Image source: Flickr CC User RDECOM Citing a shortfall of American-trained engineers and scientists, the Obama Administration has made it a priority for schools to better teach science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to students. In response, entrepreneurs, community leaders, K-12 public schools, private schools, and charter schools have begun developing innovative programs in existing schools, in addition to building so-called STEM schools from the ground up.
Image source: Flickr CC user Maryland GovPics By now, you have probably heard that Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg famously donated $100 million to schools in gritty Newark, New Jersey. He recently followed that up with a pledge to contribute $120 million to California schools in the Bay area. While these massive donations got lots of news coverage, a lesser-known story in California is just as telling of how common private donations have become for public schools.
Image source: Flickr CC user Cliff In Washington, D.C., a school district recently took what it felt was the fastest route to get the word out to students that it was now acceptable for them to bring their smartphones to class: the school district tweeted them. The district ended an all-out ban on mobile devices in the classroom in 23 high schools. Why fight against the current of the times? After all, their kids and most kids who attend a 21st Century school surf the Internet on their phones to discover whatâ€™s going on. Just as the blackboard went out of fashion, so too should this idea that students should leave potential learning tools in the locker. Or so the district believes.
Image source: Flickr CC user Jkrincon California has more than 1,000 charter schools, the most in the country. As the popularity of these independent, taxpayer-funded schools has grown, so too has the controversy over providing them with classrooms and facilities.
Image source: Flickr CC user USAG - Humphreys My mother use to say, "It's not polite to talk about money in public." I've mostly stood by this advice when exchanging casual niceties at the local coffee shop, but with this year's election results still hot on everyone's mind - perhaps more accurately, on their tongues - I was surprised to find myself in the middle of a public discussion about school bonds and new taxation. Our school district had succeeded in campaigning for a bond that would support the construction of a new elementary school in our district. Democracy had prevailed, I thought. We're all getting what we wanted!