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Afternoon Announcements: August 22, 2011

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August 22, 2011 07:25 pm

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Here are today’s and this past weekend’s headlines in education news!

The Washington Times reports further on the PDK International/Gallup poll on Americans’ views and attitudes toward public education. More specifically the newspaper noted American’s general support for digital learning. Bob Wise, president of the Alliance and former governor of West Virginia, calls for an increased focused on “blended learning” – pairing innovative technology and high-quality teachers. “The public understands and is willing to move forward on blended learning. It’s not either/or. High-tech requires high-teach,” Wise said. “You’ve got to have good teaching in order for the technology to be effective.”

Fifty-one percent of jobs in the American South require “middle-skills” – such as medical technicians or computers support workers – and the region has a shortage of people able to fill the positions. According to the Associated Press, the National Skills Coalition presented these figures during the Southern Governors Association meeting in Asheville. While over half of the jobs in the South require middle-skills, highly skilled jobs make up 29 percent of the market and low-skill jobs make up 20 percent. The South is finding it difficult to fill these positions even when four-year graduates face difficulty finding a job and paying off their student loans.

In an effort to cope with budget cuts, many South Dakota schools are switching from a five-day week to only Monday through Thursday. More than one-fourth of the state’s student population will now have three-day weekends every week. One district, the Irene-Wakonda School District, told the Associated Press it will save more than $50,000 a year by making the switch to a shorter school week. The district will add 30 minutes on to each of the school days in addition to shortening students’ lunch breaks in order to make up for the lost time.

The Huffington Post put together seven innovative ways teachers are using technology in their classrooms. From smartphones to iPads and Twitter, teachers are finding unique ways to get students’ attention.

Florida is doing a worse job preparing students for college despite high schools continuing to get good grades from the state, John Winn, a education commissioner said last week. Winn, who acted as commissioner under former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returned in interim this yaer, said the disparity is harming the state’s high school students. “When you change your standards such that you make a school look much better than it is, you can’t get community support for making it better,” Winn said, according to the Associated Press. He said people then say, “We made F’s for all these years and now we’re safe. OK, our work is over.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan clarified the details of the waivers states can apply for from No Child Left Behind. He said last week, according to Education Week, that states do not need to specifically sign on to the Common Core State Initiative in order to qualify for a waiver. In the ongoing updates on which states will apply for a waiver from No Child Left Behind, Maine announced it will seek an exception from the federal law and come up with new ways to meaure student progress, the Associated Press reported.

Education Week reports on New York City’s program that allows students entering public high school to choose which school they attend from more then 650 options. The publication says the program has “liberated thousands of students from failing neighborhood high schools, transformed the city’s high school principals from bureaucrats to entrepreneurs, improved the perception of public schools among middle-class families, and helped raise the city’s graduation rates.”

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