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A professor of education and a director of education policy take in-depth looks at "the power of sociey, schools, colleges and educators to empower individuals, further learning, and reduce inequities ... and have a little fun along the way."

State Now Has Power to Close Failing Mich. Schools -- from Education Week by The Associated Press
[LANSING, MI.] Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Monday signed into law a sweeping series of education bills that give the state new power to close failing schools, dump bad teachers and administrators and measure if students are moving ahead.


State law requires digital college textbooks by 2020 -- by Jean Cowden Moore; original resource from Tony Bates


Related item:

College education is about to feel the heat. Posting on HS Dent's site.


Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning -- from Virtual School Symposium 2009 Overlay

Key emerging trends for online learning?

  • We haven’t addressed the mobile device and we know it is what students want – might not be 2010 but in 18 months we will see mobile devices
  • We will continue to see the conversation changing from what is it to how we manage it
  • We will see integration into special education in much greater numbers
  • We will see more states require online learning experience - MI, AL already have this
  • Several different waves are coming – growth in elementary, blended learning – adults needing a high school diploma are a huge audience coming to virtual schools
  • Within corporate training, we will see more cohort based collaborative learning in the corporate world
  • More multiple pathways to learning – more ability to just in time resources to support the learning that needs to happen for students
  • All states will finally have online learning and the discussion will dramatically change

    This is the wave, the wave is coming – you either ride the wave or wipe out! [emphasis in bold red by DSC]

Keeping pace with K-12 online learning


From Converge: Online Learning Policy and Practice Survey -- A Survey of the States


Disrupting High School Failure -- from


Changes in Digital Content Policies are Changing the Classroom -- email/memo from The Journal
When Texas adopted the first electronic textbook in 1990, the student to computer ratio was 30 to 1, the internet was not readily available in schools, and that first electronic textbook ran on a video disk player. Nationwide, there is now a student to computer ratio of 3.8 to 1 and the internet is in every school if not every classroom, yet a vast majority of content still is delivered to students via traditional textbooks. That is changing, and rapidly, due to greater clarity of what educators say they need to work successfully with today's tech-savvy students and because of groundbreaking policy changes at the state level.

The Congress on the Future of Content ( asked leading educators and state officials what their vision for content was, how that content should be delivered and what the barriers to the vision were. The findings for their vision fell into three areas: content, curriculum, and support. They wanted engaging, flexible content that could be adapted and modified by teachers and students. Related to the curriculum component, they wanted content aligned to state standards, "pluggable" into a scope and sequence or curriculum, with assessment imbedded into the content. Finally, they wanted the content to embrace 21st century skills and be focused on project-based, student-centered learning. For support, they wanted on-going professional development, preferably in the form of a coach.

In order to do all this, the content has to be available digitally. Some state-level policy makers are hearing the same message:

  • In Indiana, parents lease textbooks annually. Recently the state board of education changed the definition of textbooks to allow school districts to use digital resources including the computer to provide instructional curriculum and parents can lease a computer much as they would a textbook for their child's instructional use. Districts are now leasing computers,1 to 1 solutions are springing up, and teachers and students are getting engaging, flexible content delivered digitally.

  • In Texas, the legislature passed a bill providing an alternative vetting process for digital materials that will be faster and easier for publishers to navigate, and districts will be able to use textbook money to purchase technology to operate those digital materials.

  • In California, the Governor instituted the Free Digital Textbook Initiative to provide access to free digital textbooks for high school courses in math and science. Some districts are taking advantage of those materials this year.

  • In West Virginia, Virginia and Florida state-level policy makers have made strides to make the availability of digital content for teachers and students easier, and other states are poised to do the same

As publishers respond to these changes, technology leaders and staff in school districts need to get ready. Teachers and students are demanding these materials. "Getting ready" means something for every part of tech directors' operations, from hardware to bandwidth to tech support to professional development to creative use of ARRA funding.

Hardware. Talk to your principals and teachers and look at the deployment of your computers. Are there teachers ready to take advantage of this digital content? Could you redeploy some of those computers that are in a lab to support innovative teachers who want to use digital content? As you examine your refresh cycle, have you considered netbooks or virtualization tools to stretch your hardware dollar and creatively extend the power and life of existing machines? Have you looked at alternative purchasing approaches such as leasing?

Bandwidth. More digital content, especially applications like streaming video, demands more bandwidth. Have you examined your E-rate application closely to ensure you are getting the most out of it? Can you negotiate with your local providers for a better deal? Can you roll your telephone and other telecommunications together to save some money that could be used on technology or content for the classroom? Have you considered expanding your wireless network? Have you looked at changes that may be needed in securing your network?

Tech support. More technology means more support. Have you considered training students to help? Have you talked to your hardware providers about bundling tech support into hardware purchase or about extended warranties?

Professional development. The most frequent need in the entire Congress on Content discussion was professional development. Digital content changes how teachers teach and how they manage their classrooms. They need help in figuring that out. Conferences are excellent ways to update information and get new ideas. A coach in the school is highly effective in supporting classroom teachers.

All of these things cost money, but there likely is money in your district from ARRA funds. Talk with your Title I and Special Education directors about how they are spending their ARRA funding. They probably are spending some of it on professional development and new materials for their teachers to use. Work with them to coordinate that professional development with the new materials and any new hardware they might need to deliver the new materials.

As state policy makers open the traditional processes of acquisition of content to digital materials, the ones and zeros will start flooding into classrooms. The core of what teachers and students use to learn is changing and tech directors need to be there to help. The classroom will never be the same.

For further information on ARRA funding, please visit:



Colleges and universities must hustle to make higher ed more accessible - St. Louis Today Editorial -- from Ray Schroeder


Related item:
From Courthouse to Schoolhouse -- by Education Next
Is the involvement of courts an obstacle to school reform, or an asset? A new book, From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: The Judiciary’s Role in American Education, edited by two Ed Next bloggers, Marty West and Josh Dunn, attempts to address this broad topic in a comprehensive way.

As the book’s promotional materials note:

From race to speech, from religion to school funding, from discipline to special education, few aspects of education policy have escaped the courtroom over the past fifty years. Predictably, much controversy has ensued. Supporters of education litigation contend that the courts are essential to secure student (and civil) rights, while critics insist that the courts distort policy and that the mere threat of litigation undermines the authority of teachers and administrators.

From Schoolhouse to Courthouse brings together experts on law, political science, and education policy to test these claims. Shep Melnick (Boston College) and James Ryan (University of Virginia School of Law) draw lessons from judicial efforts to promote school desegregation and civil rights. Martha Derthick (University of Virginia), John Dinan (Wake Forest University), and Michael Heise (Cornell Law School) discuss litigation over high-stakes testing and school finance in the era of No Child Left Behind. Richard Arum (New York University), Samuel R. Bagenstos (Washington University Law School), and Frederick M. Hess (American Enterprise Institute) analyze the consequences of court rulings for school discipline, special education, and district management. Finally, editors Joshua Dunn and Martin R. West probe the tangled relationship between religious freedom, student speech, and school choice.


Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and Statehouses -- from Jay Greene
Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and StatehousesThe new book from Rick Hanushek and Alfred Lindseth, Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and Statehouses, is a remarkably comprehensive and accessible review of K-12 education reform strategies.  It’s a must-read for education policymakers, advocates, and students — at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.  Even experienced researchers will find this to be an essential reference, given its broad sweep and extensive citations.

The book basically makes four arguments. 

First it establishes how important K-12 educational achievement really is to economic success and how far we are lagging our economic competitors in this area. 

Second, it demonstrates the dominance and utter failure of input-oriented reform strategies, including across-the-board spending increases and class-size reductions. 

Third, it describes how the court system has perpetuated failed input-reform strategies after having bought intellectually dishonest methods of calculating how much spending schools really need. 

And fourth, it makes the case for reform strategies that involve “performance-based funding,” including merit pay, accountability systems, and choice.





iNACOL Funding and Policy Frameworks - July 2009   asdf


This series, Promising Practices in Online Learning, explores some of the approaches being taken by practitioners and policymakers in response to key issues in online learning in six papers being released throughout 2008 and 2009:

  • Blended Learning: The Convergence of Online and Face-To-Face Education
  • Using Online Learning for Credit Recovery and At-Risk Students
  • Management and Operations of Online Programs: Ensuring Quality and Accountability
  • Socialization in Online Programs
  • Policy and Funding Frameworks for Online Learning
  • A Parents’ Guide to Choosing the Right Online Program


State Policy Suggestions for Virtual Schools -- from Education Week by Katie Ash and Kathleen Kennedy Manzo
There's a new report released this week that outlines the variety of state policies surrounding online learning and gives suggestions on how those policies could be changed to better support an online learning environment. The report, by the Vienna, Va.-based International Association for K-12 Online Learning, or iNACOL, is called Policy and Funding Frameworks for Online Learning.


State Legislatures Wrestle With Charter Laws -- from Education Week by Erik W. Robelen
Amid a strong push by the Obama administration to ensure that states don’t constrain the growth of the charter school sector, a number of legislatures this year debated measures on how many charters to allow, or whether to have such schools at all. But even with the extra attention from Washington, the outcomes have proved decidedly mixed.


Related items:

Obama Pushes for Education Reform with $4.35 Billion in Competitive Grants -- from by David Nagel
President Barack Obama is calling on states and districts to set higher standards for student achievement. In a speech delivered at the United States Department of Education headquarters in Washington, DC Friday, Obama highlighted some of the top reforms he thinks will help accomplish this and also announced $4.35 billion in competitive grants designed to help support innovative reform efforts.

During the presentation Friday, Obama and representatives from the United States Department of Education outlined the previously introduced Race to the Top Fund and announced that the program will award grants on a competitive basis. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also announced the draft application for the program, and a Notice of Proposed Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Selection Criteria has been published in the Federal Register (PDF).

The Race to the Top Fund, announced in the first quarter of 2009, is designed to help states bolster student achievement through various reforms. It provides $4.35 billion in incentives for states to create "innovative programs" that can be replicated throughout the country.

Gates: U.S. ed has no choice but to improve -- from
Microsoft co-founder said education is the field that has changed the least with technology

The U.S. must improve its educational standing in the world by rewarding effective teaching and by developing better, universal measures of performance for students and teachers, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said on July 21.

Speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures' annual legislative summit, Gates told hundreds of lawmakers how federal stimulus money should be used to spark educational innovation, spread best practices, and improve accountability.

Gates, 51, talked of the importance of improving the quality, quantity, and searchability of online lectures, which he noted his own children have used.


More Cuts for Colleges Are Likely Even After States Pass Budgets -- from The Chronicle of Higher Education


Indiana Legislators Finally Pass State Budget – Includes New Virtual School Pilot -- from Virtual High School Meanderings


U.S. Push for Free Online Courses -- from

June 29, 2009 WASHINGTON -- Community colleges and high schools would receive federal funds
to create free, online courses in a program that is in the final stages of being drafted by the Obama administration.

According to the draft materials from the administration, the program would support the development of 20-25 "high quality" courses a year, with a mix of high school and community college courses. Initial preference would go to "career oriented" courses. The courses would be owned by the government and would be free for anyone to take. Courses would be selected competitively, through peer review, for support. And the courses would be "modular" or "object based" such that they would be "interoperable" and could be offered with a variety of technology platforms.

Carnegie Corporation: 'Do school differently' -- from by Laura Devaney
New report urges widespread reform of math and science education. Urging the nation to "do school differently," a new report recommends a set of concrete actions for federal, state, and local education leaders to take to transform math and science instruction and bring the United States back to the forefront of global competition.

Study: Virtual schools can help cut costs -- from Virtual School News
New research suggests that more K-12 public school students will take classes online and will have longer school days in the next decade–and academic improvement and cost savings are two big benefits.

Online courses are already commonplace in higher education and are growing in popularity at the K-12 level as well. Orlando-based Florida Virtual School (FLVS) has quickly become the nation’s largest virtual school, serving nearly 65,000 students in the 2007-08 school year.

“Policy makers and educators have proposed expanding learning time in elementary through high school grades as a way to improve students’ academic performance, but online coursework hasn’t been on their radar,” said Catherine Cavanaugh, associate professor at the University of Florida’s College of Education and author of the report, “Getting Students More Learning Time Online: Distance Education in Support of Expanded Learning Time in K-12 Schools.” For the rest of the article, click here.


Virtual School option to be available this school year -- from Gulf Breeze News by Pam Brannon

In August, students who cannot attend Santa Rosa County schools in a regular classroom have a new option to receive credits. The school district has a new option - the Virtual School - it can offer to receive funding for more students from the state. Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Bill Price says the Virtual School option will be ready for the next school year.

"The state mandated last year that we begin working on virtual schooling for kindergarten through 12th grade," Price said. "We have to have it in place by the beginning of this next school year. For the high school component, we will use Florida Virtual High School at a cost of $39.95 per student. The statute says we have to offer this to students free of charge. But we will then be able to claim those students in our head count for state funding."

Price said for the K-8 program the district will purchase the program and run its own Virtual School program.


State approves funding for virtual schooling -- from Virtual School News
State legislators recently passed a bill that will allow more high school students the ability to access virtual schooling now that state funding is available. The Texas Virtual School Network (TVSN) will provide additional opportunities and options for Texas students through online courses. Students will be able to participate in online courses that are led by teachers.

The Disruption of the Traditional Textbook Model Continues -- from The Journal
Texas Governor Rick Perry signed HB 4294 June 19, and the world of textbooks will never be the same in Texas or across the country.


Schwarzenegger seeks online revolution in schools

Note: The decision to offer online courses may not be up to any particular college or university... it may be dictated by your state's legislature (from my viewpoint, that's a positive).



Idaho Digital Learning Academy


Colleges Should Start Planning Now for 'Net Price' Calculators, Experts Say -- from The Chronicle of Higher Education by Jeff Brainard
[Atlanta] College officials need to begin planning now to comply with a new federal requirement that they post on their Web sites within roughly two years the net price to attend their institutions, panelists said at a meeting of institutional researchers here...


Legislature Gives U. of Texas at Austin More Leeway on Top-10% Admissions -- from The Chronicle of Higher Education


Related item
The Challenge to States: Preserving College Access and Affordability in a Time of Crisis-- from

Calif. Legislature Turns Up Heat on Universities -- from
As legislators in California took steps to toughen their regulation of one of the state's two major university systems, they are poised to strengthen their ability to regulate the other, according to newspapers in the state. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that leading lawmakers plan to introduce legislation today that would strip the University of California of its cherished immunity from regulation by the Legislature, saying they have had enough of controversies over salaries and perks paid to top administrators and what they describe as the resistance to public disclosure and accountability. UC leaders have been acting "absolutely above the law," State Sen. Leland Yee told the newspaper. The proposed amendment to the Constitution would, if passed by the Legislature, require approval of a majority of the state's voters. The California State University System is already subject to the Legislature's actions, and on Tuesday the state Senate -- as if as a signal to the University of California -- approved a bill that would bar Cal State trustees from raising top administrators' salaries or giving them bonuses in years when state funds for the institutions have been cut, the Associated Press reported.


The Future of Student Loans -- from
WASHINGTON -- How Thursday's House of Representatives hearing on the future of the federal student loan programs looked to a particular observer probably comes down to where he or she falls on the cynicism continuum. Taking the session at face value, you'd be inclined to walk away fairly impressed by the genuine multiplicity of viewpoints expressed and the stated willingness of the Democrats running the House Education and Labor Committee to consider various possible approaches to reshaping the loan programs.


The Funding of Academic Collaborations -- from WCET and Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) August 2008
To leverage expertise and efficiencies in implementing educational technologies, higher education leaders often create centralized service organizations or interinstitutional partnerships. Defined as “academic collaborations,” these organizations foster interinstitutional partnerships that share resources to increase institutional capacity for, sharing of, and access to technology-mediated courses and programs. This paper surveyed academic collaborations to gain insight on effective models used to finance their activities.
Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy economic ride.
Academic collaboration appropriations in 2005-07 trailed growth in higher education spending. If they did not grow in good times, what will happen in bad times? Academic collaborations are successful when they: a) leverage efficiency and quality gains achieved through cooperation; b) adapt to an ever-changing environment; and c) are creative in harvesting available funding sources.
Due to changes in technology, leadership, politics, or other factors, the existence of, services provided by, and funding for some academic collaborations have been called into question by their legislatures or constituents [emphasis DSC]. Their funding issues revolve around what models work well elsewhere.


Related postings

Kaine Announces Learning Initiative Through iTunes (Virginia K-12) -- from
Building on a number of recent initiatives designed to take learning beyond the classroom, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced Tuesday the official launch of "Virginia on iTunes U,” (direct link, requires iTunes) a dedicated area within Apple’s iTunes Store featuring free access to educational content.

Virginia on iTunes

Through iTunes U for K-12 education, students, teachers, and other interested users can “learn on the go" by downloading audio and video content onto an iPod, iTouch, or iPhone from any computer with Internet access. To extend this initiative, Kaine also issued the “Learning Apps Development Challenge” Tuesday to encourage developers to produce innovative mathematics applications that will engage middle school students and encourage advanced learning and achievement.

Wisconsin Virtual Learning Academies Partners Adds Calvert Education to Distance Learning Offerings -- from

Amy Barton: Florida Virtual School works -- from The Gainesville Sun


International Benchmarking Toolkit -- from the Education Commission of the States

Welcome to the International Benchmarking Toolkit, a unique resource for state policymakers, school district officials, principals and classroom teachers. The International Benchmarking Toolkit is the next generation of From Competing to Leading: International Benchmarking Blueprint, released by the Education Commission of the States (ECS) in July 2008.


Parents Push For Online Learning - WBAL-TV -- link from Ray Schroeder
Maryland parents made a pitch to Annapolis lawmakers Tuesday to create a virtual classroom where children would go online for lessons. Public schoolteachers would be using computers to assist in their instruction and teachers would give instruction live over the Internet to students in their own homes, according to the bill.


From the following presentation:
Navigating the Land of Online Learning -- by Sue Porter and Connie Solis, Consultants; original link from Virtual High School Meanderings

From the Administrator Role > Michigan Online Requirements:
The online learning requirement is consistent with the State Educational Technology Plan adopted in March 2006. This document states, "Students must take an online course or learning experience or have the online learning experience incorporated into each course of the required curriculum beginning with the class of 2011." The Michigan department of education defines online learning as "A structured learning activity that utilizes technology with intranet/internet-based tools and resources as the delivery method for instruction, research, assessment, and communication." To ensure accessibility for all students, any applications that are developed or resources used in an online environment should be compliant with the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.


Iowa - A robust system of online learning -- from Dangerously Irrelevant by Scott McLeod

"In addition to creating statewide virtual schools, states are enacting a number of other policies to facilitate online learning. For example, both Michigan and Alabama now have state laws requiring that students have an online learning experience before they graduate. Florida recently passed a law requiring every school district to provide online courses (either itself or by contracting with others) for its K-8 students."


NGA, NCSL, CCSSO and NASBE Release Accelerating the Agenda: Actions To Improve America’s High Schools -- link originally from The Heller Reports

The report represents the four organizations’ shared vision for the changes needed in today’s high schools and offers fresh ideas and new practices that show state leaders how to:

  • Restore Value to the High School Diploma by elevating academic standards and high school graduation requirements to a college- and career-ready level;
  • Redesign High Schools through alternative delivery mechanisms;
  • Ensure Excellent Teachers and Principals by connecting teacher preparation, hiring and evaluation to student outcomes and other factors;
  • Improve Accountability by aligning postsecondary expectations to high school expectations; and
  • Enhance Education Governance by bridging K-12 and postsecondary expectation gaps through P-16 councils.

Additionally, the report highlights emerging trends, such as greater appreciation for international benchmarking and an increased focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education that have the capacity to improve student success in the global economy.

From DSC:
International benchmarking = Enter the politicians / change


Changing the Game: The Federal Role in Supporting 21st Century Educational Innovation

To resolve dramatic disparities in educational achievement and ensure future American workers are globally competitive, the federal government needs, as it has in the past, to change the game in public education.

A robust new federal Office of Educational Entrepreneurship and Innovation within the Department of Education would expand the boundaries of public education by scaling up successful educational entrepreneurs, seeding transformative educational innovations, and building a stronger culture to support these activities throughout the public sector.