Can eBooks help bridge achievement gaps?

 

Having books in the home pushes students an average of 2.4 years further in school.

 

A massive study published last spring confirmed what many educators already know: having books in the home is as significant as socioeconomic status or parents’ educational level in determining the level of education children ultimately will attain. …Read More

Demographic shifts require changes in school communication

Changing demographics are creating new school communication challenges.

Unprecedented demographic shifts in the U.S. are creating a communications gap between teachers, principals, and the students and families they serve, forcing educators to rethink their school communication strategies.

Minorities will become the majority of children under 18 by 2023, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Educators and school communicators, on the other hand, are predominately non-Hispanic white females.

The gap is also socioeconomic in nature, because children of color are often poor as well, while teachers and other school officials are solidly middle to upper-middle class.…Read More

Inexperienced companies chase U.S. school funds

With the Obama administration pouring billions of dollars into its nationwide campaign to overhaul failing schools, dozens of companies with little or no experience are portraying themselves as school-turnaround experts as they compete for the money, reports the New York Times. A husband-and-wife team that has specialized in teaching communication skills but never led a single school overhaul is seeking contracts in Ohio and Virginia. A corporation that has run into trouble with parents or the authorities in several states in its charter school management business has now opened a school-turnaround subsidiary. Other companies seeking federal money include offshoots of textbook conglomerates and classroom technology vendors. Many of the new companies seem unprepared for the challenge of making over a public school, yet neither the federal government nor many state governments are organized to offer effective oversight, said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C. “Many of these companies clearly just smell the money,” Jennings said. The Obama administration has sharply increased federal financing for school turnarounds, to $3.5 billion this year, about 28 times as much as in 2007. Under federal rules, school districts can hire companies or nonprofits to help, and experts said a significant percentage—perhaps a majority—were likely to hire at least one outside contractor. Recognizing the risks facing school districts that sign contracts with untested groups, the American Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit conservative policy group, issued a report last month urging that districts require performance guarantees, under which contractors failing to meet achievement targets would forfeit payments…

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Parent video protesting state budget cuts goes viral

A pro-teacher video loaded with star power became an internet hit.
A pro-teacher video loaded with star power became an internet hit.

A video produced by parents at a California elementary school to protest state budget cuts has become an online sensation, offering several lessons in internet advocacy for school stakeholders.

Called “Hot for Teachers,” the video is less than four minutes long and uses humor and star power to send a serious message about the impact teacher cuts are having on class size and academic opportunities.

Produced by parents at Wonderland Avenue Elementary School, the video stars actor Brian Austin Green of television’s Beverly Hills 90210 and actress Megan Fox, best known for her recurring role in the Transformers movie blockbusters.…Read More

Education groups rally support for EETT

Many say Congress should continue funding ed-tech through its own dedicated funding stream.
Many say Congress should continue funding ed-tech through its own dedicated funding stream.

Alarmed at what they see as a potential setback in federal support for education technology, several dozen state and national education groups and high-tech companies have sent letters to House and Senate lawmakers, urging them to continue funding the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) block-grant program in fiscal 2011.

The letters expressed concerns about President Obama’s budget proposal, which would fold EETT—the largest single source of federal funding for school technology equipment, support, and professional development—into a new competitive grant program that aims to promote effective teaching and learning.

According to federal officials, this new initiative would “include a focus on integrating technology into instruction and using technology to drive improvements in teaching and learning” throughout all subject areas. (Read “Nation’s ed-tech chief reacts to budget concerns”)…Read More

Teen’s suicide after repeated bullying sparks debate

15-year-old Phoebe Prince hanged herself in January, just two days before the school’s winter cotillion.
15-year-old Phoebe Prince hanged herself in January, just two days before the school’s winter cotillion.

A teen’s suicide in bucolic Western Massachusetts has resulted in several of her former classmates being charged with crimes ranging from disturbing a school assembly to civil-rights violations, harassment, and statutory rape. And now the school system finds itself at the center of a heated controversy over its response to the ongoing abuse.

Tormented daily at school and online by a group of “mean” girls and boys, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince hanged herself in January, just two days before the school’s winter cotillion.

“It appears that Phoebe’s death on Jan. 14 followed a tortuous day for her, in which she was subjected to verbal harassment and threatened physical abuse,’’ said Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel. “The events were not isolated, but the culmination of a nearly three-month campaign of verbally assaultive behavior and threats of physical harm.”…Read More

Use multiple news channels to reach ‘on-the-go’ consumers

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40 percent of 'on-the-go' news consumers are parents of young children.

School officials need to share information via a variety of media platforms in order to reach today’s “on-the-go” news consumers, a new study suggests.

According to the study from the Pew Internet and American Life project, while 99 percent of American adults access news daily, only 7 percent use just one media platform to do so. The majority—six in ten Americans—use a combination of online and offline sources.

This also means school communicators who haven’t expanded their efforts to include social media networks, micro sites, and other non-traditional methods probably are missing a significant swath of the population, particularly those under age 30.…Read More

How school leaders can keep education in the news

School leaders who invest more in communication to see increased media coverage on education.
School leaders who invest more in communication often see increased media coverage.

A recent study from the Brookings Institution says education isn’t getting its fair share of national news coverage–and isn’t getting the right stories reported when it does.

In 2009, only 1.4 percent of all national news consisted of education-related stories, up slightly from 2008’s paltry 0.7 percent, according to the study.

Education stories that did get reported tended to focus on episodic events, such as last spring’s budget crisis or last fall’s H1N1 outbreak. “Periodic crime sprees” also topped national news reports.…Read More