Rick Perry signs student criminal disclosure law in Texas

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed into law a measure that gives the state’s teachers more access to criminal information about their student, the Associated Press reports. The law will require written notification of student arrests as well as details about parolees from the juvenile justice system. It was prompted by the 2009 fatal stabbing of a teacher in Tyler, Texas, by a 16-year-old who had been released from the Texas Youth Commission…

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Texas governor offers school grants to spur sharing

Texas schools that cut bureaucratic costs by sharing services—from accounting to transportation—would get grants worth 10 percent of their savings under a plan Gov. Rick Perry proposed Aug. 31, Reuters reports. Texas will have to slash spending in its next two-year budget, because its deficit is estimated at as high as $18 billion. The Republican governor said his proposal would increase how much money can be devoted to the classroom. Furthermore, “These shared services create the economies of scale that benefit larger districts, while maintaining the individual attention available in smaller districts,” Perry said in a statement. The governor, who narrowly leads his Democratic rival, Houston’s former mayor Bill White, in the polls, has decided to seek $830 million in federal education aid, according to local newspapers. That’s how much Texas stood to receive from the $10 billion Congress enacted to help save teaching jobs around the nation. Perry had spurned the funds at first, because Texas would be required to spend the same amount on its schools for three years in row…

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More Texas school districts consider switching to online textbooks

Texas could help lead a textbook transformation if Gov. Rick Perry’s recent proposal to abandon traditional texts in favor of online versions takes hold, reports the Dallas Morning News. Electronic textbooks are imperative, advocates say, because they offer inexpensive, interactive lessons that engage today’s tech-savvy students and keep content fresh. Opponents worry that more free-flowing material will affect quality and remain unavailable to poorer students without computers. Perry already has support in the Legislature, which passed two bills last year increasing schools’ access to digital content. But the process won’t happen with the click of a mouse, warn educators, who might be the faction that needs the most convincing. “Some of the headaches that come with computers won’t be any cheaper than traditional textbooks,” said Gail Lowe, the state Board of Education chairwoman. “You know what a drain the maintenance of hardware is. It’s difficult to ensure every district is able to supply the same [technological] support” and access, she says. The new state laws grant the commissioner of education the authority to select a list of electronic textbooks for districts, including open content—texts that can be downloaded free of charge online. The laws also allow districts to use their textbook funds to buy electronic material and devices such as netbook computers that can access it. That means the state board will have less control of the content…

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Governor: Texas should move to online textbooks

Texas Gov. Rick Perry proposed April 7 that his state abandon using traditional textbooks in public schools and replace them with computer technology, BusinessWeek reports. “I don’t see any reason in the world why we need to have textbooks in Texas in the next four years. Do you agree?” Perry asked participants at a computer gaming education conference in Austin. Paper textbooks get out of date quickly, Perry said, sometimes even before they reach the classroom—whereas using computer software to teach students allows the curriculum to be updated almost instantly. “There’s obviously opposition [to switching to totally computerized material], but there’s always opposition to change,” Perry said. He said he wants to explore the proposal when the Legislature meets in 2011. Rep. Mark Strama, an Austin Democrat who also attended the gaming conference held at the Advanced Micro Devices campus, said he’s interested in pursuing that goal as well. He said state lawmakers took a step in that direction last year by allowing schools to spend textbook money on electronic instructional materials. Strama also said he sees a move away from textbooks as an opportunity to ensure that all children have access to computers. “This is the way to solve the digital divide problem for children who don’t have access to technology at home, because if every child is getting something like an iPad or a tablet [computer] that has all their instructional content on it, it also is something they can use for other purposes when they’re at home,” he said…

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