Some educators worried by would-be VP Ryan’s budget proposal

Stakeholders worry that Ryan’s spending cuts will impact much-needed education assistance programs.

Education stakeholders have been buzzing with questions and speculation after Mitt Romney announced his selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential pick.

Ryan, a seven-term congressman and chairman of the House Budget Committee, wants to slice away at Medicare, food stamps, and virtually all domestic programs–including education–with military a notable exception.

His budget plan, Path to Prosperity, was adopted by the Republican-controlled House and drew much reaction in March.

“Ryan’s budget plan slaps students with harmful cuts to the Pell Grants program while proposing a windfall for corporate tax dodgers, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies, and the oil industry,” said Rich Williams, higher-education advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups, in March.

“The proposal recommends slashing Pell Grants, which help more than 9 million students pay for college at a time of rising college costs, tight family finances, and a job market that increasingly requires post-secondary education.”

Experts have pointed to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, federal assistance for higher education, and early childhood education initiatives as just some of the programs that may see cuts or deep reform.

The maximum Pell grant for low-income college students, currently at $5,550 for the 2012-2013 school year, will increase to $5,635 in the 2013-2014 school year. However, under Ryan’s budget, Pell grants would be held to $5,550.

Ryan’s budget text notes that the current Pell grant system is “unsustainable” and that “federal intervention in higher education should increasingly be focused not solely on financial aid, but on policies that maximize innovation and ensure a robust menu of institutional options from which students and their families are able to choose.”

The federal Head Start program, which aims to help low-income students, could experience cuts in funding and reach. According to National Education Association estimates, Ryan’s proposed budget would eliminate spots for more than 191,000 children.


Free algebra course helps teachers address Common Core requirements

 SAS Curriculum Pathways has launched a free Algebra 1 course that provides teachers and students with all the required content to address the Common Core State Standards for Algebra. Available online, the course engages students through real-world examples, images, animations, videos and targeted feedback. Teachers can integrate individual components or use the entire course as the foundation for their Algebra 1 curriculum.

SAS developed the Algebra 1 course in collaboration with the North Carolina Virtual Public School, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and the Triangle High Five Algebra Readiness Initiative, an organization that promotes the important role mathematics teachers play in preparing students for college and careers.

The course maps to publisher requirements recently established by the lead writers of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. More specifically, the course addresses the authors’ concerns for greater emphasis on mathematical reasoning, rigor, and balance. In addition, the course takes a balanced approach to three elements the writers see as central to course rigor: conceptual understanding, procedural skill, and opportunities to apply key concepts. It incorporates 21st-century themes like global awareness and financial literacy while weaving assessment opportunities throughout the content.

Each lesson in the Algebra 1 course has four sections:

  • Get Ready – introduction.
  • Learn – instructional content with interactive components and guided practice.
  • Practice – additional problems to confirm the learning.
  • Review – summary, including printable materials.



Win a $20K lab makeover

This competition encourages teachers (grades 6-12) in the U.S. and Canada, who have found innovative ways to deliver quality lab experiences with limited school and laboratory resources, to share their approaches for a chance to win a school science lab makeover support package valued at $20,000. All winners will receive science lab equipment, Shell cash grants, membership to the NSTA, and support to attend NSTA Conferences on Science Education.


$2,500 for outstanding science teachers

This award honors one deserving educator who demonstrates excellence in science teaching in the form of curricula design, teaching strategies, administrative and/or organizational patterns, and laboratory utilization with emphasis on measurement activities.


Win free tools to create high-tech writing surfaces

One lucky school will win the tools to create an interactive classroom, specifically:
•    Evernote Premium Codes for a classroom of students for one year (up to 250 students)
•    Exclusive webinar with an Evernote Education Specialist
•    250 sq. ft. of IdeaPaint CLEAR
•    Three dozen IdeaPaint WRITE dry erase markers
•    Six IdeaPaint ERASE microfiber cloths
•    IdeaPaint CLEANER and refill


Google to downgrade pirate sites in search results

Google Inc. is altering its search results to de-emphasize the websites of repeat copyright offenders and make it easier to find legitimate providers of music, movies and other content, the Associated Press reports. The move is a peace offering to Hollywood and the music recording labels. This year, Google joined other Silicon Valley heavyweights to help kill legislation that would have given government and content creators more power to shut down foreign websites that promote piracy…

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Being a minority at America’s best high school

Yes, Virginia, Thomas Jefferson High School For Science and Technology Had a Hispanic Student Body President With a Learning Disability, the Washington Post reports. If you Google “Anita Kinney,” you’ll find a prolific cancer researcher at a Utah university. That Anita Kinney is a genius. I’ve followed her career and lived in her daunting shadow for many years. She’s always ranked higher than me in search engine results — except for my brief brush with internet celebrity in 2006, when Jay Mathews catapulted me to the top of the “Anita Kinney” rankings by quoting me on the front page of The Post. The story was about my fellow classmates from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) who were rejected from Ivy League schools…

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Phone cos. lose broadband subscribers for 1st time

Phone companies are losing the high-speed internet game, the Associated Press reports. In the second quarter, the landline phone industry lost broadband subscribers for the first time, as cable companies continued to pile on new household and small business customers, thanks to the higher speeds they offer in most areas. The flow of subscribers from phone companies to cable providers could lead to a de facto monopoly on broadband in many areas of the U.S., say industry watchers. That could mean a lack of choice and higher prices…

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An eMail service with lots of smarts

“Coming soon, from the creator of the Macarena!”… “New, from the founders of Myspace!”… “He has the same agent as Steven Seagal!” You don’t hear phrases like that much, reports David Pogue of the New York Times. Generally, once a hot property becomes a lame has-been, you don’t base your marketing on it. But you might think that’s what Microsoft is doing with its new free Web-based eMail service, “From the company that brought you Hotmail!”

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