Newark, NJ, told to produce Facebook pledge log

The state’s largest city must produce a list of documents related to a $100 million pledge to its public schools from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, a judge ruled Friday, the Associated Press reports. The ruling stemmed from of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a group representing Newark schoolchildren that is seeking more transparency about the donation. The Associated Press and other news outlets also have made such requests. State Superior Court Judge Rachel Davidson’s ruling requires the city to produce the list, believed to enumerate about 50 pages of emails pertaining to the donation, by Feb. 10. The city could seek to block the publishing of some of the emails on the list, according to ACLU New Jersey attorney Ed Barocas…

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Digital divides and the future of the Chicago Public Library

Wednesday it was announced that Chicago Public Library (CPL) commissioner Mary Dempsey is resigning, Gapers Block reports. Dempsey was appointed by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley and served for 18 years. Under Dempsey, the CPL built 44 new libraries and created programs such as One Book, One Chicago. Her resignation comes after a contentious situation this month due to the branches closing on Mondays due to budget and staff cuts. Brian Bannon, chief information officer for the San Francisco Public Library, has been named as Dempsey’s successor. The biggest question is what will happen with the CPL without Dempsey at the helm. Under her leadership, the CPL became what it is today and, barring the reduction of hours, is available to the residents of most Chicago neighborhoods…

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Column: It’s time to strengthen the P-16 continuum

“If we are to realize President Obama’s goal of leading the world in college graduates, we’ll need to break down the barriers that currently exist at both ends of the K-12 system,” Domenech writes.

Learning Leadership column, February 2012 issue of eSchool News—A major impediment to education reform is the silos that exist in the pre-kindergarten through college continuum. If we are to realize President Obama’s goal of leading the world in the percentage of citizens who are college graduates, we will need to break down the barriers that currently exist at both ends of the K-12 system: preschool programs and institutions of higher education.

There have been attempts at articulation, but the way these systems are structured, there are legal and operational barriers that are difficult—if not impossible—to overcome.

Child care and preschool programs are operated primarily by private and nonprofit institutions that have no formal relationships with the public school system. Yet, there is ample evidence to suggest that early childhood programs for children who are at risk offer the best return on the public dollar investment. We often write about the education of the total child and how critical it is to coordinate all the community services that come to bear on the needs of children. Child care and preschool programs fall in that category, along with programs that provide for the health and nutritional needs of our youth.

At the American Association of School Administrators, we pride ourselves in providing programs that help our members deal with the total needs of the children they serve. Thanks to a grant we recently received from the Wal-Mart Foundation, we are working with four major school systems to provide breakfast programs. In Riverside, Calif.; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Syracuse and Brentwood in New York, children will not be arriving at school hungry and unable to focus on their lessons. With the federal funding available for such programs and the foundation dollars to help organize them, children in these communities will be fed a nutritional breakfast.

For more from Dan Domenech, see:

U.S. education is still the best in the world—but here’s what we can learn from others

Improving public education isn’t a mystery

New teacher evaluation framework promises to serve students, and educators, fairly

There are also thousands of children who, although eligible for health insurance coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program, are not receiving the medical coverage they are entitled to. In collaboration with the Children’s Defense Fund and under a grant from the Centers for Disease Control, AASA is working with a number of school systems throughout the country to provide health coverage for 50,000 students that currently do not have it.

AASA also has been active in the development of programs that foster nutrition and battle obesity. In this instance, we have collaborated with two sister organizations, the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents and the National Alliance of Black School Educators. We’ve also worked closely with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, and last year we co-sponsored an event with the National Broadcasters Association that featured film and recording star Beyoncé in a “flash mob” dance involving thousands of middle school students throughout the nation.

But most of these programs have taken place within the K-12 realm, making them much easier to control and coordinate. With preschool youngsters, there is the issue of legal responsibility.

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Teachers: Budgets block classroom technology access

Ninety-one percent of teachers said they have access to computers in their classrooms.

Despite advances in digital learning tools and efforts to close the ed-tech access gap, school budgets remain one of the biggest barriers to classroom technology access, according to a national PBS LearningMedia survey of preK-12 teachers.

Although ed-tech advocates campaign for technology’s seamless integration into instruction, only 22 percent of teachers surveyed said they have the “right” level of technology in their classrooms.

Sixty-three percent of teachers said budgets continue to be barriers to classroom technology access, and in low-income communities, 70 percent of teachers reported budgets are their main obstacle. Aside from funding, teachers reported that unfamiliarity with technologies (8 percent), a lack of knowledge about where to find proper technologies or a lack of training (8 percent), technologies’ incompatibility with current curriculum (7 percent), slow/poor/no internet connection (6 percent), and other various reasons (9 percent) as barriers to classroom technology use.

Socio-economic status also plays a role in other areas: 38 percent of teachers in affluent school districts reported high levels of parental support, compared with just 14 percent of teachers in low-income communities; and 38 percent of teachers in high-income areas have school board support, compared to 21 percent of teachers in low-income areas.

Computer access is not a problem for the majority of teachers—91 percent have access to computers or laptops in their classroom—but access to “newer” technologies is. Fifty-nine percent have access to interactive whiteboards, and teachers in affluent districts are twice as likely to have access to tablets as teachers in middle- and low-income districts.

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Obama unveils plan to stem rising college tuition costs

The money Obama is targeting is what's known as "campus-based" aid.

President Barack Obama is announcing a plan to shift some federal dollars away from colleges and universities that don’t control tuition costs and new competitions in higher education to encourage efficiency as part of an effort to contain soaring college costs.

Obama will spell out his plans Jan. 27 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The speech will cap a three-day post-State of the Union trip by the president to promote different components of his economic agenda in politically important states.

On Jan. 24 during his State of the Union address, Obama put colleges and universities on notice to control tuition costs or face losing federal dollars. That’s had the higher-education community nervous that he could set a new precedent in the federal government’s role in controlling the rising costs of college.

Read the full story on eCampusNews.com here

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Opinion: Teachers should use social networks to inform, not socialize

On the question of students, teachers, and social networking, CNN’s Schools of Thought blog posed this question on Jan. 20: Do you think there are more benefits or downsides to this kind of communication? As a public high school teacher, it’s a question I have pondered often, says Brad Boeker for Yahoo! News. How do schools make sure communication between students and teachers stays appropriate without placing outright bans on many useful, instant forms of communication? I think the answer lies in identifying the purpose of the communication and defining the word social in social networking. The easy approach would be for school boards to ban all communication outside of school between teachers and students. After all, isn’t the primary job of a school to look after the safety of its students? The problem with that knee-jerk solution is that it automatically cuts off many legitimate and creative uses of electronic communication. My former colleague, Joe Chianakas, now a professor at Illinois Central College, used a Twitter feed to deliver homework assignments and reminders about upcoming quizzes and tests. To me that is a terrific use of technology that helps engage students…

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U.S. Department of Education announces teacher ambassador fellowship openings

The U.S. Department of Education announced its acceptance of 2012 Teaching Ambassador Fellows applications in a Jan. 23 post on its official blog, Homeroom, Yahoo! News reports. The Department is seeking education leaders interested in fulfilling both full and part-time positions for the 2012-2013 school year. Interested applicants may apply for one of three year-long positions through February 22, 2012: the full-time Washington Fellowship position, the part-time Classroom Fellowship position and the full-time Regional Fellowship position. This program, first introduced in 2008, was created as a platform for expert teachers to share their experiences and unique understanding of effective teaching practices with policy makers, fellow educators and community members…

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Pentagon Robot Program: Government to help Bay Area students build tech gadgets

With an eye toward revolutionizing how defense systems and vehicles are made, the Pentagon has tapped a team of Bay Area-based scientists, engineers and hackers to create a program that will enlist California high school students to build robots, drones and other low- and medium-tech gadgets, California Watch reports. The Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has awarded $2 million of a $10 million program to two outfits that have joined forces to develop a pilot project in 10 schools. Part of the agency’s lauded Adaptive Vehicle Make program, which has employed university-based teams to build new navigation systems, the latest effort wants to cut down on manufacturing time. Dubbed Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach, the program hopes to develop and motivate the next generation of chic geeks to collaborate through social networks to design and develop new vehicles…

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Police arrest Utah students accused of school bomb plot

Police in Utah have arrested two high school students accused of making detailed plans to bomb a school assembly and then escape in a plane they planned to fly themselves, authorities said on Thursday, Reuters reports. The suspects, aged 18 and 16, were arrested on Wednesday after being pulled out of classes at their high school in the city of Roy, about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City, Roy police spokeswoman Anna Bond said.

“Initial investigative discovery has uncovered a plan to use explosives during a high school assembly,” Bond said in a statement…

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