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Sequestration hits impact aid districts
District administration Magazine
Most districts won't feel the impact of sequester cuts for another year. But Silver Valley,Calif., USD is already facing the harsh reality of nearly $500,000 in funding cuts this year alone. Located on the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in the middle of the Mojave Desert, Silver Valley is a district of 2,500 students, 61 percent of whom are from military families. It is one of approximately 1,350 school districts located on tax-exempt property, such as military bases or Indian reservations, that are heavily reliant on federal Impact Aid, which the government provides to help fund the schools. Today, these districts are facing immediate and often severe cuts at the hands of sequestration.
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Fruit, not fries: Lunchroom makeovers nudge kids toward better choices
NPR
Gone are the days of serving up tater tots and French toast sticks to students. Here are the days of carrot sticks and quinoa. New nutritional, announced in 2012, require public school lunchrooms to offer more whole grains, low-fat milk and fewer starchy sides like french fries. But short of stationing grandmothers in every cafeteria, how do you ensure that students actually eat the fruits and veggies they're being offered? A minor lunchroom makeover could make a big difference, says Andrew Hanks, a behavioral economist at Cornell University.
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3 reasons to like the new science standards
Education Week (commentary)
New K-12 science learning standards are set to be released to the nation this week with great expectations. This is reason for both hope and concern. The National Research Council published "A Framework for K-12 Science Education," a visionary document designed to guide development of specific standards for use by teachers, districts, states, curriculum developers, and researchers, in July 2011. Subsequently, the bipartisan organization Achieve was commissioned to draft the Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS.
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US moves toward teaching climate change; Britain does the opposite
The New York Times
New science teaching standards in the United States will include extensive lessons on human-made climate change. Expected to be unveiled this week, the guidelines will bring the subject to classrooms in up to 40 states, in many cases for the first time. Eighth-grade pupils should understand that "human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth's mean surface temperature (global warming)," according to the Next Generation Science Standards. The proposed changes are causing some controversy in a country where the acceptance of man-made climate change is a political issue.
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Cursive handwriting disappearing from public schools
The Washington Post
The curlicue letters of cursive handwriting, once considered a mainstay of American elementary education, have been slowly disappearing from classrooms for years. Now, with most states adopting new national standards that don't require such instruction, cursive could soon be eliminated from most public schools. For many students, cursive is becoming as foreign as ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. In college lecture halls, more students take notes on laptops and tablet computers than with pens and notepads. Responding to handwritten letters from grandparents in cursive is no longer necessary as they, too, learn how to use email, Facebook and Skype.
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Why there's a backlash against Common Core
National Review Online (commentary)
The federal government has spent billions to move Common Core forward, and it has put billions more on the line. Unfortunately, parents, teachers, tea-party activists and governors have every reason to believe Common Core represents major, unprecedented federal intervention into education.
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Minorities in special education: Are they underrepresented?
Education Week
Among special education advocates, it's an article of faith that minority students are enrolled in special education in greater proportion than their white peers, and that this is a problem that needs fixing. But what if minorities are actually underenrolled in special education? What if minority students, even those who show characteristics similar to their white peers, aren't getting the services they need? That would mean a major shift in the way the federal government and special educators look at this issue.
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School leaders: Don't let your teachers lose heart
Education Week (commentary)
Laurie Barnoski, a contributor for Education Week, writes: "I lined up to board a plane in Seattle when a security agent reached for my husband's ticket and read it. She said, 'Barnoski?' Then she swiveled her head, finding me as her eyes filled with tears. 'Mrs. Barnoski, I was one of your students in high school!' I recognized Andrea right away; it was her smile. She reached out to hug me as I kissed her on the cheek. As I walked down the ramp to the plane, someone tapped me on the shoulder. A man asked, 'You're a teacher, aren't you? So am I. History. Seeing former students is a great part of the job, isn't it?' I agreed. It is all about connections. Andrea and I made a connection when she was 16, and we formed a relationship."
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Lead in soil may be an overlooked threat to kids' health
NPR
Lead poisoning in kids is hardly the problem it used to be, now that we've stopped using lead in house paints and gasoline. But the lead that lingers outside and in old homes is still dangerous if kids are exposed to it. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 535,000 kids between 1 and 5 years old in the U.S. have at least 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, that doctors say is enough to cause learning and behavior problems. The new analysis of 2007–2010 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey this week in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
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When kids are afraid to tell teachers about bullying — That is a problem
TakePart (commentary)
Courtney Fox, a first-grade teacher, shares why teachers must create environments where kids aren't afraid to report bullying. She writes: "When I first started teaching, I wasn't exactly sure how I should respond to tattling. I wanted children to tell me what was going on, but I didn't want to hear everything, did I? After all, how did I know if a child was tattling to get someone in trouble, or telling me information that would help another child? Then I started hearing and reading about children who were saying their teachers weren't doing anything about bullying. Or, when they told their teachers about acts of meanness, they were getting scolded ... for tattling."
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Racing the iPad in K-12 education (District Administration Magazine)
What's needed for preschool to pay off? Two studies offer insights (The Christian Science Monitor)
Students would do well to learn cursive, advocate says (Los Angeles Times)
School suspensions: Does racial bias feed the school-to-prison pipeline? (The Christian Science Monitor)
Bill Gates: A fairer way to evaluate teachers (The Washington Post)

Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.


Fear not the principal's office: That's where school success begins
Deseret News
School principals do a lot more than strike dread in the hearts of misbehaving kids, even if that's how many people remember them. A new study published in the Education Next journal gives statistical proof that effective principals raise academic achievement of students at their schools. The most effective principals raise achievement of a typical student by two to seven months of learning in a single school year, according to the "School Leaders Matter" study. The least effective principals lower achievement by a similar amount. Seven thousand principals were studied, using data from the Texas Education Agency going back to 1993.
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10 of the best virtual field trips
eSchool News
The benefits of virtual field trips are well known: They’re inexpensive — often free — and are less time-consuming than a real trip. But researching which virtual field trips are best can prove labor-intensive, and many resources are out-of-date. To help educators save time, we’ve chosen these 10 virtual field trips based on their relevancy, depth and quality of resources, and potential for student excitement.
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Could your school lead in world rankings?
eSchool News
A new test from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development will let individual schools see how their achievement ranks compared to schools in other countries around the world. The goal, say the creators, is to spur school improvement. According to a recent report released by the nonprofit educational organization America Achieves, it's not just low-income schools in the U.S. that have poor performance — it's the country's middle-class students, too.
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Solving the PD puzzle
THE Journal
As U.S. classrooms increasingly become hubs of 21st century learning, professional development remains firmly rooted in the last century. With the "anytime, anywhere, any way" learning model provided by online professional development content providers, why hasn't online PD become more mainstream? THE Journal recently engaged a small panel of thought leaders from professional development providers to discuss the barriers that have prevented online PD from taking off, the current state of online PD, and what to expect in the near future.
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Why our after-school book club can't wait to get its new e-readers
EdTech Magazine
Matt Renwick, an elementary school principal in Wisconsin, writes: "'Hey, Mr. Renwick, when are the tablets coming in?' 'They are e-readers. I am not sure.' Two days later. 'Hey, Mr. Renwick, when are the tablets coming in?''They're not ... nevermind. Soon!' This is a continual conversation I have been having with one of my 4th graders. He, along with nine other 4th and 5th graders, will soon be receiving e-readers. They are members of our after-school book club, which also serves as a reading intervention."
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Lead in soil may be an overlooked threat to kids' health
NPR
Lead poisoning in kids is hardly the problem it used to be, now that we've stopped using lead in house paints and gasoline. But the lead that lingers outside and in old homes is still dangerous if kids are exposed to it.

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Bill Gates: A fairer way to evaluate teachers
The Washington Post (commentary)
Tom Brady may be the best quarterback in football, but he is also infamously, hilariously slow. YouTube videos of his 40-yard dash have gotten many thousands of hits from sports fans looking for a good laugh.

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Survey finds rising job frustration among principals
Education Week
A new national survey finds that three out of four K-12 public school principals, regardless of the types of schools they work in, believe the job has become "too complex," and about a third say they are likely to go into a different occupation within next five years.

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Obama tobacco tax to fund preschool faces industry resistance
The Huffington Post
Though President Barack Obama's administration hasn't formally released its 2014 budget, one component is already facing resistance from the tobacco industry. That's because the president plans to foot the bill for a major new pre-kindergarten program in part with an increase in tobacco taxes, The New York Times first reported and the White House confirmed to HuffPost. The proposal would expand pre-K access to all 4-year-olds whose families make below 200 percent of the poverty line. The Huffington Post first reported the preschool plan in January, and Obama later teased it in his State of the Union address. At the time, some estimated it could cost as much as $100 billion.
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When charter schools and non-chartered schools work together: A grant to encourage collaboration
U.S. Department of Education
The Charter School Exemplary Collaboration Award, a National Activities grant-award competition in the Charter Schools Program, is designed to provide an opportunity for high-quality charter schools with innovative ideas and a history of results to share their promising practices with non-chartered public schools and districts. The Collaboration Awards, funded for the first time in 2012, are grounded in a belief that trust and teamwork between high-quality charter schools and non-chartered public schools will accelerate educational excellence in all public schools. Additionally, successful joint ventures between schools can vary in their structures and objectives, while still remaining focused on the goal of strengthening a community and its schools.
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Should Utah schools publish data on teachers? A.G. to weigh in
The Salt Lake Tribune
State education leaders will ask Utah Attorney General John Swallow for an opinion on whether to publish data about how individual teachers’ classes perform — an issue that has stirred controversy across the nation and in Utah in recent years. Some argue such data would help parents and the public see how teachers perform. Critics say it's not fair to compare teachers without context of their classrooms' unique challenges.
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Emanuel fires back at critics who say CPS closings racist
Chicago Tribune
Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed his public schools chief amid charges that the plan to close 54 schools is racist, and leveled criticism at the Chicago Teachers Union for what he said was its inability to articulate an alternative to continuing with a failed status quo. The mayor's remarks were his first public comments since a Chicago Board of Education meeting at which Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett defended the school closing plan.
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Schools encourage students to 'grow green'
Voice of America
A Native American proverb says: “We don’t inherit this land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” This is the philosophy behind the Go Green Initiative; a comprehensive program teaches school children earth-friendly behaviors. The program that takes place in elementary schools throughout Manassas City, Va., represents a trend across the US to grow environmentally conscious young people. Nine-year-old Louis Delggado learned about recycling at school, and also why recycling is important. "When you like throw stuff and not recycling it, it gives the earth more. It turns the earth dirtier."
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Elementary school named one of the best schools in Alabama for collaborative programs
AL.com
St. Elmo Elementary School has been recognized as a top school in Alabama by the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools for its outstanding programs and service to students. The CLAS release listed several programs and activities as leading to its being held as an example for Alabama schools, including professional learning teams — collaboration among members to empower teachers to become instructional leaders.
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Principal points to areas where school needs improvement
Journal Inquirer
There have been times when Connecticut's Illing Middle School principal David Welch leaves at the end of the day and asks assistant principal Ann Fuini: How are we going to make it? "We have years of work ahead. It's daunting," Welch recently acknowledged. But, "We will make it," he added. His remarks came during a presentation to the Board of Education last week about how newly assigned administrators at Illing are working to improve reading scores, close the achievement gap, and enhance school climate. Under the state's new ranking system, called the School Performance Index, Illing had a score of 72.7 in the 2011-2012 school year.
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Don't forget to vote in NAESP election
NAESP
NAESP's election is now open. Eligible NAESP members will elect a new president-elect as well as directors for Zones 3, 4 and 6. Voting will be open through April 30. Electronic ballots are available on the NAESP website — but you will need to log in to access the ballot, which is members-only content. Visit the NAESP election page for candidate information and instructions for logging in.
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Celebrate National Assistant Principals Week
NAESP
Join NAESP as we celebrate the contributions of assistant principals during National Assistant Principals Week, April 8-12. To honor assistant principals who are doing a superb job in their roles, the National Outstanding Assistant Principal Award Program calls attention to the fundamental importance of the assistant principal. NAESP will share their successes and best practices in a practical document for other principals to use.
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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 Meredith Barnett at MBarnett@naesp.org.
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