Weekly Web Finds -- Jan. 8, 2009
Education & the Economy
Bad news – USA Today reviews the 2008 education scene in Year of bad reports, worse budgets
for K-12 schools. “The K-12 system felt the economic downturn, with states and school
districts cutting budgets and preparing to cut more next fall. Nearly half of districts are
reducing hiring and supplies.” The online version of the Swampscott Reporter carried a
story, Patrick, other guvs push for education $$$ in stimulus bill. The governors are asking
for “education aid to account for up to a quarter of an impending $1 trillion federal
stimulus plan.” Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle believes that not enough education aid in the
stimulus bill will cause “a great falloff” in school quality.
Good news – Obama pledges schools upgrade in stimulus plan (USA Today) is perhaps the answer
the governors are looking for. Part of the Obama stimulus package would include rebuilding,
renovating and improving school structures. “A study by the Economic Policy Institute
estimates that spending $20 billion on deferred maintenance in school districts across the
country would create nearly 250,000 skilled maintenance jobs.”
This is a bit stale. But we thought you might have missed it. Nielsen, the group that
tracks TV viewership among other things, has issued its Top Ten U.S. Lists for 2008. Some of
the lists include the top 10 TV shows, top 10 web sites, and top 10 films (box office) among
The World Bank has created a cool site called Doing Business. You can learn how easy or
difficult it is to do business in 181 countries, filter by specific criteria and learn more
about each country. Check it out. There’s a lot of information available.
And Ad Age has posted its 22nd annual Global Marketers rankings. Find out the top marketers
by spending, region and category.
We found two sites that are relevant for what’s going on in the world today and thought we
should share them. The first is History of U.S. Government Bailouts. This site, from Pro
Publica, provides some basic information on why a bailout was needed, what the cost to the
taxpayers was, and there’s a link to the final resolution after the bailout was made. The
New York Times has created a Piracy-at-Sea page. This page includes up-to-the-minute news on
the piracy issues around the world as well as historical perspective.
This Week’s Reports
The Education Public Interest Center has released Profiles of Nonprofit Education Management
Organizations: 2007-2008. This brief examines “the number of nonprofit firms managing
publicly funded schools, identifies the schools they manage, and records the number of
students those schools enroll.”
from the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and
Achieve. The groups agreed that “the goal of aligning academic expectations in those
subjects [reading and math] across states and benchmarking the standards against those of
other countries” was vital for U.S. academic success. Common academic standards get
influential push from Ed Week.
EdWeek is providing free online access to the 2009 edition of Quality Counts: Portrait of a
Population, for this week. This year’s edition concentrates on English Language Learners
and the issues facing the nation’s schools.
The online version of the Daily Mail, a U.K. newspaper, reports that Children’s books are ‘so
violent they need a health warning’. “Vulnerable children, parents and grandparents are
increasingly at risk of buying novels without realising they feature bloody or pornographic
scenes, a former president of the National Association of Head Teachers [Dr. Rona Tutt]
On a more positive note, the Denver Post reports on a school district trying a radical new
idea in education. Adams 50 skips grades, lets kids be pacesetters examines how the district
will “eliminate grade levels and instead group students based on what they know, allowing
them to advance to the next level after they have proved proficiency.”
Great Websites for Kids
The American Library Association has updated its Great Web Sites for Kids. This searchable
site breaks down the sites by category and subject area. Some subject areas include Animals,
History and the Arts. Each site listed provides a link to the site as well as a rating for
the appropriate age group. This is a useful site for parents, teachers and researchers.
There’s some interesting news on the ed tech front this week. Waivers free high school
students to study offline, off-campus is an article in the Detroit Free Press. It discusses
the move in several Michigan districts to increase virtual schooling opportunities. “Eleven
Michigan school districts and one charter school can now allow students to take more courses
-- and in some cases all of their classes -- online and off-campus, moves that could further
cement the state's reputation as a leader in online education.” This was one of several
articles on virtual schooling this week.
The Washington Post (registration may be required) ran a story called More and more, schools
got game. It looked at the change in attitude toward the use of video games as educational
tools. “Advocates argue that games teach vital skills overlooked in the age of high-stakes
tests, such as teamwork, decision-making and digital literacy.”
And while the Christian Science Monitor carried a story, Schools tap ‘21st century skills’,
and discussed how “in a knowledge economy, the reasoning goes, the ability to articulate and
solve problems, to generate original ideas, and to work collaboratively across cultural
boundaries is growing exponentially in importance,” the Washington Post carried two stories
by Jay Mathews questioning the rush to teach 21st century skills. His articles, The Rush for
that some of the hype is just that and that many students are still struggling with basic
education concepts and may not be ready for more advanced critical thinking.
And finally, eSchool News Online has posted its Five ed-tech stories to watch for in 2009.
Among them are Internet safety and “validated learning.”
Snow, Snow, Snow
It’s officially winter in the Northern Hemisphere. And since, snow is gently falling here in
New York, we thought we’d end with a couple of snowy sites. Snowdays lets you create your
own snowflake or find flakes created by others. Over 7 million flakes have been created
already. Thanks to Bonnie from Trade Finance for the site suggestion. And even though the
holidays are over, we had to include this season’s Snowglobe. Don’t forget to shake it!