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Administrator Magazine
Scholastic Administrator is a must-read resource for 240,000 of today's results-driven school leaders. Every issue features leadership for education executives, insight and analysis into what's next in education, and reporting on cutting-edge technologies in real life applications.

EDUCATION NEWS

The four-day school week, graduation stats, and a look at the best and worst education stories.

By Ken Royal | September/October 2008

PRINCIPAL SCOOTER

How did you spend your summer? Damon Hunter, principal of Saghalie Middle School in Federal Way, Washington, spent his summer zipping around on a scooter—paying visits to all of his students at their homes. Armed with fliers on back-to-school information, Hunter rang doorbells around town, shaking hands and answering questions in an effort to strengthen parental involvement in his school. Hunter alerted parents of his visit through an automated voice message, but that didn’t make his appearance at their door any less impressive.

The number of students Principal Hunter set out to visit this summer: 600
The percentage of K–12 students with parents who regularly receive personalized notes or e-mails from school specifically about their child? 54%
The number of public school principals (we know of) who make house calls to every student? 1



Going Home Early
The Impact of the Four-Day Week

Can you hear those happy squeals? That’s the sound of students responding to this year’s hottest trend in K–12 education: the four-day school week. The rising cost of fuel catapulted this movement to the top of the popularity chart, but proponents suggest there are other benefits, too: additional saving on utilities, an extra day each week for professional development, fewer absences, and a more attractive package to lure new and better teachers.

So what’s lost when Mondays are no longer the most dreaded day of the week? There’s concern that many working parents will have to pay for childcare on the weekday their child isn’t in school. Fewer days also mean longer hours, which could invite fatigue and affect students’ ability to retain what they learn. Then there’s the question of how the schedule change would upset students’ extracurricular activities.

Still, Tony Bonomo, director of a Hazelton Area school in eastern Pennsylvania, said at a recent school board meeting that adopting a four-day week could save the district $1.2 million in annual operational costs from its roughly $106 million budget. The savings are clear, but is it worth it?

Good, Bad, Ugly

GOOD
Get the skinny. Former President Bill Clinton, as part of a joint initiative with the American Heart Association, honored 43 schools for their anti-obesity efforts—which included banning candy from school buildings and setting up a fitness club for students.

Multitasking works. Instant messaging while studying slows reading, but does not appear to hinder students’ reading comprehension, a study of 59 college students at Central Connecticut State University found.

Special help from the Feds. The DOE awarded $2.4 million in grants to 20 universities to revamp their special education teacher-preparation programs, hoping to increase the numbers of highly qualified teachers in that field.

BAD
Nurse shortage. Due to cutbacks, more schools are letting their nurses go, leaving teachers to cope with students’ medical issues. A quarter of schools in the country have no school nurse, the National Association of School Nurses says.

Crime and punishment. Poor and urban districts use suspension as punishment more often than suburban districts do. A study found more than 41,000 students were suspended in Connecticut schools in 2006­–07. More than two-thirds of those suspensions were handed out for minor violations such as truancy.

UGLY

Myths that don’t add up. Despite proof that girls and boys possess an equal aptitude for mathematical thinking, the stereotype that girls struggle at math hinders their success in the classroom, says a study in Science magazine.

OK to cut class. Community leaders in Chicago called on students from poorer sections of the city to skip the first day of school on September 2 as a way to protest the inequalities in school funding.

Gun-toting teachers? Harrold (TX) Independent School District approved a plan to allow teachers to bring guns to school. Superintendent David Thweatt claims this is the first time a U.S. school district has permitted firearms in the classroom.

BOOKS ADMINISTRATORS ARE READING

Whatever It Takes
By Paul Tough; Houghton Mifflin
whatever it takes is the quest to disprove every theory or report claiming that poor students, especially those of color, are destined to fail. It’s about Geoffrey Canada, the Harlem Children’s Zone, and the Promise Academy, but it could be about underserved children and financially stressed families anywhere. Canada’s mission to make a difference for the most needy has the backing and respect of corporate and political figures, but his organization fights daily to make learning and living-change happen. Against all odds, Canada never retreats and pushes everyone to do the same. This is about struggling learners and parenting. It’s not just for educators, because everyone will get the historic picture of how and why things remain the same, and the importance of saving children today and now.
 
Copyright for Administrators
By Carol Simpson; Linworth Publishing
Think you know how copyright law affects each school day? This book has more about copyright laws than you may want to read, but violations can happen in any class—and often do. The book is clearly written so anyone, from teacher to superintendent, can understand. Everyone has responsibility, including students, so this book should be a must-read for library media specialists. It is also important for technology specialists and IT departments, who are responsible for maintaining a district’s digital property. There’s a glossary, guidelines and release form for sharing.

Bullying: Beyond the Schoolyard
By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin; Corwin Press
Unplugging the computer isn’t the answer to the cyberbully. The writers share what cyberbullying is, ways that it’s done, who’s doing it, and real stories of children affected by it. Social networking, posting images and video, and offering too much information online are some pitfalls for students. Teachers, districts, and school boards have more worries, because cyberbullying can happen off school grounds, so there are lessons for avoiding expensive free speech violations and court battles. It includes case studies, checklists, and resources. 

Pyramid Response to Intervention
By Austin Buffum, Mike Mattos, and Chris Weber; Solution Tree
More than a history of response to intervention programs, the book gives reasons why they’ve worked or failed, and where they’ve been tried. Pyramid Response to Intervention is different in that it first requires building a professional learning community for collaboration, and a three-tiered approach, which results in fewer failures. Discovering students in danger of academic failure early, handling them as critical, as one would in a medical emergency, is key. Learn how to avoid inappropriate labeling, and interventions that fail students.
 
 



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