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School cafeterias go electronic
CNN
For decades, it was one of the iconic images of childhood: the youngster dispatched to school with lunch money squirreled tightly in his or her pocket or backpack. But perhaps for not much longer: As inevitably as slide rules once gave way to calculators, school cafeterias are embracing technological change. In recent months, the city of Chicago became one of the largest school districts to sign up for electronic payments. Beginning next year students in the Windy City won't have to remember their lunch money — just a PIN or an ID card that's linked to an online account, where parents can choose to automatically refill low balances, set spending controls and review what food their offspring purchased that same day.
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In some states, per-pupil spending fell more than 20 percent since recession
USA Today
Since the recession began, K-12 education spending has declined dramatically in some states. In Alabama and Oklahoma, per-pupil spending fell by more than 20 percent. While the majority of state school systems have cut spending between fiscal year 2008 and the upcoming fiscal year 2014, the cuts have been much more severe in some places than in others. According to the latest school spending data compiled by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), seven states have cut per-pupil spending by more than 15 percent in that time.
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Texting generation: How's your vocabulary? LOL
Deseret News
Recent data verify what teachers have known all along. Students who possess strong vocabularies understand more of what they read. And it works in reverse. Reading helps children learn new words that could help them understand the next thing they read. It's a chicken-and-egg scenario that self-replicates once it gets started. The tricky part is figuring out how to boost these intertwined skills for a generation of kids whose preferred reading is as likely to be texts and tweets as textbooks and "To Kill a Mockingbird."
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Bring back social studies
The Atlantic (commentary)
The most obvious and well-reported casualties of the last decade in program-slashing educational policy include traditional elective courses like art, music, and physical education. But these are not the only subjects being squeezed out or eliminated entirely from many public K-12 curriculums. Social studies — a category that includes courses in history, geography, and civics — has also found itself on the chopping block. Whereas in the 1993-1994 school year students spent 9.5 percent of their time in social studies, by 2003-2004 that percentage had dropped to 7.6, despite an increase of total instructional time.
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Middle school students rack up high school credits
The Tampa Tribune
As early as fourth grade, Kaitlyn Jenkins' teacher noticed that math bored her, not because the girl found the subject dull but because working the problems proved too easy. Kaitlyn clearly needed more advanced material, so the teacher moved her to higher — level math. By fifth grade, Kaitlyn was leaving the Wesley Chapel Elementary campus each day to take a sixth-grade math class at Dr. John Long Middle School. Now as an eighth-grader, Kaitlyn is continuing that pace, taking a geometry class that will count as a high school credit and help make it possible for her to graduate early if she chooses.
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Report: States backslide in achievement for English learners
Education Week
Just nine states met all of their federal goals for English language learners in making progress in learning the language and reaching academic targets in math and reading in the two school years spanning 2008-2010, according to a recently released report from the U.S. Department of Education. That's a drop from 11 states that met all their goals for ELLs in the 2007-2008 school year, and an even bigger slide backward from 2006-2007 when 17 states (a record high) reached all three academic benchmarks they set for English-learners, which incude progress in learning English, attainment of fluency, and demonstration of proficiency on state content tests in reading and math.
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Mobile technology in K-12 classrooms: More than a question of cost
The Huffington Post (commentary)
Tablets have become a learning fixture in many K-12 classrooms. The quick access to information and capability to provide personalized learning are just a few of the reasons why teachers, administrators and parents have been behind the push for one-to-one tablet programs in classrooms throughout the country. While few schools have met the one-to-one goal yet, nearly 60 percent of administrators say they have implemented some form of mobile technology in classrooms.
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16 engaging homework help resources
eSchool News
With school back in session, curriculum directors, teachers and students are eager to begin the new school year armed with tools for learning in the classroom and mastering concepts at home. Homework help resources can aid students and parents as they work through math assignments, craft essays and more.
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Our school's utilization of technology as a vehicle for growth
Connected Principals Blog (commentary)
Jonathan VanderEls, a contributor for the Connected Principals Blog, writes: "When I walk into our kindergarten classrooms now, seeing a five-year old moving her avatar to the 'School Lunch' or 'Home Lunch' box does not seem like a big deal. This not only provides this information to the teacher regarding her lunch preference, but also simultaneously takes attendance (if someone's avatar has not moved, he or she is either absent, or they have forgotten to move it!) But when I recall how far we have come as a school in a fairly short period of time, I realize that the growth we have made has been significant, and was not accidental."
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6 proposals for improving teacher morale
Edutopia (commentary)
Teacher morale isn't a popular topic, and that makes sense on the surface. Teachers are professionals, like engineers, doctors, farmers or business leaders, and no one is going out of their way to make sure that engineers are "keeping their head up" or that farmers "feel good about their craft." Further complicating matters, teachers "get summers off," and are at the helm of one of the most visibly struggling industries in the United States. Sympathy doesn't come naturally under these circumstances.
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Online access to grades can lead to 'helicopter parents'
The News Journal
More schools are giving parents almost instant access to their students' grades and assignments online, allowing them to put their students' classwork under daily scrutiny. But teachers and child psychology experts say parents should try to keep a balance between getting involved and becoming "helicopter parents" who control their kids' academic lives so closely that they don't develop independence.
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Should we carry out mental health screening on schoolchildren?
Medical News Today
On bmj.com, a visiting scholar at the Feinberg School of Medicine suggests that mental health screening is carried out in primary schools to enable early identification and potentially save money. In a personal view, Dr. Simon Williams agrees with a recent BMJ study which suggests that further research of cognitive behavioral therapy program in schools is required. He also believes that school is the most appropriate setting for the identification of mental health problems in younger children. He says there are "great benefits to be had from the provision of routine mental health checks for all schoolchildren" and a "more standardized approach would be more equitable and effective."
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Sequestration cuts sting, say Impact Aid districts
Education Week
As Congress struggles to pass a budget stopgap measure, advocates are stepping up their fight against sequestration — the series of across-the-board cuts to federal programs that hit last March and are slated to stay in place for a decade unless Brokedown Congress acts. The districts hardest hit by these cuts? The roughly 1,200 that receive federal Impact Aid. Those are typically districts that lose out on tax revenue thanks to a federal presence, such as a nearby military base or Native American reservation.
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Why Arne Duncan is threatening to withhold funds for poor kids
The Washington Post (commentary)
It's hard to decide which of the following aspects of the U.S. Education Department's fight with the state of California over standardized testing is worse: Education Secretary Arne Duncan is threatening to withhold some of the approximately $1.5 billion that California receives annually from the federal Title 1 program — funds intended to help poor children receive an education — if state officials don't agree to implement a standardized-testing regime that he likes.
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Report: States backslide in achievement for English learners
Education Week
Just nine states met all of their federal goals for English language learners in making progress in learning the language and reaching academic targets in math and reading in the two school years spanning 2008-2010, according to a recently released report from the U.S. Department of Education.

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School districts struggle to get principals to stay put
NPR
At Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts on the south side of Milwaukee, kids are back in class and getting their bearings in the sprawling building. So is Lila Hillman, the school's brand-new principal.

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Duncan to principals: Shouldn't have to sacrifice your lives for job
Education Week
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan yesterday told hundreds of elementary and middle school principals who are gathered here for a conference that they shouldn't have to fear for their lives on the job.

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In logging bill, schools face short-term costs, long-term lifeline
Education Week
A new logging bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives means rural schools in timber-rich areas likely would see cuts to their education funding, but education advocates still supported the measure because it offered a long-term funding solution for those schools. The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act has given rural communities in national forest areas federal money to compensate for revenue lost because of restrictions on harvesting timber. School districts have relied on that money for decades, but the legislation expired last year. It was reauthorized last summer for one year, and this site gives a state-by-state breakdown of the funding (Oregon leads the pack with $63 million, followed by California at $35.8 million).
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Michigan House Democrats call for 'adequacy' standard for funding schools
The Detroit News
Michigan House Democrats are calling for a new "adequacy" standard that would be used to determine how the state funds K-12 education in Michigan. Their school reform task force plan, unveiled Monday, would require a comprehensive study to determine the "true cost" of educating a child in a Michigan public school. This approach, they said, would ensure "the specific needs of each school district are addressed and properly funded."
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Los Angeles school iPad security breached in no time by students
The Associated Press via The Huffington Post
It took just a week for nearly 300 students who got iPads from their Los Angeles high school to figure out how to alter the security settings so they could surf the Web and access social media sites. The breach at Roosevelt High and two other LA schools has prompted Los Angeles Unified School District officials to halt a $1 billion program aimed at putting the devices in the hands of every student in the nation's second-largest school system, the Los Angeles Times reported. The district also has banned home use of the iPads until further notice as officials look for ways to make sure students use the devices for school work only.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Can emotional intelligence be taught? (The New York Times)
A state-by-state look at top education-technology initiatives (eSchool News)
Study: Kindergarten 'redshirting' less common than previously reported (The Washington Post)
11 tips on teaching Common Core critical vocabulary (Edutopia)
States tackle chronic absence in schools (Stateline)

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




School adds more exercise time thanks to grant
The Gazette
Students at Indian Queen Elementary School in Fort Washington, Md., are getting extra exercise time as school officials keep them active after receiving a grant from Action for Healthy Kids. The $2,500 grant was awarded to the Fort Washington school in June by the Chicago-based organization, which works with schools across the country to fight childhood obesity, according to the organization’s mission statement.
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NAESP salutes principals during National Principals Month
NAESP
The key to student success is a great school, and the key to a great school is a great principal. This October, NAESP will salute top-notch principals across the nation for National Principals Month. NAESP's celebration kicks off Oct. 1 with a special Facebook contest for teachers, parents, and students to submit stories about their principals. Visit and like our Facebook page to view the fun photo, video and artwork submissions.
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Sign up now for Connected Educators Month resources
NAESP
The U.S. Department of Education has declared October this year's Connected Educator Month, a four-week exploration of key educational issues through online communities and networks. Connected Educator Month is dedicated to broadening and deepening educators' engagement with technology, as well as bringing online community and education leaders together to move towards a more fully connected and collaborative profession. All CEM events are online and they're all free.
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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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