On education, GOP distances itself from Tea Party

The Republican National Committee’s platform on education contains a lot of tea party buzzwords: abstinence, English-first, homeschooling, vouchers, local control, the National Journal reports. But the document also shows signs that the GOP is willing to embrace some type of benchmarking (that is, regulation) for public schools. The platform talks about “accountability,” “higher expectations for all students,” and options for students in failing schools. It’s a far cry from eliminating the Education Department. Prominent education-reform advocates are hobnobbing in Tampa. They are the type of people who doggedly defend standards for student achievement and shun a hands-off approach. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee, the former District of Columbia Public Schools chancellor, led a panel discussion on Tuesday at a screening of Won’t Back Down, a movie about two mothers who take on a failing inner-city public school. The event drew 1,000 delegates and guests. Rhee’s grassroots-education group, StudentsFirst, will also be screening the film in Charlotte next week at the Democratic National Convention…

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App for teens turns smartphones into safe driving tools

We know that cellphones and driving don’t mix. Despite the accidents and known risks, 89% of teens say they reply to a text message or email within five minutes, driving or not. So can the technology responsible for distracting many drivers, also serve to prevent roadway collisions and close-calls? Asks Mashable. A new app called DriveScribe turns your phone into a “driving coach.” Aimed in particular at helping those new drivers learn the rules-of-the-road, the app monitors speed, and blocks all texts, updates and calls while the car is in motion. It uses GPS, social media, real-time voice feedback and a jamming function to block texts and calls. The app will tell drivers to slow down if they’re going too fast. While driving, the phone can stay on the seat, in a cup holder or in another mount in the car. And there’s no need to handle the device once you’re on the road; just tap “start trip” before you being driving, then “end trip” when you’ve reached your destination. Parents of teens can sign up for updates that let them know if their teen has violated any roadway laws…

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Will preschool budget cuts damage a generation?

Three days before the end of pre-school, Ms. Sabrena and the children sit around the table playing Bingo on boards the size of placemats. Nawal only needs one more tile to win, the Huffington Post reports. Tiny and delicate, with dark, serious eyes, she has quietly assembled a dangerous arsenal. Ms. Sabrena notices and raises an eyebrow. “You have to watch out for the quiet ones,” she says. But a few moments later, when Nawal’s number comes up, Nawal won’t say the one word her teacher wants to hear. Ms. Sabrena encourages her: “What do you say?” Nawal places her tile on the board, looks straight ahead and says nothing. Ms. Sabrena—Sabrena Robinson to those over three feet tall—works at a childcare center in Raleigh, North Carolina, a state with one of the most acclaimed child care systems in the country. From the outside, the center looks like nothing special: a low, cinder-block building with a big backyard. What’s unusual is Ms. Sabrena’s classroom. Of the 100 or so children enrolled at the school, 18 of them—those in Ms. Sabrena’s care—are part of something called North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten, a free state program designed to ensure that every child in the state is ready for kindergarten by the age of five…

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Educators on social media react to school-voucher study by Brookings

The Brookings Institution released a long-term study earlier this month that examined the effects of school vouchers on eventual college enrollment, the National Journal reports. The academics had their say, but what do educators—the ones who are interacting with students on a daily basis—and other education-policy advocates have to say about it? Here we share some reactions from Twitter: “Vouchers deserve a spot among the array of interventions available to education policy makers. There remains no magic bullet. #BIVouchers” — Bart Pogue (@BartPogue) August 23, 2012

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10 excellent iPhone and iPad gadgets and accessories

Looking to spice up your iPhone or iPad while waiting for the next revision to come out of Cupertino? Give some of these gadgets and accessories a try! Says ZDNet. With all the excitement kicking up about Microsoft’s Surface tablet (which comes complete with an unobtrusive keyboard), iPad users may find themselves wanting to get something closer to a laptop experience out of their device. Luckily, that’s just what the CruxCase 360 sets out to do, acting as a protective iPad case that doubles as a stand and a keyboard…

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New online portal features outstanding public media resources from the last decade

Public television has been credited with presenting some of the best educational programming on TV, from Ken Burns’ groundbreaking documentaries to science programs such as NOVA.  Similarly, educators have praised the online educational resources that accompany these programs for the wealth of in-depth content they provide.  These resources are always free and remain online indefinitely; however, they aren’t always easy to find.  They might be housed on different sites, for instance—either on PBS.org or the website of the producing local public television station—or they might have been forgotten if the program hasn’t been rebroadcast.

Now, as part of “American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen,” a public media initiative from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to address the high school dropout crisis, WNET—New York City’s flagship public TV station—has pulled together more than 800 interactive educational resources from public media projects from the past 10 years and housed them under one site, called “American Graduate Classroom Resources.”  These resources are organized by subject and are easily searchable.

This free online portal can help teachers enhance their lesson plans, or help parents engage their children’s interest at home. The resources range from a virtual White House tour produced by WNET, to an immersive biology game that challenges students to rebuild a virtual ecosystem in outer space.

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The most beautiful and imaginative public schools in the world

Albert Einstein, responsible for the world’s most famous equation and quite possibly the smartest man to ever live, said that “logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” With that in mind, surely a child’s imagination is something to cherish and nourish, Flavorwire reports. Enter the public school system. For years public education has been known for its never-ending, claustrophobic hallways and rows of greige lockers, made famous by all of our favorite teen dramas from The Wonder Years to My So-Called Life. Architects and local governments around the world are now fighting the good fight against dismal, uninspiring schools and the groundbreaking results are re-shaping the learning experience for our future generations. From a colorful kindergarten in Slovenia made out of toy planks that lets kids play with and manipulate their environment to a high school breeding a new generation of environmentalists, click through to check out the future of a free education…

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‘Alternative’ textbook banned from Texas school district

Fake Science 101: A Less-Than-Factual Guide to Our Amazing World has been banned by the Houston Independent School District, the Houston Press blog Hair Balls reports. Considered an “alternative” textbook by “writer of mysteries and humor” Phil Edwards and described by Business Insider as “The Daily Show” meets “Bill Nye”, the 272-page fake textbook sprang from a popular tumblr blog Edwards started two years ago and boasts the tagline, “For when the facts are too confusing.”

“Fake Science” boasts over 46,000 Facebook fans, but an HISD administrator is not one of them. In a memo sent to the district’s teachers, one educator’s request to use the textbook is denied on the basis that it would compromise the district’s integrity and have an adverse effect on students…

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