Our schools need better internet access, capacity

President Obama announced the ConnectED initiative last month to connect 99 percent of America’s K-12 students to 1 gigabit of broadband and high-speed Wi-Fi in the next five years, reports The San Francisco Chronicle. Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission took the first step to achieve that goal by modernizing its $2.5 billion subsidy program to bring faster internet to schools and libraries. Together, these initiatives create a moment of opportunity to transform teaching and learning in America’s schools. The 21st century classroom will leverage technology to improve student outcomes by personalizing learning, but it must be built on a foundation of robust internet infrastructure. Our schools need wireless networks and 100 megabits of internet connectivity (growing to 1 gigabit in the next five years) to support one-to-one digital learning…

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New dual-credit high school to open in Albuquerque

Gov. Susana Martinez says she wants to see more students graduate from high school and be well prepared for college or the workforce, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. She was among the officials who gathered Friday in Albuquerque to announce a new partnership that will help. Albuquerque Public Schools and Central New Mexico Community College are teaming up to open a new dual-credit high school that will operate on the campus of the community college starting this upcoming school year…

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More than 20,000 California teachers pink-slipped

More than 20,000 public school teachers in California opened their mailboxes over the last few days to find a pink slip inside as districts met the state’s Thursday deadline for dispensing the dreaded news to the educators that they may not have a job in the fall, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The layoff notices are preliminary, the districts’ best guess at the amount of money they will get to educate kids next year after the Legislature concludes its annual budget fight this summer. But a proposed tax measure on the November ballot offers more uncertainty than usual. Districts won’t know until two months into the new school year whether voters will approve a tax increase that would prevent a $4.8 billion trigger cut to education funding, as proposed in the governor’s budget. That cut would be about $807 per student, the equivalent of 55,000 teacher layoffs or 17 days of school, according to The Education Coalition, representing 2.5 million teachers, parents, administrators, school boards and other school employees…

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Deadly snakes rendered harmless (and fun!) in new education app

Kids can now get up close and personal with venomous cobras, deadly boa constrictors and poisonous adders, and it’s all perfectly safe, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.  Snakes, a new multimedia app from Encyclopaedia Britannica Kids, makes it fun to learn about all those slithering animals, with games, puzzles, fact-packed articles and beautiful multimedia. The new mobile download for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch is aligned with the school curriculum and designed for ages 8-12, though even the youngest and most ophidiophobic kids can enjoy it…

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Compassion in education theme of TED conference in East Bay June 11

Prospect Sierra has partnered with U.C. Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center to host a TEDx conference on the topic of compassion in education, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Tickets for the conference, scheduled for Saturday, June 11, 2011 at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California, are now available online at: http://tedxgoldengateed.org. TED began in 1984 as a place for innovators and leaders in the fields of Technology, Entertainment and Design to share ideas. 26 years later, TED has become a global online and conference community of individuals and organizations who believe in the power of spreading ideas through videotaped presentations shared via the Internet. TED.com has a video library of over 600 amazing talks of such high quality that the site has become the platinum standard for innovation in digital storytelling…

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Stanford to issue new medical students iPads

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that incoming medical students at Stanford University will have fewer textbooks to carry this fall after the university distributes iPads to its 91 first-year students during orientation later this month as part of a trial program. The move by the university represents a growing interest by academic institutions to incorporate the Apple devices into the classroom and provide tech-savvy students with more modern tools. Stanford medical school officials said the pilot program is designed to improve the students’ learning experiences because the device’s portability and search capabilities will redefine the “old-fashioned” teaching practices in use by many medical programs…

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Google’s logo redesigned by school children

On May 18, Google announced the 40 regional finalists in its annual Doodle 4 Google competition, which challenges school children to create their own version of the Google logo, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The winning logo will run on Google’s home page for a day. More than 33,000 students in grades K-12 submitted entries, competing for a $15,000 college scholarship, a $25,000 technology grant for their schools, and other prizes. For this year’s contest, students were asked to design their logos around finishing the sentence “If I could do anything, I would…” This is a smart way for Google to market itself as a friendly brand. It also doesn’t hurt to have 33,000 kids walking around with Google’s logo effectively tattooed to the insides of their eyelids…

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Blind law student wins computer aid for bar exam

A blind law student can use computer-assisted reading devices in next month’s bar exam, a federal judge has ruled, rejecting the examiners’ arguments that the assistance was too generous and might let someone steal the test questions, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco ordered the National Conference of Bar Examiners on Jan. 29 to accommodate Stephanie Enyart, who suffers from macular degeneration and retinal dystrophy and was declared legally blind at 15. Enyart, 32, graduated last spring from UCLA Law School, where she took tests on a laptop with software that magnified the text and read the words into earbuds. But she has not taken the bar exam because its examiners have refused to allow the same arrangements. Federal disability law “does not require testing organizations to provide disabled examinees with their preferred accommodations,” the examiners’ lawyer, Gregory Tenhoff, said in court papers. He also said putting the test questions on a computer disk would expose them to hackers and thieves. The examiners said Enyart would have to accept the usual accommodations for blind and visually impaired applicants: a pencil-and-paper test with questions displayed on an enlarged screen, a human reader, and twice the usual three-day testing period. In siding with Enyart, Breyer said the bar could provide its own computer for increased security. “A disability should not prevent an individual from pursuing their dream, if that’s what it is, of practicing law,” the judge said…

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