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Articles from May, 2010

Week in Review

Stop the presses, yet another politician admits to having an extramarital affair. Ok, while last week’s admission from Rep. Mark Souder is, sadly, becoming all too familiar in high office, what’s ironic is that the advocate for abstinence-only sex education had his tryst with a part-time aide that interviewed him on the subject. Speaking of an abuse of power, the Texas Board of Education, despite scads of negative press, have officially pushed through their conservative views on U.S. history and how it should be taught to future generations.  And if you’ve missed it, we’ve also uploaded the latest edition of ASBJ for your reading pleasure. Take a gander. As always, it’s full of useful information to help you govern and manage schools more effectively.

Naomi Dillon|May 29th, 2010|Categories: Week in Blogs, American School Board Journal|

One Laptop Per Child’s $100 tablet

Remember that One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) tablet concept we showed you back in December? On Thursday, the foundation announced a partnership with silicon solutions maker Marvell to make that concept a reality by 2011. They plan to launch the device at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2011 for less than $100. The hardware is being produced by Marvell using its Moby Platform, featuring a built-in camera for video conferencing, and support for 3D graphics and Flash.

Although the OLPC device will run the traditional Sugar operating system as an application, the Marvell version could ship with the Android operating system from Google, the Windows Mobile platform, or Ubuntu.

The device appear as if it will be ultra thin. OLPC Chairman Nicholas Negropante says the tablet will be part laptop, iPad, and Kindle. However, it likely won’t include many features Negroponte had described: it won’t be all-plastic components for durability, it won’t be waterproof or half the thickness of an iPhone, and its Marvell processor will likely be just one gigahertz.

For many, the features lacking from the new tablet may represent another in a long history of disappointments from a nonprofit that has often failed to meet its near-science-fictional aims. People have called Negroponte’s concepts unrealistic, but “we think unrealistic is good,” says Negroponte. “The world needs some people who aren’t realistic, or you’ll always get the same old stuff.”

Watch the video below to learn more.

Erin Walsh|May 28th, 2010|Categories: Educational Technology, Multimedia and Webinars, Student Achievement, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Education headlines: O’Connor says NCLB diminishes students’ civic knowledge

A vote on the $23 billion education jobs fund was delayed indefinitely late Thursday as supporters worked to rally votes, the Associated Press reports. (Read NSBAs letter of support for the initiative, here) … Some schools are banning Silly Bandz, colorful rubber bracelets that some teachers say are too much of a distraction and even a safety hazard, according to USA Today… And in the Boston Globe, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor says that No Child Left Behind has been a factor in students diminished knowledge of civics.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 28th, 2010|Categories: Announcements, School Board News|

The week in blogs

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

Tough-guy candidate Dale Peterson may be getting all the buzz on YouTube this week. In his 30-second video , he vows to “name names and take prisoners” in his quest to become – that’s right, Alabama Agriculture Commissioner.

Kudzu, you are not safe.

Unfortunately, the kids in this week’s NEA’s advertisement aren’t getting anywhere near the same publicity (as of Friday morning, 1,298,713 hits for Peterson, versus some 3,000 for the kids) although the stakes are, to our minds, a lot higher. Maybe if they wore Stetsons, like Peterson did, and appeared with a rifle and a horse. (Always good to have a horse.)

The ad’s pretty clever, nonetheless. The kids, dressed in the dark suits of bankers and Wall Street types, argue that they need a bailout just as much as the big guys: In other words, they need Congress to approve the $23 billion Education Jobs fund.

Lawrence Hardy|May 28th, 2010|Categories: Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|

Education headlines: Public schools see rise in economic segregation

Economic segregation is increasing in U.S. public schools, as a new report by the Department of Education shows schools with high populations of poverty rising from 12 to 17 percent in the past eight years. Read the story in the Christian Science Monitor… First Lady Michelle Obama, basketball star Magic Johnson, filmmaker Spike Lee, and a host of federal and state lawmakers told thousands of Detroit students that they are the future of the blighted city and need to stay in school, according to the Detroit Free Press… And in New Jersey, town councils are overturning tax-weary voters’ decisions to reject school budgets, the New York Times reports.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 27th, 2010|Categories: Announcements, School Board News|

Writing, a lost art in today’s 21st century curriculum

1194985205336006011blocco_notes_svg_medWhen I was in 10th-grade, my teachers were sadists. Every few weeks, one of them would give me a damnable two or three-page writing assignment.

My history teacher would demand my opinion on the impact of Europe’s colonization of Africa. My English teacher wanted my impression of a Robert Frost poem.

My teacher in “art appreciation class” was a real tool, once telling the class to write a five-page paper about the purpose of ballet and how dance communicates cultural values.


Little did I know how lucky I was. Now my son is a junior, and his latest English class project involved building a model cafeteria out of Styrofoam and paper and using Photoshop to make little cartoon students playing out the scenes of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.”

Before that, he did a PowerPoint report for a history class that consisted of pictures and bulleted facts about Nazi Germany during World War II. And before that, he did a short video for English telling the story of Dante’s “Inferno” using toy figures.

Doesn’t anyone write anymore in high school?

Naomi Dillon|May 27th, 2010|Categories: Curriculum, Educational Research, Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|Tags: |

House committee postpones vote on Education Jobs Fund

UPDATE: The House Appropriations Committee has postponed this mark-up. No new date has been scheduled.

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote on a supplemental appropriations bill on May 27 that would include $23 billion in funding for the Education Jobs Fund. The move comes after Secretary of Education Arne Duncan estimated that some 300,000 education jobs could be eliminated this year.

NSBA sent a letter of support for the measure, which would be added to a funding bill for the war in Afghanistan, which is expected to pass. The funding could save thousands of jobs for teachers, librarians, counselors and other school staff.

“These job cuts threaten to damage our educational system by requiring larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, reduced services for disadvantaged students, and decreased access to postsecondary education,” said NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant.

The Education Commission of the States also released charts that show how much a state could gain in funding and how many jobs that funding could save.

Many education groups pushed for the bill’s passage before the Memorial Day recess, where Congress will adjourn until June 7, so that school officials could make hiring and classroom decisions during summer and not have to reassign students at the beginning of the year. In the election year, though, the initiative was facing resistance from Republicans and some Democrats who are wary of increased federal spending.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 26th, 2010|Categories: Educational Legislation, Educational Finance, School Board News|

New on

For schools to have a fighting chance of telling their story when tragedy strikes, officials must respond quickly. Effective crisis communication is swift, clear, and ongoing, says ASBJ contributing editor Nora Carr in her latest installment. Speed matters, she says, and to get there fast and first, school officials need a different playbook for crisis situations. Read Carr’s advice on what communication strategies you need to employ when an emergency happens. But act fast, it’s here free only for a limited time.

Naomi Dillon|May 26th, 2010|Categories: NSBA Publications, American School Board Journal|Tags: |

Wheels on the bus go round and round, but budgets remain flat

0510ASBJndRemember when gas prices topped more than 4 bucks a gallon a couple years back? Of course you do because I’m sure, it altered your driving habits, maybe even cancelled a few road trips, perhaps forced you to take mass transit if you lived in a metropolis.

For schools districts, the skyrocketing fuel costs caused a wild scramble among officials to contain the volatily whether it meant expanding the walking radius for kids, nixing bus stops and field trips, and enforcing no-idling policies for school buses.

Fortunately, we haven’t seen the gas prices climb that high since but student transportation like every other district service is being examined because revenues haven’t climbed either, in fact, they’ve declined drastically over the last few years

So what’s a school district to do, this time around? Well, I explored that dilemma in the latest edition of ASBJ— and as can be expected, it’s not pretty.

In hard hit California, which actually doesn’t require districts to provide transportation to students, its forced officials to tone down their generosity, and for some, like Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified, eliminate the service entirely.

Naomi Dillon|May 26th, 2010|Categories: Budgeting, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

Duncan to host May 26 conference call for school leaders

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will host a conference call for school board members, superintendents, chief state school officers, governors’ advisors, and other state and local officials on Wednesday, May 26, from 3  p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT.

Discussion topics include efforts to save teaching jobs and continue the level of education services to students in the upcoming school year, as well as an update on the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) and Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program (for which new awards under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act will be announced shortly).

Here are details on how to join the call:

Please dial 1-800-475-0457.  The passcode for participants is “EDUCATION.”  The Department asks that participants call-in 10-15 minutes early.  There will be time reserved for questions.

Please email if you or a designated representative will be able to join the call.

Erin Walsh|May 25th, 2010|Categories: Student Achievement, School Board News|
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