[ECP] Educational CyberPlayGround: K12 Newsletters Headlines and Resources

If colleges want more of their students to be ready for the academic challenges of higher education, those institutions have to take a more direct role in elementary and secondary education, recommends a new report from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
Education policy advocates is urging the U.S. Department of Education to strengthen graduation-rate accountability in states that have earned waivers under NCLB.
Seattle will join a dozen other U.S. cities that train some of its teachers similar to the way hospitals teach medical residents, with significant on-the-job learning alongside experienced mentors.
California education officials have stripped 23 schools of a key state ranking for cheating, other misconduct, or mistakes in administering the standardized tests given last spring.
Education schools within the Minnesota State Colleges and University system must comply with an open-records request and allow an outside research and advocacy organization to copy course syllabi, a district court judge has ruled.
U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., still at the helm of the House education committee shares vision for the next two years
Californina will avoid deep spending cuts in educationProp 30 wins Prop 38 flames out
In general, results demonstrate an appetite for moderate school choice but distaste for laws that dramatically change how teachers are hired and fired. The limits of national reform groups that funnel money into state races were also apparent.
NYT Pew Internet Project and Common Sense Media Nearly 90 percent of 2,462 respondents in the Pew survey said that digital technologies were creating “an easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” Similarly, of the 685 teachers surveyed in the Common Sense project, 71 percent thought technology was hurting attention spans “somewhat” or “a lot.” About 60 percent said it hindered students’ ability to write and communicate face-to-face, and almost half said it hurt critical thinking and ability to do homework. There was little difference in perception between younger and older teachers. While the Pew research explored how technology affects attention span, it also examined how it has changed student research habits. The Common Sense survey focused largely on how teachers saw the impact of technology on a range of classroom skills.
The study finds that over 80 percent of juveniles who enter the criminal justice system early in life have at some point belonged to a gang. At any given time, 20 percent of the juveniles in the study have been incarcerated. Seventy-one percent of men and 59 percent of women are without jobs as adults. Of the 1,829 youths originally enrolled in the study, 119 have died, most from violence, a death rate three to five times as high as that for Cook County men in the same age group and four times as high for women. The study seeks to determine what factors allow some youths to succeed in life despite considerable obstacles. In the view of one study subject, transformations have little to do with policies or cyclical crackdowns by law enforcement. Instead, they are prompted by less tangible forces: the support of a parent, the insistence of a girlfriend, the encouragement of a priest or pastor, the mobilization of a community, or the birth of a child.
National Association of Gifted Children offers recommendations regarding how to better serve low-income, high-ability learners.  Detailing educational best practices and identifying research and public policy gaps that, if filled, could achieve significant results for the future. The report calls on educators and policy makers to expect more than proficiency from many more students through policies, funding, and practices that consistently support high expectations and high achievement. They must also implement multiple strategies to support student achievement at the highest levels, and expand access to rigorous curricula and supplemental services and programs. Pre-service and in-service teacher training must be expanded for identifying and serving high-ability, low-income and culturally and linguistically diverse students. Emergent talent must be identified as early as possible, and communities must be engaged to support in-school learning and to supplement curriculum with outside-of-school opportunities. Finally, policy barriers that impede participation and access must be removed. A student’s zip code and socioeconomic status must no longer be determining factors in receiving a rigorous, high quality education.
ASCD looks at actions that educators and policymakers at all levels can undertake to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) successfully that include transforming principals into instructional leaders, consulting educators about professional learning needs, aligning initiatives into comprehensive reforms, ensuring educators deeply understand the CCSS and what instructional shifts will be required, and vetting instructional resources for quality and alignment with the CCSS. It further recommends engaging higher-education partners, and understanding and planning for the coming CCSS-related assessments. Technology should be adopted with the priority of meeting teaching and learning needs, but also with an eye toward working with the new common assessments. The report’s authors stress that the 2012–13 school year is a pivotal time for implementing the CCSS, as a critical mass of teachers begin to integrate the standards into their classrooms. This is an unprecedented opportunity for professional learning and collaboration.
Alliance for Excellent Education discusses challenges that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) may present for English Language learners (ELLs) and their teachers. The number of school-aged children speaking another language at home more than doubled between 1980 and 2009, from 4.7 million (10 percent) to 11.2 million (20 percent). According to the 2011 NAEP twelfth-grade reading scores, 77 percent of ELLs performed below the basic level, compared to 27 percent of their non-ELL peers; only 3 percent of ELLs scored at or above proficient, and results are similarly discouraging at the state level. Helping ELLs meet the higher expectations of the CCSS, which spells out sophisticated language competencies that students must perform in respective academic subject areas, will place new demands on teachers. Specifically, teachers must develop a deep knowledge of the vocabulary and language functions of their content area, then structure multiple opportunities in the classroom for students to use language, focusing on discipline-specific concepts rather than overemphasizing syntax and grammar. The burden will be particularly heavy for high school teachers, who sometimes struggle to use a range of proven reading and writing strategies within their content areas. To help all teachers make this transition, the report lists ten key strategies for language and content learning that all teachers must understand, given the growing number of ELLs.
Some other results with implications
Results from new state tests in Kentucky — the first in the nation explicitly tied to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) — show that the share of students scoring “proficient” or better in reading and math dropped by roughly a third in both elementary and middle school, reports Andrew Ujifusa in Education Week. Since Kentucky in 2010 was the first state to adopt the CCSS, its assessment results for 2011-12 are under scrutiny nationwide for what they may reveal about how the CCSS will affect student achievement. The biggest drop came at the elementary level. On the K-PREP test in 2010-11, 76 percent of elementary students scored proficient or higher in reading; that fell to 48 percent in 2011-12. The same year, 73 percent of elementary students were proficient or better in math, but that fell to 40.4 percent. Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said, however, that students in 2011-12 beat the state’s predictions: It had anticipated a 36 percentage-point drop in elementary reading scores in 2011-12, instead of the actual 28-point drop. Earlier exposure to the common standards, Holliday suggested, would help younger students at first. “It’s going to take longer to see middle and high school growth on these tests,” he said, about five years for overall growth at all levels.
Read more: http://tinyurl.com/age4e4f
Perhaps they should improve their oversight
An independent audit of the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) in the U.S. Department of Education criticizes it for failing to monitor how states spend hundreds of millions of dollars in charter-school funding, the Associated Press reports. The report from WestEd also singled out state education departments in California, Florida, and Arizona as lax. The OII spent $940 million from 2008 to 2011, administered through competitive grants, to help launch new charters and replicate successful charter models. According to the audit, OII did not give guidance to states on monitoring use of the money, and lacks policies to ensure that states corrected deficiencies when found. Additionally, the audit found the office did not review expenditures to ensure they met with federal disbursement requirements. In California, which has received nearly $182 million in federal charter grants, auditors found ‘‘significant weaknesses” in charter oversight, such as school reviewers unqualified to conduct on-site school visits. In Florida, which received $67.6 million, state officials had no records of which schools got federal grant money, nor which had on-site monitoring and audits. And in Arizona, which received $26 million, reviewers lacked a monitoring checklist and collected inconsistent data when visiting schools.
Read more: http://tinyurl.com/d7fcpbq

Election Night 2012 Tweets that Congratulate Barak Obama

One hundred million votes and 31 million Tweets later, Election Day 2012 has come to a close.

Election Night 2012

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

One hundred million votes and 31 million Tweets later, Election Day 2012 has come to a close. As the results of the election were called by news organizations, the conversation about the election on Twitter surged, hitting a peak of 327,452 Tweets per minute (TPM). Before President Obama took the stage to address the nation, he shared a special update on Twitter. As thousands of supporters cheered in Chicago, more than 455,000 (and counting) retweeted his celebratory message:

Four more years. twitter.com/BarackObama/st…
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 7, 2012

While the announcement of results was the biggest moment of the election cycle, there were many other notable Twitter moments tonight:
-327,452 TPM – 11:19pm ET – Networks call Obama’s reelection
-85,273 TPM -11:12pm ET – IA presidential race called
-69,031 TPM – 9:33pm ET – PA and WI presidential races called
-65,106 TPM – 8:03pm ET – Polls close in various states; AP calls races for IL, CT, ME, DC, DE, RI, MD, MA
As international leaders tweeted diplomatic messages directly to @BarackObama, Twitter also provided a glimpse into global politics:

Warm congratulations to my friend @barackobama. Look forward to continuing to work together.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) November 7, 2012

Congratulations @barackobama on being elected to a 2nd term. I hope our countries’ relationship continues to go from strength to strength.
— Mohd Najib Tun Razak (@NajibRazak) November 7, 2012

My sincere congratulations to President@barackobama on your re-election! JG
— Julia Gillard (@JuliaGillard) November 7, 2012

Since the campaign cycle unfolded on Twitter, it’s only fitting that for candidates nationwide, the journey also culminated here. After the votes were tallied, the candidates came to Twitter to share their final campaign Tweets. And so we’ll wrap things up by letting them speak for themselves.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I won’t just be your Senator, I will also be your champion. #masen
— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) November 7, 2012

This is your victory – your hard work, support, & faith made it possible. Thank you so much. I’m honored to have had you by my side.
— Gov. Tim Kaine (@timkaine) November 7, 2012

Thank you to thousands of volunteers who gave their time & talents. I hope you will keep the faith & always stay strong for Freedom!
— George Allen (@georgeallenva) November 7, 2012

Tonight is a testament to the grassroots and each and every one of you who made it all possible #txsen twitter.com/tedcruz/status…
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 7, 2012

Reporter: “Was it worth it?” Sadler: “Absolutely it was worth it!” #thankyouTX #TXSen
— Paul Sadler (@SadlerTX) November 7, 2012

And I’m well aware that I will be the first openly gay member of the United States Senate. #Tammy2012 #WIsen
— Tammy Baldwin(@TammyBaldwinWI) November 7, 2012

I didn’t run to make history.I ran to make a difference. #WIsen #Tammy2012
— Tammy Baldwin(@TammyBaldwinWI) November 7, 2012

I spent 14 years serving as governor, and it was an honor. I will continue to be the proudest and loudest advocate for Wisconsin.
— Tommy G. Thompson (@TommyForWI) November 7, 2012

I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to represent the people of #Mississippi in the U.S. Senate! twitter.com/RogerWicker/st…
— Wicker for Senate (@RogerWicker) November 7, 2012

Posted by Adam Sharp (@AdamS)
Head of Government, News, & Social Innovation


Special Needs and 508 compliance Guidelines for Web Sites

Special Needs and 508 compliance Guidelines for Web Sites

Links as Language Accessibility really affects everyone.
“Click here is postmodern. It’s like a stop sign that says ‘This is a Stop Sign.’” People already know how to use a hyperlink. A hyperlink has words underlined in blue.

Jailbreaking now legal under DMCA for smartphones, but not tablets

Jailbreaking now legal under DMCA for smartphones, but not tablets
Arbitrary rulings illustrate fundamental brokenness of the DMCA.
by Timothy B. Lee – Oct 25 2012, 6:45pm EDT
The Digital Millennium Copyright makes it illegal to “circumvent” digital rights management schemes. But when Congress passed the DMCA in 1998, it gave the Librarian of Congress the power to grant exemptions. The latest batch of exemptions, which will be in force for three years, were announced on Thursday.
Between now and late 2015, there will be five categories of circumvention that will be allowed under the Librarian’s rules, one fewer than the current batch of exemptions, which was announced in July 2010. The new exemptions take effect October 28.
The new batch of exemptions illustrate the fundamentally arbitrary nature of the DMCA’s exemption process. For the next three years, you’ll be allowed to jailbreak smartphones but not tablet computers. You’ll be able to unlock phones purchased before January 2013 but not phones purchased after that. It will be legal to rip DVDs to use an excerpt in a documentary, but not to play it on your iPad. None of these distinctions makes very much sense. But Congress probably deserves more blame for this than the Librarian of Congress.
Disability access to e-books
The first exemption applies to “literary works, distributed electronically, that are protected by technological measures which either prevent the enabling of read-aloud functionality or interfere with screen readers or other applications or assistive technologies.” The work must have been purchased legitimately through “customary channels,” such that “the rights owner is remunerated.”
A similar version of the exemption was offered in 2010, but that one allowed circumvention only if “all existing e-book editions of the work contain access controls” that inhibit disabled access. Disability groups urged the Librarian to drop this restriction, arguing that “despite the rapid growth of the e-book market, most e-book titles remain inaccessible due to fragmentation within the industry and differing technical standards and accessibility capabilities across platforms.” That meant that the rule effectively required disabled users to own multiple devices—a Kindle, a Nook, and an iPad, for example—in order to gain access to a full range of e-books. The Librarian accepted this argument and allowed circumvention by disabled users even if a work is available in an open format on another platform.
Jailbreaking for iPhones but not iPads
The new rules allow circumvention of “computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute lawfully obtained software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications with computer programs on the telephone handset.” In other words, jailbreaking is permitted for “telephone handsets,” as it was under the 2010 rules.
What about tablets? No dice. The Librarian “found significant merit to the opposition’s concerns that this aspect of the proposed class was broad and ill-defined, as a wide range of devices might be considered ‘tablets,’ notwithstanding the significant distinctions among them in terms of the way they operate, their intended purposes, and the nature of the applications they can accommodate. For example, an e-book reading device might be considered a ‘tablet,’ as might a handheld video game device or a laptop computer.”
The Librarian ruled that “the record lacked a sufficient basis to develop an appropriate definition for the ‘tablet’ category of devices, a necessary predicate to extending the exemption beyond smartphones.”
No more unlocking
In 2006 and 2010, the Librarian of Congress had permitted users to unlock their phones to take them to a new carrier. Now that’s coming to an end. While the new rules do contain a provision allowing phone unlocking, it comes with a crippling caveat: the phone must have been “originally acquired from the operator of a wireless telecommunications network or retailer no later than ninety days after the effective date of this exemption.”
In other words, phones you already have, as well as those purchased between now and next January, can be unlocked. But phones purchased after January 2013 can only be unlocked with the carrier’s permission.
Why the change? The Librarian cited two key factors. One is a 2010 ruling that held that when you purchase software, you don’t actually own it. Rather, you merely license it according to the terms of the End User License Agreement. The Librarian argued that this undermined the claim that unlocking your own phone was fair use.
Also, the Librarian found that there are more unlocked phones on the market than there were three years ago, and that most wireless carriers have liberal policies for unlocking their handsets. As a result, the Librarian of Congress decided that it should no longer be legal to unlock your cell phone without the carrier’s permission.
DVDs: Excerpts, but no space-shifting
The most complicated exemption focuses on DVDs. Between now and 2015, it will be legal to rip a DVD “in order to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment in the following instances: (i) in noncommercial videos; (ii) in documentary films; (iii) in nonfiction multimedia e-books offering film analysis; and (iv) for educational purposes in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts, by college and university faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators.” A similar exemption applies for “online distribution services.”
The Librarian also allowed DVDs to be decrypted to facilitate disability access. Specifically, it’s now legal “to access the playhead and/or related time code information embedded in copies of such works and solely for the purpose of conducting research and development for the purpose of creating players capable of rendering visual representations of the audible portions of such works and/or audible representations or descriptions of the visual portions of such works to enable an individual who is blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing, and who has lawfully obtained a copy of such a work, to perceive the work.”
But the Librarian did not allow circumvention for space-shifting purposes. While public interest groups had argued that consumers should be allowed to rip a DVD in order to watch it on an iPad that lacks a built-in DVD drive, the Librarian concluded that no court has found that such “space shifting” is a fair use under copyright law.
Public Knowledge, one of the groups that had advocated the exception, argued that the Librarian’s ruling “flies in the face of reality.” PK’s Michael Weinberg noted that this reasoning implies that “every person who has ever ripped a CD to put on her iPod is a copyright infringer. Even the RIAA has recognized that such activity is, in their words, ‘perfectly lawful.'”
A broken system
The space-shifting ruling is a good illustration of the fundamental brokenness of the DMCA. In order to convince the Librarian to allow DVD ripping in order to watch it on an iPad, a court would first need to rule that doing so falls under copyright’s fair use defense. To get such a ruling, someone would have to rip a DVD (or sell a DVD-ripping tool), get sued in court, and then convince a judge that DVD ripping is fair use. But in such a case, the courts would probably never reach the fair use question, because—absent an exemption from the Librarian of Congress—circumvention is illegal whether or not the underlying use of the work would be a fair use. So no fair use ruling without an exemption, and no exemption without a fair use ruling. A classic catch-22.
This “triennial review” process is broken in other ways as well. Exemptions apply to the act of circumvention, but not to the separate provisions prohibiting “trafficking” in circumvention tools. So blind people who happen to be programmers are now free to write their own software to strip the DRM off their Kindle e-books in order to have them read aloud. But most blind people are not programmers. And anyone who supplies a blind person with the software needed to strip DRM from e-books is violating the “trafficking” provisions of the law even if the customer’s use of the software is otherwise legal.
Finally, the case-by-case nature of the exemption process makes it inevitable that we’ll get arbitrary results. For example, there’s no logical reason why it should be legal to jailbreak an iPhone but illegal to jailbreak an iPad. But because no one presented the Librarian of Congress with a sufficiently precise definition of “tablet,” this illogical result will be the law of the land for the next three years.
Here’s a better approach: circumventing copy protection schemes shouldn’t be against the law in the first place. DRM schemes harm legitimate users more than they deter piracy. Indeed, as the phone unlocking example illustrates, many uses of DRM have nothing to do with copyright infringement in the first place. Rather, they’re a convenient legal pretext for limiting competition and locking consumers into proprietary products. We shouldn’t be using copyright law as a backdoor means to give such anti-competitive practices the force of law.