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How Many Students Will Be Forced to Repeat Courses and Grades Next Year?

An EdWeek Market Brief survey of district and school officials finds many predicting that the number of students being forced to repeat courses after this year will jump.

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Inside Khan Academy’s Expansion Into School Districts, and Online Tutoring

interview with Sal Khan

Khan Academy educational videos have long been a staple of student learning away from school, but it is now ramping up its efforts to work directly with school systems.

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The Mother Lode of Father’s Day Ideas

Ask a random stranger in early May about plans for Mother’s Day, and he or she can likely give you a full itinerary for the day, including church with Mom, lunch with Mom, flowers for Mom, and gifts for Mom.

Ask the same random stranger in mid-June about plans for Father’s Day, and you’ll probably get something like this:

Awkward silence.  A contrived cough.  Crickets chirping.

Because, let’s face it: Father’s Day just doesn’t get the same kind of respect.

Now some will immediately chalk that up to a cultural assault on fatherhood, which I won’t dispute exists, though I don’t necessarily think the less-than-stellar celebration of Father’s Day is the best evidence of it.  Mom and home are always closely connected, and so I wonder sometimes if celebration of mom is also celebration of all things nostalgic.  Plus moms make gift-giving easy for their children!  Sappy tears and a bright, emotional response to kisses and hugs and simple gifts make celebrating mom pretty effortless in many ways.

Men, on the other hand, can be more of a challenge, only because they’re different from us in all the incredible ways God intended.  Though most of them don’t necessarily pine after fresh flowers or weep uncontrollably at the sight of a crayon-scribbled card, (not to say it could never happen!) they deserve all the love and appreciation we can shower on them on their special day.

So whether you’re in search of some information about Father’s Day or looking for simple gifts or easy crafts to commemorate the day, you’ve come to the right place!  Call this Father’s Day Central:

The Mother Lode of Father’s Day Ideas

Father’s Day Gift Ideas 

So you’re thinking a tie, right?  Maybe a coffee cup.  Argyle socks.  I’m not knocking those choices (I’ve pulled out a couple of them myself a few times), but you can probably come up with some more original ideas.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas for Dads at Church, Co-Op, Etc.

If you’re buying Father’s Day gifts en masse, for all the fathers in your church, for example, or those in your homeschool co-op, you’ll need different gift suggestions than if you’re buying only for your own father. Here are some suggestions for “group” gifts that are fun and inexpensive. (Some are more expensive than others. Of course, you’ll need to choose based on how many dads you’re buying for and how much you have to spend.)

Father’s Day Gift Ideas for Your Own Dad or Your Children’s Dad

Edible Tackle Box

But when you’re looking for a gift for your children’s father, (or maybe even your own,) here are a few gift ideas I count among my personal favorites is this Edible Tackle Box Isn’t this the cutest thing ever? And it’s easy to assemble and tasty too! Below is a link to the box and to some candies that are perfect for filling it!

Father's Day Ideas
From LetYourScribblesBe.blogspot.com

Dad’s Stache Jar

And I mustache you a question.  (And, yes, that’s a bad joke. An old, bad joke even. Forgive me.)  But have you ever seen a cuter idea for Father’s Day than this Dad’s Stache jar? I also like using these wire clamp jars too.

Father's Day Ideas. Father's Day Gift Jar: Dad's Stache
From ThoughtsfromAlice.com

Mini Toolboxes

And I adore these Mini Toolboxes made from old mint tins using mini tin boxes

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Father's Day Ideas. Mini toolboxes
From AlphaMom.com

I always have such a hard time throwing away mint tins.  I mean, they’re reusable!  Well, this is a great way to put them to use.  Just follow the step-by-step instructions, then fill with nuts and bolts, screws or nails, or any other useful things Dad might need to keep on hand.

But there are literally hundreds more ideas where these came from!

More Gift Ideas

Free Printables

If you’re looking for simple printables for Father’s day, you may like some of these:

History of Father’s Day

Maybe you were hoping you and the kids could learn a little something about Father’s Day.  Did you know Father’s Day actually began in Spokane, Washington?  Believe me, the Spokanians (if that’s a word) have not forgotten!  Check out the Father’s Day Birthplace website for a history of the founding of Father’s Day.  Find even more information here, including poems and quotes about Father’s Day as well as info about how fathers are celebrated around the world.

Unit Studies and Book Lists

  • Interested in doing a unit study related to Father’s Day?  Try out Whales Passing, a literature-based unit study dealing with the relationship of fathers and sons.
  • This Father’s Day reading list offers even more great book options.

…………………………………………………..

There’s no excuse for neglecting Dad this Father’s Day!  With a little time and forethought, we can come up with just what we need to make the dads in our lives feel as loved and appreciated as they are. Now.  It’s time for this mom to get busy on gifts for a couple of very important dads…

How will you celebrate Father’s Day this year?  What do you do to make the fathers in your life feel special?

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Walton Foundation Executive Leaves to Launch New K-12 Investment Fund

The Walton Family Foundation’s K-12 education program director is resigning from his role to start an independent K-12-focused investment fund.

With the assistance of a $200 million contribution from the Walton family, Marc Sternberg today is launching A-Street Ventures, an investment fund that will seed and scale innovative K-12 student learning and achievement solutions for students, families, and schools, according to a letter Sternberg wrote announcing his departure and the initiation of the fund.

“As the future of work shifts toward artificial intelligence, automation, and outsourcing to foreign countries, the financial security of, and accessibility to, America’s middle class has never been more in doubt,” the letter says. “In this new world, opportunity and stability will belong to young people who can adapt, think critically, continue learning new skills, thrive in collaborative environments, and lead teams.”

MB_Marc_Sternberg-130
Marc Sternberg

The announcement comes as the education space has seen a recent surge of venture capital investment. Investors put more than $16 billion into ed tech in 2020, roughly double the amount that VCs put forward in 2018, according to a report by HolonIQ.

A-Street, which will be based in Bentonville, Ark., plans to invest in a mix of early-, growth- and late-stage ventures. At the outset, it will focus on digital-first instructional materials and “new paradigms” for student assessment, the letter says.

In terms of assessment platforms, the firm will direct its attention toward curriculum-embedded products that can be used for both summative and formative purposes, to shape instruction and support students and their families, Sternberg told EdWeek Market Brief in an interview.

In addition to its focus on assessments, A-Street will attempt to distinguish itself from other investment funds by focusing on uplifting the teaching profession and supporting high-quality, digital-forward content, he said.

In contrast with most education investment funds, which have a seven- or 10-year outlook, A-Street will look to bolster target companies for at least 15 years before exiting, he said.

The fund plans to primarily focus on companies operating in the U.S. K-12 market, but may also invest outside the K-12 sphere when potential breakthroughs could benefit primary or secondary schools, Sternberg’s letter says.

A-Street will redirect profits toward charitable causes or future investment, though the firm intends to operate with “all the rigor and ambition of a traditional closed-end investment fund,” according to Sternberg.

The fund will be financed solely by the Walton family, he said during the interview. Instead of going back to the investors, funds will be recycled into the current fund and for future accounts. The new firm has not yet communicated with any education companies about investment possibilities, he said.

Sternberg previously worked as the senior deputy chancellor at the New York City Department of Education, after serving as a principal and teacher. He will continue as a senior adviser for the Walton Family Foundation, he said in his letter.

“To the entrepreneurs and the idea-makers: we look forward to supporting your vision,” Sternberg wrote. “Now is the moment for your big thinking, new approaches, and finding common ground that advances progress.”


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Richard Robinson, CEO of Children’s Publishing Giant Scholastic, Dies at Age of 84

Scholastic Chairman and CEO Richard Robinson, who oversaw the company’s emergence as a major force in educational and children’s publishing over nearly five decades, died unexpectedly over the weekend.

Robinson, who was 84, had been in good health before he passed away, the firm said in an announcement.

“We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Dick Robinson,” Scholastic’s board said in a statement. “Dick was a true visionary in the world of children’s books and an unrelenting advocate for children’s literacy and education with a remarkable passion his entire life. The company’s directors and employees, as well as the many educators, parents and students whose lives he touched, mourn his loss.”

Scholastic was created 100 years ago, and is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, as well as a provider of literacy curriculum, professional services, classroom magazines, and other children’s media.

Scholastic’s Class A shareholders and board of directors will meet independently to select an interim operating head and chart the company’s direction, the announcement says.

In the meantime, a group of four executives will work to ensure that “day-to-day operations continue without interruption,” Scholastic said.  They are James Barge, Scholastic’s lead independent director; Iole Lucchese, executive vice president and chief strategy officer; Andrew Hedden, executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary; and Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Cleary.

Follow EdWeek Market Brief on Twitter @EdMarketBrief or connect with us on LinkedIn.


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Big Gaps Remain in Students’ Home Internet Access, Survey Reveals

When the pandemic forced schools to close last year, every student at Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools in Ohio already had a device, and most had access to the internet at home. As a result, the district’s director of technology, Mike Daugherty, was cautiously optimistic that they were well prepared for remote learning.

He quickly learned that having access to the internet and having the ability for an entire family to join hours-long video conferences were two different things. In many cases, when students’ connectivity fell short, Daugherty was left to urge families to upgrade their service.

While the country moves toward connecting more households to the internet than ever before, insufficient bandwidth remains a challenge for school districts and limits what tools students can use at home. A survey of 400 districts newly released by the Consortium for School Networking, or CoSN, underscores that basic access to the internet is not the barrier in many households – it’s an inability to use bandwidth-intensive content, such as video conferencing and streaming, that many districts would like to make a part of students’ lessons.

The survey of association members, who are district IT leaders, released last month found that 94 percent of districts faced challenges with videoconferencing during remote learning. For most of those districts (66 percent) the problems were caused by insufficient bandwidth. Respondents listed slow connections and multiple users as the top technical problems they faced.

“We saw that over and over again where a family was working from home due to COVID and they’re all on a generic, basic internet connection and nobody can get anything done,” Daugherty said. “That was such a struggle for us.”

Part of the problem is that the federally recommended broadband thresholds for households don’t meet the needs of remote learning, said CoSN CEO Keith Krueger. Families may have plenty of bandwidth to stream or download content, he said, but not enough to upload. And most households have two or more students, compounding the problem.

Inequities Persist

The experience has caused digital equity to rank as a top concern among districts’ IT leaders. Nearly all the survey respondents (97 percent) said concerns about quality of students’ home access increased. And the number of districts providing off-campus services doubled compared to the year before, reaching 95 percent.

Equity will certainly be on the minds of district leaders as they decide what educational technology to use moving forward, Krueger said.

“The good news is [bandwidth is] better in schools,” he said. Yet, “from a vendor perspective, they are going to have to think more inclusively.”

Inside school buildings, districts have made huge strides toward improving internet access. According to the survey, the majority of responding districts (61 percent) met the FCC’s long-term broadband goal, set in 2014. Three years ago, fewer than a third of districts met that standard, Krueger said.

Having students back in the building will help schools in the Chagrin school district, Daugherty said, especially since the district has a relatively small IT staff that isn’t equipped to provide home support.

Prior to the pandemic, Daugherty’s department fielded around five to 10 technical problems a day, mostly from students who broke or forgot their Chromebooks. During remote learning, that jumped to around 30 to 50 per day.

But home connectivity remains a concern because some practices from the pandemic will continue, Daugherty said.

He expects that his district will continue sending devices home with students over the summer break to lessen the summer academic slide. He also expects teachers to continue to record their lessons so students can access them later as needed.

Aside from equity concerns, district technology leaders listed improving cybersecurity and student data privacy as their top technology priorities.

According to the survey, more than three-quarters of districts (77 percent) do not have a full-time employee dedicated to network security. And only half of districts require cybersecurity training for the entire staff.

Other challenges IT leaders listed during the survey were:

  • Budget constraints and lack of resources
  • Lack of access to professional development
  • Existence of silos in the district

“There has to be a passionate advocacy on the part of technology leaders to articulate what we can do better by making sure we have equity built in,” Krueger said. “Digital isn’t going away. There’s a whole lot of things we can do a lot better, even at school.”

Photo: Alpha Wireless AW3170 panel antennas deployed in a private school district network near the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. (Credit: Business Wire via AP)

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A Changed K-12 Market: What Education CEOs See on the Horizon

As students in many states return in person to classrooms, executives of education technology companies say they are dealing with a market that has been altered in a number of key ways.

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