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What Happened to Meritocracy – Bribery in US Schools

The rich and famous have always had a leg up on the best seats at first-class restaurants, high profile baseball games, and concerts.  None of us are immune to feeling the disgust as to the unfairness the almighty dollar causes in everyday life.  Wealthy Americans have been using monetary donations to get their kids into the best schools for years.  We all are aware of fraud, bribery, nepotism in corporate America yet when it comes to education, we don’t hear as much about the unfair act of bribery.

The recent news of this issue has shed much light on this unfair practice.  The act of dishonestly insights hatred to the highly respectable and hardworking students, teachers, and universities that do play fair.  The honest actors, students, business leaders, teachers and coaches have to feel the black eye of scrutiny.

 Address Fraud

Another issue today in schools is the practice of address fraud.  When parents are dishonest about where they and their children live and provide false proof of residency documents, they are risking felony for records tampering.  This practice causes lack of trust in the school district and poor morale of parents that play by the rules.   The effects of address fraud are far-reaching.  In the end it costs everyone involved.

 

Child Victim Act – What is this and will it affect my school district?

Child Victim Act, (CVA), was passed on Feb. 14th 2019.  Signed by Gov. Cuomo in NY State, it affects those New York school districts –  could your state follow ‘suit’?

The CVA was signed into law allowing alleged sexual assault victims to bring lawsuits (civil) until they turn 55 years old, previously was age 23.   The CVA provides a 1-year window to bring back old cases can expect to bring about lawsuits that were previously dormant due to the statute of limitations.

A victim, in a civil lawsuit, can claim their employer was negligent by turning a blind eye to the abuser’s actions.  School districts, churches, daycare centers are included in this pool and there is no cap on damages. Continue reading Child Victim Act – What is this and will it affect my school district?

Electronic preservation of school district documentation

Electronic conservation of school documents is fast becoming an attractive option for school districts. This advancement in technology, however, has posed some questions for schools:

  • Am I an archivist or record keeper?
  • Do students prefer school in a cloud?
  • What is your district’s carbon footprint?

Electronic preservation of school district documentation

Electronic conservation of documents, knowledge, and historical records in perpetuity is fast becoming an attractive option for school districts. When you consider that the average administrative person earns approximately $14.00 per hour in the United States, and factor in the expense of personnel manually entering student data, electronic preservation presents an extremely affordable alternative. Continue reading Electronic preservation of school district documentation

Poor Conditions in US Schools: Affecting Quality Education?

Many US schools are suffering with poor physical conditions and subsequently affecting quality education.

From interruption of classes due to failing heat or air conditioning systems to lack of valuable teachers who aren’t willing to endure these conditions, should not be ignored.  It affects students’ rights to quality education.

This problem is not a new one.  In a 1996 report by the Government Accountability Office found that schools in “unsatisfactory physical and environmental condition” were “concentrated in central cities and serve large populations of poor or minority students.”  From crumbling buildings, unclean surroundings, toxic materials, is just a short list of what is going on inside lower income areas.

It is up to the state and local levels to address the problem and they have demonstrated their desire to assist.  That being said, assisting in purchasing supplies for the classrooms won’t help the deteriorating infrastructure in these school districts.

There is hope.  Congress now has an opportunity to have a positive effect for this problem. The House has begun hearings on the Rebuild America’s School Act of 2019.  The bill would invest $100 billion over 10 years in fixing America’s public schools.  This is an exciting time where we can make progress in eliminating toxic school environments in our communities.

Is it Easy Going Green?

Budget crunches in school districts is a common topic in the news today.  Another common theme is avoiding waste and being eco-friendly.  With Earth Day quickly approaching, working on implementing a green initiative in your district can start now. Here’s a list of simple solutions your districts can implement to run an environmentally friendly and cost-saving environment.

  • Reduce paper by implementing digital communication tools, along with cloud-based storage for record keeping.  All school forms can be made paperless – it’s much more efficient.
  • Use daylight instead of costly overhead lighting, when possible.  Change lighting to LED bulbs – they not only provide a better quality of light, but they also use less electricity
  • Promote recycling.  Placing recycling bins throughout your districts will make a difference.  Convenience is key.

While working with your community, employees and volunteers on creating a sustainable environment may seem like a tremendous task, it’s really not as challenging as facing the burden of running out of valuable resources within and outside your district.

School Choice: The Zipcode and Education Debate is Ongoing

The relationship between zip codes and education is well-documented in the U.S. and hotly debated. The correlation between an address and the quality of education a child receives leaves students with wealthier parents attaining better educational outcomes either through private school attendance or greater public funding for local schools. Children of lower income families suffer disproportionately, unable to attend private schools or relocate into affluent public schools. School choice programs aim to break the link between zip codes and quality of education.

School Choice Definition

The U.S. Department of Education operates under the auspices of the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in 2015. This act builds upon preceding legislation equalizing the playing field for all students, regardless of zip code, parental income, disability or race.

The original concept dates back to Lyndon Johnson’s presidency in 1965 with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. One of the original civil rights legislative pieces, the ESEA provided federal grants for textbooks, special education centers and college scholarships to districts serving low-income students.

As educational equality became an increasingly vital issue, both as a means of lifting children out of the cycle of poverty and as a means of ensuring an educated populace, the ESSA added additional support to reduce the educational disparities based on income and zip code.

In exchange for federal funding, state laws imposed stricter graduation standards and well-developed spending plans so that all students met the new standards. Continue reading School Choice: The Zipcode and Education Debate is Ongoing

What Can I Do About Bullying?

Along with the rise of technology in education, so is the rise of bullying.

Bullying comes In various forms:

Physical Bullying, Verbal Bullying, Emotional Intimidation, Racist Bullying, Sexual Bullying, Cyber-bullying

Cyber-bullying is on the rise and allows the bully to remain anonymous.  A 2016 study conducted by Dr. Justin Patchin and Dr. Sameer Hinduja surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 5,700 middle and high school students ages 12-17 from July through October.  The results showed that the percentage of students who have experienced cyber bullying at some point in their lifetime has nearly doubled from 18 percent in 2007 to almost 34 percent in 2016.

Cyber-bullying can be done from anywhere and at any time.  This makes it even more threatening.

 

Bullying oftentimes starts at home; it’s a behavior they have witnessed and experienced.  A positive aspect of this is that it can be unlearned.  Schools can help.  Many schools have awareness-raising resources, lesson plans and activities showing how the hurtful  bullying, hatred, bias and bigotry can affect someone.

We are all responsible to practice the skill of literally and figuratively walking away from threatening situations.  But to avoid these events from happening we need to keep communication open in schools and at home.

Cyber-Security: Are You Doing All You Can?

We are all vulnerable to cyber attacks but for varying reasons but education, specifically K-12, is at the bottom rung when compared to private and public sectors in managing their cyber security.  Due to the sensitive nature of student enrollment forms and personal information shared in the student records, it is critical to have a plan and work that plan to avoid being vulnerable to such attacks.

Here are few suggestions to get your district on its way to a safer cyber environment:

• Make sure to provide your staff and volunteers with the tools to stay diligent to suspicious emails to avoid Phishing scams
• Update your anti-virus and anti-malware software
• Incorporate a network redundancy and backup recovery plans

Cyber-security is not something to “get to” in the future, it’s an immediate risk and needs to be made a necessity to building a secure future for our students and districts.

What Online Data Management Means for Educators

There is no doubt that today’s world is data-driven, no matter what industry you’re in. As more and more academic institutions use data to reveal behavioral and academic trends among student bodies, the importance of high-quality data management within the education industry is more important than ever. Data management software allows educational institutions to use, store, share and protect growing volumes of data easily and economically. Storing important information online, such as student records, means educators can have access to them at the click of a button and in real time.

Data management in education goes much further than just storing a student’s report card. Data management systems allow institutions to collect quantitative and qualitative data on their student bodies, like demographics, attendance, course enrollment history, special education information, grades and standardized test scores, teacher qualifications, professional development, and program participation.
Being able to access this data in real-time leads to better teach-to-parent and teacher-to-teacher communication, better standardized test score analysis, and instruction review.

“If school leaders want to lead the charge in improving student performance, they must be fluent in the use of data as a leadership tool. The assumption is that when school leaders are knowledgeable about data use, they can more effectively review their existing capacities, identify weaknesses and better chart plans for improvement” (Illuminate Blog).

Data management systems go beyond just giving educators an easier way to analyze data, these systems can help ensure institutions are “reigning in data growth, managing compliance, privacy and security, and increasing visibility in order to better understand data” (Data Gravity). Regulatory requirements are continuously changing, being proactive in your data management efforts means you’ll have to spend less time “catching up” or “cleaning up”. Today’s world is rapidly moving away from the days of keeping paperwork in filing cabinets. Not only does it take up unnecessary space and resources, it is a serious privacy and security concern. When you store records manually in filing cabinets, there is a heightened risk of losing them or mishandling them.

Using a data management system allows school districts to have better control over data governance. It provides the ability to control which user groups (teachers, admins, parents) have access to specific student data and apply user group security settings to limit what can be done with each data set. Take, for instance, a student’s health records. Those should not be stored in the filing cabinet with their general records, otherwise admins and teachers will have access to the HIPPA protected information. With a data management system, security settings can be utilized so that only the districts medical personnel can view that sensitive information.

The bottom line – data management systems are the future of providing a world-class education to our youth. Not will it alleviate the burden on resources across your district, but it will eliminate administrative bottlenecks, increase and ease communication between the district, teachers, parents and students, and allow teachers the opportunity to build lesson plans based on data analysis of the student body’s knowledge gaps.

Understanding Data Security Threats in Your District

As recent as a few years ago, cyber-security threats were not on the radar of most school district leaders.

That’s according to the sixth annual broadband and infrastructure report released by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a nonprofit made up of K-12 school technology leaders.  An increasing number of district leaders are realizing the importance of bolstering their network security, the report found, and their budget priorities reflect as much.

“School districts, like every organization and person in the world, are concerned with keeping data private and secure,” Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN, tells EdSurge. “It’s dramatically up from recent years.”

Based on responses from 386 U.S. school districts, more than one-third (36 percent) of districts spend 10 percent or more of their technology budgets on network security, and another third (31 percent) direct between 5 and 9 percent to security issues.  These security funds are often spent on services such as breach detection and security vulnerability assessments.

As the necessity of data breach avoidance measures increase, so must the awareness to stay on top of this issue.  Our district’s, students, employees, volunteers and others, all deserve the peace of mind that security measures offer.

 

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