of a pilot project showing that the use of 3D content helped increase student engagement and led to better achievement in some cases—with the lowest-performing students seeing the greatest benefits. A few weeks later, the American Optometric Association issued a public health report saying the use of 3D images in school can help diagnose vision problems among students at an earlier age and can enhance teaching and learning.

AOA President Dori Carlson said using 3D images in the classroom can help in two ways: First, children often learn faster and retain more information in a 3D environment; and second, the ability to perceive depth in a 3D presentation turns out to be a highly sensitive assessment tool, able to assess a range of vision health indicators with much higher sensitivity than the standard eye chart that has been in use for the last 150 years.

“For the estimated one in four children who have underlying issues with overall vision, 3D viewing can unmask previously undiagnosed deficiencies and help identify and even treat these problems,” says Carlson. “This is because 3D viewing requires that both eyes function in a coordinated manner as they converge, focus, and track the 3D image.”

While viewing 3D images can alert experts to children’s eye problems, the AOA says there is no evidence that viewing or attempting to view 3D images will harm a child’s eyes. The group’s report also describes ways to manage the classroom environment for optimizing 3D use in the classroom.

Some examples include: (1) Always preview the 3D materials. This requires the teacher to have appropriate vision health as well. (2) Identify general student health issues in advance. (3) Ensure that students keep the glasses off until the 3D content is ready to view. (4) Keep the transitions within and between the 3D images smooth and slow. (5) If students are feeling dizzy or nauseous, take the glasses off immediately and have them close their eyes for 10 seconds or look at a distant object.

In the BVSD pilot project, teachers used stereoscopic 3D content in eight classrooms within four schools during the 2010-11 school year. A few findings stood out across all test sites, said Len Scrogan, director of instructional technology for the district: higher levels of student engagement, favorable reaction by students, and greater student clarity in understanding abstract concepts. “It provided a better visualization than the textbook,” said one student, referring to 3D renderings of cellular structures in biology. Another student said, “It was easier for me to picture it and understand the structure.”

Perhaps the most encouraging findings occurred at Halcyon Middle-High School, BVSD’s day-treatment facility, where students often have trouble sitting through a 40-minute class period.

“Our special-education population was able to maintain interest in the content for a full 40 minutes, which is extremely rare,” Scrogan said. “Forty minutes of uninterrupted science instruction with no behavioral incidents … is significant. This really pulls kids in and prevents distraction.”

See also:

Research: 3D content can help improve learning

How to use 3D in the classroom effectively


7 key questions to ask about ed technology, online learning

The outcry against exploitative online for-profit education is growing at roughly the same rate as the clamor for increasing amounts of educational technology—laptops, tablets, smart boards—from preschool to life-long learning, says Cathy N. Davidson, a Duke professor and author of Now You See It:  How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn, for the Washington Post. Unfortunately, a lot of the conversation is sliding into the “pro” and “con” mode of contemporary punditry. What we most need right now is to pause before we pontificate and to patiently untangle the many intertwined strands in the arguments for and against ed tech. By separating out different threads in this conversation, we can make better decisions about if, when, and in what situations we can really learn effectively online. Here are seven key questions designed to help any parent or student sort out the competing interests that currently drive technology into our schools—or keep technology out of some other schools…

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Better high school graduation rates may be an illusion

Over the past several years, high school graduation rates nationwide have improved, Yahoo! News reports. On Monday, the Florida Department of Education announced the state’s graduation rate hit a record high of 80.1 percent. But don’t expect those numbers to continue rising, due to a federal mandate that takes effect next year. New federal rules that mandate states to report graduation rates uniformly will go into effect for the class of 2012, meaning states, including Florida, will no longer be able to count students who finish special education and adult education programs in their state graduation rates. Under current federal laws, states are allowed to lump in students who complete special education programs, night school, the GED, and virtual high school programs along with those who earn a traditional high school diploma…

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Facebook sends user a CD collecting his entire social networking history

Sure, we know that Facebook has an unnervingly huge stash of knowledge on each of its users, but just what does all of that virtual activity add up to? One 24-year old in Austria had that reality check delivered—literally—after requesting a copy of all of the personal data that the social network had stored over the years, Yahoo! News reports. Facebook sent Vienna resident Max Schrems a CD stuffed with 1,222 massive PDF files worth of status updates, login info, Likes, and more. The CD included a tome of info collecting “friend requests, former or alternative names and email addresses, employment and relationship statuses and photos, in some cases with their GPS locations included,” not to mention plenty of data that Schrems was under the impression that he had deleted from Facebook entirely. Unlike in the U.S., European Facebook users can legally request to have the company fork over the personal data it collects over time. In the U.K. and Ireland, the company is legally bound to mail out a CD like the one Schrems received within 40 days of a request. While an email containing the personal data would suffice in the eyes of the law, it’s unlikely that Gmail would look kindly on an attachment large enough to capture one of Facebook’s social data mega-files…

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Watch: District may ease junk food ban amid profit loss

The Seattle School District is considering rewriting a policy enacted in 2004 that removed junk food from public schools, citing the ban’s huge cut to revenues used to fund school programs, the Huffington Post reports. When the Seattle School Board first implemented the policy seven years ago, the district was placed on the cutting edge of the battle against childhood obesity. Fatty snacks like candy bars and fried chips were stripped from vending machines and replaced with orange juice, water and granola bars. But the change has reduced vending machine profits across the district to $17,000 this year, from $214,000 before the ban was adopted, the Seattle Times reports. The money went toward funding student clubs, publications, athletic uniforms and social events–some of which had to be canceled or cost students more out of pocket to hold or keep. The ban also hasn’t kept some students from eating unhealthily, as some students simply go off campus to find their treats…

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Districts file third suit against state over school funding

A third group of Texas schools filed suit against the state Tuesday over education funding, alleging that the system of financing public education is inadequate and unfair to low-income and English-learning students, the Huffington Post reports. One more lawsuit against the state is expected from another portion of Texas’ more than 1,100 school districts. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed the suit on behalf of four Texas school districts and three parents, alleging that the current state system of using property taxes for more than half of public school funding is unfair. The method creates a revenue and funding gap between schools zoned to higher-income neighborhoods and those in lower-income communities — a gap as large as $1,000 per student, MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel David Hinojosa said at a news conference, KSAT reports…

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School yearbooks take unique step into social media

ReplayIt was designed specifically for schools.

School yearbook company Jostens has launched a customized and secure photo sharing website, called ReplayIt, that enables anyone in the school community to upload photos and participate in the yearbook-shaping process.

California’s Porterville High School has announced that it will be one of the first schools in the country to offer Jostens ReplayIt to students, parents, and the entire Porterville High School community.

Through this service, Porterville High School users can upload and tag photos to share with the PHS community in one convenient online location, which serves as a valuable online multimedia tool to enhance class work and document school activities.

ReplayIt also puts the camera in everyone’s hands to help the school’s yearbook staff create the PHS yearbook.

“ReplayIt is a great opportunity for the staff and students. Students can give their perspective to the yearbook, and share in creating it as well,” said Sara Herrera, PHS yearbook advisor. “Our goal is to get every student in school in the yearbook three times and ReplayIt helps us achieve that.”

The students can use ReplayIt to stay connected with all school activities through photo sharing and surveys. Photo sharing delivers more visibility to student groups and allows each group to be represented and document their activities—taking the sharing of school activities to a whole new level by allowing the Porterville High School community to share in the moments of the year, and ultimately inviting students to take a more active role in defining the school experience, Herrera said.