ABC News uses iCloud to track a stolen iPad to TSA officer's home

ABC News uses iCloud to track a stolen iPad to TSA officer’s home
By Daniel Eran Dilger
An investigation into frequent thefts at American airport security
screening checkpoints resulted in a stolen iPad being tracked to a TSA
officer’s home, using Apple’s ‘Find My Phone’ iCloud service. [SNIP]

Cyber Attacks on Banks Expose U.S. Infrastructure Vulnerability

September 27, 2012 10:44PM ET | Bloomberg
(Bloomberg) — Cyber attacks on the biggest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co.and Wells Fargo & Co., have breached some of the nation’s most advanced computer defenses and exposed the vulnerability of its infrastructure, said cybersecurity specialists tracking the assaults.
Bank Attacks
The group started almost two weeks ago with test attacks that triggered multiple alerts. The assault on financial firms began last week, starting with JPMorgan, Citigroup Inc. and Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America Corp., moving successively this week to Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp and yesterday, PNC Financial Services Group Inc.
If the financial industry, which spends more on Internet security than any other industry and has its largest and most extensive defenses, can’t handle this, it’s not clear whether any critical-infrastructure industry can, the analysts said
The U.S. Senate last month failed to advance comprehensive cybersecurity legislation and the administration is contemplating using the executive order because it’s not certain that Congress can pass a cybersecurity bill, the officials said.
Inadequate Defenses
That hackers telegraphed their intentions and targets shows the difficulty industries and governments face in keeping up with fast-moving network threats, said Atif Mushtaq, senior staff scientist with FireEye Inc., a Milipitas, California-based security firm.
“They had already declared they would hit these banks at these times, and still we are seeing that these banks are not able to handle these DDoS attacks,” Mushtaq said. “It’s clear that the current infrastructure under the control of these banks is not good enough.”
There’s no sign the attacks are going to stop, Alperovitch and Joffe said.
A broader or more sustained denial of service attack could shake consumer confidence in the banking industry, Joffe said.
Bad Timing
“If banking infrastructure was affected in this way for an extended period of time, the natural outcome of that is a loss of faith,” he said. “If you can’t get to your banking site for three or four hours on a day when you have to do things, you start thinking about what are my alternatives because this might happen again.”
The banking industry worries about an organization with more resources launching attacks, said Ed Powers, head of security and private issues for U.S. financial firms at Deloitte & Touche LLP.
“This is coming toward the end of the month; it’s badly timed,” Joffe said. “People have to pay bills today and tomorrow.”

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1. Foreign Policy: The Cuban Missile Crises
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[ECP] Educational CyberPlayGround K12 Newsletter: NASA Education

NASA Education

[ECP] Educational CyberPlayGround K12 Newsletter

REGISTER NOW — REGISTRATION CLOSES SEPT. 28 — Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2012
Audience: 9-12 Educators and Students
Registration Deadline: Sept. 28, 2012
Free Education Webinar Series from the Aerospace Education Services Project
Audience: K-12 Educators
Event Dates: Various Dates During October 2012
Solar System Ambassadors Program Accepting Applications
Audience: All Educators
Application Deadline: Sept. 30, 2012
2012-2013 National Student Solar Spectrograph Competition
Audience: Higher Education Educators and Students
Deadline to register and apply for build awards: Sept. 30, 2012
Engineering Design Challenge: Water Filtration Web Seminar
Audience: Physics Teachers and Informal Educators
Event Date: Oct. 2, 2012
Electromagnetic Spectrum: Remote Sensing Ices on Mars Web Seminar
Audience: 8-12 and Informal Educators
Event Date: Oct. 4, 2012
Celebrate World Space Week
Audience: All Educators
Event Date: Oct. 4-10, 2012
NASA’s Digital Learning Network Celebrates World Space Week Special Events Featuring Curiosity!
Audience: Grades 5-12
Event Dates: Oct. 4-10, 2012
Celebrate World Space Week With Free Education Webinars from the Aerospace Education Services Project
Audience: K-12 Educators
Event Dates: Oct. 4-9, 2012
2013 Texas High School Aerospace Scholars
Audience: 9-12 Students
Application Deadline: Nov. 2, 2012
NASA Sponsors Odyssey of the Mind Long-Term Problem — It’s How You Look at It
Audience: All Educators and Students
Visit Website for Regional Competition Dates

REGISTER NOW — REGISTRATION CLOSES SEPT. 28 — Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2012

NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s, or MIT’s, Space Systems Laboratory are proud to announce that the next Zero Robotics High School Tournament will take place this fall, offering high school students the opportunity to design experiments that will be tested in space.
Zero Robotics challenges high school student teams to write their own algorithms to fly the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. The competition starts online where teams compete to solve an annual challenge guided by mentors. Students can create, edit, share, save, simulate and submit code, all from a Web browser. After several phases of virtual competition, finalists are selected to compete in a live championship aboard the International Space Station!
Teams may register now:
1) Go to
2) Log In or Create an Account. (Note: You can start programming in the online integrated development environment at this point!)
3) Click “Tournaments” and register for the High School Tournament.
4) Create a team and invite other users.
5) Visit Resources to get started.
Registration closes on Sept. 28, 2012. Visit the site now to create an account and join the competition!
The Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2012 is brought to you by NASA and DARPA, and facilitated by the MIT Space Systems Laboratory, TopCoder and Aurora Flight Sciences.
To see a promotional video for the competition, visit
Please email any questions about this opportunity to

Free Education Webinar Series from the Aerospace Education Services Project
The Aerospace Education Services Project is presenting a series of free webinars throughout October 2012. All webinars can be accessed online. Join aerospace education specialists to learn about activities, lesson plans, educator guides and resources to bring NASA into your classroom.
I’m Signed up for NEON — Now What? (Grades K-12)
Sept. 29, 2012, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. EDT
Aerospace education specialist Anne Weiss will introduce participants to basic features of the NASA Educators Online Network, or NEON, professional/collaborative learning community. Participants will also learn how to use NEON to find appropriate NASA standards-aligned activities that satisfy state-specific teaching standards.
Applying the Engineering Process to STEM (Grades K-12)
Oct. 2, 2012, 5 – 6 p.m. EDT
Aerospace education specialist John Weis will discuss the uses of the Engineering Design Process as a method of problem solving in subject areas other than engineering.
Engineering Is Elementary (Grades 3-8)
Oct. 3, 2012, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. EDT
Aerospace education specialist Brandon Hargis will discuss ways to incorporate the engineering design process using NASA-developed engineering design challenges for students in grades 3-8. These challenges will engage students’ creativity, foster their curiosity, and encourage their interest in space.
Solar System and the Periodic Table (Grades 3-8)
Oct. 17, 2012, 5 – 6 p.m. EDT
Aerospace education specialist Sandy Kaszynski will lead this standards-based webinar that teaches participants basic principles of what the periodic table represents, using the solar system as an exciting basis for understanding. This is an introductory lesson with a concluding game.
Investigating the Climate System (Grades 5-12)
Oct. 24, 2012, 4 – 5 p.m. EDT
Aerospace education specialist John Weis will introduce participants to the five problem-based learning educator guides in the NASA Investigating the Climate System series. Topics addressed will include wind, precipitation, energy, clouds and extreme weather. This webinar is part of the Department of Education Green Strides webinar series.
Robotics on a Budget (Grades 5-12)
Oct. 30, 2012, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. EDT
Aerospace education specialist Steve Culivan will explore how to use robotics to enhance your students’ understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. Participants will also learn about NASA STEM robotics missions, curriculum and activities that are available.
For more information about these webinars, and to see a full list of webinars taking place through December 2012, visit
Questions about this series of webinars should be directed to Katie Hayden at

Solar System Ambassadors Program Accepting Applications

The NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Solar System Ambassadors, or SSA, Program, a nationwide network of space enthusiast volunteers, is accepting applications through Sept. 30, 2012.
Highly motivated individuals will be given the opportunity to represent NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as volunteer Solar System Ambassadors to the public for a one-year, renewable term beginning Jan. 1, 2013.
While applications are being sought nationwide, interested parties from the following states are especially encouraged to apply: Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and southern Arizona (near Tucson). Successful applicants from southern Arizona will also have the opportunity to support the University of Arizona locally as OSIRIS-REx Ambassadors. The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, also known as OSIRIS-Rex, is a NASA planetary science mission that will send a spacecraft to an asteroid in 2016.
To learn more about the Solar System Ambassador Program and to apply online, visit
If you have questions about this opportunity, contact Kay Ferrari, SSA Coordinator, by email at

2012-2013 National Student Solar Spectrograph Competition

The National Student Solar Spectrograph Competition is the Montana Space Grant Consortium’s Education Program for NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, mission. IRIS will use spectrography and imaging in ultraviolet wavelengths to reveal the dynamics of the sun’s chromospheres and transition region.
This yearly competition is open to undergraduate interdisciplinary teams from colleges and universities across the U.S. Teams are challenged to design and build a working ground-based solar spectrograph and demonstrate the capabilities of the spectrograph as defined by their science goal. Typical teams have three to six students and must have a faculty advisor.
Both substantial scholarship prizes and travel prizes will be given in four categories: best design, best build, best science observations and best presentation of results. Teams may apply for funding of $2,000 per team for project materials. Priority for build funds will be given to minority-serving institutions, community colleges and institutions with less aerospace activity.
Applications for build awards and registrations are due on Sept. 30, 2012.
The competition will be held in Bozeman, Mont., in May 2013.
For more information and to register online, visit
Please email any questions about this competition to Randy Larimer at

Engineering Design Challenge: Water Filtration Web Seminar

As part of a series of electronic professional development experiences for educators, the NASA Explorer Schools project and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute live professional development Web seminar for educators on Oct. 2, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. EDT.
Earth recycles water naturally. Water is also recycled in processing plants and in the Water Recycling Assembly on the International Space Station. During this seminar, participants will receive background information about the principles that apply to all three systems, and then see how to incorporate the information into an exciting hands-on, inquiry-based challenge requiring students to solve a problem in the best way they can create.
For more information and to register online, visit
To learn more about the NASA Explorer Schools project, visit
Email any questions about this opportunity to

Electromagnetic Spectrum: Remote Sensing Ices on Mars Web Seminar

As part of a series of electronic professional development experiences, the NASA Explorer Schools project and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute Web seminar on Oct. 4, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. EDT. Learn how to use authentic NASA mission data to investigate the composition and distribution of ices in the high-latitude regions of Mars through analysis of visible light, infrared light and gamma rays. The seminar includes information about a unique student extension activity, where students access a free computer simulation illustrating how gamma rays are used to determine the chemical composition of Mars.
For more information and to register online, visit
To learn more about the NASA Explorer Schools project, visit
Email any questions about this opportunity to the NES Help Desk at

Celebrate World Space Week
Join educators and space enthusiasts around the world to celebrate World Space Week, Oct. 4-10, 2012. This international event commemorates the beginning of the Space Age with the launch of Sputnik 1 on Oct. 4, 1957.
World Space Week is the largest public space event in the world, with celebrations in more than 50 nations. During World Space Week, teachers are encouraged to use space-themed activities. The theme for 2012, “Space for Human Safety and Security,” has been chosen to celebrate the many ways in which mankind’s activities in space improve our daily lives.
To find NASA educational resources that can be used during World Space Week, visit the Educational Materials Finder:
To learn more about World Space Week, search for events in your area and find educational materials related to the event, visit

NASA’s Digital Learning Network Celebrates World Space Week Special Events Featuring Curiosity!

Join NASA’s Digital Learning Network, or DLN, for a trio of special events to celebrate World Space Week (Oct. 4-10, 2012).
On Oct. 4, 2012, at 12:30 p.m. EDT, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland are teaming up to celebrate the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars! This live event will explore NASA’s latest rover on the Red Planet, and students will learn from NASA experts about how both centers contributed to the mission.
On Oct. 9, 2012, at 3:30 p.m. EDT and Oct. 10, 2012, at 6 p.m. EDT, the DLN presents opportunities for students to interact with experts at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. During these special live events, students can discuss the Curiosity mission to Mars with NASA experts who helped design the mission. Visit the DLN website to learn how your class can participate.
For more information and to watch the webcasts online, visit the DLN website at
Inquiries about these events should be directed to Caryn Long at

Celebrate World Space Week With Free Education Webinars from the Aerospace Education Services Project
The Aerospace Education Services Project is celebrating World Space Week with a series of free webinars taking place Oct. 4-9, 2012. All webinars can be accessed online. Join aerospace education specialists to learn about activities, lesson plans, educator guides and resources to bring NASA into your classroom.
Kepler Mission (Grades K-12)
Oct. 4, 2012, 6 – 7:30 p.m. EDT
Join aerospace education specialist Tony Leavitt as he discusses NASA’s Kepler mission to find Earth-like planets. Participants will also learn about Kepler-related educational materials and how to use the activities with their students.
The International Space Station: Life in Space (Grades 4-12)
Oct. 4, 2012, 5 – 6 p.m. EDT
The International Space Station is a unique and exciting classroom in space. Join aerospace education specialist Steve Culivan as he shares inquiry activities and online resources for your classroom on Earth. NASA STEM resources, space food and nutrition, and Newton’s Laws of Motion are just some of the topics integrated during the out of this world webinar.
The Origins of the Solar System: The Dawn Mission (Grades 4-12)
Oct. 5, 2012, 1 – 2 p.m. EDT and 4 – 5 p.m.
Join aerospace education specialist Rachelle Oblack as she discusses the Dawn mission. Learn how this mission will characterize the early solar system and the processes that dominated its formation by studying asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, celestial bodies believed to have accreted early in the history of the solar system.
Exploring Strange New Worlds (Grades K-12)
Oct. 8, 2012, 4 – 5 p.m. EDT
Most of our knowledge about the solar system and objects beyond our celestial neighborhood comes to us through remote sensing, fly-by, orbiter and robotic missions. Join aerospace education specialist Rick Varner as he discusses these information gathering techniques. Participants will be introduced to the “Strange New Worlds” classroom activity.
Solar System Resources (Grades 2-12)
Oct. 9, 2012, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. EDT
Join aerospace education specialists John Weis and Brandon Hargis for an overview of NASA resources available for teaching about the solar system. Resources will focus on hands-on activities and include topics such as scale, missions, moons and eclipses.
For more information about these webinars, and to see a full list of webinars taking place through December 2012, visit
Questions about this series of webinars should be directed to Katie Hayden at

2013 Texas High School Aerospace Scholars
The Texas High School Aerospace Scholars project is an interactive, online learning experience. It is highlighted by a six-day internship where selected students are encouraged to study mathematics, science, engineering or computer science by interacting with engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The Texas High School Aerospace Scholars project is open to high school juniors throughout Texas. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and have access to the Internet.
The application deadline is Nov. 2, 2012.
For additional information on the project and to apply online, visit
Questions about this opportunity should be directed to


NASA Sponsors Odyssey of the Mind Long-Term Problem — It’s How You Look at It

NASA is sponsoring the Odyssey of the Mind Long-Term Problem — It’s How You Look at It.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that offers creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Participants apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretations of literary classics. The teams then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state and international levels.
This year’s NASA-sponsored problem requires teams to create and present an original humorous performance that includes two characters that act naturally — to them — but odd to those around them. One scene will establish the “normal” behavior of one character that, at some point in the performance, finds itself among others who react to the out-of-place behavior. The other character’s behavior will stand out too, but this character will end up in a setting where its odd behavior is considered normal. The performance will also include a meter that indicates the degree of odd/normal behavior and a creative scene change.
For more information and to find dates for regional competitions, visit
If you have any questions about this opportunity, please email

US calls Assange 'enemy of state'

US calls Assange ‘enemy of state”

Date September 27, 2012
THE US military has designated Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as enemies of the United States – the same legal category as the al-Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban insurgency.
Declassified US Air Force counter-intelligence documents, released under US freedom-of-information laws, reveal that military personnel who contact WikiLeaks or WikiLeaks supporters may be at risk of being charged with “communicating with the enemy”, a military crime that carries a maximum sentence of death.
The documents, some originally classified “Secret/NoForn” – not releasable to non-US nationals – record a probe by the air force’s Office of Special Investigations into a cyber systems analyst based in Britain who allegedly expressed support for WikiLeaks and attended pro-Assange demonstrations in London.
The counter-intelligence investigation focused on whether the analyst, who had a top-secret security clearance and access to the US military’s Secret Internet Protocol Router network, had disclosed classified or sensitive information to WikiLeaks supporters, described as an “anti-US and/or anti-military group”.
The suspected offence was “communicating with the enemy, 104-D”, an article in the US Uniform Code of Military Justice that prohibits military personnel from “communicating, corresponding or holding intercourse with the enemy”.
The analyst’s access to classified information was suspended. However, the investigators closed the case without laying charges. The analyst denied leaking information.
Mr Assange remains holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London. He was granted diplomatic asylum on the grounds that if extradited to Sweden to be questioned about sexual assault allegations, he would be at risk of extradition to the US to face espionage or conspiracy charges arising from the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic reports.
US Vice-President Joe Biden labelled Mr Assange a “high-tech terrorist” in December 2010 and US congressional leaders have called for him to be charged with espionage.
Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee – both once involved in presidential campaigns – have both urged that Mr Assange be “hunted down”.
Mr Assange’s US attorney, Michael Ratner, said the designation of WikiLeaks as an “enemy” had serious implications for the WikiLeaks publisher if he were to be extradited to the US, including possible military detention.
US Army private Bradley Manning faces a court martial charged with aiding the enemy – identified as al-Qaeda – by transmitting information that, published by WikiLeaks, became available to the enemy.
Mr Ratner said that under US law it would most likely have been considered criminal for the US Air Force analyst to communicate classified material to journalists and publishers, but those journalists and publishers would not have been considered the enemy or prosecuted.
“However, in the FOI documents there is no allegation of any actual communication for publication that would aid an enemy of the United States such as al-Qaeda, nor are there allegations that WikiLeaks published such information,” he said.
“Almost the entire set of documents is concerned with the analyst’s communications with people close to and supporters of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, with the worry that she would disclose classified documents to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
“It appears that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the ‘enemy’. An enemy is dealt with under the laws of war, which could include killing, capturing, detaining without trial, etc.”
The Australian government has repeatedly denied knowledge of any US intention to charge Mr Assange or seek his extradition.
However, Australian diplomatic cables released to Fairfax Media under freedom-of-information laws over the past 18 months have confirmed the continuation of an “unprecedented” US Justice Department espionage investigation targeting Mr Assange and WikiLeaks.
The Australian diplomatic reports canvassed the possibility that the US may eventually seek Mr Assange’s extradition on conspiracy or information-theft-related offences to avoid extradition problems arising from the nature of espionage as a political offence and the free-speech protections in the US constitution.
Mr Assange is scheduled this morning to speak by video link to a meeting on his asylum case on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The meeting will be attended by Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino.
In a separate FOI decision yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the release of Australian diplomatic cables about WikiLeaks and Mr Assange had been the subject of extensive consultation with the US.

Educational CyberPlayGround K12 Newsletters

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Racing starts early
The U.S. Department of Education has released the detailed application for the states that are eligible for funding in round two of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.
Try that again
Oregon Chief Education Officer Rudy Crew has ordered 69 school districts to rewrite their academic goals for this school year because they aimed too low.
Signs of renewal
On its 11th school day of the year, Detroit Public Schools logged 90 percent attendance district-wide and exceeded its projected enrollment by 2,000 students — a significant feat for a district that has struggled with declining enrollment and chronic truancy for years, especially in the first month and last weeks of school, when attendance has often dropped to under 50 percent.
Full stop
New Hampshire education officials will approve no more charter schools for the indefinite future, after the state Board of Education adopted a moratorium that affects schools even in the pipeline.
A very good place to start
The New Jersey Department of Education will focus its efforts this year on some of the state’s youngest students as a way to improve performance across grade levels, Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf has announced.
Poor showing
The College Board has released scores for the class of 2012, reporting that only 43 percent of test-takers achieved the SAT College & Career Readiness Benchmark  the same percentage as last year.
Advance screening
Next fall, every entering kindergartner in Oregon will be screened on letter names and sounds, basic counting and addition, and behaviors that lead to school success, such as paying attention and trying hard.
With a Simple Tune, Students Improve In School
Music Makes You Smart:
We can’t wait 50 years
A new report from the Schott Foundation finds that only 52 percent of black male and 58 percent of Latino male ninth-graders graduate from high school in four years, compared with 78 percent of white, non-Latino male ninth-graders. Graduation for black males nationally increased ten percent since 2001-02, with 2010-11 the first year that more than half of ninth-grade black males graduated with a regular diploma four years later. Yet this progress reduced the graduation gap between black males and white, non-Latino males by just three percentage points; at this rate, it will take 50 years for black males to achieve the same graduation rates as white counterparts. Among states with the largest black enrollments, New York (37 percent), Illinois (47 percent), and Florida (47 percent) have the lowest graduation rates for black males. Among states with highest enrollments of Latinos, New York (37 percent), Colorado (46 percent), and Georgia (52 percent) have the lowest graduation rates for Latino males. The report also stresses the need to address a “pushout” and “lockout” crisis in our education system. Blacks and Latinos face disproportionate rates of out-of-school suspensions and do not consistently receive sufficient instruction. Many who remain in schools are locked out of districts where teachers have the training, mentoring, administrative support, supplies, and facilities to provide children with an opportunity to learn.
See the report:
More separate, less equal
In its latest analysis of segregation trends in public schools, the Civil Rights Project has released three new studies showing persistent increases in segregation by race and poverty, dramatically so in the South and West. Nationally, the average black or Latino student now attends school with a substantial majority of children in poverty, double the level of schools that are predominately white and Asian. Latino students attend more intensely segregated and impoverished schools than they have for generations. In spite of declining residential segregation for black families, school segregation remains very high and is increasing most severely in the South. The authors stress that simply sitting next to a white student does not guarantee better educational outcomes for students of color. Instead, resources that include expert teachers and advanced courses — which are consistently linked to predominately white and/or wealthy schools — help foster real educational advantages over minority-segregated settings. The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration before it, has taken no significant action to increase school integration or to help stabilize diverse schools undergoing racial change due to changes in the housing market. Small, positive steps in civil rights enforcement by the current administration have been undermined by its strong drive to expand charter schools, the most segregated sector of schools for African American students.
See the reports:
Where it all went
A new multi-year analysis from the U.S. Department of Education brings together publicly available information about Recovery Act education grants, examining how much states and districts received, and whether and how the distribution of funds varied by selected characteristics of recipient states and districts, Education Week reports. The analysis finds that the Recovery Act provided an average of $1,396 per pupil for K–12 programs, comparable to 12 percent of states’ combined annual pre-Recovery Act revenues for elementary and secondary education. Funding to individual states ranged from $1,063 to $3,632 per pupil. Differences in per-pupil funding across states grouped by child poverty rate or percentage of students in persistently lowest-achieving schools were no greater than $89. On average, the difference between states with the highest and lowest rates of child poverty was only $14. Recovery Act programs did not target budget shortfalls or emphasize statewide achievement in funding formulas or award criteria. However, states with the largest budget shortfalls and states with the highest student achievement received an average of $143 and $159 (respectively) more per pupil than did states with the smallest budget shortfalls and lowest student achievement levels. In total, 93 percent of all school districts in the nation received Recovery Act funds from at least one program.
See the report:
Who works where, and for what hours
A new paper by Marisa Cannata of Vanderbilt University “provides fresh insights into who goes to work in public and private sector schools, and what kinds of conditions they encounter when they get there,” writes Sean Cavanaugh in Education Week. Using data from the federal Schools and Staffing Survey, the author confirms that charter schools in both urban and non-urban areas employ a smaller percentage of teachers with more than three years of experience than do regular public and private schools. Teachers in charters also spend more time per week on the job than non-charter public school peers, and exceed those put in by private school counterparts by an even greater margin. By far, the teachers most likely to have attended elite colleges are those working in private, non-religious schools, with nearly 29 percent having done so. Only 11 percent of charter-school teachers are likely to have attended “highly selective” colleges, and 8.4 percent of traditional public school educators. Public magnet school teachers were more likely than either group of public school teachers to have attended a top-ranked college. Interestingly, teachers in Catholic schools were not nearly as likely to have attended highly selective institutions: only 8 percent. Catholic and regular public schools today are likely to hire educators from a similar pool of individuals trained through teacher-education programs.
Read more:
Effecting turnaround
A new report from the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse identifies practices that can improve the performance of chronically low-performing schools — a process commonly referred to as “turnaround.” The report recommends that schools signal the need for dramatic change with strong leadership. Schools should make a clear commitment to changes from the status quo, and leaders should signal the magnitude and urgency of that change. A low-performing school that fails to make adequate yearly progress must improve student achievement within a short timeframe — it can’t take years to implement incremental reforms. Chronically low-performing schools should maintain a sharp focus on improving instruction at every step of the reform process. To improve instruction, schools should use data to set goals for instructional improvement, make changes to immediately and directly affect instruction, and continually reassess student learning and instructional practices to refocus goals. Schools should also make visible improvements early in the school turnaround process (quick wins), which can rally staff and overcome resistance and inertia. Finally, school leaders must build a staff committed to the school’s improvement goals and qualified to carry out school improvement. This may require changes in staff: releasing, replacing, or redeploying staff not fully committed to turning around student performance, and bringing in new staff who are committed.
See the report:
A new report from the Center on Education Policy finds that after more than a decade of growing reliance on high school exit exams, states are rethinking these assessments. Eight of the 26 states with exit-exam policies have aligned them to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) or other college- and career-readiness standards, and 10 more states will do so in the near future. Aligning exit exams to more rigorous standards will almost certainly impact the performance of students taking them, and though passing rates on exit exams vary among states, overall these rates tend to be lower for minority and poor students, students with disabilities, and English language learners. Currently, 25 states require high school students to pass an exam to graduate, and a 26th state, Rhode Island, is phasing in an exit requirement for 2014. Twenty-two of these states have adopted the CCSS in English language arts and math. The report also reviews lessons learned from states’ experience implementing exit exams, noting that successful implementation of a new or revised exit exam policy often depends on states’ willingness to phase in policies over several years, provide alternate routes to graduation for students who fail exit exams, adapt policies to meet changing needs, and make a sufficient financial commitment, among other actions.
Read more:
The Race gets rural
The seven states that have applied for the latest round of waivers under NCLB represent a large swath of rural America, ensuring that the U.S. Department of Education’s waiver experiment will play out in a diverse set of states with vastly different geographies and student populations, Education Week reports. At least half of schools in Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and West Virginia are considered rural by the National Center for Education Statistics. Alabama also has a high number of rural students, and Hawaii’s state-run district educates students in remote island areas. While rural states largely sat out the Obama administration’s other trademark programs — such as the Race to the Top — the offer of flexibility in exchange for certain policies (such as creating teacher-evaluation systems that incorporate student growth) was far more enticing. Though these third-round states are putting their own spin on accountability, they share common approaches. Generally, these states are using just mathematics and reading in their accountability systems, and are sticking with existing NCLB-specified subgroups versus combining at-risk students into one “super subgroup,” as many earlier applicants had done. They are also generally farther behind in implementing teacher evaluation systems that incorporate student growth.
Read more:

Educational CyberPlayGround; K12 Newsletters Grants and Scholarships

#K12 Grants and Scholarships #Educational CyberPlayGround #K12 Newsletters

NSTA: Shell Science Teaching Award The Shell Science Teaching Award recognizes one outstanding classroom science teacher (K–12) who has had a positive impact on his or her students, school, and community through exemplary classroom science teaching. Maximum award: $10,000.
Eligibility: K–12 classroom science teachers.
Deadline: November 12, 2012.
IRA/Weekly Reader: Eleanor M. Johnson Award
The International Reading Association/Weekly Reader Eleanor M. Johnson Award recognizes an outstanding elementary classroom teacher of reading/language arts. The award honors Eleanor M. Johnson, founder and editor-in-chief of Weekly Reader, who died in 1987.
Maximum award: $1,000.
Eligibility: classroom or reading teachers working directly with students on a consistent basis in an elementary classroom setting who have taught for five full years and are nominated by at least four persons; applicants/nominees must be Association members. Deadline: November 15, 2012.
IRA: Regie Routman Teacher Recognition Award
The International Reading Association Regie Routman Teacher Recognition Award honors an outstanding elementary teacher of reading and language arts dedicated to improving teaching and learning through reflective writing about his or her teaching and learning process.
Maximum award: $1,000.
Eligibility: regular classroom elementary teachers of reading and language arts grades K-6; must be IRA members.
Deadline: November 15, 2012.
NSTA: Wendell G. Mohling Outstanding Aerospace Educator Award
The National Science Teachers Association Wendell G. Mohling Outstanding Aerospace Educator Award recognizes excellence in the field of aerospace education.
Maximum award: $3,000, as well as $2,000 in expenses to attend NSTA’s national conference. The recipient of the award will be honored during the Awards Banquet and the Aerospace Educators Luncheon at the NSTA Conference.
Eligibility: educators in informal education settings (e.g., museums, government, science centers).
Deadline: November 30, 2012.
AAPT: Barbara Lotze Scholarships for Future Teachers
The American Association of Physics Teachers Barbara Lotze Scholarships offer funds for future high school physics teachers.
Maximum award: $2,000.
Eligibility: U.S. citizens attending U.S. schools as undergraduates enrolled, or planning to enroll, in physics teacher preparation curricula, and U.S. high school seniors entering such programs.
Deadline: January 1, 2013.

Rent-to-own PCs surreptitiously captured users' most intimate moments

Pennsylvania-based DesignerWare spys on you.
By Dan Goodin
Ars Technica
Sept 25, 2012
Seven rent-to-own companies and a software developer have settled
federal charges that they used spyware to monitor the locations,
passwords, and other intimate details of more than 420,000 customers who
leased computers.
The software, known as PC Rental Agent, was developed by
Pennsylvania-based DesignerWare. It was licensed by more than 1,617
rent-to-own stores in the US, Canada, and Australia to report the
physical location of rented PCs. A feature known as Detective Mode also
allowed licensees to surreptitiously monitor the activities of computer
users. Managers of rent-to-own stores could use the feature to turn on
webcams so anyone in front of the machine would secretly be recorded.
Managers could also use the software to log keystrokes and take screen
“In numerous instances, data gathered by Detective Mode has revealed
private, confidential, and personal details about the computer user,”
officials with the Federal Trade Commission wrote in a civil complaint
filed earlier this year. “For example, keystroke logs have displayed
usernames and passwords for access to e-mail accounts, social media
websites, and financial institutions.”
In some cases, webcam activations captured images of children,
individuals not fully clothed, and people engaged in sexual activities,
the complaint alleged. Rental agreements never disclosed the information
that was collected, FTC lawyers said.

Researcher says 100,000 passwords exposed on IEEE site

By Elinor Mills
Security & Privacy
September 25, 2012
A computer scientist says he discovered that a server of the IEEE
(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) had about 100,000
usernames and passwords stored in plaintext and publicly accessible.
Radu Dragusin, a computer scientist who works at FindZebra and is a
teaching assistant at the University of Copenhagen, writes in a blog
post that he discovered the problem last week and notified the IEEE
about his findings, enabling them to “at least partially” fix the
The data was publicly available on the IEEE FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
server for at least a month, potentially exposing usernames and
passwords of people who work at Apple, Google, IBM, Oracle, Samsung,
NASA, Stanford, and other organizations and firms, he said. The glitch
exposed all the actions the users performed on the site, as
well as, he added.