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US schools brace for federal funding cuts
The Washington Post
Schools across the country are sending out pink slips as they brace for the possibility of deep federal budget cuts that could take effect, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. Duncan criticized Congress for failing to reach a deal to stop the across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, which could force thousands of teachers out of their jobs. "There's no one in their right mind who would say that this is good for kids or good for the country, yet somehow it becomes tenable in Washington," Duncan said. He said that "there is no fix" to mitigate the impact of the cuts.
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Study: Children in US are eating fewer calories
The New York Times
American children consumed fewer calories in 2010 than they did a decade before, a new federal analysis shows. Health experts said the findings offered an encouraging sign that the epidemic of obesity might be easing, but cautioned that the magnitude of the decline was too small to move the needle much. And while energy intake has not changed considerably for adults in recent years, fewer of their calories are coming from fast food, researchers said. Obesity rates for adults have plateaued after years of increases. A third of adults are obese.
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After years of crouching, arts education is raising its hand again
The Washington Post
In a second-floor classroom in an Anacostia elementary school, the pupils are about to be exposed to Great Art: The cellist Yo-Yo Ma is bringing in his Stradivarius. The kids have been told how important Yo-Yo Ma is, and one wall is lined with press photographers and TV cameras. Two kids are wandering around on stilts, costumed as masked scarecrow-like monsters, like unexplained extras in a European art film, their presence somehow part of the whole artistic process. The other children, lined up in ragged but orderly formation, perform the "daily do" — "do" as in do-re-mi, unison scale patterns that have become part of their routine in a new, arts-focused curriculum.
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Bill would require NC schools to teach cursive handwriting
News & Observer
In the age of texting, tweeting and other technological ways of communicating, North Carolina's elementary school students could soon have to master a more old-fashioned craft: writing in cursive. A bill introduced in the state House this week would once again make cursive handwriting a part of the curriculum in state elementary schools. The "Back to Basics" bill also would require elementary students to memorize multiplication tables, though state education officials say that's already part of the curriculum.
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Survey: Principals under more stress
eSchool News
School principals and teachers have high opinions of how effectively each group is working to educate students, but principals say their job is growing increasingly stressful and has changed significantly, according to the latest MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, conducted for MetLife by Harris Interactive in late 2012. The 2012 survey examines how teachers and principals are approaching leadership challenges and requirements within schools and districts.
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How educators and technology can let students take control
MindShift
For many educators, helping students direct their own learning is a priority. Educator and author Alan November, who has been talking about ways to get students to own their learning for years, draws on his experiences as a teacher, principal and education consultant to tell stories about some of the ideas he sees as integral to education.
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Views of technology differ among elementary, high school educators
Education Week
Teachers and principals in elementary schools are more likely to see school leaders' competence in using technology as important than high school educators are, according to a new nationwide survey. That finding is just one of the nuggets included in the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, which dissects the views of teachers and principals on a variety of topics, from their workloads to their satisfaction on the job. The widely publicized annual survey revealed frustration among school principals with the increasing complexity and stress associated with their jobs.
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Are K-12 teachers bearing the burden of digital innovation?
Digital Book World
iPads are entering schools more rapidly than any other technology in recent years. A million iPads were sold to the K-12 market in the month of June 2012 alone. More K-12 school boards, administrators and IT departments answering "yes" to the question of whether to acquire iPads. But now a set of much more difficult and complex questions arises.
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14 recommendations for taming the 'wild, wild West' of education technology
eSchool News
A disruptive factor exists today in educational technology, according to a new report, because while virtual schools, personal digital devices and open-source materials are transforming education, these forces are still fragmented and rapidly changing, creating a "wild, wild West" landscape for schools and districts. State boards of education can play a key role in helping to tame this environment, note the authors of the report, "Born in Another Time: Ensuring educational technology meets the needs of students today and tomorrow."
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Adobe re-launches online community for educators
THE Journal
Following a site analysis and evaluation of user feedback, Adobe has re-launched Education Exchange, its free online community for educators with new features, including social media capabilities, and a new design. The online community includes member spotlights, discussion forums, member profiles and the ability to see recent member activity. In addition, the professional development segment allows members to participate in live webinars and to access toolkits in lessons.
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Victims of bullying at increased risk of anxiety disorders and depression later on
Medical News Today
Children who are bullied are at an increased risk of developing anxiety disorders and depression when they become adults, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry. The study identified that bullying is not simply a "harmless rite of passage," as it can also cause serious adverse health outcomes in the victims and perpetrators, in the form of depression, physical health problems and behavior and emotional problems, psychotic symptoms and loss of motivation.
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School lunchroom changes get kids to eat more veggies
MyHealthNewsDaily
Simple changes in school lunchrooms, such as placing fresh fruit near the cash register, may boost the amount of healthy foods children eat, a new study suggests. During the study, the researchers slightly altered the lunchrooms of two high schools in New York State to make fruits and vegetables more attractive and accessible. For example, fresh fruit was put into attractive bowls or on tiered stands; salad was served in see-through, to-go containers; and a sign that read "Last Chance for Fruit" was displayed next to fruit at the cash register. Cafeteria staff also prompted the students to try healthy foods with questions such as "Would you like to try an apple?"
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Mother of Sandy Hook victim urges action
The Associated Press via ABC News
The mother of a 7-year-old girl killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut massacre urged lawmakers to pass meaningful laws to help prevent another tragedy, winning a standing ovation as officials vowed to act. Chris and Lynn McDonnell, whose daughter Grace was among 20 first graders and six educators killed in December, spoke at a gun violence conference in Danbury.

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Teacher absence as a leading indicator of student achievement
Center for American Progress
On any given school day, up to 40 percent of teachers in New Jersey's Camden City Public Schools are absent from their classrooms. Such a high figure probably would not stand out in parts of the developing world, but it contrasts sharply with the 3 percent national rate of absence for full-time wage and salaried American workers, and the 5.3 percent rate of absence for American teachers overall.

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School dress codes aren't just for students anymore
USA Today
When kids in one Kansas school district return to class this fall, they won't be seeing cutoff shorts, pajama pants or flip flops — on teachers. The Wichita School District is just one of a growing number in the nation cracking down on teacher apparel. Jeans are banned in at least one elementary school in New York City. A school district in Phoenix is requiring teachers to cover up tattoos and excessive piercings. And several Arizona schools are strictly defining business casual.

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Can repetitive exercises actually feed the creative process?
MindShift
In Sherri Scott's first grade class, the daily "main lesson" pages students work on — essentially their handmade textbooks made up of words, numbers and artwork — are copied straight from the old-fashioned blackboard, not created. And that's the point. "It's what we do in Waldorf schools," Scott says. "In the lower grades, those initial main lesson pages are copied as closely as possible, to allow practice and more practice with shading, perspective, accuracy, spatial awareness. All that practice copying turns into a keen eye and skilled hand when given free rein in the upper grades."
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District NCLB waivers: Do risks outweigh rewards?
Education Week
During a Senate hearing on the U.S. Department of Education's state waiver program under the No Child Left Behind Act, Education Secretary Arne Duncan was asked point-blank if he was considering offering similar flexibility for school districts. Duncan gave the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee the strong impression that he was not considering this, despite his own earlier comments that district-level NCLB waivers are very much on the table.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Zero tolerance — or zero sense? (eSchool News)
Social media training for kids: A 60-minute class workshop (The Huffington Post)
Survey finds rising job frustration among principals (Education Week)
Study says states doing a poor job preparing K-12 principals (The Addison Eagle)
Schools confront digital textbook challenges (eSchool News)

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Arne Duncan: 'There is no fix' to sequestration for ailing schools
The Huffington Post
While sequestration is not a sure thing yet, school districts are already asking for help dealing with the massive, imminent cuts, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "I was on a call yesterday, people are starting to give RIF [reduction in force] notes," Duncan said in a meeting with reporters at the U.S. Education Department. "The sequestration stuff is very very worrying to me. I'm increasingly concerned that's going to happen. Schools are already starting to give teachers notices."
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Education department considering district-by-district NCLB waivers
eSchool News
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is talking with individual school districts about how to free them from unworkable parts of the federal No Child Left Behind law, signaling he is open to an approach he long tried to avoid. The education department has given 34 states and the District of Columbia permission to ignore parts of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, and eight others have waiver applications pending ahead of the application deadline.
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House to launch nationwide contest encouraging students to develop mobile 'apps'
The Hill
The House is expected to pass a resolution establishing a nationwide technology contest for students, which would initially encourage contestants to develop new "apps" for smartphones and tablets. The resolution from Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., is scheduled for consideration next week. It would create a contest run by the House of Representatives in which students from every congressional district would compete in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM fields.
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Education budget cuts are looming — So what does that mean for kids?
Take Part
The word "sequestration" is back, and it's not good news for public schools. Last December, Washington lawmakers finally negotiated to avoid the fiscal cliff that was to go into effect on Jan. 2. Part of the negotiation package included delaying sequestration (across-the-board budget cuts) until March 1. And this time it seems neither party is in the mood for dealmaking. Now that March 1 is looming, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is worried.
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Mother of Sandy Hook victim urges action
The Associated Press via ABC News
The mother of a 7-year-old girl killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut massacre urged lawmakers to pass meaningful laws to help prevent another tragedy, winning a standing ovation as officials vowed to act. Chris and Lynn McDonnell, whose daughter Grace was among 20 first-graders and six educators killed in December, spoke at a gun violence conference in Danbury, Conn. "We ask our representatives to look into their hearts and remember the 26 beautiful lives we lost and pass meaningful laws to help prevent this from happening again," Lynn McDonnell said, sparking a standing ovation.
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Collaboration, innovation fuel gains
Contra Costa Times
Teachers and administrators at two elementary schools in low-income neighborhoods in the West Contra Costa Unified School District in California are crediting close staff collaboration, innovative programs and a focus on individual children for making a huge difference in student performance. The two schools have improved their state Academic Performance Index scores dramatically over the past few years while other area schools have made slower progress.
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Principals release policy solutions to federal lawmakers
NAESP
Representatives of the country's 95,000 public school principals are gathering on Capitol Hill on this week to deliver a strong message to federal lawmakers: current accountability systems place too much emphasis on student test scores to gauge school, teacher and student performance rather than focusing on building the capacity of educators to improve schools.
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Free webinar: Strategies for cultivating a supportive school culture
NAESP
It's a principal's first task: keeping students physically and emotionally safe. Learn more about creating a welcoming, supportive school environment with Creating Physical and Emotional Security in Schools, a webinar from NAESP and Solution Tree. On Tuesday, Feb. 26, renowned speaker, coach and former principal Ken Williams will demonstrate how you and your teachers can nurture supportive relationships with your students.
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Before the Bell is a benefit of your membership in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). For information about other member benefits, visit www.naesp.org or contact us at naesp@naesp.org.

Before the Bell is a digest of the most important news selected for NAESP from thousands of sources by the editors of MultiBriefs, an independent organization that also manages and sells advertising. The presence of such advertising does not endorse, or imply endorsement of, any products or services by NAESP. Neither NAESP nor Multiview is liable for the use of or reliance on any information contained in this briefing.

Feedback about an article? Contact NAESP Liaison Cynthia Rosso at crosso@naesp.org.
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